Nythamar de Oliveira

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            "What are we in our actuality?" You will find the formulation of this question in a text written by Kant... a new pole has been constituted for the activity of philosophizing, and this pole is characterized by the question, the permanent and ever-changing question, "What are we today?" (Michel Foucault, TS 145) 


            The field of analysis which Foucault called "the formal ontology of truth" has been dealt with by different thinkers of modernity, such as Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, Heidegger, and the Frankfurterschule. As they examined the general framework of what Foucault termed the "technologies of the self," they subtly shifted away from the traditional, philosophical questions on the nature of the world, man, truth, and knowledge, so as to inaugurate a new conception of rationality, no longer based on an all-embracing, foundational metaphysics but on an integrated view of human activities --living, speaking, working-- that allowed for "man" to become "an object for several different sciences."[1] This was precisely what Foucault's archaeology aimed at, as we have seen, although on a discursive level of the formation of knowledges (savoirs), whose patterns and regularities were analyzed and reconstructed in Les mots et les choses and systematized, with the aid of linguistic and semiological descriptions, in L'archéologie du savoir. Now, although Foucault avowed that there was indeed a shift of focus, say, from the archaeology of Les mots et les choses (1966) and L'archéologie du savoir (1969) to the genealogy of Surveiller et punir (1975) and La volonté de savoir (1976), and from these to the practico-social analyses of subjectivation in the other two volumes of L'Histoire de la sexualité (L'usage des plaisirs and Le souci de soi, 1984), he also insisted on the pervasive, interpretive meaning of his genealogical method. Indeed, the one thing in common among Foucault's most important maîtres à penser, acknowledged in the inaugural lecture at the Collège de France, was precisely "historicity" --Georges Dumézil was a historian of religions, Georges Canguilhem a historian of science, and Jean Hyppolite a Hegelian historian of philosophical thought.[2] It is well known that from 1970 until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault taught in the prestigious Collège de France. What has been perhaps overlooked is that the name of this chair had been changed, following Jean Hyppolite's death in 1968. What used to be called "History of Philosophical Thought" (Histoire de la pensée philosophique) became, on November 30, 1969, the chair of "History of Systems of Thought" (Histoire des systèmes de la pensée) to be occupied by Foucault.[3]

            We can thus speak of a Foucauldian conception of history that underlies his three different ways of analyzing discursive and nondiscursive practices of savoir (archaeology), pouvoir (genealogy), and subjectivation (interpretive-analytics). And yet, Foucault denied that he was ever elaborating on a new theory of history, although he conceded that he was doing a different kind of history in his main works. He went as far as to admit, in a 1982 interview, that he had written "two kinds of books," namely, one "concerned with scientific thought" (and he cites Les mots et les choses as an example), and the other "concerned with social principles and institutions" (e.g., Surveiller et punir). Neither should be identified with a "history of science."(TS 14) Later on, he admitted that he was writing still another kind of history, explicitly hermeneutic, a "history of ourselves," for which he was planning a monumental seven-volume Histoire de la sexualité.[4]  These "methods" must not, however, be conceived as the overcoming of their previous counterparts, as if there were epistemological breaks leading from one method to the other, but they are complementary just as knowledge, power, and subjectivation presuppose and determine one another. It has been, therefore, my contention in this dissertation that Foucault's conception of history is precisely what accounts for an apparent inflation of the power-genealogy axis, beyond the epistemological task traditionally assigned to the interpretation of historical events. As will be seen, Foucault's conception of history proves indeed helpful to understand the tension between a critical and a genealogical account of power relations.

            Foucault was admittedly influenced by great contemporary philosophers, such as Heidegger, Husserl, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, and by modern thinkers alike, such as Kant, Hegel, and, above all, Nietzsche.[5] As Foucault avowed in his last interview, published three days after his death in 1984, if his "entire philosophical development was determined by [his] reading of Heidegger," it was Nietzsche who "outweighed" Heidegger --"c'est Nietzsche qui l'a emporté".[6] Deleuze has shown that Nietzsche's influence was decisive in Foucault's rejection of the Heideggerian myth of the pre-Socratic paradigm of  Ursprünglichkeit, à la mode during the French reception of Heidegger in the 1950s.(F 113)[7] As early as 1961, Foucault wrote in the preface to Folie et déraison that he was conducting his inquiries "under the sun of the great Nietzschean quest [sous le solei de la grande recherche nietzschéenne]."(FD iv-v) In 1964, when he delivered the now celebrated lecture on "Nietzsche, Marx, Freud" at Royaumont, Foucault publicly consolidated his pact with the Nietzschean daimon. The fate of the genealogist of modernity was thus inscribed on the boundaries of critique and hermeneutic.  It was also by that time that Gilles Deleuze and Pierre Klossowski published their seminal works on Nietzsche, which Foucault regarded as the most valuable French contributions to philosophy during the structuralist belle époque.[8]

            In this study, I have tried to show how Foucault's reading of Kant and Nietzsche are decisive for a full understanding of a Foucauldian genealogy of modernity, where the term "genealogy" is understood lato sensu, as Foucault himself used it in his 1984 essay "On the Genealogy of Ethics."(BSH 237ff.;FR 340-343) Like  Aristotle's classification of the sciences --which presupposes both a broad and a narrow conception of episteme[9]--, Foucault conceives of genealogy as the most general conception of history, and yet he also opposes this term to archaeology, on the one hand, and to critique, on the other, in what seems to be a stricto sensu use of the term. To be sure, there is no metaphysics underlying his formulation of genealogy, though Foucault emphatically uses the word "ontology" associated with it. Since my major concern in this study has been with the question of method in philosophy, especially in ethics and political philosophy, and with reference to the problem of history, I have only signaled these points and will postpone them for a properly ontological investigation. In brief, what I have termed Foucault's "genealogy of modernity" can be expressed by the articulation of his archaeological and genealogical analyses of the regimes of truth, power relations, and ethical practices that have constituted modern subjectivity. I have deliberately omitted a third dimension to this study, namely, the psycho-analytical approach to subjectivation, which has been undertaken by several authors in the last two decades.[10]

            Following this remise en scène of the Foucauldian problematic, I will proceed to investigate the development of his conceptions of critique and genealogy, so as to complement the exposés of his reading of Kant's critique of metaphysics and Nietzsche's critique of modernity, in the first and second chapters. Foucault's approach to the questions de méthode, which translated the German Methodenstreit into existentialist, Marxist, and structuralist strategies for the French intellectuels of the 1960's, will be examined first, so as to address some of Habermas's criticisms. This chapter has been structured, to a certain extent, so as to respond to Habermas's three charges of relativism, Präsentismus, and cryptonormativism, to be dealt with in the following sections on truth, power, and ethics, respectively. The Foucauldian conception of modernity, his answer to the Kantian question of the Aufklärung, and Nietzsche's critique of modernity will lead us to what I understand to constitute a Foucauldian response to Habermas's accusation of "transcendental historicism." The overcoming of the homo metaphysicus will operate the transition to Foucault's critique of power, articulated with his Nietzschean-inspired conceptions of genealogy and the hermeneutics of subjectivity. I will conclude this chapter with an account of what Foucault has termed a "genealogy of ethics."


1. Foucault, Habermas and the "Questions of Method"

            Entre l'entreprise critique et l'entreprise généalogique la différence n'est pas tellement d'objet ou de domaine, mais de point d'attaque, de perspective et de délimitation. (Michel Foucault, L'ordre du discours 68f.)

            In this section, I will embark on my response to Habermas's critique of Foucault, dealing with specific problems regarding the problem of method, in connection with the latter's articulation of critique and genealogy. I will argue that the problems of continuity and discontinuity, archaeology and genealogy, in Foucault's works cannot be dissociated from his elaboration on new approaches to history and a critique of power. As announced from the outset, it was by taking Habermas's criticisms seriously that I was impelled to reexamine Foucault's genealogy of modernity, so as to deal with the problems of historicism and rationality which, according to Habermas, undermine Foucault's critique of power. Since the purpose of this study is to analyze Foucault's rather than Habermas's conception of power, I will use the latter's remarks and criticisms only as a way of articulating Foucault's project. Before anything, I would like to recall the background to Foucault's questions de méthode, namely, the debate that took place in postwar France since existentialists and marxists were challenged by the structuralist attack on humanism in the sixties.[11] It is in this context that I intend to pave the way for a discussion of Foucault's view of power relations as an ensemble of dispositifs, in the third section.

            When Jean-Paul Sartre published in 1960 an essay-preface for his polemical Critique of Dialectical Reason[12], the choice of the title "Question de Méthode," translated more than a personal interest or the strategy of a fashionable existentialism. It came to no one's surprise thus that, twenty years later, one of Sartre's archi-rivals, contributed to a debate on penitentiary systems of France with a discussion strategically entitled "Questions de Méthode."[13] The "questions of method," in the plural, translated for Foucault the different levels of problematization of a method (archaeological, genealogical, analytico-interpretative) in his work, distinguishing his multiform analyses from the Sartrean project that envisaged the only historical category capable of unifying individuals out of a common structural interest, the "practico-inert" field. As over against Sartre's pretense to "the truth of history," Foucault's critical reading of Kant and Nietzsche called into question the existential-Marxist "prolegomena to any future anthropology." In spite of all conceptual divergences, both Sartre and Foucault situated thus the questions of method at the heart of their philosophical investigations on history, truth, and human nature.

            After all, the French reception of Husserl's phenomenology and the Hegelian renaissance constituted the common background of both thinkers, in their response to Heidegger's and structuralist critiques of humanism. Foucault's archaeological critique seems to aim as much at the transparency of Sartre's subject as Husserl's transcendental subjectivity. In the OT, Foucault undertakes the discursive analysis of how the different conceptions of method in the classical age would pave the way for the Kantian critique understood as method to rehabilitate metaphysics vis-à-vis the emerging sciences of nature. One has only to recall all the scientific inquiries and investigations of Bacon, Galileo, Newton and, above all, Descartes's Rules for the Direction of the Mind (1621) and his Discourse on the Method of Conducting One's Reason Well and of Seeking the Truth in the Sciences (1637). Although the Greek word methodos --in the sense of an "investigation," akin to historia-- is already found in classical texts such as Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, it was only in the seventeenth century that an ever-growing, methodic differentiation between the conception of metaphysics and the sciences of nature would lead to the autonomy of modern sciences in the nineteenth century. Hence the significance of the epistemic break which, according to Foucault, separates authors such as Descartes, Newton, and Leibniz --who still extended the usage of a rational, universal method to the diverse fields of human inquiry, including theology-- from Kant's critique of rationalist metaphysics, allowing for the emergence of empirical fields of positivities peculiar to all modern sciences, on the one hand, and the transcendental grounds of human cognition and freedom, on the other. This modern dualism, according to Foucault, would accompany all the adventures of the dialectic of reason, from Hegel and Marx to Husserl and Sartre.

