Rowan TepperFoucault’s Apparatus
PHL 450: Senior ThesisFinal Draft 5/19/04
The common heuristic periodization of Michel Foucault’s oevre1 has led many critics to spend much time reinforcing or undermining this periodization and explaining the manner in which the methodology of each period succeeds or fails for some reason. This seems to me to be a vain enterprise, because this presumes that this periodization is somewhat more than a heuristic device. There is little doubt that around the times that a “shift” occurred there was a noticeable change in vocabulary, emphasis and even style. This, however, does not in my estimation signify as radical a break as some critics have suggested. Following Foucault’s own suggestion in The Discourse on Language, these shifts may be more strictly defined as shifts in domain of research and, rather than being the results of a theoretical impasse as Beatrice Han as well as Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow suggest, they were the results of, as Gilles Deleuze remarks, “crises” in which Foucault felt it necessary to, for whatever reason, shift his approach.2 Rather than explicating a wholly heuristic division of his work, the focus of criticism should be to take Foucault seriously and to see in what manner his work coheres around a problem central to his thought: the problem of discontinuity.
In the 1976 interview “Truth and Power”, Foucault says tellingly “My problem was not at all to say ‘Voila, long live discontinuity…’ but to pose the question ‘How is it that at certain moments and in certain orders of knowledge, there are these sudden take-offs… these transformations which fail to correspond with the calm, continuist image that is normally accredited?’”3 It is this question that I will pose an answer through Foucault’s work. Not only that, but also, I will pose a hypothesis regarding the process by which historical epistemic discontinuity occurs. Specifically, it is the great discontinuities in the history of the human sciences about which Foucault writes in The Order of Things along with the other discontinuities that cluster around these that I will attempt explication.
In order to construct a theory of the process that enables discontinuity it is first necessary to elucidate the full structure of Foucault’s archaeology in order to more fully understand the highly controversial and important concepts episteme, historical a priori, positivity and strategy. In chapter one, I will construct the structure of Foucault’s archaeological theory as it is found in The Order of Things,
“Response to the Paris Epistemology Circle” and The Archaeology of Knowledge, along with the contemporaneous pieces. In the course of this, the points in which the archaeological network is susceptible to and stabilized by the machinations of power. In chapter two, I will show the manner in which Foucault’s genealogical project is premised upon a particular understanding of the term ‘event’ that bears remarkable similarity to the sense used by Gilles Deleuze in The Logic of Sense, and may be seen as substantially influenced by Martin Heidegger’s understanding of Ereignis. It will also become evident that for Foucault, force and power are in no way synonymous and that this distinction is absolutely necessary to properly understand discontinuity. In the Third chapter I will explicate in greater detail Foucault’s theory of power and the means through which power operates. At this point it will become evident that no general theory will account for discontinuity across the spectrum of Foucault’s works. In lieu of a general theory of change, in Chapter Four, I will discuss Foucualt’s various theories of change and resistance, while in Chapter Five, I will examine the impasse constituted by the advent of biopower in Foucault’s thought, and show how Foucault found a way by which one may elude power through the action of a force upon itself, constituting an aestheticized existence. It is this art of existing through which Foucault eludes the biopolitical impasse, and if no longer able to account for change and discontinuity on a mass scale, he can at least affirm ones ability to resist power and to act freely.
In the course of conducting this inquiry I will attempt to bring to light the significance of Foucault’s statement in his final interview, published under the title “The Return of Morality”, that “Heidegger has always been an essential philosopher… My entire philosophical development was determined by my reading of Heidegger. I nevertheless recognize that Nietzsche outweighed him.”4 The distinction between a Nietzschean and Heideggerian influence and the respective focus on the external or internal topography of power-knowledge will guide our analysis. I will attempt to elucidate the fundamental interrelation of these themes in Foucault’s work through reference to these thinkers and many of Foucault’s lecture courses, interviews and shorter essays of the 1970’s in addition to his major works.
Chapter One: The Structure of Archaeology
I. The Problem of the Historical a priori
Michel Foucault’s notion of a historical a priori has been the subject of much literature and much criticism. Works such as Foucault’s Critical Project and Michel Foucault: Between Structuralism and Hermeneutics have wrestled with this difficult concept. The consensus conclusion has heretofore been that the term is ill-defined and as a result, the methodology of archaeology is fundamentally flawed and Foucault, noting this flawed methodology abandoned this project in favor of the one known as genealogical. However, in texts as late as his lecture course Society Must Be Defended he still refers to a portion of his methodology as archaeology. What I shall attempt here is an explication of Foucault’s methodology of archaeology, with the aim in view of properly defining the meaning of the term historical a priori and thence episteme by way of a close reading of part three of The Archaeology of Knowledge and the related text On The Archaeology of the Sciences: Response to the Epistemology Circle. By way of this reading, we may attempt to grasp the sense in which Foucault writes of epistemic rupture in The Order of Things and furthermore see the manner in which Foucault’s genealogical project is incipient in archaeology and consists not in an abandonment of a prior project but simply as an expansion of the domain of inquiry.
In The Archaeology of Knowledge and texts contemporaneous to it, Foucault defines archaeology at the conclusion of part three of the book by writing: “Archaeology describes discourses as practices specified in the element of the archive.”5 And moreover, “the analysis of discourse in its archival form.”6 Furthermore, in “On the Archaeology of the Sciences” he writes that “To analyse the facts of discourse in the general element of the archive is to consider them… as monuments; it is… without the least gesture toward the beginnings of an arche- to do what the rules of the etymological game allows us to call something like an archaeology.”7 These definitions of the project of archaeology beg the definition of Foucault’s very peculiar and particular term archive. Foucault writes
The archive is first the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events. But the archive is also that which determines that all these things said do not accumulate endlessly in an amorphous mass… but they are grouped together in distinct figures, composed together in
accordance with multiple relations, maintained or blurred in accordance with specific regularities… defines at the outset the systems of its enunciability… it is the system of its functioning. (AK 129)
Between the language (langue) that defines the system of constructing possible sentences, and the corpus that passively collects the words that are spoken, the archive defines a particular level: that of a practice that causesmultiplicity of statements to emerge as so many regular events, as so many things to be dealt with an manipulated… It is the general system of the formation and transformation of statements. (AK 130)
This definition of the archive is necessarily broad. In order to bring under his purview all that he wishes to analyse, the object of analysis must be of necessity broad. It could be said that the analysis of the archive as such, even in the detail that Foucault defines its components, would be well nigh impossible. This, however, is not the case. In fact, by deploying the structuralist distinction between synchronicity and diachronicity, the structure of the archive becomes utterly lucid and the term historical a priori becomes properly definable. Furthermore, the apparent paradox in which the episteme appears to be function both substrate and superstructure is exposed as involving no contradiction.
As seen in the extracts above, the archive occupies a peculiar position, both accounting for articulation and the structure of accumulation of discourse. It is these aspects that must be teased apart in order to truly understand what Foucault means by historical a priori and episteme. There are equal diachronic and synchronic aspects of the archive which are analysed by archaeology: enunciation and accumulation. However, to properly understand this distinction, a specific understanding of Foucault’s terminology and system must be achieved.
The terms statement and discourse must first and foremost be defined in Foucault’s usage. Foucault writes regarding discourse that “we shall call discourse a group of statements in so far as they belong to the same discursive formation… it is made up of a limited number of statements for which a group of conditions of existence8 can be defined.” (AK 117) Regarding the statement, he writes “The statement is not therefore a structure; it is a function of existence that properly belongs to signs and on the basis of which one may then decide, through analysis or intuition, whether or not they make sense, according to what rule they follow one another or are juxtaposed, of what they are the sign, and what sort of act is carried out by their formulation (oral or written)” (AK 86-7) and that
“Each statement occupies in it a place that belongs to it alone.” (AK 119) Furthermore, in Foucault’s usage, no statement can exist in isolation, it is essentially in relation to other statements and their respective conditions of existence, at once theoretical, material and institutional. (AK 97, 99, 103) And furthermore, between the level of the statement and the level of discourse, there is the intervening level of the discursive formation.9
In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault’s definition of the term discursive formation is as follows:
Whenever one can describe, between a number of statements, such a system of dispersion, whenever, between objects, types of statement, concepts or thematic choices, one can define a regularity, we will say for the sake of convenience, that we are dealing with a discursive formation… The condition to which the elements of this division are subjected we shall call the rules of formation. The rules of formation are conditions of existence in a given discursive formation. (AK 38)
What has been called ‘discursive formation’ divides up the general plane of things said at the specific level of statements. The four directions in which it is analyzed (formation of objects, formation of the subjective positions, formations of concepts, formation of strategic choices) correspond to the four domains in which the enunciative function operates. (AK 116)
Thus we may infer that the archive is a sort of collection of discursive formations, which comprise discourses and are composed of distinct statements. But these statements refer to yet another level, which constitutes the rules of formation of a discursive formation and the condition of existence for statements. It is here that we must introduce a further term that Foucault introduces rather late in part three of The Archaeology of Knowledge and defines more precisely in On The Archaeology of the Sciences: positivity. Positivity is defined in The Archeology of Knowledge as a space of communication, where
This form of positivity (and the conditions of operation of the enunciative function) defines a field in which formal and thematic continuities, translations of concepts, and polemical exchanges may be deployed. (AK 127) The positivity of a discourse… characterizes its unity throughout time. (AK 126)
However, in this programmatic text, Foucault does not define the term positivity more explicitly, as would be expected. It is in On The Archaeology of the Sciences: Response to the Epistemology Circle, published one year prior to The Archaeology of Knowledge, that one finds an explicit definition of positivity that is particularly useful. In this text Foucault
writes:This four-level system which governs a discursive formation and has to explain, not only its common elements but the play of its divergences, its interstices, its distances - in some sense its blanks rather than its full surfaces - that is what I propose to call its positivity. (AS 321)
This four-level system is composed of elements that are found, albeit in slightly different terminology in the definition of discursive formation in The Archaeology of Knowledge. These are, namely: referential, enunciative divergence, theoretical network, and a field of strategic possibilities. (AS 321, AK 116) Every statement, because it necessarily implies coexistence with other statements implies that it belongs to a discursive formation which then implies this underlying structure of positivity. (AK 99) This is confirmed when Foucault writes “when it is possible, in a group of statements, to register and describe one referential, one type of enunciative divergence, one theoretical network, one field of strategic possibilities, then one can be sure that they belong to what can be called a discursive formation. This formation groups together a whole population of statement-events.” (AS 321) Thus we may preliminarily sketch out a picture of the archive at this point.
