requiem for certainty

Archive for the ‘foucault’ Category

‘Foucault Now’ Now Out

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A new volume of essays on Foucault edited by Jim Faubion is out under the title “Foucault Now“.  This is a great collection with a solid cross-disciplinary edge to it.  Great pieces by Rabinow, Huffer, and of course Jim Faubion’s latest entry in his ongoing work on an anthropology of ethics.  (I feel quite lucky to be a part of this one, I have to admit.)  Hacking’s “Déraison” is also here (this is a piece that some of us first heard at the UCSC conference years ago).

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Written by Colin Koopman

April 7, 2014 at 4:30 am

Posted in foucault

‘Critical Inquiry’ article

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I have an article out in the Summer 2013 issue of the (truly excellent!) journal Critical Inquiry.  The article is co-authored with anthropologist Tomas Matza (now at Duke Univ.), a collaborator I met while I was down at UC Santa Cruz (when Tomas was over at Stanford finishing up his Ph.D.).  The article argues, in Foucault’s case at least, for the separability of analytics (or methods) and the concepts (or ideas) that these methods are used to produce. The argument is meant to be generalizable to other instances, but it is genealogy that matters for us here.  We’re both very pleased to have this come out in Critical Inquiry.  Thanks to many of you (cited in the article) for feedback on earlier versions.

The article is titled “Putting Foucault to Work: Analytic and Concept in Foucaultian Inquiry” and here is the abstract:”Is there a single area of intellectual inquiry in the humanities and social sciences where the work of Michel Foucault is not taken seriously? Discipline, biopolitics, governmentality, power/knowledge, subjectivation, genealogy, archaeology, problematization—these are just a few of the many Foucaultisms that have been adopted in fields such as philosophy, sociology, cultural anthropology, political science, history, literary studies, area studies, and much else besides. Just a short list of the forms of Foucault’s influence would necessarily include certain of his philosophical commitments, methodological strategies, discursive resources, and materials for reflection.

Cheers.  Let me know your thoughts.

Written by Colin Koopman

July 23, 2013 at 5:18 am

My latest book now exists… as a book…

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I received copies of my Genealogy as Critique this week.  It is a real little object.  That makes me happy.  So I posed for a picture of myself holding it.  Then I went out with a few friends to celebrate its publication.  Through it all I even donned a bowtie to punctuate the occasion with what I hope was an unassuming bit of flair.

The publisher did a  handsome job with ck + gcthe typography and cover, or at least I think so.  Indeed, I’m very happy with the cover design and image (and yes, I chose the image, it’s a Duchamp, surprise surprise, and you can read about it in the book).

Here is a description from the back cover (cobbled together, of course, somewhere between me and the publishers): “Viewing Foucault in the light of work by Continental and American philosophers, most notably Nietzsche, Habermas, Deleuze, Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Ian Hacking, Genealogy as Critique shows that philosophical genealogy involves not only the critique of modernity but also its transformation. Colin Koopman engages genealogy as a philosophical tradition and a method for understanding the complex histories of our present social and cultural conditions. He explains how our understanding of Foucault can benefit from productive dialogue with philosophical allies to push Foucaultian genealogy a step further and elaborate a means of addressing our most intractable contemporary problems.”

If you like, you can read more about the book on Indiana University Press’s website (http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?cPath=1037_1112&products_id=806494) and, one hopes, in book reviews in your favorite journals soon.  If you are coming to APA Pacific then there will be a little author-critics session on this book plus the Pragmatism one, if you feel like coming out in support.

I could say much much muchly more but I guess that’s why I wrote the thing.  Hopefully I say it all there.

And so on to the next one.

Written by Colin Koopman

February 3, 2013 at 3:40 am

Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity

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Got the proofs for the next book today.  The ms. will soon be a real little object.