            As Gérard Lebrun has shown, Foucault's archaeology in Les mots et les choses succeeds in showing how phenomenology failed to do justice to Kant insofar as Husserl underestimated Kant's critique, by placing it within the same rationalist field of "objectivism" where Descartes, Leibniz, and Galileo belong.[14] As Lebrun sums it up, "the essential point of the Critique is the advent of a subject who possesses a priori knowledge to the extent that he is deprived of intellectual intuition; that is, to the extent that he is finite."(MFP 44) Foucault speaks thus of the phenomenological conception of "le vécu" (alluding to the Lebenswelt) as a prerequisite to the epistemic field and he appropriates Merleau-Ponty's circularity between the transcendental and the empirical only to arrive at the impasse of representational thinking after Kant's analytic of finitude. Foucault's strategy aims, in the last analysis, at the undermining of the transcendental subject, precisely by introducing the representation-anthropology divide that problematizes post-Kantian attempts to ground knowledge in a philosophical a priori. If Husserl's suspension of the thesis of the world failed to provide us with a presuppositionless method, Foucault's double suspension --i.e., the epoche of reference and meaning (BSH 49)--establishes the historicity of every form of cognition, a history of truth, as it were. This was indeed a radical attempt to extend phenomenology so as to fill the gaps left by the structuralist attack on the becoming of human subjectivity. For Foucault, structuralism was indeed the most systematic of all efforts to "evacuate the concept of the event,"(PK 114) an extreme case for history. In this sense, Foucault was the self-proclaimed anti-structuralist and the radical hermeneute par excellence.

            Now, I must remark in passing that it was also as part of the legacy of German idealism that the Methodenstreit opposing natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) and human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) emerged in the last century, and was renewed by the debate between Habermas and Karl Popper, on the one hand, and between Habermas and the new historicism, on the other.[15] As we have seen in the first chapter, it was precisely in his earlier writings that Foucault focused on the questions of method in his archaeology of knowledges so as to establish the historicity of all truth. Although Habermas gives many convincing reasons for his attack upon Foucault's systematic ambiguity, i.e., between what he sees as the critical and meta-theoretical claims of genealogy, he is not justified in imposing a critical-theoretical framework on a thinker who was not after all seeking to establish a social theory. That is why the Foucault-Habermas debate will only profit us by recasting its intrinsic problematic of historicity and power. Thus Habermas has discerned, for better or for worse, a double role played by the Foucauldian staging of power, in the ideal thought of a transcendental synthesis and the presuppositions of an empirical ontology. While the empirical research of the genealogist carries out the documentary interests of a positiviste heureux in his unearthed archives, Habermas condemns Foucault's "functionalist sociology of knowledge" for its implicit "transcendental-historicist concept of power."(PDM 269) In effect, in Foucault's own words, "[t]he forces operating in history are not controlled by destiny or regulative mechanisms, but respond to haphazard conflicts."(FR 88) The "concerted carnival" of Foucault's genealogical method consists thus of an ongoing compilation and process of bodies of power/ knowledge, the cultural productions of truth, which have been marginalized by previous historiographies.

            With Foucault's discussion of regimes of jurisdiction and veridiction ("Questions of Method," L'impossible prison), the genealogy of modernity comes full circle in its radical critique of rationality and historicism, renewing the classical question of freedom and necessity in Western thought. It also attests to Foucault's lifelong concern with the historicity of scientific production, the history of systems of thought, and its discursive discontinuities vis-à-vis other forms of discourse and practices, such as literature, art, etc.  Thus Kant and Nietzsche provide together the critical-genealogical background against which Foucault's social analyses of human discourses are effected. If the Kantian Grenzbegriff dualism of faculties leads to the Foucauldian limit-attitude between law-abiding and its transgression, it is Nietzsche's metaphorics of wahr-sagen that provides Foucault with the problematic of truth, values, and the self-overcoming of critical reflexivity. This "Nietzschean return to Kant" guides indeed Foucault's social interest in the study of practices rather than theories or ideologies. As he remarked on the question of method in history,

            To analyze "regimes of practices" means to analyze programmes of conduct which have both prescriptive effects regarding what is to be done (effects of "jurisdiction") and codifying effects regarding what is to be known (effects of "veridiction"). (FE 75)

            Nevertheless, Habermas contends that Foucault's "genealogy of knowledge" is "grounded on a theory of power"(PDM 104), so that the latter will inevitably lead to performative contradiction. I shall arrive at another conclusion, with an alternative reading of Foucault's philosophical discourse of modernity, which I think to be in accordance with his overall conception of truth, power, and ethics. In my own attempt to address Habermas's threefold critique of Foucault's supposed relativism, presentism, and cryptonormativism, I will argue that the respective questions of truth, value, and norm are implicitly met by the historical a priori of a genealogy of subjectivity. It will be of fundamental importance to articulate Foucault's critique-genealogy binomial with his knowledge-power-subjectivation triangle in such a way as to deal with the problem of power without reducing it to an ontic category, not even to an ontological concept à la Heidegger, since power relations, like material relations of production, always already take place in history, in the very "eventalizing" of social practices.

2. Truth, Archaeology, and Genealogy

            There is a battle "for truth," or at least "around truth" truth I do not mean "the ensemble of truths which are to be discovered and accepted," but rather "the ensemble of rules according to which the true and the false are separated and specific effects of power attached to the true"... (Michel Foucault, PK 132)

            Following the methodological question that permeates my study, I proceed now to show how Foucault's conjugation of the two approaches (i.e. the critical and the genealogical) runs parallel to his articulation of archaeology and genealogy. In order to reexamine Foucault's project in the methodological correlation[16] it establishes between his critical conception of power and his genealogical view of history, I decided to start from Habermas's charges that Foucault is doomed to performative contradiction and relativism. The first thing that must be pointed out here is that neither Foucault nor Nietzsche would question the truth that is at stake, say, in truth games and their rules, such as modus ponens, or concluding 'Q' from the premises 'P -> Q' and 'P.' In effect, suspicion only arises on the level of referentiality, namely, on what 'P' stands for. Since for neither Nietzsche nor Foucault truth can be naively reduced to an adaequatio theory of sorts (i.e., the correspondence either between things and words, or between facts and their posterior interpretations), the notion of "regimes of truth" plays, for Foucault, the social, political role of the "will to truth," as every society accepts certain types of discourse and makes them function as true.(PK 132, PDM 270) According to Habermas,

            Foucault cannot adequately deal with the persistent problems that come up in connection with an interpretation approach to the object domain, a self-referential denial of universal validity claims, and a normative justification of critique. The categories of meaning , validity, and value are ... eliminated...(PDM 286)

            As we shall see, the problem of truth refers us to the other problems of the critique of power and ethical normativity, which will be dealt with in the next sections. To a certain extent, Habermas has rightly framed his criticism of Foucault in terms of the three genealogical axes. And yet, as I will argue, he fails to correctly represent Foucault's genealogy of modernity as a historical, practical critique of modern subjectivity. As Dominique Janicaud has shown, it seems that "Habermas did not understand Nietzsche"[17] and to the extent that he applies the same criticism of signification to that of truth and value, he failed to do justice to Foucault's writings, which are quoted only to be dismissed as an aporetic critique of power. To start with, the Nietzsche appropriated by Foucault is not exactly the author of Zarathustra but the one of The Birth of Tragedy, of the Genealogy of Morals.[18] In the same vein, Foucault's appropriation of Kant's critique, as we have seen, departs from the Aufklärung ideal of rationality but preserves its emancipatory interest and grounds it in everyday history rather than in a transcendental freedom. Perhaps, to borrow Ricoeur's formula, we find here "a Kantianism without a transcendental subject." As Foucault writes in the preface to the Birth of the Clinic,

            For Kant, the possibility and necessity of a critique were linked, through certain scientific contents, to the fact that there is such a thing as knowledge. In our time --and Nietzsche the philologist testifies to it-- they are linked to the fact that language exists and that, in the innumerable words spoken by men --whether they are reasonable or senseless, demonstrative or poetic-- a meaning has taken shape that hangs over us, leading us forward in our blindness, but awaiting in the darkness for us to attain awareness before emerging into the light of day and speaking. (NC xv-xvi)

            Thus, while Habermas starts with the assumption that philosophy has articulated the ideals critical theory must make practical, as John Rajchman remarks, "Foucault starts with the assumption that ideals and norms are always already 'practical;' the point of critique is to analyze the practices in which those norms actually figure, and which determine particular kinds of experience."[19]  As we have seen in our exposés of Kant's and Nietzsche's conceptions of knowledge and truth, the very critical task of philosophy is radically diverse in these thinkers and that will certainly reflect in both Habermas's and Foucault's conceptions of philosophy. Foucault writes as a philosopher, and yet he is always solicited by the other of philosophical inquiry as he sets out to think from the outside, as it were, la pensée du dehors:

            But what is philosophy today, I mean philosophical activity, if it is not work which is critical of thought itself? And what is it, if instead of legitimizing that which we already know, it does not consist in finding out how and how far it might be possible to think differently? There is always something laughable about philosophical discourse when it attempts, from the outside, to lay down the law for others, to tell them where their truth really lies, and how to find it, or when it takes it upon itself to make clear what it is in their procedures which can be seen as naive positivity. Yet it is the right of philosophical discourse to explore that which, in its own thought, can be challenged by the use of a form of knowledge which is alien to it. (HS2 15)

            Foucault's conception of philosophy as askesis, "un exercice de soi dans la pensée," reveals the archaeological-genealogical doublet that characterizes his "history of truth." While the archaeological dimension accounts for the analyses of the forms of problematization (les formes mêmes de la problématisation), the genealogical dimension allows for their formation from practices and their changes (leur formation à partir des pratiques et de leurs modifications).(HS2 17f.) Although this cross-fertilization of archaeology and genealogy is only explicitly formulated towards the end of his life, Foucault has applied it to earlier works, so as to suggest that there is indeed a quasi-systematic, three-axial approach to his histoire de la vérité. In his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France, quoted above, Foucault opposes archaeology to genealogy so as to contrast their complementary strategies in a radical attempt to avoid reducing historical analyses to a theory of knowledge or to a theory of infrastructural determinations.(OD 68-72) Thus, in the 1976 lecture at the same Collège, Foucault defines archaeology as "the appropriate methodology of this analysis of local discursivities," while genealogy "would be the tactics whereby, on the basis of the descriptions of these local discursivities, the subjected knowledges which were thus released would be brought into play."(PK 85) In a 1984 interview conducted by Paul Rabinow, Foucault situated his "history of problematics" between a "history of ideas" and a "history of mentalities," since one must grasp "problematization not as an arrangement of representation but as a work of thought."(FR 390) And he defined thought as "freedom in relation to what one does, the motion by which one detaches oneself from it, establishes it as an object, and reflects on it as a problem."(FR 388) If Kant inspired Foucault's interest in the subjective constitution of reflection and its discursive, positive finitude, it was Nietzsche's unmasking of truth that ultimately guided his archaeological and genealogical approaches to history.

