requiem for certainty

Posts Tagged ‘genealogy

‘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

Philosophical Divides: a little story

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Picture the following.  Camps of philosophers cordon themselves off from one another by drawing lines in the still sands of a breezeless desert.  There they entrench, staring each other down from opposite sides of the line for a decade or two.  Eventually they tire of looking across the divide, and so begin to fraternize with only those philosophers in their proximity.  Later they forget about the philosophers on the other side of the line, and when the occasional hawkeyed upstart or pesky defector announces the existence of a whole country of philosophers not too far away, they retort that those on the other side of the line are not ‘real’ philosophers.  They are, the upstart and the defector are told, philosophical poseurs at best, or philosophical perverts at worst.  The language that is used, in fact, is exactly that contemptuous and contentious. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

January 12, 2011 at 2:58 am

Foucault’s Hourglass of Threads

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To make sense of the complex relations composing the various aspects of a philosopher’s work it is often useful to package these aspects together into simple images that offer memorable portraits of their relation to one another.  Hence one of the most reliable tools of the contemporary philosopher: the chalkboard diagram: someone should, I am convinced, put together a book of our diagrams, with large high-quality images flanked by short little explanatory notes along the margins.

In the case of important parts of Foucault’s work, I often find it useful to coordinate their relation in terms of a diagrammatic image that I call Foucault’s hourglass of threads.

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Written by Colin Koopman

May 8, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Working Definition of Problematization

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I have now been working with the methodological or analytical device of problematization for long enough that I am comfortable offering a (merely tentative!) ‘definition’ or ‘specification’ of this device of inquiry.

Problematizations are formed by congeries of conceptually-specified vectors which intersect one another in such a way as to create tensions and instabilities that both render old practices problematic and provide bases for the elaboration of new practices.
– Problematizations are thus complexes.
– Problematizations are thus formed by tensions between different vectors or levels, e.g. power and knowledge.
– Problematizations are thus objects with dual functionality in that they both render problematic and provoke solutions.
– Problematizations are thus hinges of historical emergence and descent. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

December 5, 2007 at 3:13 am

Deleuze on Problematization

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One source of a conception of philosophy as the work of problematization is the thought of Gilles Deleuze. Though the critical literature on Deleuze can hardly be said to have found many points of consensus, a number of commentators have not been hesitant to acknowledge the importance in Deleuze’s thought of what DeLanda calls “problematic epistemology” and what Rajchman describes as a form of thinking which consists in “making visible problems for which there exists no program, no plan.”  In Deleuze’s thought, the very practice of philosophy itself can be expressed in terms of this work of problematization. Deleuze is well-known for the view he developed with Guattari in What Is Philosophy? According to which “philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts.” Often not acknowledged, however, is their further claim that “concepts are only created as a function of problems” such that “concepts are connected to problems without which they would have no meaning and which can themselves only be isolated or understood as their solution emerges.” (1991, 2, 16) Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

November 5, 2007 at 8:00 am

Problematization & Reconstruction

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One of my primary research foci over the past eighteen months has been the development of a new apparatus for critical inquiry which brings together insights from the two philosophical traditions of pragmatism and genealogy. It seems fitting to inaugurate this new blogspace with a statement of what such critical inquiry might look like and how it might shape up. What follows is just one possible way of developing this apparatus. The project as a whole is still very much in development. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Colin Koopman

October 2, 2007 at 1:03 am