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Craig Calhoun. Krishan Kumar. Micheline R. John Torpey. Lawrence Peter King. Home Contact us Help Free delivery worldwide. Free delivery worldwide. Bestselling Series. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Foucault And Heidegger : Critical Encounters. Description Michel Foucault and Martin Heidegger are two of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, and yet there are significant, largely unexplored questions about the relationship between their projects.
How does it expand our understanding of the phenomena that Foucault explores? Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow have shown us how much one can gain from reading Foucault and Heidegger together. Of course it was quite true, but no one in France has ever perceived it. In contrast to the thesis put forward by Dreyfus and Rabinow, I consider it, in fact, more fruitful to read Foucault in Nietzschean terms. One must remember what he said in his last interview in I attempt nothing else, but that I try to do well.
Whereas Nietzsche and Heidegger — that was the philosophical shock. I still have the notes I took while reading Heidegger — I have tons of them! My whole philosophical development was determined by my reading Heidegger.
Foucault and Heidegger — University of Minnesota Press
However, those words cannot be taken entirely, impressive as they indubitably are. There are admittedly numerous references to Nietzsche in his work, but nowhere else does Foucault pay such fulsome tribute to Heidegger. Is it possible that in the face of his imminent death he was creating a new myth for himself with no or little foundation in his actual life? There are still other questions to ask about this last interview.
FL, p. On the one hand, Foucault says that he read both Heidegger and Nietzsche in the early nineteen-fifties, but he also maintains that Nietzsche meant nothing to him in the fifties. Does this mean that he read Nietzsche first in the fifties without the help of Heidegger and then once more after the fifties when he was familiar with Heidegger? We know, of course, that Foucault often extemporized in his interviews, that he took occasionally liberties with the facts, and often accommodated himself to the assumptions and inclinations of his interviewers.
A year before his last interview he had, in fact, offered a substantially different account of how he had come to read Nietzsche. The two narratives can be reconciled, if we assume that Foucault is not quite accurate about the actual dates of his reading of Nietzsche.
That first reading may well have been influenced by Bataille and Blanchot. Foucault may, indeed, have considered it also a chance encounter in so far as was not part of his academic program at the time. While the final interview suggests that he came to understand Nietzsche through Heidegger, his remarks in and interviews suggest then a more complex trajectory in which: 1 He first read Nietzsche with the help of Bataille and Blanchot.
I can still see Michel Foucault reading his Untimely Meditations in the sun, on the beach at Civitavecchia. The evidence assembled so far confronts us with three questions: 1 to what extent was Foucault actually influenced by Heidegger, 2 to what extent was he influenced by Nietzsche, and 3 what was the nature of his transition from Heidegger to Nietzsche? That Foucault mentions Heidegger only rarely by name is surely not enough to show that he had little significance for him.
Only a comprehensive comparison of the two bodies of thought can settle that question. That Foucault mentions Nietzsche more frequently is, in turn,. Here, too, a comprehensive comparison is needed to settle the issue. This essay cannot undertake such a far-reaching project; it will, instead, seek to provide a series of specific suggestions on how one might go about in answering our three questions.
In other words, he finds an affinity between the two thinkers precisely where most interpreters consider Foucault indebted to Nietzsche. MR, p. Both works were published in and thus may belong to the period in which Foucault had discovered Heidegger but when Nietzsche had still come to him as a shock. Heidegger is, indeed, mentioned in both texts but it is rash overstatement to say that his presence in them is overwhelming. This may support the conjecture that Foucault kept consciously silent about the influence Heidegger had on him.
The philosophical problems are there; but they are not preconditions. Therefore, we may dispense with an introduction which summarizes Being and Time in numbered paragraphs, and we are free to proceed less rigorously. DIE, p. But such conceptions have been familiar since Nietzsche and are reflected in the work of Oskar Spengler and Max Weber, among others. And therefore no plethora.
The enunciative domain is identical with its surface. If we are to say that Heidegger is present in these texts and Nietzsche in those others, that fact must show itself in some fashion or other at the surface of the text itself. If so, that reading left no further trace in his thinking apart, perhaps, from stimulating him to study Kant himself. If so, we may begin to see why Nietzsche came afterwards as a shock to him. Where the will to power is for Heidegger a metaphysical hypothesis and conjoined to an equally metaphysical notion of the eternal recurrence of the same, power is for Foucault an anthropological, sociological, and political notion and the eternal recurrence the experience of a subject losing its identity.
IT, p. How did Nietzsche ultimately win out over Heidegger? What could it possible have been in those essays that came to Foucault as a shock and a challenge? It is, in any case, far from obvious how much of an impact that essay had on Foucault. But if it was not the content of the Untimely Meditations that came as a shock to him, it must have been their style and their style of thinking. The book is certainly not written in the traditional philosophical manner, that is, from a perspective of high philosophical abstraction.
Nietzsche seems to stand, rather, in the middle of life in the Untimely Meditations , ready to comment on the most mundane things that surround him, oblivious of the conventions and refinements of the philosophical discourse. Here was, indeed, a new way of doing philosophy — one that ignored the long-established distinction between the philosophical and the ordinary or, as we might say with Heidegger, the distinction between the ontological and the ontic.
We may ask at this point what this maximum of philosophical intensity, what the philosophical effects were that Foucault derived from Nietzsche. What mattered to him in this second Nietzsche was the realization that there is a history of the subject as well of reason. This third Nietzsche was the genealogical thinker, the philosopher of the will to power. Yet, he was not to remain with these themes.
Foucault and Heidegger
As he was breaking with Deleuze in the late seventies, his philosophical concerns were also taking once again a new direction. When questioned, he said now that he was no longer doing the genealogy of morals. DR, p. This forth and final Nietzsche was, thus, in a way a complement to the first.
We can see him rather as trying to integrate his earlier take on Nietzsche into this new one. Published in , the essay may, indeed, incorporate some earlier material. This is suggested by three characteristics. The second characteristic is that Foucault does not employ his own notion of power even though the concept had become important to him by NGH, pp.
Nietzsche is, in any case, certain that no single person could carry such a project to completion. In short, genealogy demands relentless erudition. It is sometimes meant to denote the place from which something derives its legitimation. Even the latter formulation has to be interpreted properly according to Foucault for he wants to see Nietzsche not as specifically focused on the question of the historical beginnings of morality but on that of its validity and legitimation.
GM, Against all forms of moral absolutism, the genealogist maintains thus a resolutely historical and critical stance and Foucault entirely agrees with that judgment.
In the last part of his essay Foucault confronts genealogy with history in the traditional sense. He points out that Nietzsche questioned the traditional form of historical investigation with its claim to a suprahistorical authority.
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Genealogical inquiry is, in other words, meant to deprive the self of the reassuring stability of life and nature. It is here, in this last part of the essay, where Foucault appears to be most in tune with the Nietzsche he had discovered through Bataille and Blanchot, the Nietzsche who had been concerned with the destruction and annihilation of the subject. And these implications hold presumably still in this post-Bataille, post-Blanchot reading of Nietzsche. The first is that the inquiry cannot lay claim to a detached, objective, and timeless truth, but must understand itself as a practical tool for the critique of values.
The second is that such a critique of values must destroy at the same time the idea of a fixed human identity. The genealogical enterprise, far from being a search for human identity, is, in fact, committed to its dissipation. His writings show rather that he freely appropriated the Nietzschean project, adapting it to his own purposes where he saw problems, obscurities, or shortcomings.
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