Thus statements comprise a discursive formation insofar as they share the same positivity. This is the principle unity with which Foucault is concerned, that of the discursive formation, which thence defines a knowledge, “The set thus formulated from the system of positivity, and manifested in the unity of a discursive formation, is what may be called a
knowledge [savoir]. However, it is at this point that an apparent difficulty emerges. Up
to this juncture, what has been described is what can be seen as the synchronic structure of knowledge. This is where The Archaeology of Knowledge methodologically supersedes On The Archaeology of the Sciences. The latter text concludes that knowledge can only be analysed “in the morphology of knowledge, in the system of positivities, in the internal disposition of discursive formations. Even more, it is in the element of knowledge that the conditions of the appearance of a science, or at least of a discursive ensemble that acquires or claims the models of scientific are determined.” (AS 325) However, it is in The Archaeology of Knowledge that the diachronic aspect of the archive is fully formulated. We must recall that a discursive formation, and moreover, the archive itself, in The Archaeology of Knowledge consists not only of the grouping or structure of statements into discourse and knowledge, but the conditions of formation and transformation. To understand this, it is necessary to return to the fundamental definition of the statement in The Archaeology of Knowledge. The statement is said to have a material existence, an existence that has a spatio-temporal specificity and does not exist detached from the conditions of its instantiation. The articulation of a statement into the field of discourse is, for Foucault, known as enunciation. Broadly speaking, the coming into being of any statement, whether into an established discursive formation or not is the product of what he calls the enunciative function. Foucault writes that,
Generally speaking, one can say that a sequence of linguistic elements is a statement only if it is immersed in an enunciative field, in which it then appears as a unique element. (AK 99)
They can only exist and are analyzable only to the extent that these sentences have been ‘enunciated’; in other words, to the extent that they are deployed in an enunciative field that allows them to follow one another, and play roles in relation to one another. (AK 100)
Thus we see the diachronic aspect of the archive; that is to say that for a statement to take up a place in a discursive formation, it must first be enunciated into discourse and set in relation to other statements, whether within or without a particular discursive formation.10 Furthermore, Foucault specifies further of enunciation:
We will say that an enunciation takes place whenever a group of signs is emitted. Each of these articulations has its spatio-temporal individuality… The enunciation is an unrepeatable event; it has a situated and dated uniqueness that is irreducible. (AK 101)
Enunciation is not, however, an act free of constraints, nor even an act performed by a determinate subject. Enunciation is determined as such by two systems. First, enunciation is determined by what Foucault terms discursive practice, which he defines as “a body of anonymous, historical rules, always determined in the time and space that have defined a given period, and for a given social, economic, geographical, or linguistic area, the conditions of operation of the enunciative function.” (AK 117) And second, and here we find the essential definition of the elusive term historical a priori, which is the diachronically functional avatar of a system of positivity. Foucault writes “Thus positivity plays the role of what might be called a historical a priori… an a priori not of truths that might never be said, or really given to experience; but the a priori of a history that is given, since it is that of things actually said.” (AK 127) Before proceeding to a discussion of the significance of practice and the historical a priori, the diagram may be brought one step closer to completion.
Thus we can see that positivity, functioning as a historical a priori, determines the conditions of functioning of the enunciative function, and thus serves as the condition of existence of statements as such. The historical a priori and thus positivity, as they are one and the same, albeit in different aspects (functional and structural) are determined also by discursive practices. Foucault writes:
This a priori does not elude historicity: it does not constitute above events, and in an unmoving heaven, an atemporal structure; it is defined as the group of rules that characterize a discursive practice: but these rules are
not imposed from the outside on the elements that they relate together; they are caught up in the very things that they connect; and if they are not modified with the least of them, they modify them, and are transformed with them into certain decisive thresholds.” (AK 127)
Holding off for the moment the critical question of the origin of discursive practices, we may see how the enunciative function is historically conditioned, both formally and practically. Only strictly delimited statements can enter the enunciative field, the field of discourse, or the archive. Furthermore, enunciation fixes the spatio-temporal location of the statement-event, and gives the statement a historically determinate meaning that may perhaps change given a change in the discursive formation in which it is placed. This however, gets beyond our current discussion and will be discussed later. It should additionally be noted that the author along with both subject and object are also fixed in the process of enunciation. These are not pre-determinate aspects of the statement, they are affixed by enunciation (AK 93-95).
If then the historical a priori is that which concomitantly with discursive practices determines the conditions of operation for the enunciative function, we need a more precise definition of discursive practice than the one given early in The Archaeology of Knowledge, namely defining practice through its conditioning effect upon the enunciative function and the minimal definition given as “a group of rules that are immanent in practice, and define it in its specificity” (AK 46) or exemplified when he speaks of “a group of rules in the practice of a discourse” (AK 62) or when he speaks of the “discursive practice of psychiatry” (AK 75). While he discusses particular discursive practices and their development and deployment later in the book, a more pertinent and succinct definition is found in The Will To Know11:
Discursive practices are characterized by the demarcation of a field of objects, by the definition of a legitimate perspective for the subject of knowledge, by the setting of norms for elaborating concepts and theories. Hence, each of them presupposes a play of prescriptions that govern exclusions and selections… [they do not] coincide necessarily with what are usually called sciences or disciplines, although their boundaries may sometimes be provisionally the same.12
Discursive practices are not purely and simply modes of manufacture of discourse. They take shape in technical ensembles, in institutions, in behavioral schemes, in types of transmission and dissemination, in pedagogical forms that both impose and maintain them… they have specific modes of transformation.13
Thus we see that it is a discourse itself (or many) that is at work in discursive practice. And thus, diagrammatically we may see that in Foucault’s archaeological schema, discourse is self-modifying and self-regulating. (see Figure 3) Moreover, discourse and the statements of which it is composed “are invested in techniques that put them into operation, in practices that derive from them, in the social relations that they form or through those relations, modify… survival in time is far from being the accidental or fortunate prolongation of an existence…” (AK 123-4)
(Figure 3)Furthermore, in this configuration we find a prefiguration of the direction Foucault will take in the 1970’s, particularly when he writes that by virtue of the powers of practices:
Discourse… appears as an asset - finite, limited, desirable, useful - that has its own rules of appearance, but also its own conditions of appropriation and operation; an asset that consequently from the moment of its existence, poses the question of power; an asset that is, by nature, the object of a struggle, a political struggle. (AK 120)
Here, however, we find one crucial term missing: the episteme; a term which will be of crucial import to place in our structure if we are to tackle to complex problem of epistemic change. Thus far, we have only discussed the self-regulation/self-modification of discourse and its related practice.
II. The Episteme - The Paradox and The Completed DiagramThe first definition of the episteme is the last explicit definition
of the term that Foucault gives (although, I thoroughly disagree with Han, 12
Drefus & Rabinow and Habermas that he abandons it after his so called genealogical turn). In the space of two pages, Foucault gives a comprehensive definition of the term, an extract follows:
By episteme, we mean, in fact, the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the discursive practices that give rise to epistemological figures, sciences and possibly, formalized systems; the way in which, in each of these discursive formations, the transitions… are situated and operate… The episteme is not a form of knowledge (connaissance) or type of rationality which, crossing the boundaries of the most varied sciences, manifests the sovereign unity of the subject, a spirit, or a period; it is the totality of relations that can be discovered, for a given period, between the sciences when one analyses them at the level of discursive regularities. (AK 191)
As a set of relations… the episteme makes it possible to grasp the set of constraints and limitations which, at a given moment, are imposed on discourse… It is what, in the positivity of discursive practices, makes possible the existence of epistemological figures and sciences. (AK 192)
Moreover, Foucault claims that the analysis of the episteme can re-found the critical question, not of what is legitimately science, but what science itself is, in a given period. (AK 192) This description of the episteme, however, the appearance of being merely super-structural. That is to say, the episteme, at least as Foucault portrays it in The Archaeology of Knowledge is a relational concept between discourses and practices, and serves no foundational purpose, which is in direct contradiction with the conception of the episteme that he propounded in The Order of Things only a few years earlier. Some critics have taken this as at best a re-definition of the concept, and at worst, an attempt to shove the concept out the back door by appending it to the end of The Archaeology without much elaboration. This, however, seems not to be the case, given the structure of the book itself and the coherence that can be brought with the earlier conception of the episteme through the aforementioned deployment of the synchronic/diachronic distinction. In whichever case, the conclusion must also be compatible with Foucault’s usage of the term episteme at the end of Discipline and Punish, where he writes “I am not saying that the human sciences emerged from the prison. But if they have been able to be formed and to produce so many profound changes in the episteme, it is because they have been conveyed by a specific and new modality of power…“14 First, however, we must see the particular usage Foucault makes of the term episteme in The Order of Things.15
From The Order of Things, three quotations will be examined at the outset:
What I am attempting to bring to light is the epistemological field, the episteme in which knowledge, envisaged apart from all criteria having reference to its rational value or to its objective forms, grounds its positivity and thereby manifests a history… of its conditions of possibility. (OT xxii)
Here it seems that the episteme is envisaged as a substratum, upon which the positivity or historical a priori of a discourse grounds itself. The episteme seems to be, like positivity itself the a priori of knowledge, although the cultural a priori of the discursive a priori. Consequent to the following quotation, the episteme in this understanding constitutes an a priori that is culturally universal:
In any given culture and at any given moment, there is always only one episteme that defines the conditions of possibility of all knowledge, whether expressed in a theory or silently invested in a practice. (OT 168)
Here again, it seems that the episteme is seen as a substrate upon which knowledge and discourse can grow; Georges Canguilhem, one of Foucault’s mentors wrote of the episteme that it is “the humus upon which only certain forms of discursive organization can grow.”16 Here as in the previous citation, the episteme is envis-aged as passive, as a sort of cultural-universal fundamental principle for the development of discourse and knowledge. Furthermore, this functional aspect of the episteme as the condition of possibility for knowledge is like the historical a priori insofar as it is not merely the condition of possibility, but condition of existence for not only knowledge but the practices that engender and employ that knowledge.
Further it is possible to characterize the episteme and its relations to knowledge and discourse, as in the classical episteme:
What makes the totality of the Classical episteme possible is primarily the relation of knowledge to order. (OT 72)
In the general arrangement of the classical episteme, nature, human nature, and their relations are definite, predictable moments. (OT 310)
The continuum of representation and being, an ontology defined negatively as the absence of nothingness… all this was included in the total configuration of the classical episteme. (OT 206)
However, this episteme is not merely descriptive or a priori, it bears with it a certain ontological necessity of being expressed in knowledge, discourse, practice and experience:
It is within the very tight-knit, very coherent outlines of the modern episteme that this contemporary experience found its possibility. It Is even that episteme which by its own logic, gave rise to such an experience, constituted it through and through, and made it impossible for it not to exist. (OT 384)
This understanding of the term episteme leads to an apparent paradox when viewed in the context of his later definition in The Archaeology of Knowledge. Here, in The Order of Things, the episteme is seen as an inter-discursive historical-transcendental condition of existence for discourse, knowledge and experience; a substrate upon which knowledge, discourse and practice grows. Whereas in The Archaeology of Knowledge, the episteme is seen in a more super-structural element,
As a set of relations… the episteme makes it possible to grasp the set of constraints and limitations which, at a given moment, are imposed on discourse… It is what, in the positivity of discursive practices, makes possible the existence of epistemological figures and sciences. (AK 192)
That the episteme apparently both constitutes and is constituted by discourse, knowledge and practice. But how, it must be asked, can a concept so broad as this be both explicative superstructure and constitutive substrate. It is this paradox that the deployment of the structuralist distinction between synchronic and diachronic structure resolves.
