requiem for certainty

Archive for the ‘methodology’ Category

‘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 ( 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

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