            Since archaeology deals with discourses, "discourse" also acquires different meanings for Foucault and Habermas. In a 1968 essay on "Politics and the Study of Discourse,"[20] Foucault presents the criteria of formation, transformation, and correlation of discourses in the discursive analyses employed in the OT. He emphasizes then his concern with the problem of the individualization of discourses --always in the plural.(FE 54) And Foucault proceeds to remind his readers that "the episteme is not a sort of grand underlying theory, it is a space of dispersion, it is an open and doubtless indefinitely describable field of relationships."(FE 55) The dissemination of discursivity allows, at once, for the delimitations and displacements operated by the different epistemic formations. This usage of the word is therefore to be contrasted with Habermas's normative Diskurs, which follows Kant's discursive-intuitive opposition, in that validity claims are to be grounded in reason and reflective thinking. To be sure, both discours and Diskurs stem from the Latin discursus and are related to the verb discurrere, "to run hither and tither." As we have seen in the first chapter, the limits of representation in the critique would eventually motivate Foucault to replace the metaphoric of the discours with that of the savoir, and the episteme with the dispositif. But we must bear in mind that Foucault is indeed radicalizing the critique, under the sign of Nietzsche's genealogy, so as to conceive of both discursivity and non-discursivity in his radical attempt to overcome the Kantian opposition between theory and practice. Manfred Frank reminds us that a common-sense definition would have that "a discourse is an utterance, or a talk of some length (not determined), whose unfolding or spontaneous development is not held back by any over-rigid intentions."(MFP 126)[21] In the OT, discourse stands for a symbolic order of a state of affairs which makes it possible for all subjects who have been socialized under its authority to speak and act together.(MFP 133) The word "discourse" is used thus by Foucault's archaeological analyses as a second-degree order, situated between the reversible order of "language"(langue) and the irreversible order of "word"(parole).(OT 12; FE 56-63) Contrasting with the homogeneous ordering of the discourse in OT, the Archéologie du savoir and L'ordre du discours emphasize the événements singuliers ("specific events") which cannot be reduced to a "linear schema," as they do not conform to "a single law, often bearing with them a type of history which is individual to itself, and irreducible to the general mode of a consciousness which acquires, progresses and remembers itself."(AS 16) Discourses are therefore external to any totalizing, universalizing concept. Discourses are broken down into "statements" (énoncés), which are neither propositions nor sentences, and account for the impossibility of subordinating discourses to the "structure-becoming opposition" (opposition structure-devenir)(AS 20). Foucault places them between structure and event: "The énoncé is obviously an event which cannot be repeated; it has a situational singularity which cannot be reduced."(AS 133) Foucault resorts to the metaphors of verticality and horizontality in order to conjugate, on the same mobile, diagonal line, the singular grouping of énoncés with the ordering of institutional conventions and codifications. In the AS, Foucault already anticipates the nondiscursive practices that will be shown to be interdependent and correlative to their discursive counterparts: he speaks of an ordre d'institution to which discourses are subject as elements identical to one another and a champ d'utilisation in which the énoncé is invested. (AS 136,137) The archive appears thus as the totality of all discursive regularities, within a vertical system of interdependence.(AS 96) As Frank remarks, Foucault claims in his inaugural lecture at the Collège de France, "that discourses are not ordered per se, but through the intervention of a will to power."(MFP ET 113)[22] Now, in opposition to a Hegelian semiology which, as we have seen, presupposes the reconciliation of a conceptual logic of Aufhebung with historical becoming, Foucault employs savoir to replace the order of the discours. At any rate, discourse is ultimately comprised by Foucault's later use of the broader term "practices" comprising both discursive and nondiscursive dimensions.

            I have sought to show how archaeology and genealogy are to be articulated in Foucault's conception of regimes of truth and jurisdiction, at the heart of his critique of power and ethics. In effect, truth already points to a questioning of the status of knowledge, i.e., that the very possibility of knowledge is regarded as a problem for philosophy. Hence Deleuze's allusion to Foucault's "pragmatism"(F 81), insofar as truth appears as the outcome of problematizations of savoir and problematizations themselves are made from practices of saying and seeing. Foucault sought "to make visible the unseen," that is, to unveil "a change of level, addressing one self to a layer of material which had hitherto had no pertinence for history and which had not been recognized as having any moral, aesthetic, political or historical value."(PK 51)

            Thus Foucault's genealogical critique follows a Nietzschean overcoming of Kant's critique, insofar as it brings to light a historically constituted subjectivity that had been concealed and silenced by the correlated constitutions of knowledge and power. The will to truth is always already an expression of a will to power, even on a discursive level, as one of the dispositifs of control, selection, and organization of discourse. It is this context that Foucault proceeds to speak of a "true discourse" (le discours vrai), "incapable of recognizing the will to truth that pervades it."(OD 22) Habermas mistakenly quotes this passage to stress "the methodological paradox of a science that writes the history of the human sciences with the goal of a radical critique of reason."(PDM 248) To be sure, Habermas's point is that a second-order truth, a mere effect of power relations, can neither account for an archaeology nor stem from genealogy's positivism with the objectivity of truth claims. However, just as Habermas accuses Foucault of imposing an ontological reading of power into the concept of truth, he fails to realize that it was this very "objectivism" that came under attack in archaeology and genealogy. Furthermore, as it will be shown, there is no ontology of power underlying Foucault's genealogy, nor is truth ultimately subordinated to power, even though it remains an effect of power.         It seems that the same problem of a "performative contradiction" had been raised in the Foucault-Chomsky debate around the problem of human nature.[23] How can one articulate ethics and political philosophy without referring to a presupposed conception of human nature and rationality? This problem, as I have tried to show, dates back to Aristotle, but was only fully expressed in the modern conception of freedom that is associated with German idealism and the critical philosophy of Kant. Foucault qua philosopher is not concerned with some social theory, "an ideal social model for the functioning of our scientific or technological society." After all, this "will to know" has only masked the real mechanisms of power relations that underlie social, political theorizations:

            It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the working of institutions which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticize them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight them.(FR 6)

            Of course there remain several questions to be addressed, such as, Why should one oppose violence? Why should the oppressed resist? On which grounds should one social group fight and stand for their rights and freedom? Nancy Fraser has formulated this problem with a single question, "Why ought domination to be resisted?," and she is approvingly cited by Habermas.(PDM 283)[24] Foucault does not dismiss these questions, but he leaves them unanswered. For Foucault, it is only by actually engaging in political struggles that one takes part in processes that seek to subvert and alter power relations --but theory and knowledge are not external to these practices, let alone above them.

3. Modernity and the Critique of Power

            These two questions --"What is the Aufklärung? What is the Revolution?" --are the two forms under which Kant posed the question of his own present. They, are also, I believe, the two questions that have not ceased to haunt, if not all modern philosophy since the nineteenth century, at least a large part of that philosophy. After all, it seems to me that the Aufklärung, both as a singular event inaugurating European modernity and as a permanent process manifested in the history of reason, in the developement and establishment of forms of rationality and technology, the autonomy and authority of knowledge, is for us not just an episode in the history of ideas. It is a philosophical question, inscribed since the eighteenth century in our thoughts. (Foucault, "The Art of Telling the Truth," PPC 94)


            I have contended that Foucault's genealogy of modernity hinges on a critique of power that combines his reading of Kant's response to the Aufklärung with his appropriation of Nietzsche's radical philosophy. Foucault's own understanding of the Enlightenment as the modern, philosophical response to that question (FR 32) reveals the genealogical thrust of his approach. Like modernity itself, the Aufklärung cannot be reduced to a past period in the history of ideas, but rather defines a perennial challenge, a critical task, an ethico-political problem for our own age. Rationality and freedom are indeed philosophical themes whose nonphilosophical openings and implications have been accompanying the history of Western civilizations since their first beginnings. And yet it is only in modernity that reason is said to have come of age, so as to attain true freedom. Foucault characterizes the modern attitude by four main features, namely, its self-consciousness of the break with tradition, its will to "heroize" the present, its self-relation to itself, and its self-realization through art.(FR 39-42) Foucault invokes Baudelaire as the epitome of modernity, just as Habermas sees in Schiller's Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man the aestheticist model that influenced Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and all the generation of post-modernists who in effect radicalize the fourth feature of Foucault's account. We had seen that, for Foucault, the threshold of our modernity is "situated not by the attempt to apply objective methods to the study of man, but rather by the constitution of an empirico-transcendental doublet which was called man."(OT 319) Now, Foucault sets out to define the modern ethos, first of all,in terms of a "permanent critique of ourselves"  that breaks away from the "blackmail of the Enlightenment," as the only way to carry out the practical intent of Kant's sapere aude without falling back into dogmatic rationalism and humanism. Both are caricatures of the Aufklärung, since whatever is human about "human nature" is itself a human creation, a historical invention that bears the stamp of its own time. To rid ourselves of the for-or-against Enlightenment blackmail, we must "be at the frontiers," so as to analyze and reflect on the limits of human experience, "a critique of what we are saying, thinking, and doing, through a historical ontology of ourselves."(FR 45) Since there is no such a thing as a "golden age" of Enlightenment, neither past nor future, the philosophical ethos of modernity is a historico-practical critique of today. It is neither a theory nor a permanent body of knowledge, but only an attitude, an ethos, "a philosophical life in which the critique of what we are is at one and the same time the historical analysis of the limits that are imposed on us and an experiment with the possibility of going beyond them."(FR 50)

            As over against the modern humanist traditions that draws the line between knowledge and power, Foucault sets out to show "a perpetual articulation of power on knowledge and knowledge on power."(PK 54) It is largely assumed that, following the May 1968 revolts in France, Foucault turned to more explicit analyses of power, moving therefore away from archaeology toward genealogy. The contrast between his last major text on archaeology, L'archéologie du savoir, and Surveiller et punir, is obvious. And yet there is a Foucauldian spacing that brings archaeology and genealogy together, precisely in his metaphor of space.[25] As we have seen, visibilities made possible the study and classification of, say, plants by Linneas, in the archaeology of OT. As for the genealogy, "space is fundamental in any exercise of power."(FR 252) In effect, space accounts for the power/ knowledge continuum. As Foucault says in the same interview, "the spatialization of knowledge was one of the factors in the constitution of this knowledge as a science."(FR 254) And as much could be said about the space of subjectivation in psychotherapy, medical clinics, and psychoanalysis. For Foucault,

            Mechanisms of power in general have never been much studied by history. History has studied those who held power --anedoctal histories of kings and generals; contrasted with this there has been the history of economic processes and infrastructures ... histories of institutions, of what has been viewed as a superstructural level... (PK 51)[26]  