Publisher information at the Indiana UP website.  As it says there:

“Viewing Foucault in the light of work by Continental and American philosophers, most notably Nietzsche, Habermas, Deleuze, Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Ian Hacking, Genealogy as Critique shows that philosophical genealogy involves not only the critique of modernity but also its transformation. Colin Koopman engages genealogy as a philosophical tradition and a method for understanding the complex histories of our present social and cultural conditions. He explains how our understanding of Foucault can benefit from productive dialogue with philosophical allies to push Foucaultian genealogy a step further and elaborate a means of addressing our most intractable contemporary problems.”

(I never post anymore, but that’s not for lack of good news, so much as for abundance of it.)

Written by Colin Koopman

September 21, 2012 at 3:00 am

Posted in foucault, genealogy

Dewey on Method in Political Theory (1927)

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In his Public and Its Problems (1927) John Dewey adopts a four-component methodological strategy that is more or less implicit in his earlier broadly philosophical contributions, such as Reconstruction In Philosophy (1920) and Experience and Nature (1925).  Dewey often referred to this method as “instrumentalism” and as “historical-empiricism” but it’s probably best known these days as “pragmatism”.  The method, in short, involves four methodological distinctions, which Dewey lays out in Chapter One.  A proper understanding of his methodological apparatus prepares us to understand the way in which Dewey addresses himself to the pressing problem of pluralism that was his lifelong obsession with respect to liberal democratic theory (as argued in posts from the last two weeks here and here).  Herein a brief review of these four methodological decisions, followed by commentary.

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Written by Colin Koopman

April 26, 2011 at 3:27 am

Michel Foucault’s Ethics of Pleasure

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Today a group of us in the Foucault Research Cluster were discussing some of Foucault’s late interviews and writings on sexuality and pleasure.  Foucault seems to be offering (recommending?) an ethics involving (centered around?) the work of pleasure, the use of pleasure, and the activity of living in and through pleasure.

This prompts in me (and prompted in all of us) a question or series of questions surrounding Foucault’s conception of pleasure and how it is supposed to work in such a fashion as to open us up to the possibilities of transformation.  All I am really left with at this point, though, is a question, rather than any sort of answer.

Michel FoucaultThe main problem we found ourselves facing was conceptualizing the relation between pleasure and transformation in Foucault.  Foucault sometimes seems to present a picture of pleasure as an ‘ethical technique’ which facilitates the ‘ethical telos’ of transformation.  Foucault is interested in pleasure because it helps bring about the transformation of the self (and self relations seem to be the ‘ethical substance’ in these interviews).

Okay, so that sounds great.  But how exactly do pleasures facilitate transformation?  I am, to just put it rather simply, puzzled.

What I definitely like is Foucault’s contrastive conception of pleasure as an alternative to desire.  Desire would be a control-freakish mechanism by which we attempt to fulfill a lack that we find in ourselves.  Pleasure would be a transformative (but how?) mechanism by which we attempt to work on the self in such a way as to open it up to the possibility of taking pleasure in acts and events which would otherwise not strike the self.  Pleasure for Foucault seems to function as a kind of process of receptivity.  It is through pleasure that we are able to receive another into the self.  And this, it seems, is supposed to facilitate transformation.

Written by Colin Koopman

April 14, 2010 at 1:41 am

Challenging Philosophy: Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, Michel Foucault

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The three most important philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century were Bernard Williams, Michel Foucault, and Richard Rorty. The importance of each can in large part be attributed to the profound challenges they posed to entrenched assumptions about philosophy, its role in our lives, and its place midst our liberal democratic cultures. I insist on referring to the challenges posted by these three thinkers as profound—for their challenges, when taken seriously, run very deep indeed. By the time that Williams, Foucault, and Rorty had each finished laying out the intellectual projects characteristic of their mature work, it was clear that they had overturned many of the working assumptions of the philosophical tradition in which they had been reared. In this way, each of these thinkers challenged their respective traditions to move on to more ambitious and cunning conceptions of philosophy. Each exhibited inspiring levels of intellectual rigor and critical courage in provoking their respective traditions of thought to adopt a new self-image.

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Written by Colin Koopman

November 19, 2009 at 6:02 am