We can see distinctly that the episteme serves a role as the substratum for the development of knowledge, discourse, practice and positivity in the course of historical time. Over the course of time, the episteme may be in the words of Canguilhem “the humus upon which only certain forms of discursive organization can grow.”17 However, when seen synchronically, the episteme is constituted by the already extant discursive organization, forms of knowledge and established practices, which are constantly being modified through the enunciation of new statements conditioned by discursive practices and according to a historical a priori determined in part by the episteme. (See Figure 4)In the following diagram it must be noted that the episteme in the synchronic sense is precisely the same episteme as in the diachronic, which thus enables Foucault to propose his first of many hypotheses regarding epistemic change.
At this point in his career, Foucault was primarily concerned with the description and explication of epistemic discontinuities, This archaeological inquiry has revealed two great discontinuitiesin the episteme of Western culture… The order on the basis of which we think today does not have the same mode of being as that of Classical thinkers. (OT xxii) Ruptures and discontinuities in the manner in which knowledge and discourse was ordered. Thus with his attention turned toward epistemological concerns, his initial hypothesis regarding the causes and mechanisms of epistemic change were characteristically epistemological and a-political:
Perhaps knowledge succeeds in engendering knowledge, ideas in transforming themselves and actively modifying one another; one thing in any case, is certain: archaeology, addressing itself to the general space of knowledge, to its configurations and to the mode of being of the things that appear in it, defines systems of simultaneity, as well as the series of mutations necessary and sufficient to circumscribe the threshold of a new positivity. (OT xxiii)
It is at first curious that Foucault takes such a perspective, that knowledge modifies itself sufficiently to replace not just one positivity, but systems of positivity such that mutation that occurred in the entire western episteme. (OT 206) How might this operate? Ultimately, by the diagram that has been constructed, we see the only possible way by which this may occur is through an accumulation of statements that alter discourse enough to modify the discursive practices which in part determine the
historical a priori and the conditions of operation of the enunciative function, thus propelling a cycle until some limit is breached and the order of things is fundamentally altered. This is a hypothesis that remains in the background of Foucault’s though throughout its development, however, even in The Archaeology of Knowledge, the operation of forces, power and appropriations begin to come into play, when
Discourse… appears as an asset - finite, limited, desirable, useful - that has its own rules of appearance, but also its own conditions of appropriation and operation; an asset that consequently from the moment of its existence, poses the question of power; an asset that is, by nature, the object of a struggle, a political struggle. (AK 120)
And furthermore, the strategic element of positivity comes into play. Each discourse has rules of appropriation designated by the field of strategic choices delimited therein. The strategic element of positivity contains within it “points of diffraction of discourse… points of incompatability… points of equivalence… link points of systematization…” (AK 65-66) and corresponding to these “the function that the discourse under study must carry out in a field of non-discursive practices.… the rules and processes of appropriation of discourse… authority is characterized by the possible positions of desire in relation to discourse.” (AK 68) These define the way in which discourse may be used, the way statements can appear within the discourse as events to serve an end. Each statement may have, according to the strategy it composes, a particular sense, but Foucault states later, that there is a possible “field of stabilization… that makes identity possible.” (AK 103) The statement is still subject to appropriation, but within the discourse it has been stabilized. This stabilization is important in the long run, in the archaeological system, for the fact that as was demonstrated earlier, discourses compose the episteme, which then governs the enunciation of discourse. Change must be possible, yet at the same time limited.
III. The Question of the TranscendentalThe question is often asked whether Foucault’s historical a priori and
a fortiori the episteme form a transcendental element in Foucault’s philosophy. Moreover, the question is made more urgent with Foucault’s repeated comments in the latter portion of The Order of Things of man’s nature as an “empirico-transcendental doublet.” (OT 322) Without touching on whether it is man’s peculiar character to be so composed, the notion of an empirical-transcendental doubling that is of particular interest in the
context of the structure that I have drawn out from Foucault’s archaeology. It is the in the episteme itself that the doubling of the empirical and the transcendental can be located. Foucault writes in The Order of Things, “Whereas the theory of articulation [part of the conceptual network of positivity] showed how the patterning of words and of things they represent could occur without a hiatus between them, the analysis of the empirico-transcendental reduplication shows how what is given in experience and what renders experience possible correspond to one another in an endless oscillation.” (OT 336) If we but transpose this statement to the order of discourse that constitutes the archive, the synchronic element of the ordered accumulation of discourse constitutes the empirical element of the episteme which then becomes the transcendental conditions for the articulation or enunciation of further discourse. Thus the conditions of possibility for discourse correspond to the concrete existence of discourse. So one might say that Foucault is a transcendental thinker insofar as his thought is conforms to a subset where both “the empirical and the transcendental, of what belongs to the order of positivity and what belongs to the order of foundations” (OT 340) coincide. Furthermore, Foucault writes at the conclusion of The Order of Things:
The privilege of ethnology and psychoanalysis, the reason for their profound kinship and symmetry… what illuminates the space of their discourse is much more the historical a priori of all the sciences of man - those great caesuras, furrows, and dividing-lines which traced man’s outline in the western episteme and made him a possible area of knowledge. (OT 378)
The historical a priori and episteme constitute the conditions of knowledge simultaneously as they are constituted by the concrete, established knowledge. This oscillation reinforces the conditions of knowledge and the solidity of discourse, however, limiting experiences play a key role in allowing for change, pushing the boundaries and by this reciprocal definition, accelerate. I conclude this section, however, with the remark that Foucault’s notion of the empirico-transcendental doubling seems to be very similar to Deleuze’s “transcendental empiricism.”
Chapter 2 - Genealogy and the Event In his final interview, Michel Foucault stated that “Heidegger has always been an essential philosopher… My entire philosophical development was determined by my reading of Heidegger. I nevertheless recognize that Nietzsche outweighed him.”18 The manner in which Foucault was influenced by Nietzsche has been the subject of a considerable amount of literature, whereas there is a relative paucity of literature concerning Heidegger’s influence upon Foucault. What I would like to undertake here is an examination of the manner in which Gilles Deleuze’s notion of the ‘event’ and Heidegger’s idea of Ereignis, along with certain concepts from Nietzsche render Foucault’s genealogical-archaeological project particularly coherent and lucid. Albert Hofstadter writes of Ereignis that “Every shape of experience familiar to man is a shape of a limited enownment [Ereignis]… every stratum and strand of history is thinkable in its truth as a way of staying within some finite form of this mutual ownness. The social order, for instance is an order of enownment [Ereignis].”19 It will be seen that Foucault’s genealogy and archaeology are premised upon a similar thesis; that is, knowledge-power consists of events related to the forces that gave them rise in the same manner as mans appropriation to Being in Heidegger.
What I would like to undertake in this chapter is to explore the way in which genealogy and additionally the rest of Foucault’s work, can be seen as being founded upon a particular understanding of the term ’event,’ which not only brings a new clarity to the method of genealogy and clarifies the status of power, knowledge and discourse, but also permits an integration of Foucault’s methodologies into a coherent whole. An aspect of the sense in which the term ’event’ should be understood is suggested by the 1983 interview with Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, “On the Genealogy of Ethics” in which Foucault states that
Three domains of genealogy are possible. First, a historical ontology of ourselves in relation to truth through which we constitute ourselves as subjects of knowledge; second, a historical ontology of ourselves in relation to a field of power through which we constitute ourselves as subjects acting on others; third, a historical ontology in relation to ethics through which we constitute ourselves as moral agents… The truth axis was studied in The Birth of the Clinic and The Order of Things. The power axis was studied in Discipline and Punish, and the ethical axis in The History of Sexuality.20
The term ‘historical ontology’ suggests Heidegger, and thus it would not be unreasonable to connect Foucault‘s term ‘event‘ with Heidegger’s
understanding of Ereignis [event] and the related term Gestell [enframing]. As will be shown, this particular understanding of the ‘event’ is not only suggested by the manner in which Foucault uses and characterizes the term ‘event,’ but also by the fact that, while Foucault was a student at the Ecole Normale Superieure “he went regularly to hear Jean Beaufret, to whom Martin Heidegger had written his ‘Lettre sur l’humanisme.’ Beaufret discussed Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason but also talked a great deal about Heidegger.”21 Heidegger notes in the “Summary of a Seminar” in On Time and Being that the “Letter on Humanism” was the first time he wrote of Ereignis.22 It is also useful to think of the Foucaultian sense of ’event’ not only in terms of Ereignis, but in the sense of ‘event’ developed by Gilles Deleuze in The Logic of Sense, which was published in the same year as The Archaeology of Knowledge.23 This understanding of ‘event’ is suggested in “Theatrum Philosophicum,” written by Foucault as a review of Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense and Difference and Repetition. Here Foucault criticizes “three major attempts at conceptualizing the event: neopositivism, phenomenology and the philosophy of history”24 and writes approvingly of Deleuze’s conceptualization of ‘event.’ Since the aforementioned attempts that Foucault criticizes as having failed to grasp the ’event’ are those which he has personally rejected, one is led to believe that his notion of ’event’ bears some similarity to Deleuze’s. Furthermore, the integrative potential of this proposed understanding of ‘event’ is enhanced by the fact that Foucault seemingly subsumes both archaeology and his later ethical project to genealogy as shown in the previously cited passage. This passage implies that what we can apply terminologically to genealogy, we can also apply to the whole of his project.
Despite Foucault’s frequent use of the term event he only discusses the term ’event’ explicitly in The Discourse on Language and in an interview published in 1980 entitled “Questions of Method.” In this piece he writes about the term ‘eventialization,’ from which we can extrapolate a rudimentary understanding of that which Foucault refers to as an ‘event.’ In “Questions of Method“ Foucault writes, “What do I mean by this term? First of all, a breach of self-evidence. It means making visible a singularity… rediscovering connections… that establish what subsequently counts as being self-evident… multiplication or pluralization of causes.”25 Thus, we can see that for Foucault an ‘event’ is a singular occurrence, and moreover, one that is analyzable “according to the multiple processes that constitute it.”26 Therefore the event is singular and not of the same ontological status
as that which constitutes it.27 However, this is a skeletal definition for such an important term.