            In order to make visible the constant articulation of power on knowledge and vice-versa, Foucault resorted to the dispositif metaphor.[27] We have alluded to Deleuze's book on Foucault, where the latter's philosophy is compared to a threefold (or fourfold, if we include the historical-time coordinate) of dispositifs defining the regimes of truth, mechanisms of power, and modes of subjectivation. As I will argue in this section, the conception of power dispositifs in Foucault is a felicitous formula to respond to Habermas's criticism. Habermas's systematic attack on the chimerical grounding of philosophy apart from the social world has revived the great Marxian tradition of "radical critique." Thus, his critique of Foucault remains much too complex to be dismissed as lacking philosophical magnitude. If I will be focusing on one single aspect of this "critique of power," namely the method that links micro-analyses to genealogical historiography, it is only for the sake of preserving the communication between the genealogy of power and critical theory. For Habermas, this link between the social order as Lebenswelt, on the one hand, and as System, on the other, is never articulated in Foucault. Hence Habermas praises Axel Honneth for having worked out this problematic feature of Foucault's social thought, namely the elaboration of a model of strategic action that defies the State as a network of power, that breaks away from the institutionally sedimented disciplines and power practices already presupposed in his early writings. As Habermas sums it up,

            When, like Foucault, one admits only the model of processes of subjugation, of confrontations mediated by the body, of contexts of more or less consciously strategic action; when one excludes any stabilizing of domains of action in terms of values, norms, and processes of mutual understanding and offers for these mechanisms of social integration none of the familiar equivalents from systems or exchange theories; then one is hardly able to explain just how persistent local struggles could get consolidated into institutionalized power. (PDM 287)      

            I have pointed out that Habermas charges of presentism, relativism, and cryptonormativism aim at Foucault's "attempt to preserve the transcendental moment proper to generative performances in the basic concept of power while driving from it every trace of subjectivity."(PDM 295) For Habermas, the main problem with Foucault's concept of power is that it cannot "free the genealogist from contradictory self-thematizations." Now, the  critical questions of signification, truth, and value, raised by Habermas, are indeed critical in the context of social practices. If what Foucault aims at is not the social struggles between oppressors and oppressed (as in classical Marxism), but an asymmetrical ensemble of tensions between disciplinary powers and tacit bodies, then to invoke "the possibility of a new form of right," at once antidisciplinary and liberated from the principle of sovereignty, betrays a "value-free historiography" inherent in his genealogical method.(PDM 284)[28] Nevertheless, as Foucault asserts in "The Subject and Power,"

            Power exists only when it is put into action, even if, of course, it is integrated into a disparate field of possi-bilities brought to bear upon permanent structures.(BSH 219)

            Furthermore, if instead of puissance Foucault prefers to speak of pouvoir, he also speaks more often of discours than of rationalité, not to mention "rationalization." He even goes as far as to say that "the word rationalization is dangerous. What we have to do is analyze specific rationalities rather than always invoking the progress of rationalization in general."(BSH 210) In this same context, Foucault reiterates the Nietzschean view of power as the acting upon other actions, "an action upon an action."(BSH 220) The metaphors of active and reactive forces also points to the discursive mechanism that evaluates their magnitude, the differential device that accounts for multiple forms of rationality which are historically contingent discursive formations and practices. In this regard, as Foucault said to Raulet, it would be unfair to characterize his enunciation of the problematic of knowledge/power relations as a "theory of power."(PPC 43; BSH 209) In effect, according to Foucault, power is never substantive (le pouvoir), since it cannot be reduced to a focus of possession or even agency (e.g. the State, social classes, ideological apparatuses), but is itself a diffuse complex of relations, involving thus both knowledges and modes of subjectivation. As he remarked in a 1976 lecture in Brazil, "there is not one power, but several powers  [il n'existe pas un pouvoir, mais plusieurs pouvoirs]."[29] Foucault contends thus that society is not a unitary body on which one single power is exerted, but "an archipelago of different powers." Hence the juridical model of Grotius, Pufendorf, and Rousseau, which centralizes power in the sovereignty of the State or even in the civil society, tends to eclipse the techniques of power that defy superstructural functions of conservation and reproduction of power:

            Il existe une véritable technologie du pouvoir ou, mieux, des pouvoirs, qui ont leur propre histoire ...Privilégier l'appareil d'État, la fonction de conservation, la superstructure juridique, est, au fond, 'rousseauiser' Marx. C'est le réinscrire dans la théorie bourgeoise et juridique du pouvoir...[30]

            Foucault undertakes thus the writing of a "history of powers in the West" (une histoire des pouvoirs dans l'Occident), where the different mechanisms of power are analyzed in light of their interactions with the diverse levels of power relations and their correlative dispositifs of truth and subjectivation. That is why Deleuze's model for power relations as dispositifs that at once constitute and are constituted by a network of dispositifs is indeed such a felicitous one. For, as Deleuze argues, the real boundary in Foucault is that between constants and variables (MFP 193), so that the lines which form the dispositifs only affirm the continual variations, and all we are left with are the lines of variation. And this is precisely the point of rupture between Foucault and every form of historicism that prevails even in neo-Marxist systems of culture like Gramsci's hegemony, in that Foucault leaves no room for teleology. In contrast with Althusser, who maintained that there are no ideological apparatuses that are not at the same time State apparatuses (appareils d'État), Foucault develops a veritable "philosophy of practices" in his analyses of concrete devices (analyses des dispositifs concrets) that displace the foci and agency of power. Above all, the Foucauldian device appears as a multilineal ensemble, composed of lines of different nature forming non-homogeneous systems: each line is divided, submitted to variations of direction, submitted to derivations. The énoncés which can be formulated are like vectors or tensors. Thus the three fields that Foucault often distinguishes (savoir, pouvoir, subjectivation) have no fixed contours, but are like chains of variables acting upon one another. Hence the prison device, for instance, as a panoptical machine that allows for the disciplinary agent to see without being seen. What accounts for social movements are neither subjects nor objects but regimes of statements (régimes d'énoncés) that, in contrast with nondiscursive devices, serve to determine new archives and new historical media such as the seventeenth-century General Hospital, the eighteenth-century clinic, the nineteenth-century prison, or Ancient Greek technologies of subjectivation.

            Habermas fails thus to acknowledge that the reception of Nietzsche in France cannot be reduced to fashionable aestheticism nor to some structuralist contextualism à la Heidegger. As Foucault sets out to discuss (and reappropriate) Nietzsche's nonjuridical notion of power, he also embraces his conception of "history" and explicitly problematizes the historian's taken-for-granted use of historiography. As Habermas rightly put it, Foucault's reappropriation of Nietzsche's "Second Unmodern Observation" can be described as a threefold attack on modern historicism:

            (a) the attack on modernity's presentist consciousness of            time;

            (b) the attack on hermeneutical methodology;

            (c) the attack on global historiography. (PDM 249-251)

            From Nietzsche's first essay on the Genealogy of Morals, Foucault concludes that, since nothing lies at the origin of things and there is no substratum, genealogy is the "union of erudite knowledge and local memories which allow us to establish a historical knowledge of struggles and to make use of this knowledge tactically today."(PK 83) It has been shown, and this cannot be overemphasized, how Nietzsche's influence on Foucault accounts for a "technological," nonjuridical conception of power. For Foucault regards Nietzsche as the philosopher of power.(PK 53) Besides the two known texts on Nietzsche mentioned above (NFM and FR 76-100), Foucault's 1973 lecture on "Truth and Juridical Forms" (VFJ) delivered in Brazil constitutes an important source to understand his microphysics of power. Foucault finds in Nietzsche the very kind of discourse where historical analyses of "the formation of the subject" refers to the "birth of a certain form of knowledge without ever admitting the pre-existence of a subject of cognition."(VFJ 163) Foucault suggests thus that we follow Nietzsche's work as a model for his archaeological, genealogical analyses. According to Foucault, one of the most important features of Nietzsche's genealogy is the usage of the term "invention" --in German, Erfindung--, which frequently recurs in his writings, and should be always opposed to "origin," Ursprung, to stress the fabricated character of human morality, its social codifications, in spite of endless metaphysical attempts to ground it in a divine or intelligible origin. After all, since every ideal has no origin but has also been invented, cognition itself is a human creation, and does not constitute the oldest instinct of human beings. The will to truth, the will to know, stems from the struggle and the compromise among instincts, so that cognition is just an effect of surface. "A genealogy of values, morality, asceticism, and knowledge," writes Foucault, "will never confuse itself with a quest for their 'origins,' will never neglect as inaccessible the vicissitudes of history."(FR 80) Hence the rapprochement between history and medicine --as opposed to metaphysical philosophy. We can also see here the betrayal of morals in the very search for a historical knowledge that does not hinge on some kind of subjective formation. Genealogy, as a historical analysis of the lowly, sordid beginnings of human inventions, seeks thus to overcome the moral of ressentiment that assigns to the doer (the subject) the good or evil of actions that we value morally (e.g., the goodness of founding fathers) --hence the need of a critique of moral values. Contra Kant's critique, genealogy is not after the transcendental conditions of possibility, but like Marx's Kritik der Kritik, it simply unveils the concrete, historical conditions of human beginnings. Once again, we can spot here Foucault's positive reading of the Kantian critique, inherited by Marx, inasmuch as "the Aufklärung is the age of critique."(FR 38)

            In effect, Nietzsche's criticism of Paul Rée's utilitarian use of history (GM Preface 4,7),[31] as Foucault points out, was aimed not only at Rée's own evolutionary version of historicism but at the entire suprahistorical, metaphysical traditions of thought that preceded him. One of the greatest contributions of Nietzsche's genealogical critique of Christianity and Western metaphysics lies precisely in the unmasking of history as a transcendental standpoint from where everything else can be understood. Just as Marx and Freud denounced masking structures of false consciousness and conscious behaviour, Nietzsche shook the metaphysical foundations of truth and reality so as to unveil the transvaluation of all values in the historical self-overcoming of human becoming. Unlike the other two "masters of suspicion," however, Nietzsche's hermeneutic is not after a deeper, hidden structure of meaning but remains on the very surface of appearances, where opposites always already operate the return of the same. As in Deleuze's reading of Nietzsche, Foucault interprets the "return  of the same" in terms of a non-dialectical, differential interplay of forces.(NP 167-189) That is why, contra Althusser, Foucault goes on to warn against the political marriage of "hermeneutics" and "semiology."[32]

            Foucault not only appropriates Nietzsche's conception of genealogy but he also applies it to Nietzsche's own corpus, thus betraying the double gesture of a Nietzschean metaphoricity, an "interpretation of the interpretation" (i.e. Foucault's and Nietzsche's interpretation of "facts") that cannot be reduced to the "outside" it seeks to unmask as interpretation.[33] In effect, the Nietzschean opposition of Entstehung and Herkunft to Ursprung, Foucault points out, translates the true objective of genealogy qua analysis of beginnings, at once unveiling the intricacies of discursive formations and undermining the illusion of self-identity in the very writing of history:

            Where the soul pretends unification or the self fabricates a coherent identity, the genealogist sets out to study the beginning --numberless beginnings, whose faint traces and hints of color are readily seen by a historical eye. The analysis of descent permits the dissociation of the self, its recognition and displacement as an empty synthesis, in liberating a profusion of lost events. (FR 81)

            Descent implies also the inscription of historical events in the body, the domain par excellence of Herkunft, the locus of social manipulation, division, and reconstitution, the medium that records past experiences and generates desires and errors as well.  Foucault's interest in the articulation of body and event becomes more explicit in his later writings, notably as an effect of the power relations that act indirectly upon the body (subjecting it to time, e.g., in Surveiller et punir), but it is already expressed in this text, in the powerful language of spacing surfaces:

            The body is the inscribed surface of events (traced by language and dissolved by ideas), the locus of a disso-ciated self (adopting the illusion of a substantial unity), and a volume in perpetual disintegration. Genealogy, as an analysis of descent, is thus situated within the articulation of the body and history. Its task is to expose a body totally imprinted by history and the process of history's destruction of the body. (FR 83)

            The dissolution of self-identity, in the very decomposition of the body, shows that Nietzsche's reversal of the Cartesian domination of the mind over the body, or even his reversal of the Kantian noumenal rupture, is not a dialectical solution to an old pattern of rationalist and idealist aspirations, but a radical expression of a materialist, immanent critique. There is nothing above human becoming that accounts for the fate of individuals and the social body in their striving to preserve life and make it better or worse. In effect, "[n]othing in man --not even his body-- is sufficiently stable to serve as the basis for self-recognition or for understanding other men."(FR 87f.) Thus what Marx's reversal of Hegel's dialectic fails to accomplish in his social, historical critique from below, Nietzsche's affirmation of Wirklichkeit operates a formidable return to the surface of appearances (the real effects, for there is no Ding an sich) that at once are structured by and structure the social struggles effected by the will to power. The wirkliche Historie written by the genealogists is to be opposed to traditional history in that the former defies the established relationship between the eruption of events and a necessary continuity in the unfolding of "historical facts." History becomes "effective" insofar as it introduces "discontinuity into our very being," depriving "the self of the reassuring stability of life and nature."(FR 88) What used to point to a certain interpretation of a historical, natural process manifest in the event, becomes now an arbitrary moment in the yet-to-be-decided play of forces:  

            An event, consequently, is not a decision, a treaty, a reign, or a battle, but the reversal of a relationship of forces, the usurpation of power, the appropriation of a vocabulary turned against those who had once used it, a feeble domination that poisons itself as it grows lax, the entry of a masked "other." The forces operating in history are not controlled by destiny or regulative mechanisms, but respond to haphazard conflicts. (FR 88)

            The three uses of history invoked by Nietzsche (monumental, antiquarian, and critical) are inevitably recurrent in the genealogist's recast of historical knowledge, for power and knowledge always operate in history and, as Foucault maintains throughout, they cannot take place apart from each other. The critical use of history leads thus to "the destruction of the man who maintains knowledge by the injustice proper to the will to knowledge"(FR 97), just as the veneration of monuments becomes a parody and the respect for ancient continuities becomes systematic dissociation.  The "concerted carnival" of this genealogical method consists of an ongoing compilation and process of bodies of power/knowledge, the cultural productions of truth, which have been marginalized by previous historiographies. Now, the main theses of Foucault's conception of power can be summarized as follows, in light of Surveiller et punir and his interviews in Power/Knowledge. We have seen that modernity is marked by the era of anthropology, following the analytic of finitude of Kant's critique of metaphysics. Nietzsche's critique of Kant, according to Foucault, has shown that modern man's awakening from the dogmatic slumber has not evaded an anthropological sleep that characterizes our own age of uncertainty. Foucault's main thesis in Surveiller et punir is that the prison was linked to the transformation of individuals.(PK 39) The analysis of the carceral society is also related to other institutions of disciplinary power (the cell, the workshop, the hospital), that provide it with three great schemata, namely, "the politico-moral schema of individual isolation and hierarchy; the economic model of force applied to compulsory work; the technico-medical model of cure and normalization."(DP 248) Power is thus shown to be co-extensive with the social body, as power relations play at once a conditioning and a conditioned role.(PK 142) For Foucault, these relations are of multiple forms, besides those of prohibition and punishment, and although their interconnections delineate general conditions of domination, one cannot reduce it to a binary structure opposing "dominators" to "dominated." For the multiform "relations of domination... are partially susceptible of integration into overall strategies," as power relations can indeed be used positively as strategies and "there are no relations of power without resistance."(PK 142) Bentham's panoptical device appears thus as a paradigm of the modern disciplinary institutions of bio-power and normalizing technologies of control.  According to Foucault,

            In this central and centralized humanity, the effect and instrument of complex power relations, bodies and forces subjected by multiple mechanisms of "incarceration," objects for discourses that are in themselves elements for this strategy, we must hear the distant roar of battle.


And he hastens to add,


            At this point I end a book that must serve as a historical background to various studies of the power of normalization and the formation of knowledge in modern society.(DP 308)[34]

            According to Habermas's reading of this last paragraph (or footnote), confronted with Foucault's initial remark that he would "study the birth of the prison only in the French penal system," Surveiller et punir aims at modern society as a whole, even though the study is indeed confined to late 18th-, early 19th-century prison systems in France.(cf.SP 35 n. 1; ET: 309 n.3) I agree with Habermas's contention here, although I do not think Foucault's genealogy implies that modern society is simply a Great Confinement or that a local, microphysical analysis can be extended to a global macropolitics of sorts. After all, as Deleuze puts it, we find two complementary theses in Foucault's conception of a "local" power, namely, that "power is local because it is never global" and that "it is not local or localized because it is diffuse."(F 26) In brief, I will argue that the problematic at issue is rather methodological than textual-analytical, having to do with Foucault's overall genealogical project, especially with his conception of a "new history" that allows for an overlapping of the empirical and the transcendental in the very analysis of facts said to be "historical"-- in full agreement with his earlier formulation of the a priori historique. 

            As we have seen, the State already presupposes other existing power relations, precisely on the multiform, non-homogeneous levels of a "microphysics of power."(PK 122) The complex of those power relations presuppose thus technologies of power that relate individuals to the very normalizing techniques that make them subjects within social groups such as the family, neighborhoods, local communities, associations, schools, the workplace, hospitals, and diverse religious, social, and political institutions, etc. As Paul Patton has shown, there must be some way of making sense of Foucault's conception of power --even if it does not provide us with a clear-cut theory of power-- so as to understand how and to what extent we can believe, with Foucault, in the inevitability of resistance to domination. As we have sought to show in this study, Foucault's reading of Kant and Nietzsche has taken us beyond humanist, traditional conceptions of political philosophy and human nature. And yet, as Patton remarks,

            This human material is active; it is an entity composed of forces or endowed with certain capacities. As such it must be understood in terms of power, where this term is understood in its primary sense of capacity to do or become certain things. This conception of the human material may therefore be supposed to amount to a "thin" conception of the subject of thought and action: whatever else it may be, the human subject is a being endowed with certain capacities. It is a subject of power, but this power is only realized in and through the diversity of human bodily capacities and forms of subjectivity. Because it is a "subject" which is only present in various different forms, or alternatively because the powers of human being can be exercised in infinite different ways, this subject will not provide a foundation for normative judgment of the kind that would satisfy Fraser or Habermas: it will not provide any basis for a single universal answer to the question, "Why ought domination to be resisted?"[35]

            Foucault himself has never denied human agency or that human beings are the subject of power, although he radically refuses to hypostatize it or to reduce the subject to the cause of human actions. In his essay on "The Subject and Power," Foucault reiterates his commitment to a philosophical ethos that takes seriously the task of a "history of today":

            When in 1784 Kant asked, Was heißt Aufklärung?, he meant, What's going on just now? What's happening to us? What is this world, this period, this precise moment in which we are living? Or in other words: What are we? as Aufklärer, as part of the Enlightenment? (BSH 216)  

            Foucault contrasts Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche's "engaged" attitude ("we") with Descartes's solipsist, a-historical ego ("I"). Habermas and Foucault agree thus on the self-determination of the modern philosopher who can no longer remain indifferent to the political, historical events of her own times. And yet, what Habermas's charges of Präsentismus completely miss is precisely the anti-historicist attitude of Foucault's recasting the Kantian Antwort to the question Was ist Aufklärung? Just as Kant publicly addressed the readers of the Berliner Monatschrift with an alternative philosophical discourse of modernity --for Moses Mendelssohn had offered a different reply two months earlier--, so Foucault published his interpretation of Kant's text two hundred years later, in the Magazine littéraire, so as to affirm "philosophy as the discourse of modernity on modernity."(PPC 88)[36] The historical ontology of ourselves means, according to Foucault, that although we still live under the sign of reason and revolution, we are no longer within the same framework of truth, power, and moral coordinates that shaped Kant's optimism, since there are no fixed stars above us or eternal laws within. In effect, Foucault will argue that modern political philosophy itself is a child of its own time, as the juridical conception of power will be preserved from Hegel and Marx's dialectics of domination to the psycho-analytical theories of repression. Power struggles cannot be thus reduced to practices of domination (ethnic, social, religious) and forms of exploitation (of individuals in function of production), but must also address the problems of subjection and subjectivation.(BSH 212) Although Habermas has rightly articulated the problem of values with normativity, he failed to comprehend the political thrust of Foucault's genealogy of modern subjectivity.   