It is necessary to examine Foucault’s texts more closely in order to be able to understand his usage of the term ‘event’ in clearer terms. In The Order of Things, Foucault writes that “only thought re-apprehending itself at the root of its own history could provide a foundation… for what the solitary truth of this event was in itself… archaeology, however, must examine each event in terms of its own evident arrangement…“28 In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault writes that:
to disconnect the unquestioned continuities by which we organize, in advance, the discourse that we are to analyze, in advance, the discourse that we are to analyze: we must renounce… A wish that it should never be possible to assign, in the order of discourse, the irruption of a real event; that beyond any apparent beginning, there is always a secret origin… Discourse must not be referred to the distance presence of the origin, but treated as and when it occurs.29
Moreover, Foucault speaks of multiple kinds of events. He writes that “the enunciation is an unrepeatable event; it has a situated and dated uniqueness that is irreducible… but the statement itself cannot be reduced to this pure event of enunciation.”30 However, reciprocally, “the archive is first the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events.”31 Not only are events discursive, it is also meaningful to speak of “statements in correlation with ‘external’ events’,”32 which is to say, events outside of a discourse. Foucault again writes in The Archaeology:
Instead of considering that discourse is made up of a series of homogeneous events, archaeology distinguishes several possible levels of events within the very density of discourse:  the level of statements themselves in their unique emergence;  the level of the appearance of objects, types of enunciation, concepts,
strategic choices (or transformations that affect those that already exist);  the level of the derivation of new rules of formation on the basis of rules that are already in operation… a fourth level, at which the substitution of one discursive formation for another takes place. These events which are by far the most rare, are for archaeology, the most important…33
It could be argued that the significance of the notion of ‘event’ is emphasized arbitrarily over other persistent elements of his vocabulary. While this claim is legitimate, numerous statements suggest the particular importance of the term ’event.’ In “Questions of Method,” Foucault writes of the importance of “eventialization”:
A breach of self-evidence, of those self-evidences on which our knowledges, acquiescences, and practices rest: this is the first
theoretico-political function of ‘eventialization‘… Second, eventialization means rediscovering the connections, encounters, supports, blockages, plays of forces, strategies, and so on, that at a given moment establish what subsequently counts as being self-evident, universal and necessary. In this sense, one is indeed effecting a sort of multiplication or pluralization of causes.”34
In The Discourse on Language, events are described as:It was rather in order to establish those diverse converging and sometimes divergent, but never autonomous series that enable us to circumscribe the ‘locus’ of an event, the limits to its fluidity and conditions of emergence… the fundamental notions now are… of events and of series.35
Finally, and this is the closest that Foucault comes to defining ‘event’ is likewise found in The Discourse on Language, where he writes:
…and event is neither substance, nor accident, nor quality, norprocess; events are not corporeal. And yet, and event is certainly not immaterial; it takes effect, becomes effect always on the level of materiality. Events have their place… it occurs as an effect of, and in material dispersion.36
This is Foucault’s most explicit definition of what he means by ‘event’. However, if the term ‘event’ is to be significant, a more detailed understanding of this term is needed. It is my position that unless the proper understanding of ‘event’ is elucidated, Foucault’s work remains fundamentally heterogeneous.
The methods of archaeology and genealogy remain un-reconciled except for a few somewhat brief statements of their complementary nature in “Society Must Be Defended” and a brief analysis in The Discourse on Language which will be treated in the course of examining Foucault’s genealogy. However, if we examine Foucault’s idea of the ‘event’ more closely and with attention paid to Deleuze and more importantly, Heidegger, we may see a way in which at once genealogy is better understood and the inter-relation between genealogy and archaeology becomes clear. In addition to refining the conception of ‘event’ in Foucault in terms of genealogy, in this paper it will be shown that Foucault’s ‘genealogical turn’ does not constitute a break with archaeology, but rather an attempt at a complementary approach yet this is as much as can be said of the ‘event’ at this point. Before the significance of the ‘event’ can become clear, we must first see how Foucault envisions genealogy.
I. Toward an Interpretation of Genealogy
The genealogical aspect concerns the effective formation of discourse, whether within the limits of control, or outside of them, or as is most frequent, on both sides of the delimitation…
Genealogy studies their [discourses’] formulation, at once scattered, discontinuous and regular… The genealogical side of discourse… deals with series of effective formation of discourse: it attempts to grasp it in its power of affirmation… the power of constituting domains of objects, in relation to which one can affirm or deny true or false propositions.37
Thus we have Foucault’s earliest formulation of his genealogical project. We can clearly see from his comments in The Discourse on Language that his genealogical project was not meant to supplant the archaeological (now referred to as ‘critical’) but to serve as its (if imperfect complement.38 The ‘critical’ or archaeological project is composed, by Foucault’s own admission, of Madness and Civilization, The Birth of The Clinic, The Order of Things and The Archeology of Knowledge. In these works, Foucault had lacked the theoretical methodology to describe non-discursive practices and consequently bracketed off as much of the non-discursive as possible, attempting to describe discourses through discursive practice. In doing so, by it is be impossible in these works to describe the inception of a discourse or its disappearance, only the discourses in their actual appearance can be described. Furthermore, archaeology seems to be lacking, with respect to explaining discursive modification. Likewise, the constitution of a field of objects and the proper subject is inexplicable from a purely archaeological perspective; only genealogy can contribute these insights, this occurs through the processes, which he borrows from Nietzsche and elaborates on in the texts “Nietzsche, Freud, Marx“, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” and “Truth and Juridical Forms” of “Emergence” [Entstehung], “Descent” [Herkunft] and “Invention” [Erfindung]. These processes belong distinctly to the genealogy of ‘events.’39
Critics40 have written that Foucault misappropriates the term ‘genealogy’ from Nietzsche. however, in “Truth and Juridical Forms”, Foucault explicitly states that he appropriates from Nietzsche that which is useful from the perspective of his project. This ought be extended in order to realize that Foucault is not a Nietzschean, but is possessed of several Nietzscheanisms in his philosophy. “I chose this passage from Nietzsche in terms of my own interests, not with the purpose of showing that this was the Nietzschean conception of knowledge - but only to show that there are in Nietzsche a certain number of elements that afford us a model for a historical analysis of what I would call the politics of truth.”41 Thus, Foucault need not be faithful to Nietzsche. He means only that elements crucial to his genealogical method were appropriated from Nietzsche, namely those previously mentioned, along with what he refers to as the “Nietzschean
hypothesis” regarding knowledge, power and truth.42 Despite the fact that Foucault writes that “there are no grounds for
believing that there is a true Nietzscheanism, or that ours is any truer than others… It is striking that someone like Deleuze has simply taken Nietzsche seriously, which indeed he has. That is what I wanted to do. What serious use can Nietzsche be put to.“43 That is, in translation, Ursprung, Herkunft, and Entstehung, are in various instances all translated as “origin”, where the latter two are more properly translated as “descent” and “emergence”. Here, Foucault finds his point of departure for “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”; genealogy “opposes itself to the search for origins.”44 He then proceeds to show that up until the Genealogy, Nietzsche uses the aforementioned words indiscriminately, yet an opposition between Herkunft or Entstehung and Ursprung emerges and becomes essential. Both Herkunft and Entstehung have meanings more specific than the “origin” to which they are customarily translated. Foucault, in the constitution of his genealogical method makes use of the distinction between the senses of each term.
Descent [Herkunft] is not merely the philosophical appropriation of the term for heredity; Foucault’s use of this term is more metaphorical. Descent, for Foucault, designates “an unstable assemblage of faults, fissures and heterogeneous layers that threaten the fragile inheritor from within or underneath… The search for descent is not the erecting of foundations: on the contrary, it disturbs what was previously considered immobile; it fragments what was thought unified; it shows the heterogeneity of what was imagined consistent with itself.”45 This conception found by Foucault in descent is, however, already found in his ‘critical’ or archaeological method. Emergence [Entstehung] is of far greater importance to Foucault’s genealogy.
Entstehung designates emergence, the moment of arising… Genealogy, however, seeks to re-establish the various systems of subjection: not the anticipatory power of meaning, but the hazardous play of dominations. Emergence is always produced through a particular stage of forces. The analysis of the Entstehung must delineate this interaction, the struggle these forces wage against one another or against adverse circumstances.
This is to say, crucially, that Emergence is the means by which power and knowledge, and generally, power and practice, meet and interact. In the interaction of forces, emergence is constituted and is operative; “Emergence is thus the entry of forces; it is their eruption the leap from
the wings to center stage, each in its youthful strength. Emergence designates a place of confrontation, but not as… a struggle among equals… it is a “non-place,” a pure distance which indicates that the adversaries do not belong to a common space. Consequently, no one is responsible for an emergence; no one can glory in it, since it always occurs in the interstice.”46 This is to say that the only relation of force is that of opposed forces in a play of domination; it is in these plays of domination that emergence operates. Emergence can be understood as a power-relation that is productive. Moreover, two years later, in “Truth and Juridical Forms”, Foucault introduces a related term from Nietzsche, that is, invention [Erfindung].
The distinction between emergence and invention is both subtle and important. Both pertain to the same process, the coming into being of a hitherto unknown object or discourse. Foucault writes in 1973 regarding Nietzsche‘s use of the term invention, “When he says ‘invention’ it’s in order not to say ‘origin’.”47 Invention is characterized by Foucault as a radical discontinuity in opposition to the great unbroken continuity implied by an ‘origin’. Religion, poetry, the ideal and knowledge all are produced through invention. Where emergence “designates a place,”48 invention designates the result of the conflict that takes place at a point of emergence. “Erfindung, is on one hand a break, on the other something with a small beginning… This is the crucial point of the Erfindung. It was by obscure power relations that poetry was invented…“49 Here there is an intriguing break with the supposedly complete anonymity of the processes by which discourses are constituted and modified. Foucault writes in a passage preceding the one just cited that someone invented poetry in order to “establish by means of those words a certain relation of power over others.“50 In other words, where archaeology as a whole, and genealogy, insofar as it is concerned with Herkunft and Entstehung denies all effective agency, genealogy, where it is concerned with invention will admit effective agency.51 Someone or something invents; presumably one of the parties involved in the power-relation that conditions emergence. The invention of discourses or the mutation of discourses can be seen, presumably as the accumulation of these necessarily small inventions. It is these points of emergence with respect to the invention of various discourses (including knowledge and truth) that constitute the proper domain of Foucault’s genealogy. For example, we see this when in “Society Must Be Defended” Foucault writes of the emergence of disciplinarization:
We now have to study the emergence of a different form of disciplining, of disciplinarization, which is contemporary with the first but which applies to knowledges and not bodies. …resulted in both the removal of certain epistemological obstacles and a new form, a new regularity in the proliferation of disciplines. It can be demonstrated that the disciplinarization established a new mode of relationship between power and knowledge. …a new constraint: no longer the constraint of truth, but the constraint of science.52
This emergence conditions the subsequent invention of knowledges, the invention of the particular disciplines, the invention of the definition of these new constraints, et cetera. It is the processes and recorded traces of these events of emergence and subsequent invention that constitutes the domain and aims of genealogy.53
It can further be seen from these texts the great extent to which genealogy and archaeology are fundamentally of a complementary nature. While at each point of emergence, opposing forces in struggles of domination lead to the invention of ideas54: “The domination of certain men over others leads to the differentiation of values; class domination generates the idea of liberty; and the forceful appropriation of things necessary to survival and the imposition of a duration not intrinsic to them account for the origin of logic.”55 Moreover, Foucault continues to say that “humanity installs each of its violences in a system of rules and thus proceeds from domination to domination.”56 These systems of rules generated by conflict between forces which has become a power relation thus constitute the domain of the archaeological project. Insofar as this appropriation is an interpretation, it is all the more fitting that Foucault appropriates and assimilates, rather than borrow piecemeal, because “interpretation is the violent or surreptitious appropriation of a system of rules, which in itself has no essential meaning.”57 Thus we find a point at which Foucault’s understanding of Nietzsche has not changed in the least, for in “Nietzsche, Freud, Marx”, Foucault writes that “Words themselves are nothing but interpretations… ultimately they signify only because they are essentially nothing but interpretations… This is also what Nietzsche means when he says that words have always been invented by the ruling classes; they do not denote a signified, they impose an interpretation.”58 Thus, that which Foucault discusses in 1967 in terms of a hermeneutics or semiotics becomes a constitutive element of his later genealogical method.
Fundamentally, it is this notion of interpretation and emergence that genealogy is premised upon; in “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History“ Foucault writes:
The isolation of different points of emergence does not conform to the 26
successive configurations of an identical meaning: rather, they result from substitutions, displacements, disguised conquests and systematic reversals… if interpretation is the violent or surreptitious appropriation of a system of rules, which in itself has no essential meaning, in order to impose a direction, to bend it to a new will, to force its participation in a different game and to subject it to secondary rules, then the development of humanity is a series of interpretations. The role of genealogy is the record its history.59
Thus conceived, genealogy is the writing of the history of this series of interpretations. Interpretation is thus emergence; interpretation is the action of forces upon one another. Whether with a substratum of discursive rules to modify or not, emergence and interpretation thus designate modification and appropriation of said discursive rules in the first case, or the invention, ex nihilo of new discursive rules. In either case the modification or invention (henceforth both of which will be referred to as invention) are events that serve a force in a power-relation and can in no case be neutral.
II. Toward the EventIt is in the demonstration of the thesis that asserts the
impossibility of neutral knowledge that I find the idea of ‘event’ to be of most importance. Thus, it is here that we must treat the connection of Foucault’s idea of ‘event’ to those of Deleuze and Heidegger. The importance of Heidegger in terms of ‘event’ is of further reaching importance and thus will be treated last. Notably, in the texts currently under examination, Foucault at times uses peculiarly Deleuzean terminology. First in “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” (1971), Foucault writes “The body is the inscribed surface of events, the locus of a dissociated Self, 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 it so expose a body totally imprinted by history…”60 Second, and more importantly, in “Truth and Juridical Forms” (1973), he writes: “Knowledge - a surface effect, something prefigured in human nature - plays its game in the presence of the instincts, above them, among them; it curbs them, it expresses a certain state of tension or appeasement between the instincts.”61
It is the second that is of the most importance regarding the idea of ‘event’ and genealogy in Foucault. If one were to look for the Deleuzean term ‘surface effect’ in The Logic of Sense, one would find the following in a section entitled “Second Series of Paradoxes of Surface Effects“:
All bodies are causes in relation to each other, and causes for each other - but causes of what? They are causes of things of an
entirely different nature. These effects are not bodies, but properly speaking, ‘incorporeal’ entities. They are not physical qualities and properties, but rather logical or dialectical attributes. They are not things or facts but events. We can not say that they exists, but rather that they subsist or inhere. They are neither agents nor patients, but results of actions and passions.62
Deleuze continues later in the same chapter, that:The event, being itself impassive, allows the active and passive to be interchanged more easily, since it is neither one nor the other, but rather their common result. Concerning the cause and the effect, events, being always only effects are better able to form among themselves functions of quasi-causes or relations of quasi-causality which are always reversible.63
Thus we see a parallel to Foucault, indeed, one that is quite illuminating. According to Foucault, knowledge , and “knowledge was invented, then. To say that it was invented is to say that it has no origin.”64 Thus, if knowledge is an invention [Erfindung], and it is also a ‘surface effect’, then knowledge qua invention is necessarily an ‘event.’ This is to say, allusively, Foucault brings us to the fundamental equivalence of genealogy. This is to say, every invention is an ‘event.’ Foucault confirms knowledges status as an event in “The Will to Knowledge,“: “is not a permanent faculty; it is an event or at least a series of events“65 As both Foucault and Deleuze conceive it, an event is an ‘effect’ of force/power relations, and cannot strictly speaking be causally related to another ‘event‘. In Nietzsche and Philosophy, Deleuze writes “There is no event, no phenomenon, word or thought which does not have a multiple sense.”66 At this stage, strictly speaking, history is composed of shifting power-relations and a succession of disconnected invention-events. Something else has to be introduced in order to show how a history of these can be written, and most importantly, just how knowledge and other invention-events are put to use; why, how and in what interest knowledge and other events are constituted and put to use. This is where I see the importance of Heidegger, and moreover, how we can bring our reflections on the ’event’ to bear on the project of Foucaultian genealogy.
Foucault writes of Nietzsche, that “this means that knowledge is always a strategic relation in which man is placed. This strategic relation is what will define the effect of knowledge; that’s why it would be completely contradictory to imagine a knowledge that was not by nature partial, oblique and perspectival.”67 Moreover, Foucault sees the importance of Nietzsche to the lectures as his giving a model for the formation of knowledge in terms of relations of force and power. Foucault sees knowledge
arising from human relations of force and power and then projected upon the world. But if knowledge is an effect of these power-relations, which, at least for Deleuze, are relations between bodies, knowledge is not isomorphic with the things to be known. Moreover, Foucault agrees with this, when he writes that knowledge is the attempt to enforce order on an world that is un-ordered. But still, how is this invention forced upon that which is heterogeneous to it? Also, given that invention-events serve the interests of one of the parties of the relationship of force or power, how does this happen? Finally, what follows from this? A suggestion as to the direction this may take can be found when Deleuze writes, in the context of Nietzsche, “Interpretation reveals its complexity when we realize that a new force can only appear and appropriate an object by first of all putting on the mask of the forces which are already in possession of the object.”68
Heidegger’s thought of Ereignis, or literally ‘event’ has, until this point been left by the wayside. This has been intentional, however, and I shall now remedy this deficiency. The German word for ‘event’ is der Ereignis, which Heidegger understands as Er-Eignis, which translates to something akin to the act of making something proper. For Heidegger, ‘event’ is an act of appropriation. He writes in On Time and Being, “What determines both, time and Being, in their own, that is, in their belonging together, we shall call: Ereignis, the event of Appropriation. Ereignis will be translated as Appropriation or event of Appropriation. One should bear in mind, however, that ‘event’ is not simply an occurrence, but that which makes any occurrence possible.”69
Initially, in Heidegger’s Ereignis, we see an important implication for Foucault’s genealogy. This is to say that when Heidegger writes that “that ‘event’ is not simply an occurrence, but that which makes any occurrence possible,” we can add to our provisional understanding of the ‘invention-event’ of knowledge in Foucault that the invention-event pertains to savoir as opposed to connaissance. Particular elements of knowledge were not invented in the same way that knowledge itself was. Moreover, the notion of Ereignis as the event of Appropriation is tantalizing, given Foucault’s understanding of interpretation as the appropriation and cooption of a given system; Foucault even writes in “The Will To Knowledge”: knowledge is invented by “forces distinct from it: an interplay of instincts, impulses, desires, fear, will to appropriation. It is on the stage where they clash that knowledge comes into being,”70 moreover, it is in this same text knowledge is referred to explicitly as an ’event.’ This would broach
associations with Heidegger’s thought of Gestell or Framing. Indeed, Heidegger writes that “Between the epochal formations of Being and the transformation of being into Appropriation stands Framing. Framing is an in-between stage, so to speak… It can be understood as a continuation of the will to will, thus an extreme formation of Being. At the same time, however, it is a first form of Appropriation itself.”71 Der Ereignis, for Heidegger, is ambiguous. Heidegger seems to envision it as a final or originary stage in the history of Being; however, Foucault seems to be drawing more upon the character and properties of Ereignis rather than its status in Heidegger’s history of Being. The first property that Foucault takes is the understanding in which Framing constitutes a form of Appropriation: this can be construed as the construction of forms of knowledge [savoir].72
Fundamentally, it seems to me, thought, that the characteristics of der Ereignis that Foucault incorporates most into his notion of the ’event’ comes from the following passages:
Even assuming that in our discussions of Being and time we abandon the common meaning of the word “event” and instead adopt the sense that suggests itself in the sending of presence and the extending of time-space which opens out - even then our talk about “Being as Appropriation” remains indeterminate…73
And most importantly:
Appropriating makes manifest its peculiar property, that Appropriation withdraws what is most fully its own from boundless unconcealment. Thought in terms of Appropriating, this means: in that sense it expropriates itself of itself. Expropriation belongs to Appropriation as such. By this expropriation, Appropriation does not abandon itself - rather it preserves what is its own.74
Here, if we listen carefully, we can discern more echoes in Foucault, particularly in a text that we have already treated, “Truth and Juridical Forms.” The fact that Appropriation is equally also expropriation, illuminates Foucault’s statement that “If these three drives - laughing, lamenting, hating - manage to produce knowledge… it’s because they have tried, as Nietzsche says, to harm one another… they reach a kind of state, a kind of hiatus, in which knowledge will finally appear as the ‘spark between two swords.’”75 Thus, in the “stabilized state of war” of mutual expropriation on the part of the parties of the power-relation gives rise to the invention-event of knowledge.
“Time is the way in which Appropriation appropriates,”76 writes Joan Stambaugh in her Introduction to On Time and Being. This is to say that
temporality is the fundamental determinant of the mode of appropriation. Thus, Appropriation is fundamentally historical; it is either interpreted qua Being, qua Framing or as ’event’. In interpreting Appropriation as ’event’, we see according to Agamben, “access to a kind of propriety… In ’Time and Being’ Ereignis is defined as the reciprocal appropriation, the co-belonging of time and being, while in Identity and Difference, Being and man are led back to their propriety.”77 It is this sense of Ereignis as access to propriety that is particularly interesting in relation to Foucault. Much as power or the instincts expropriate and their mutual expropriation is generative of the invention-event. Despite the fact that “No one is responsible for an emergence; no one can glory in it, since it always occurs in the interstice,“78 that ‘event’, if understood as Ereignis79 is always already mutually appropriated to a party of the conflict of force that gave them rise. Moreover, it ensures the status of the subjugated by its use as a mode of subjection that is expropriated to the other force.