            As it will be disclosed in the next section on normativity, one of the greatest merits of Foucault's critique of power lies in his revaluation of power relations in their diffuse, non-reducible modes of human subjectivity. To be sure, it was the Nietzschean conception of a history of bodily relations that enlightened, as it were, Foucault's analyses of individualizing techniques of power in SP. To begin with, we can conceive of both punishment and surveillance as forms of discipline, both being historically constituted as institutionalized, individualizing mechanisms of control within society that allow for its self-regulation --in both liberal and socialist societies. Needless to say, it is the dynamic ensemble of such techniques of control that, for Foucault, determine discipline as a positivity within power structures that can be analyzed, for instance, through disciplinary techniques of examination and writing. Although there might be good and bad forms of discipline and punishment, Foucault does not advocate some forms of discipline in detriment of others, since his concern is strictly descriptive. Thus he has shown how Bentham's Panopticon (1791) was devised as a technology of power to solve the problems of surveillance.(DP 195 ff.; PK 148) The panoptical model is then described as a "laboratoire de savoir et de pouvoir", "une manière de définir les rapports du pouvoir avec la vie quotidienne des hommes"(SP 201-207), "une microphysique du pouvoir," "un pouvoir qui s'exerce plutôt qu'il ne se possède."(31) Government thus appears as a function of technology: the government of individuals, the government of souls, the government of the self by the self, the government of families, the government of children. That links the genealogies of the prison to the genealogy of bio-power in the Histoire de la sexualité, as Foucault takes a radical stand against "the government of individualization," as totalizing techniques of disciplinary power.(BSH 212) That the Roman patria potestas granted the father of the Roman family the right to "dispose" of the life of his children and slaves in modern times, according to Foucault, is contrasted with the disciplinary politics of the modern State, which no longer keeps the sovereignty relation that, for instance, the medieval sovereign had over his subjects, but exerts a form of power that is at once individualizing and totalizing. This "political double bind," according to Foucault, is the direct legacy of the Christian institution of pastoral techniques.(BSH 213ff.) If Hobbes saw power as the transfer of rights from the prince to the natural right possessed by each individual(HS1 177f.), Foucault contends that bio-power is no longer associated with the new juridical being, the sovereign, but rather with the "power over life and death," a conception of power as "a right of seizure: of things, time, bodies, and ultimately life itself; it culminated in the privilege to seize hold of life in order to suppress it."(HS1 179; FR 259) It is of fundamental importance to signal that Foucault draws a distinction between société disciplinaire and société disciplinée, so that the panoptical model, like the Grand Renfermement, belongs to the "ordre du discours" inasmuch as it unveils the "ordre des institutions." As Foucault remarks in an interview,

            The point is not to construct a system, but an instrument: a logic appropriate to the power relations and the struggles which are going on around them; this sort of research can take place only one step at a time, on the basis of reflections (which of necessity have to be historical in some respects) on given situations.[37]

            It is only within the broader framework of this "economy of power relations" that both the singular State and the pluralist society belong together in the same analysis of social control. Michael Walzer concedes that Foucault has succeeded in unveiling the complex mechanisms of discipline that link macro- and micro-levels of social life, but remains skeptical about the latter's claims to avoiding "anarchism/nihilism" or falling prey to some form of conservatism. In a nutshell, Walzer does not think that local resistance can ever be effected without the normative claims that in one way or another refer us back to the State and/or its institutions.[38] What makes all the difference, in the last analysis, is the form of government or the political model at stake, namely, a liberal State as opposed to authoritarian and totalitarian ones. I think Foucault would agree with part of this contention, although he would immediately add that the very process of subjectivation is precisely what accounts for the sedimentation of certain regimes of veridiction and jurisdiction as certain power mechanisms prevail over others in the formations of self-governance and government.[39] What Walzer, like Habermas, fails to acknowledge is that Foucault's critique of normativity does not ultimately deny the norm-subject relation but turns it into a problematic correlation, inasmuch as subjectivity and normativity are both established through power-related valuations of truth and moral values. It is in this sense that Foucault assumes the diffusion of the norm through the social body in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, operated according to three main modalities, namely,

            1. the functional inversion of disciplines, which neutralize the dangers, to make the large social groups play a positive role and increase the possible utility of individuals;

            2. the swarming of disciplinary mechanisms, the massive, compact disciplines are decomposed into flexible procedures of control, every institution becomes susceptible of utilizing the disciplinary schema;

            3. the state-control of the mechanisms of discipline, through the organization of a centralized police, permanent, omnipresent surveillance that renders everything visible.(SP 211-213; DP 210-13)

            Thus, Foucault's overall concern with the writing of a history of the body, together with the political technologies of the body, its strategies and tactics, accounts for the formation of what he called the société disciplinaire.(SP 211) Foucault concludes his study on power with the ironic question, "Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons? [Quoi d'étonant si la prison ressemble aux usines, aux écoles, aux casernes, aux hôpitaux, qui tous ressemblent aux prisons?]"(DP 228; SP 229) What is at stake in this form of social structure is what Foucault calls "the synaptic regime of power," an invention of the eighteenth century, "a regime of its exercise within the social body, rather than from above it." For Foucault it is thus understandable that capitalism had to fabricate the mechanisms that would secure the protection of wealth, through the moralization of the working subjects, just like the institution of the police, based on the fear of the criminal:

   was absolutely necessary to constitute the populace as a moral subject and to break its commerce with criminality, and hence to segregate the delinquents and show them to be dangerous not only for the rich but for the poor as well, vice-ridden instigators of the gravest social perils.(PK 41)

4. Subjectivity and the Genealogy of Ethics

            L'homme, tel qu'il est observé, démembré, décomposé par toutes les biométries et les anthropométries du monde, atteste incontestablement l'existence de l'Homme. L'objectivation normative de l'homme vient au secours des droits de l'homme: les hommes sont tous égaux, manifestant tous les mêmes qualités, à quelques différences près, accidentelles, nécessairement accidentelles puisque ne renvoyant jamais à la consistance d'une essence. (François Ewald, "Michel Foucault et la norme," 217)


            As we undertake a close examination of Foucault's conception of power, we immediately realize that it cannot be dissociated from his history of truth, on the one hand, and from his genealogy of subjectivity, on the other. This becomes particularly clear in the last writings, on the "hermeneutics of the subject" and throughout the four volumes of the Histoire de la sexualité. In the 1980 lectures he delivered in the United States, Foucault explicitly endorsed a transition from studying systems of power relations to studying the creation of ethical agency, completing thus the three-axial genealogy of ourselves. It is very instructive to note that Foucault insists that, although there has been a shift of focus in his analyses, he has not departed from the original project of writing a "history of the present." In one of his Dartmouth lectures, Foucault remarks that contemporary philosophy has been concerned, from Husserl to the neo-Marxists, with the overcoming of a metaphysics of the subject.[40] This question betrays already the very link that Foucault, inspired by Nietzsche, was seeking to establish between subjectivity and truth, following the self-overcoming of the homo metaphysicus. According to Foucault, the philosophy of self-consciousness has both "failed to found a philosophy of knowledge" and "failed to take into account the formative mechanisms of signification and the structure of systems of meaning."[41] That is why Foucault set out to study government in relation to the way individuals conduct themselves, in techniques of production, signification, and domination. In his 1978 lecture on "Governmentality," Foucault cites Le Vayer's typology of government, which devises three forms in accordance with a particular discipline: "the art of self-government, connected with morality; the art of properly governing a family, which belongs to economy; and finally the science of ruling the State, which concerns politics."(FE 91) The governmentalization of the modern State, for Foucault, was made possible thanks to the Christian pastoral, the diplomatic-military technique, and the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century police.(FE 104) Of particular interest is Foucault's contention that the salvation paradigm of the Christian pastoral techniques of self-sacrificial asceticism and self-awareness of communitarian identity gave way, with the decline of ecclesiastical institutions and an ever-growing process of secularization, to the State technologies of welfare, health insurance, and social security, that would characterize our own age.

            Both in the second and in the third volumes of the Histoire de la sexualité, Foucault explores the techniques de soi and the technologies de soi so as to thematize the general genealogy of the rapports de soi à soi.[42] It is "the kind of relationship you ought to have with yourself," says Foucault, "rapport à soi, which I call ethics, and which determines how the individual is supposed to constitute himself as a moral subject of his own actions."(FR 352) As we have seen in Foucault's reading of Kant, the critical genealogy of modernity provides us with a new understanding of ethics as well, beyond the traditions of ethical codifications and their moral practices. Once again, the self-overcoming of morality announced by Nietzsche's genealogy is at full work in Foucault's dispositifs of sexuality and normativity. In a nutshell, we realize that Foucault shifts away from the traditional conception of a "human nature" as the outcome of normalizing processes, imposed by the human sciences and practices of disciplinary power, and espouses the concept of a bodily subjectivation, so as to devise new technologies of the self that affirm the self without the exclusion of its other, "as strategic games of liberty."(FR 50) By subjectivation Foucault meant "the way a human being turns him- or herself into a subject,"(BSH 208), that is, the ensemble of techniques through which individuals act so as to constitute themselves as such. As I will argue here, Foucault presents us with a self-overcoming, non‑universalizable ethics that responds to the very charges raised by Habermas that the crypto-normativism of genealogy was doomed to political nihilism. Although he has been called "the founding father of our Kathedernihilismus,"[43] Foucault's "return of morality" implies an ethics "against ethics" --to paraphrase John Caputo,[44]-- on the level of the very ethical principle of transgression. In effect, as Patton has remarked, according to this Nietzschean-Foucauldian ethic, values are always already internal to types of individual and social being, hence the absence of an articulated political theory does not preclude activism and resistance.[45] On the contrary, as Connolly has convincingly shown, Foucault attacks the utopian dream of the "whole of society" insofar as it requires the destruction, the exclusion, or the repression of the other.[46] Precisely because it cannot promise universal liberation, an aesthetic "ethic of care for the self" reminds us that "liberty is the ontological condition of ethics" and that the freedom of the other presupposes the imperative epimeleia seautou,"care for yourself." (FF 4f.; FR 359 ff.; TS 19)[47]

            Foucault takes "norm" as an ontological category, as a characteristic of an ontology of present, through the different institutions of a normative order in his archaeological, genealogical analyses of the rise of psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, the penal code, and sexuality. The disciplines analyzed in SP, as one of the main technologies of power of modern societies are in effect defined as "pouvoir de la norme."(SP 186) La volonté de savoir institutes the dispositif de sexualité as normative power, on the level of the State and the society thereby administered. I will follow François Ewald's highly original study on the Foucauldian conception of normativity in order to make sense of the ethical implications of his genealogy of the modern subjectivity.[48] Even before we proceed to understand such a conception of norm, it is important to clarify what is meant by ethics in this context. In L'usage des plaisirs, the articulation between sex and ethics is undertaken so as to investigate how patterns of sexual behavior become the object of moral concern, for instance, how a moral reflection in Ancient Greece --which was rather a question of stylizing freedom (HS2 111)-- gives way to a moral problematization in later Christianity, or how the historical constructs of sexuality and sex can be better understood against the framework of confessional technologies for the discipline and control of the bodies.(HS3) Foucault speaks of at least three different ways of approaching morality, namely:

            1. morals (morale) can denote a set of values and rules of action which are proposed to individuals or social groups through several  prescriptive apparatuses such as the family, educational institutions, churches, etc.; morality is regarded here as a code;

            2. it can also be understood as "the  actual behavior of individuals in their relation to rules and values that are proposed to them," that is, as a set of practices;

            3. and finally --as we have seen, this is the definition that interests Foucault--it can be understood as the way one must conduct oneself, i.e., "the way one must constitute oneself as moral subject acting in relation to the prescriptive elements that constitute the code [la manière dont on doit "se conduire," c'est-à-dire la manière dont on doit se constituer soi-même comme sujet moral agissant en référence aux éléments prescriptifs qui constituent le code]"(HS2 32-33) This field of historicity where human beings are constituted as subjects of morality, through the relation of the self to itself, is precisely what determines the field of Foucault's ethic of self-care. This field emerges thus as a response to the Nietzschean challenge of nihilism:

            When all the customs and the morals on which the power of gods, priests, and redeemers depend are finally reduced to nothing, when, therefore, morality in the ancient sense of the word is dead: what will come?...Well, what exactly will come? (M I  96)

            Foucault says in an interview that he views politics as an ethics (FR 375), in accordance with the notions seen above of the philosophical ethos and of an aesthetics of existence. At any rate, Foucault is interested in the self-constitutive character of subjectivity rather than in a theoretical formulation or calculus of ethical propositions. Foucault conceives of a fourfold of subjectivity, or the four "causes" of "interiority" in its relation to itself.(HS2 33-35)  The first "cause" is the "ethical substance" (substance éthique), such as passions, feelings, sexual desire; for the Greeks, the ethical susbstance was not sexuality (modernity) or the flesh (Christianity), but the aphrodisia, the works of Venus, at once acts, desire, and pleasure.(FR 353) The second "cause" is the mode d'assujettissement of the moral subject, mode by which individuals have to recognize the moral obligations imposed to them. In the Greek aesthetics of existence, based on free choice, our work is indeed our own life and ourselves --as opposed to an object, a text, a fortune, an invention, or an institution. The third cause, analogous to the Aristotelian fourfold, is the efficient: the elaboration of an ethical work that is effected on oneself so as to transform oneself in the moral subject of one's conduct ("[le] travail éthique qu'on effectue sur soi-même...pour essayer de se transformer soi-même en sujet moral de sa conduite," HS2 34). In a word, a self-praxis or self-aesthetics of moral existence. Asceticism is thus regarded as techne (a set of techniques, such as the technologies of the body, marriage, love courting). And finally, the fourth teleological cause (la téléologie du sujet moral), what kind of being should one become? That is how one can proceed then to situate the questions of askesis, ascetic techniques, as well as the enkrateia, the dominion of oneself.

            Now, if there is a condemnation of normalizing power in SP, in that norms seem to conform to rationalities, habits, and traditions of individualizing panopticism, it is also the case that Foucault proposes no alternatives. Foucault insists that he is not after "a history of solutions" and that is the reason why he cannot even accept the word "alternative." Norms may be said to be inevitable, as long as ethics and politics demand that habits and modalities of human relations be codified. And yet, do we have to ground them in a metaphysic of morals? Is the task of philosophy, after all, to ground norms? For Foucault, if there is one norm, that must be freedom itself, the only prerequisite of ethics. The critical ontology of ourselves requires indeed "a patient labor giving form to our impatience for liberty."(FR 50) Ethics, in this sense, implies commitment and yet no complicity vis-à-vis the norm. The first difficulty arises, of course, with Foucault's usage of the word "norm," which as Ewald shows, acquires a new philosophical thrust that was not there before. The common-sense connotation is that of "standard," "rule," and "mean," as opposed to the abnormal, the pathological, the extreme. Thus Georges Canguilhem remarks in Le normal et le pathologique,

            Quand on sait que norma est le mot latin que traduit équerre et que normalis signifie perpendiculaire, on sait à peu près tout ce qu'il faut savoir sur le domaine d'origine du sens des termes norme et normal.[49]

            According to Ewald, Foucault takes the opposite procedure of the norm when he makes the production of truth into an event, so as to challenge a universal, general, a-historical conception of norm. For instance, that sexuality was a social pleasure for both Greeks and Romans (FR 251) defies our modern translation of sexuality into social relations. Foucault was interested in the complex dispositif of sexuality that, in its three-axial constitution of subjectivity, points to different normalizing mechanisms, making thus possible a comparison that would be otherwise impossible.For Ewald, the norm is the institutionalized reference for a social group that is objectified as an individual: "La norme est au principe d'une communication sans origine et sans sujet."[50] Hence the asymmetry of comparing an Ancient, Greek homosexual to his or her counterpart in modern societies can only be understood in terms of the normative reference, which for each case is found in a complex ensemble of dispositifs that combines both the normalizing insertion of the individual in a dense social milieu and the normativity resulting from his or her moral technologies of the self.

            The same applies to Foucault's conception of power. As Ewald remarks, Foucault did not turn disciplinary society into a society of generalized confinement; on the contrary, the diffusion of disciplines implies that confinement is no longer segregating, but rather homogenizes the social space, as the disciplines constitute society itself, with a common language to all institutions, or at least, translatable between themselves.[51] That includes the penitentiary systems, which are integrated into society and whose administration of punishment is exclusive to and legitimized by the disciplinary act. There is indeed an empty juridical split with the privation of liberty that serves to mask disciplinary facts. The norm is precisely what accounts for the transitions from discipline en bloc to disciplinary mechanism, from negative to positive discipline, and the generalization of institutional discipline. The norm articulates thus the disciplinary institutions of production, knowledge, wealth, making them interdisciplinary and homogenizing the social space --if not uniting it.[52] In SP, Foucault describes three great disciplinary instruments, namely, the hierarchical surveillance, the normalizing sanction, and the examination (Part III, chapter 2: Les moyens du bon dressement, 172 ff). These are tools that envisage to solve some traditional problems of power, to ordain multiplicities, to articulate the whole and its parts, to put them in relation among themselves. As we have seen, discipline fabricates individuals, it is the specific technique of a power that is given to individuals: "le pouvoir disciplinaire, lui, s'exerce en se rendant invisible; en revanche il impose à ceux qu'il soumet un principe de visibilité obligatoire."(SP 189) If power was traditionally conceived of as that which is seen (SP 189), with discipline, according to the Foucauldian "logic" of the norm, the subjects are the ones to be seen, allowing for the reversal of the political axis of individualization ("le renversement de l'axe politique de l'individualisation," 194) and the individualisation normative, without any reference to a nature, a metaphysics, a substance, but as a pure relation, purely comparative. The norm (la norme) is the measure which at once individualizes, allowing for endless individualization, and makes comparison possible.(209)

            Un principe de comparaison, de comparabilité, une commune mesure, qui s'institue dans la pure référence d'un groupe à lui-même, lorsque le groupe n'a plus d'autre rapport qu'à lui-même, sans extériorité, sans verticalité.(209)

            Normative individualization has no exterior, as normative space has no "outside," so the abnormal belongs within, since the exception is always already within the rule. And yet, of course, the abnormal is opposed to the normal, but this is rather a matter of limits. When disciplines become normative, disciplinary institutions become isomorphous. When society becomes normative, institutions such as the army, school, prisons, become redundant vis-à-vis each other. Hence one should not confuse "norm" and "discipline": while the former is a common measure, the latter envisages the body with a function of dressage. That means that disciplines are not necessarily normative. That is why what characterizes modernity, according to Foucault, is precisely the advent of normative disciplines, the normalization of disciplines, and hence the formation of disciplinary societies. Thus, both the rise of capitalism and the emergence of a modern State embody this shift away from a juridical system and from a system of personal power, toward the disciplinary technologies of bio-power. In effect, all the analyses of social control in SP seem to converge to the remarks on the "right to death and power over life," which as we have seen, attest to the new mechanisms that inaugurate the era of bio-power, "disciplines de corps et contrôles régulateurs de populations."(HS1 177) As Foucault himself remarks, "le développement du bio-pouvoir, c'est l'importance croissante prise par le jeu de la norme aux dépens du système juridique de la loi."(HS1 189) In this enigmatic remark, Foucault does not mean that bio-power implies a process of the decline of law, since the formation of a normalizing society will actually lead to a legislative proliferation. And yet, as he hastens to add, in relation to the seventeenth century we have entered an era of the regression of the juridical. Ewald argues that it is not a matter of announcing an eminent disappearance of right or doing a critique of bio-power in the name of right. Foucault is rather concerned with the relations between the juridical and the political, right and power, from the standpoint of an adequate analysis of the mechanisms of power. Since the norm is opposed to the juridical mode of the law, which legitimizes the power of the sovereign, the bio-power is expressed by the normative mode of constitutions, codes, "toute une activité législative permanente et bruyante."(HS1 190)

            Thus the normative and the juridical constitute two different modalities of the exercise of power, as power is no longer confined nowadays to the traditional forms of wars, struggles, interdits, confrontations, but is above all the management of resources and of the lives of entire populations. And Ewald sees here the contrast between the monarchical State and the "Providence-State" (welfare State). What Habermas does not acknowlegde is that for Foucault the norm is indeed a principle of communication rather than confinement or incarceration.Thus, for Foucault, the subject at stake is not the subject of right but the modern subject of the norm. As Ewald points out, according to Foucault, "L'individu est toujours déjà normalisé." The normative is therefore a power without outside (un pouvoir sans dehors) since there is no human essence: all individuals are comparable, they are only differentiated by differences of quantity.[53] Foucault draws an important distinction between law and right, as he inscribes the norm among the acts of judgment. The norm is rather characterized by its logic, a "new economy of power," allowing for life to become the object of power, by giving form to the bio-power.

            By way of conclusion, Foucault's response to the challenge of modernity problematizes "the relations between the growth of capabilities and the growth of autonomy"(FR 48), which seemed to be inevitably progressing toward universal emancipation. The dark dialectic of the Aufklärung, in our very century, proved that power relations of different forms and through diverse technologies have made efficient the most inhuman procedures of normalization. If human beings have been made the subjects of normalizing techniques of disciplinary power, they can also resist. Because they are endowed with bodily capabilities for action, human freedom appears not only as a precondition for the exercise of power but also as resistance which can always take place out of power relations. "Power is exercised only over free subjects," observes Foucault, "and only insofar as they are free."(BSH 221) Hence we should conceive of an agonistic ethic of freedom, according to which institutional, juridical dispositifs that foster domination, exploitation, and normalization can be subverted through concrete practices of ethical transgression, on different microlevels of power relations. After all, far from being reducible to State and political institutions, "power relations are rooted in the system of social networks."(BSH 224) Foucault's aestheticist ethic of self-care, together with his conception of individualization and normalization, betrays a departure, as Connolly remarks, from morality to ethics, insofar as it undermines the normative grounds of the good, human nature, the social contract, or the useful. And yet, Foucault's refusal to resort to metaphysics or hegemonic identities, as Connolly suggests, "is not to liquidate ethics, but to become ashamed of the transcendentalization of conventional morality. It is to subject morality to strip searches."[54] In effect, Foucault's ethical articulation of subjectivity and normativity betrays, in the last analysis, a skeptical ethos that one finds in Sextus Empiricus and in every genuine philosophical skepsis vis-à-vis the concealed dogmatism of established theories. Foucault avows that, in his permanent critique of the dire vrai, he has adopted "the radical but unaggressive skepticism which makes it a principle not to regard the point in time where we are now standing as the outcome of a teleological progression which it would be one's business to reconstruct historically." And he adds, "that skepticism regarding ourselves and what we are, our here and now, which prevents one from assuming that what we have is better than --or more than-- in the past."(PK 49)


* This text was originally written for my Ph.D. dissertation, "On the Genealogy of Modernity: Kant, Nietzsche, Foucault," defended before the committee composed of Professors Kenneth Baynes (Advisor), David B. Allison (President), Mary Rawlinson, and Herman Lebovics (External Reader), in the Philosophy Dept of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, in December 1994. It was included as a chapter of a book, On the Genealogy of Modernity: Foucault's Social Philosophy, published by Nova Science, Hauppauge, NY, 2003.