It is impossible for knowledge, or anything that was invented to be neutral. It is in this that insofar as the subject constitutes an invention, there can be no neutral independent subject. That neutral independent subject is the appropriated invention of the force that occupies a particular position in a power arrangement. It is an invention that is already an interpretation that is forcefully imposed by someone or something. This validates what Nietzsche writes in the first essay of On The Genealogy of Morals, “This type of man needs to believe in a neutral independent ‘subject,’ prompted by an instinct for self-preservation and self-affirmation in which every lie is sanctified.”80 Thus, this ‘subject’ is reciprocally appropriated to those whom it benefits, and serves at the same time to expropriate those over whom it serves to assert dominion. Thus, with this example, I am asserting a universality of sorts for this notion of ‘event’ which I will here codify into a few preliminary conclusions:
1. Event is to be understood at once as a Deleuzean surface-effect and as an ‘event’ in appropriation is always already operational.81 Deleuze writes in Nietzsche and Philosophy, that there are no events that are not appropriated and do not have multiple senses. 2. Therefore: Events cannot be causally related to one another. Events cannot be neutral, in any way, shape, or form, except insofar as an appearance of neutrality serves an interest. 3. The term Event only applies to occurrences that pertain tosavoir or operate at a formal level. The invention of a content
for a given proposition is not an Event, unless it modifies the fundamental structure of knowledge, however, the invention of a new form of proposition is an Event.4. Discursive events constitute statements in The Archaeology of Knowledge. A non-discursive event is any event that is generative of a new form that knowledge may take. 5. Therefore: Knowledge is an event that produces knowledge as a formal structure, it is produced by power and always serves or reinforces a power-relation, although it is not always the dominant force who knowledge serves. Knowledge can be appropriated by the subjugated force as a means of resistance. 6. Thus: The invention-event of a new form of Knowledge or Truth can bring about rupture (which is also an event, albeit a complex one). This event can only occur in the course of conflict.
What then are the consequences of these conclusions for Foucault’s genealogy? Moreover, how does such an understanding of the event underlie the interrelation of archaeology and genealogy, the interrelation between knowledge and power?
Foucault’s all-consuming attention to events as opposed to the “presupposed continuities of history” yields interesting ramifications for genealogy. By speaking of ‘events’ or ‘statements’ Foucault is, on one hand, seemingly dramatically reducing the amount of issues at hand. On the other, genealogy is intended to uncover “’subjugated knowledges‘” 82and as such, by takes into account “a whole series of knowledges that have been disqualified as non-conceptual knowledges, as insufficiently elaborated… naïve… hierarchically inferior… knowledges that are below the required level of erudition or scientificity.”83 And moreover, by speaking of discursive and non-discursive events, he in fact broadens his purview. In order to do genealogy, one must trace the minute sequence of little events, micro-relations of power and force, and meticulously record them. Thus in every relation of force that is productive, an event, according to our previous definition occurs and must be recorded by the genealogist. It is genealogy’s task, according to Foucault to constitute, “a form of history that can account for the constitution of knowledges, discourses, domains of objects, and so on without having to make reference to a subject that is either transcendental in relation to the field of events or runs in its empty sameness throughout the course of history.”84 Thus, by accounting for every invention-event, mapping every emergence, the genealogist can account for
what Foucault refers to as the “micro-physics of power.” It is a micro-physics insofar as productive power relations occur rapidly and in great number. By charting the micro-physics of power, the Foucaultian genealogist is able to account for the “constitution of knowledges, discourses and domains of objects.”85
Corollary to this, it is impossible for any invention-event to be neutral in relation to the power relation in which they emerged, and moreover, it is impossible for an event to be neutral at all, because as a cardinal property of an ‘event’ in the Heideggerian-Deleuzean sense that is Foucault’s operative sense, every event, despite always occurring in a gap between powers, is always immediately appropriated with respect either to the power relations in which they emerged. Moreover, when transplanted into a different power-configuration, the invention-event will become appropriated to the power involved. It is very much as Foucault writes in “Society Must Be Defended”: that “once we have excavated our genealogical fragments… isn’t there a danger that they will be recorded, recolonized by these unitary discourses which, having first disqualified them… may now be ready to re-annex them and include them in their own discourses and their own power-knowledge effects?”86 Thus is the risk of the ‘eventialized’ history; by recording the history of the invention of knowledges [savoir], the dominant knowledges have far easier to access to the previously suppressed knowledges, and then can make use, appropriate if you will, the subjugated knowledges in order to reinforce its hegemony.87
Moreover, now we can come to another, particularly significant conclusion. What relation between knowledge and power is presupposed by this envisioning of genealogy? It must be said that by virtue of the peculiar status accorded to the ‘event’, that is, of being a surface effect without the capacity of acting as a simple cause. This is especially evident in the interrelation of force, power and the invention-events knowledge and truth. In short: the nature of the ‘event’ prohibits the ‘event’ from being more than a ‘quasi-cause’ with respect to another. This is even true of discursive events and non-discursive events. An event requires force-relations in order to give it a cause. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault writes that “the carceral network constituted one of the armatures of power-knowledge that has made the human sciences possible. Knowable man is the object-effect of this analytical investment…“88 Thus, the object of knowledge is an effect of power-knowledge. Discursive effects and their non-discursive correlates are in the end, effects of force and power relations and the
knowledge [savoir] that they create. However, the invention-event of knowledge by virtue of its analogous nature to Heidegger’s Ereignis, can mold, modify or reinforce power. By appropriating and being appropriated, knowledge [savoir], more often, particular knowledges [savoir], appropriates power. In doing so, the idea of the event firmly entrenches the mechanism for, and the manner of the fundamental inter-relation of power with knowledge (or other events).
Now, we can address the issue that at the outset I claimed that a proper understanding of ‘event’ and genealogy would illuminate just how archaeology and genealogy are inextricable. According to Deleuze, “Archaeology put forward a distinction between two types of practical formations: the one ‘discursive,’ involving statements, the other ‘non-discursive’ involving the environment.”89 We can fill in Deleuzes’ elision, that Archaeology deals with the practical formations of ‘discursive’ events and ‘non-discursive’ events. Deleuze would advance the idea that in his ‘genealogical period‘, Foucault merely dealt primarily with the non-discursive. However, this would contradict Foucault’s statement in The Discourse on Language regarding the relation between genealogy and archaeology; they have the same domain, and thus differentiating based upon the discursive versus non-discursive division would be fallacious, by virtue of constituting separate domains. Moreover, Deleuze asks, if “there is a mutual presupposition operating between the two forms, yet there is no common form, no conformity, not even correspondence… One the one hand, outside forms, is there in general a common immanent cause that exists within the social field?.. What do we mean here by immanent cause? It is a cause which is realized, integrated and distinguished in its effect… is realized, integrated and distinguished by its effect.”90 In short: the immanent cause about which Deleuze is speaking consists of the relations of force themselves; their effects constitute both the discursive and non-discursive events, the province of archaeology. However, it is the history of these events, with which genealogy is concerned, rather than their topology. Genealogy, as stated in “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” and in The Discourse on Language delimits its perspective to concern the historical emergence of events, and that “unlike the history of the sciences [the archaeological project], the genealogy of knowledge is located on a different axis, namely the discourse-power axis or, if you like, the discursive practice - clash of power axis.”91 And rather than study discourse in its quasi-synchronic accumulation in order to account for discontinuity,
as did archaeology, genealogy studies events, inventions, emergences diachronically. In doing so, genealogy does what archaeology cannot; trace the constitution of the epistemic foundations of knowledge for a particular period in the manner in which that foundation was constituted. Archaeology is the temporally and spatially localized correlate to genealogy. Genealogy creates a narrative of events that captures the interplay of force beneath the events and, if one is careful enough, it is possible to discern the relation between the knowledge constituted by power, and power itself. Genealogy enables the appropriation of knowledge by the subjugated force or its allies.92
III Archaeological Events
In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault writes “the archive is first the law of what can be said, the system that governs the appearance of statements as unique events.” (AK 129) Since we have already established that the archive is the system that describes the formation and accumulation of statements, we may now see how this pertains to events; that is, the archive defines the preconditions for the appearance of statement-events in a given discourse, and moreover, defines the rules by which these events can be appropriated and utilized. If one looks back at the diagrams in chapter one, we see that discursive practices, positivity and the episteme govern the appearance of statements qua events in a discourse. The genealogical extension of the domain of examination then provides an apparatus for the analysis of the appropriation of events by forces and the transformation of force-appropriated statements and discourses into power relations capable of constituting both the subject and object or a discourse in a particular relation. It is also the system of rules by which established power-relations disqualify statements and discourses. This relation between the archaeological rules of discourse and the genealogical project by which forces and power is taken into account will be seen in the following chapter.
Chapter 3: Force, Power-Knowledge and DiscourseI. Force and Power - Discourse and Apparatus
Now that the methodology of genealogy has been described and the sense of the term event that is operative in Foucault’s work has been established, it is now possible to compose a theory of power from Foucault’s analysis of power-knowledge in the texts from the period following The Archaeology of Knowledge. In order to successfully do so, a strong distinction between the terms force and power must be established and brought to bear. I find that Deleuze is in error when he writes that “the power relation is the set of possible relations between forces.”93 It can be seen that the distinction made by Foucault in 1982, in “The Subject and Power” fundamentally clarifies the different meanings he accords to relationships of force and relationships of power.
A relationship of confrontation reaches its final term, its final moment when stable mechanisms replace the free play of antagonistic reactions… For a relationship of confrontation, from the moment it is not a struggle to the death, the fixing of a power relationship becomes a target.94
Implicit in this statement is the distinction between force and power. A “relationship of confrontation,” if its defining element in contradistinction to a power relationship is the “free play of antagonistic reactions” as opposed to “stable mechanisms”, a relationship of confrontation can be nothing more than a relationship of forces. Power, then, would be the institutionalization or concatenation of force relations. Power relations do not replace the force relation of which it is the stabilization. Foucault writes of power relations in Discipline and Punish that
They are not univocal; they define innumerable points of confrontation, focuses of instability, each of which has its own risks of conflict, of struggles, and of an at least temporary inversion of the power relations.95
This is to say that relationships of power and relationships of force are superimposed upon one another. But the relation between Power and force is not one in which power is an index of the possible force configurations. It is rather one in which Power is a specific stabilized form of the relationship of force.