[1]. Cf. M. Foucault, "The Political Technology," in TS 145-162.

[2]. It is also interesting to remark that Foucault's main writings, from the three phases, were published in the "Bibliothèque des Histoires" of Parisian "Éditions Gallimard."

[3]. Cf. Michel Foucault, Résumé des cours, 1970-1982, Conférences, essais et leçons du Collège de France, (Paris: Julliard, 1989), "Note liminaire."

[4]. Besides the three volumes published thus far, the fourth is forthcoming, Les aveux de la chair. According to Miller's book, based on conversations with Daniel Defert, Foucault abandoned the original plan for a seven-volume work as early as 1975, after his visit to California. PMF 250 ff.; cf. MF 273f., 290; PPC 242f. 

[5]. See the 1982 interview with Rux Martin, "Truth, Power, Self" in TS 9-15;

[6]. "The Return of Morality," interview conducted by Gilles Barbadette and André Scala on the occasion of the French publication of volumes 2 and 3 of The History of Sexuality; Les Nouvelles littéraires, June 28, 1984; ET: PPC 242-67.

[7]. The best example of Foucault's indebtedness to both Heideggerian phenomenology and French existentialism is certainly his 1954 introduction to the French translation of Ludwig Binswanger's Le rêve et l'existence, (Paris: Desclée de Brouwer, 1954).

[8]. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche et la philosophie (Paris: PUF, 1962), and Pierre Klossowski, Nietzsche et le cercle vicieux, (Paris: Mercure de France, 1965). Cf. Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault (1926-1984), (Paris: Flammarion, 1989), 175 ff. 

[9]. Cf. Nicomachean Ethics vi.1; Metaphysics vi.3: episteme lato sensu refers to all human, cognitive inquiries, comprising both the theoretical and the practical sciences (including thus ethics and politics), while by episteme stricto sensu Aristotle of course means scientific knowledge.

[10]. Cf. Patrick H. Hutton, "Foucault, Freud, and the Technologies of the Self," in TS 121-144; Ernani Chaves, Foucault e a

psicanálise, (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1978); Michael Mahon, Foucault's Nietzschean Genealogy, (Albany: SUNY Press, 1992). 

[11]. Cf. Mark Poster, Existential Marxism: A Study of French Social Theory Since World War II, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976); Vincent Descombes, Le même et l'autre: Quarent-cinq ans de philosophie française, 1933-1978, (Paris: Minuit, 1979).

[12]. J.-P. Sartre, Question de méthode, in Critique de la raison dialectique, (Paris: Gallimard, 1960).

[13]. M. Foucault, "Questions de méthode," in Michelle Perrot (ed.), L'impossible prison, (Paris: Seuil, 1980) [ET in FE]. Cf. J.-P. El Kabbach's interview with Foucault on Sartre and the question of method, in La Quinzaine littéraire of March 1-15, 1968.[ET in FL] 

[14]. Cf. G. Lebrun, "Note sur la phénoménologie dans Les mots et les choses," MFP 33-53; E. Husserl, Krisis, op. cit., 25, 112.

[15]. Cf. the writings on scientific methodology by Wilhelm Dilthey, Wilhelm Windelband, and Max Weber; J. Habermas, Knowledge and Human Interests, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1989); The New Conservatism: Cultural Criticism and the Historians' Debate, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1989).

[16]. I am indebted to Deleuze's essay in MFP 185ff, as well as to Roberto Machado's preface to the fourth edition of Microfísica do Poder, (Rio de Janeiro: Graal, 1979).


[17]. "Rationalité, puissance et pouvoir," in MFP 341: "Ce pseudo-résumé de la pensée de Nietzsche manifeste que Habermas n'a pas compris Nietzsche (en tout cas, qu'il n'a pas compris les pensées les plus intéressantes et les plus surdéterminées de Nietzsche." (emphasis in the original)

[18]. Interview with Giulio Preti, "Un dibattito Foucault-Preti" in Bimestre 22-23 (1972) 2.

[19]. John Rajchman, Michel Foucault: The Freedom of Philosophy, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985), 79.

[20]. Originally appeared in Esprit 371 (May 1968) 850-874. ET, edited by Colin Gordon, in FE 53-72.

[21]. Cf. M. Frank, "Sur le concept de discours chez Foucault," in MFP 125-134.

[22]..The third section of Frank's paper was not included in the French original edition of MFP. Cf. the ET, Michel Foucault Philosopher, trans. Timothy J. Armstrong, (New York: Rouledge, 1992), 113 ff. 

[23]. "Human Nature: Justice versus Power" (in Reflexive Water: The Basic Concerns of Mankind, ed. Fons Elders, London: Souvenir Press, 1974). Cf. P. Rabinow's Introduction to FR 1-27.

[24]. N. Fraser, "Foucault on Modern Power: Empirical Insights and Normative Confusions," in Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse, and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989).

[25]. I think that Gaston Bachelard's metaphoric of space, together with Heidegger's conception of the Geviert and Mallarmé's

espacement, exerted a tremendous influence on both Foucault and Derrida.

[26]. For an interesting analysis of Foucault's use of "anecdote" as a sign of order, see Adi Ophir, "The Semiotics of Power: Reading Michel Foucault's Discipline and Punish" Manuscrito 12/2 (1989) 9-34. I am grateful to Professor Michael Kelly for bringing my attention to Ophir's essay on Foucault's "semiotics of power."

[27]. As mentioned above, the French word "dispositif" has been translated as either "apparatus" (which misleads to confusing it with the Marxist term "appareil")  or "device" (which seems to be a better translation, but is too reminiscent of a formalized, mathematical procedure).

[28]. Habermas quotes from Foucault's lecture on "Sovereignty and Discipline," at the Collège de France (January 14, 1976), repro-duced as the second of "Two Lectures" in PK 92-108. In Foucault's own words: "If one wants to look for a non-disciplinary form of power, or rather, to struggle against disciplines and disciplinary power, it is not towards the ancient right of sovereignty that one should turn, but towards the possibility of a new form of right, one which must indeed be anti-disciplinarian, but at the same time liberated from the principle of sovereignty." (PK 108) 

[29]. "Les mailles du pouvoir," in Magazine littéraire 324 (September 1994) 64. Forthcoming in Michel Foucault, Dits et

Écrits 1954-1988 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994). It is interesting to remark that Foucault delivered this lecture in Brazil at the zenith of the military dictatorship, and alluded to the Second Book of Marx's Capital so as to stress that the army itself was just one of the several regional, specific spheres of power that lead up to the juridical, State apparatus. 

[30]. M. Foucault, "Les mailles du pouvoir," art. cit., p. 65.

[31]. Cf. Paul-Laurent Assoun, "Nietzsche et le Réelisme," in Paul Rée, L'origine des sentiments moraux, trans. Michel-François Demet, (Paris: PUF, 1982).

[32]. Cf. M. Foucault, "Nietzsche, Marx, Freud" (1964), in Nietzsche, Cahiers de Royaumont, (Paris: Minuit, 1967), 183-200.

[33]. Cf. M. Foucault, "La pensée du dehors," in Critique 229 (June 1966); M. Blanchot, L'entretien infini, (Paris: Gallimard, 1969). As Deleuze points out, exteriority (speaking and seeing) and the outside (thinking) are differentiated in both Blanchot's and Fou-cault's appropriation of Nietzsche's metaphoricity; cf. Foucault, op. cit., "Strategies or the Non-stratified: the Thought of the Outside (Power)," 70-93. Nietzsche's irreducible metaphoricity can be understood as the historical fact that there are only

interpretations, since truth is nothing less than the "sum of human relations" which can be "transposed" (Greek verb metaphorein) into the legal, political, cultural codes that make them institutionally and historically true. Cf. "On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense" (1873), in The Portable Nietzsche, ed. Kaufmann, pp. 42 ff.   

[34]. In the French original, the last paragraph is a footnote at the very end of the text: "Dans cette humanité centrale et centralisée, effet et instrument de relations de pouvoir complexes, corps et forces assujettis par des dispositifs d'"incarcération" multiples, objets pour des discours qui sont eux-mêmes des éléments de cette stratégie, il faut entendre le grondement de la bataille." And, in footnote, "J'interromps ici ce livre qui doit servir d'arrière-plan historique à diverses études sur le pouvoir de normalisation et la formation du savoir dans la société moderne."(SP 315)

[35]. P. Patton, "Foucault's Subject of Power," Political Theory Newsletter 6/1 (May 1994) 61. An earlier version of this paper was

published in French in Sociologie et Sociétés, Vol. XXIV, no.1, April 1992.

[36]. Foucault's "The Art of Telling the Truth" (PPC 86-95) was a revised version of a 1983 lecture at the Collège de France; "Qu'est-ce que les lumières?" was first translated and published in English as "What is Enlightenment?" in the 1984 Rabinow edition of the Foucault Reader (FR 32-50).

[37]. "Power and Strategies: A Discussion with Michel Foucault," Les Révoltes Logiques n. 4 (1977) 76.

[38]. Cf. M. Walzer, "The Politics of Michel Foucault," in David Couzens Hoy (ed.), Foucault: A Critical Reader, (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986), 51-68.

[39]. Cf. M. Foucault, "Omnes et Singulatim: Towards a Criticism of 'Political Reason'." Lectures delivered at Stanford University on Oct. 10 and 16, 1979. In Sterling McMurrin (ed.), The Tanner Lectures on Human Values II, (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1981), 225-254; FE 87-104.

[40]. Cf. M. Foucault, "About the Beginning of the Hermeneutic of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth," edited by Mark Blasius, in Political Theory 21/2 (1993) 198-227.

[41]. Ibidem, p. 202.

[42]. Cf. also the course descriptions on "Subjectivité et vérité," in the Résumés des cours for 1980-81 at the Collège de France.

[43]. J.G. Merquior, Foucault, (London: Fontana Books, 1985).

[44]. J. Caputo, Against Ethics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993.

[45]. Cf. Paul Patton, art. cit., 61.

[46]. Cf. William Connolly, "Beyond Good and Evil: The Ethical Sensibility of Michel Foucault," Political Theory 21/3 (1993) 365-389.

[47]. M. Foucault, "The Ethic of Care for the Self as a Practice of Freedom," interview conducted by Raúl Fornet-Betancourt, Helmut

Becker, and Alfredo Gomez-Müller, in FF 1-20.

[48]. François Ewald, "Michel Foucault et la norme," in Luce Giard (ed.), Michel Foucault: Lire l'oeuvre, op. cit., 201-221.

[49]. G. Canguilhem, Le normal et le pathologique, (Paris: PUF, 1966), 177.

[50]. F. Ewald, art. cit., 206.

[51]. Ibidem, 205.

[52]. Ibidem, 206.

[53]. Ibidem, 215.