Moreover, it is very clear in The History of Sexuality Part One96 that power and force are completely distinct from one another, yet fundamentally interrelated. Once the juridical understanding of power is dispensed with, two definitions of power emerge. The one with which Foucault is least
concerned with are “the terminal forms power takes” (HS 92) which can be laws, institutions, etc. The definition of power that Foucault is fundamentally interested in is one in which “power must be understood in the first instance as the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization… the strategies in which they take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies.” (HS 92-3) However, this might be taken to imply that force and power are identical, whereas, in reality they are co-extensive and inter-related, but in a very determinate manner. Foucault further writes “Power’s condition of possibility… is the moving substrate of force relations which, by virtue of their inequality, constantly engender states of power, by the latter are always local and unstable… Power… is simply the over-all effect that emerges from all these mobilities, the concatenation that rests on each of them and seeks in turn to arrest their movement… it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategically situation in a particular society.” (HS 93)
Thus, fundamentally, power is in a relationship of dependency upon force-relations. Force relations are the substratum upon which power is formed. Power relations are the effect of force relations. Furthermore, Foucault states bluntly that “Every relation of force implies at each moment a relation of power.“97 Thusly, the relation is reciprocal; where there is a force relation, there is a power relation co-extensive with it, and with every power relation, a force relation is likewise implied. In accordance with the schema for knowledge drawn up in chapter two, it would be eminently reasonable to assert that power is in every way as much an event as knowledge. Furthermore, by virtue of what Foucault terms the rule of immanence, “between techniques of knowledge and strategies of power, there is no exteriority, even if they have specific roles and are linked together on the basis of their difference. We will start, therefore, from what might be called ‘local centers’ of power-knowledge.” (HS 98) In a second methodological rule, Foucault writes “The ‘distributions of power’ and the ‘appropriations of knowledge’ never represent only instantaneous slices taken from processes… Relations of power-knowledge are not static forms of distribution, they are ‘matrices of transformation’.” (HS 99) Furthermore, Foucault writes that “it is in discourse that power and knowledge are joined together. And for this reason, we must conceive discourse as a series of discontinuous segments whose tactical function is neither uniform nor
stable… Discourse transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it.” (HS 100-101)
What this implies is that power and knowledge are inextricably linked, and founded upon the unstable ground of shifting force relations. Power, in its barest, micrological form is a momentary stabilization of a relation of force which is thus an effect of the force relation in the same manner as knowledge that is produced and then recognized as such. If both power and knowledge are effects of force relations and are events as such, and discourse is the nexus where power and knowledge intertwine, discourse itself can be conceived of as an event or series of events. If discourse is conceived of as an effect of force relations, then it was entirely correct to postulate in the preceding chapter that the discursive events that Foucault wrote of in The Archaeology of Knowledge are events in the same sense as power, knowledge and truth. Moreover, the notion of an apparatus, mechanism or deployment98 in The History of Sexuality and texts contemporaneous with it show this to be ever more true. In an interview from July of 1977, Jacques-Alain Miller asks of Foucault what the much disputed term episteme would be under this schema. Foucault replies “I would define the episteme retrospectively as the strategic apparatus which permits of separating out from among all statements which are possible those that will be acceptable within… a field of scientific, and which it is possible to say are true or false. The episteme is the apparatus which makes possible the separation, not of the true from false, but of what may from what may not be characterized as scientific.”99 Furthermore, the episteme is a specifically discursive apparatus, whereas the apparatus in its general form is both discursive and non-discursive, its elements being much more heterogeneous.”100 Thus it is evident that archaeology has not been abandoned, but the domain has been opened up well beyond the domain articulated in the so-called archaeological period.101
Having thus established the continuity of Foucault’s project, it must be seen what, precisely, Foucault means by the term apparatus or deployment. In the afore-cited interview, Foucault defines the term as “a thoroughly heterogeneous ensemble consisting of discourses, institutions, architectural forms, regulatory decisions… in short, the said as much as the unsaid. The apparatus itself is the system of relations that can be established between these elements.”102
Thus, when Foucault writes of an apparatus or deployment, he is referring to a complex formation employed in the service of power-knowledge,
“which has as its major function at a given historical moment that of responding to an urgent need.”103 Yet persists beyond its genesis and initial object by virtue both of the internationality of power relations (HS 94-95) and that it is “constituted and enabled to continue in existence insofar as it is the site of a double process… there is a process of functional overdetermination, because each effect… enters into resonance or contradiction with the others… there is a perpetual process of strategic elaboration, [in which] one finds an immediate re-utilization of this unintended… effect within a new strategy… This is what I call the strategic completion of the apparatus.”104
This description of the functionality of an apparatus of power gives a fundamental insight into Foucault’s theory of power. Namely, in the context of the genealogical approach, strategies and apparatuses emerge and are invented in response to particular problems, yet persist long after their emergence. The apparatus gradually expands its domain of effects well beyond the problem in response to which it was originally deployed. Thus, the deployment or apparatus of sexuality whose purpose was “a new distribution of pleasures, discourses, truths, and powers; it has to be seen as the self-affirmation of one class rather than the enslavement of another: a defense, a protection, a strengthening, and an exaltation that were eventually extended to others - at the cost of different transformations - as a means of social control and political subjugation.” (HS 123) Thus we can see an apparatus at work over time. The apparatus is functionally overdetermined from the outset and as such produces effects beyond its intended field which are then reincorporated into the apparatus and utilized not only to maintain the status of the class for which it was initially invented, but to ensure the continuance of that status through repressive means. Thus, implicit in the functioning of the apparatus or deployment of sexuality is what Foucault in The History of Sexuality referred to as the rule of tactical polyvalence of discourses. The original purpose does not in any way limit the domain of application of the apparatus and the discourse with which it is associated. (HS 100-1) Discourse itself, while comprising a portion of an apparatus can also function in the same manner as an apparatus.105 This is to say that all discursive systems and all apparatuses which properly include both discursive and non-discursive elements are fundamentally overdetermined and as such, always increase their domain or influence. Thus power-knowledge, for Foucault, has a continually expanding domain of applicability or breadth of influence. Thus it was inevitable for the panopticon to become a general
model for surveillance and social control, much as it was inevitable that the discourse and deployment of sexuality would go beyond its intended purposes of producing well-being for the upper classes and become utilized in the repression of the lower. It is also, likewise inevitable, that the domain of scientific discourse, or the episteme to grow and incorporate more sub-discourses into it, and thus the movement in The Discourse on Language in which the botany and biology of Mendel’s era was unable to judge his propositions as true or false (because his statements were not yet encompassed by the episteme) but after “the deployment of a totally new range of objects in biology… his propositions appear, for the most part, exact.”106
Taking overdetermination as the fundamental functional rule of apparatuses and discourses, we may see that power-knowledge, over time has become more encompassing, more dominant in whatever form it takes, for the simple fact that it assimilates and incorporates that which it produces external to itself. This will ultimately result in the impasse that Foucault finds himself in with his discovery of Biopower, but that will be discussed at length later. But, now it is necessary to return to the characterization of power-knowledge, and its relation to truth.
II. TruthIn Chapter Two, and moreover, in Foucault’s texts from 1971-1975,
truth is seen as the pure product of an appropriation of the product of a force relation. However, it is now necessary to see in what manner truth relates to power-knowledge. Essential to understanding this relation is the 1976 interview “Truth and Power” in which Foucault writes that
In societies like ours, the ‘political economy’ of truth is characterized by five important traits.  ‘Truth’ is centered on the form of scientific discourse and the institutions that produce it;  it is subject to constant economic and political incitement…  it is the object, under diverse forms, of immense diffusion and consumption…  It is produced and transmitted under the control, dominant if not exclusive, of a few great political and economic apparatuses…  finally, it is the issue of a whole political debate and social confrontation.107
It would seem as though there is an implicit reference to Foucault’s earlier theme of the episteme, particularly in the sense that truth is “centered on the form of scientific discourse,” for which the episteme was the condition of possibility of a statement having a truth value. Moreover, it is quite reasonable to assume that prior to a statement’s being accepted
as truth, it must be already within a delimited set of possible statements that can be judged as true or false. As such, ‘truth’ would require some apparatus that is functionally analogous to the episteme of The Order of Things and The Archaeology of Knowledge. However, this apparatus is not merely what was referred to as the episteme, because in the interview “The Confession of the Flesh” Foucault specifies that the episteme is a purely discursive apparatus, whereas the apparatus with which truth is determined is not so limited, by virtue of the traits that I have numbered 2, 3 and 5. Foucault speaks in this interview of a regime of truth and an apparatus of truth. As such, the conception of a regime of truth or apparatus of truth subsumes the earlier concept of episteme as its discursive component.
Truth, then is produced by an apparatus. An apparatus is on the same plane as that of discourse, power and knowledge. Therefore, truth is the product of power-knowledge and discourse, and as such is not the immediate product of a force relation. Truth can only be determined through the mediation of an apparatus already on the ontological level of events. Reciprocally, truth “induces regular effects of power… ‘Truth‘ is linked in a circular relation with systems of power that produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it - a ‘regime‘ of truth.”108 Thus structure can be seen in Figure 5.
Figure 5Truth, thus, is a level above that of events and is determined by
discourses of knowledge-power and their apparatuses. Truth, however, shares a property with events, that it is capable of being appropriated by forces, although as it is already in a circular relation with power, this is not a simple matter. However, Foucault, in this same interview writes that “It is
not a matter of emancipating truth from every system of power (which would be a chimera, for truth is already power) but of detaching the power of truth from the forms of hegemony, social, economic, and cultural, within which it operates at the present time.”109
This conception of truth is not so much of a different one than the one propounded in “Truth and Juridical Forms” but a refinement of the theory contained therein. In “Truth and Juridical Forms” it seems as though Foucault conflates truth and knowledge, which is to say more specifically that he attributes to them the same level of existence as events produced by and in relation to a force relation. However, what he derives from Nietzsche about knowledge does apply to truth, “Nietzsche means that there is not a nature of knowledge, an essence of knowledge, of the universal conditions of knowledge; rather, that knowledge is always the historical and circumstantial result of conditions outside the domain of knowledge. In reality, knowledge is an event that falls under the category of activity… knowledge will only belong to the order of results, events, effects.”110 Essentially, what can be taken from “Truth and Juridical Forms” is that already in 1973, Foucault understood that knowledge and truth are on the level of events and are only comprehensible in terms of the political, economic or otherwise situational conditions for their existence.111 This conception of truth allows for one theory of resistance, revolution and radical epistemic discontinuity, which will be dealt with at greater length in the following chapter. III. The Status of Apparatuses and the Necessity of a Micro-Physics
Perhaps earlier, I simplified the schematization of apparatuses. They in fact, may not be on the same level as power-knowledge, because for an apparatus to articulate itself, it requires as its basis discursive and non-discursive practices, which would utilize a region of power-knowledge. Perhaps the structure of the constitution of knowledge and truth could be better represented as this.
Figure 6In this schema, apparatuses are articulated upon the ground of power-
knowledge and a discourse and are constituted thereby. Thus we get the illusion of power that Foucault mentions in “The Confession of the Flesh”, that “If one tries to erect a theory of power one will always be obliged to view it as emerging at a given place and time and hence to deduce it, to reconstruct its genesis. But if power is in reality an open, more-or-less coordinated… cluster of relations, then the only problem is to provide oneself with a grid of analysis which makes possible an analytic of relations of power.”112 Thus, any apparatus could be mistaken for a theory of power unless it is seen upon what ground it took root. And in order to truly understand power, it is necessary to analyze the level of power itself through the inter-related functioning of apparatuses, truth and discourse. In some cases, it is indeed necessary also to go to the level of the originary force relations which gave rise to the power relation, and to knowledge. Power-relations, individually, are inherently micrological however, power exists on a macrological level, which is the level of the apparatus.
Power on the macro or molar level is as Deleuze and Guattari write “also molecular and exercises power on a micrological fabric in which it exists only as diffuse, dispersed, geared down, miniaturized… Foucault’s analysis of… micro powers testifies to these ‘focuses of instability’ where groupings and accumulations confront each other, but also confront breakaways and escapes, and where inversions occur. What we have is no longer The Schoolmaster but the monitor, the best student, the class dunce, the janitor, etc…”113 This is to say that macro-power exists only on the
basis of and equilibrium among micro-powers, and likewise, micro-powers exist on the basis of force relations that have been stabilized and achieve an equilibrium of sorts.
The purpose of explicating this distinction is to illustrate the degree to which power is an event of the same nature as knowledge. The terms power and knowledge are reciprocally linked, not by virtue of a reciprocal causality, but by virtue of a mutual causality, a cause immanent to both, as Deleuze puts it. Furthermore, this shows that when Deleuze confuses the matter when he writes that “between power and knowledge there is a difference in nature or a heterogeneity; but there is also mutual presupposition; and there ultimately a primacy of one over the other.”114 In fact, while there is a heterogeneity between power and knowledge, it is not one of nature, but rather one of functionality, or mode of operation, as has been shown. Power and knowledge are appropriated differently. Moreover, power and knowledge are appropriated differently between forces that are dominant and those which are subjugated. Knowledge and power are events of the same order, given rise to by the same force relations, and as such, it is no wonder that they are so fundamentally inter-related. But in order to fully explicate this imbrication, it is necessary to trace power to its local centers of operations, to see how knowledge is produced by the force relation that has been transmuted into a relation of power. The prison an apparatus of power, in Discipline and Punish, is said to have partially “made the human sciences historically possible. Knowable man is the object-effect of this analytical investment, of this domination-observation.”115 And the apparatus of sexuality makes possible psychoanalytical knowledge.116 On to the smallest level, knowledge is produced by the action of apparatuses moved by power, and at the same time, knowledge is produced, raw, in relations of force, invented if you will. Knowledge is then immediately appropriated for it to be recognized as such, otherwise, it falls into the realm of fancy. This too will be dealt with as a mode of resistance in the following chapters.
It is important to note that apparatuses as such have distinctive effects in relation to one another and to power-knowledge and truth. The effects of apparatuses function as forces in their own right. The fundamental overdetermination of apparatuses that Foucault emphasizes in the interview “The Confession of the Flesh” is evinced by the manner in which the effects of apparatuses interact, contradict or complement one another and are generative of events of a second order. In this manner, apparatuses
and mechanisms of power interact in a manner to which the analogy may be drawn to the interference patterns generated by waves, or rather patterns generated by multiple expanding foci of power which, interacting, could be visualized as interference patterns generated by droplets of rain into a still pond. Each point of convergence defining a unique event which either expands a discourse/apparatus, subsumes one discourse/apparatus to another or constitutes a new discourse/apparatus. In whichever way, each convergence constitutes an event. (See Figure 7)
Figure 7Apparatuses are at once events in their inception, for example, the
episteme as a discursive apparatus is constituted of events and constitutes an event in each of its instantiations. Sexuality as an apparatus is an event in its inception and causes events in its interaction with apparatuses of truth such as the episteme. Apparatuses have as their dual purpose the constitution of truth, and by truth Foucault means a system of savoir, that is, the conditions of possibility and existence of knowledge as such, and thence the verifiable truth. Thus we may see again that truth is an event of the second order, made possible by the event that constitutes power-
knowledge, which establishes an apparatus. We see this principle of interference and subsumtion in Foucault’s essay “Governmentality,” published in 1978, and as such can be seen as a further development of the theory of apparatuses, deployments and mechanisms of power that was described first in The History of Sexuality Part One. In “Governmentality,” Foucault describes in rather precise detail the manner in which the apparatuses of sovereignty and government interacted and ultimately lead to the governmental apparatus subsuming the apparatus of sovereignty through a series of interactions, and ultimately government prevailed.
In the first place, the notion of government arose out of a convergence of causal factors. Foucault writes in “Governmentality”:
How to govern oneself, how to be governed, how to govern others, by whom the people will accept being governed, how to become the best governor - all these problems… seem to me to be characteristic of the sixteenth century, which lies, to put it schematically, at the crossroads of two processes…There is a double movement, then, of state centralization, on the one hand and the dispersion and religious dissidence on the other. It is, I believe, at the intersection of these two tendencies that the problem comes to pose itself with this peculiar intensity, of how to be ruled, how strictly, by whom, to what end, by what methods, and so on. There is a problematic of government in general.117
This is to say that the apparatus of government (which becomes indispensable in the operation of state power upon the subjects of a state when in the context of bio-power and the problematic of population) was constituted at the convergence point between two apparatuses, state sovereign power and the religious apparatus set into motion by the Reformation. Furthermore, this interpretation is furthered by a statement in an essay of the same year “About the Concept of the ‘Dangerous Individual‘”, where he writes of the integration of the psychiatric and legal apparatus:
It must be noted that this transformation took place not only from medicine toward law, as through the pressure of rational knowledge on older prescriptive systems; it also operated through a perpetual mechanism of summoning and of interacting between medical and psychological knowledge and the judicial institution. It was not the latter that yielded. A set of objects and of concepts was born at their boundaries and from their interchanges.118
Government, by the same token, is born at the boundaries and interchanges between sovereignty and the religious-spiritual concern for the individual, and develops into an entire political technology regarding population and the well-being of individuals that comprise the state. The governmental model of the state eventually consumed and subsumed the notion of sovereignty, Foucault seems to say. This is what makes governmentality
particularly biopolitical and politically dangerous. This I will treat at greater length in Chapter Five. But now it is still essential to demonstrate this confluence principle, and its effects on power. An apparatus, unlike Power can have a genesis. In fact, it must by definition have a genesis, if we take Foucault at his word in “The Confession of the Flesh.” (P/K 195) An apparatus is a formation that responds to a historically conditioned need. The inception of an apparatus occurs as an event that “inheres” in a spatio-temporal field. Furthermore, as already cited, the two fundamental characteristics of an apparatus is that it is functionally overdetermined and constantly re-elaborates itself and re-appropriates unintended effects. This is demonstrated in “About the Concept of the ’Dangerous Individual’” when Foucault writes about the effects of the police and legal apparatuses on the penitentiary apparatus.
It was the dream of the eighteenth century reformers… that incarceration, provided it be rationally directed, might serve as a true penal therapy. The result was meant to be the reform of the prisoners. It soon became clear that prison had exactly the opposite result, that it was on the whole a school for delinquency and that more refined methods of the police system and the legal apparatus, far from ensuring protection from crime, brought about a strengthening of the criminal milieu, through the medium of the prison itself.119
That which is fundamental to this example is the fact that the effect of the expansion of the domain of the legal apparatus and the apparatus of the police system that was the penitentiary, was characterized by unforeseen and unforeseeable interactions of effects. The ultimate consequence of the interaction of these apparatuses is the constitution of the prison itself as an apparatus which incorporates and attempts to cope with these unforeseen effects and almost makes the suppression of the criminal milieu within it its raison d’etre. It also established the indispensability of psychiatry to the legal apparatus as mentioned earlier, through the constitution of criminality as a field of knowledge as opposed to the crime itself. Foucault writes further:
They [concepts of criminality and dangerousness] can be made to function in a rational way within a technical knowledge-system, a knowledge-system capable of characterizing a criminal individual in himself… a knowledge-system able to measure the index of danger present in an individual; a knowledge-system that might establish the protection necessary in the face of such a danger. Hence the idea that crime ought to be the responsibility not of judges but of experts in psychiatry…120
Thus we can see in a concrete example the interplay of apparatuses which constitutes a new regime of knowledge and a new modality of power. It shows that a new apparatus, that of criminal psychiatry, and its corresponding
modality of knowledge-power had to be established at the interaction of increased policing ability and the expanding legal domain. New domains and modalities are established, and established in time, as events, through the functional interaction between apparatuses and discourses.
Conclusion to Part One
In the preceding analysis, we have seen the manner in which Foucault’s thought conceives of the relation of force and knowledge-power as a vertical binary structure. Knowledge and power are horizontally in a mutual relation of presupposition and conjugality.121 This is to say that power and knowledge presuppose one another in their very existence, and that a change in one necessitates a change in the other, albeit, not by virtue of a direct causality. In the Deleuzean sense of ‘event’ to which I feel one sense of Foucault’s term is analogous, this is patently impossible, because unless they are constituted in one and the same event, causality can only operate between the two by recourse to the underlying substratum of force. The relation of mutation of power-knowledge must be accounted for by the Heideggerian sense of ‘event.’ The interstice between forces in conflict designates a point of emergence, in which an event, whether political or epistemological occurs. This constitutes the invention-event. Thus, the ‘event’ as an effect of this force conflict fits this first sense of ‘event.’ The entire set of discursive and non-discursive events consists of these events.
It is important to note that both subject and object exist on the level of events and not on the level of forces. The forces only become subject and object, agent and patient after the fact. This is when the force relation becomes a power relation, when the relation between forces is mediated by discourse. This cannot be complete insofar as this would presuppose a neutrality of the event, of subject and object, of knowledge. Foucault dismisses this out of hand. However, if ‘event’ is simultaneously understood as Ereignis, the rationality of this impossibility is immediately apparent. Ereignis is the making own of something. Ereignis is the mutual appropriation of man and Being. More generally, in Foucault, we may understand this as the vertical belonging together of unqualified forces with the qualified forms of power-knowledge. Ereignis is the mutual appropriation of power-knowledge to a force which enables the mediation of force conflicts by discourse which transforms the force relation into a
power relation. Thus, in the first sense, genealogy fundamentally constitutes a mode of appropriation that destabilizes the power relation by seizing upon disqualified or excluded knowledges which destabilizes, if not inverts, the power relationship. In the second sense, genealogy reconstructs the descent [Herkunft] of knowledge-power and as such shows the successive appropriations and historical transformations of knowledge-power. It is not to unearth the un-said, but rather to unearth the once-and-no-longer-said. If we consider positivity or the historical a priori to be the grid constituted by successive appropriations that has crystallized into the conditions for existence of knowledge, in the same manner as metaphors crystallized into language for Nietzsche, we can see genealogy’s task as restoring this grid to a free play of appropriations and inventions, in the same way as restoring language to the free play of metaphors in which the “boldest metaphor” wins. Genealogy is to create an alternative historical a priori in order to carry out the Nietzschean task of constructing a new “conceptual edifice.” And this is only possible because the conflict of force is merely covered over and never suppressed by power and knowledge.
The operation of power through apparatuses, mechanisms and deployments further utilizes this theory of the event. The inception of each apparatus, mechanism or deployment constitutes an event; as mechanisms by which power-knowledge operates, they can have a point of beginning, whereas power-knowledge need not. These beginnings are only moments in the history of power. When these apparatuses interact, the interactions can be the locus of further events, constituting places of emergence, but these events are immediately re-appropriated by the apparatuses that gave them rise. Inevitably apparatuses grow and in a limited social body will become co-extensive therewith.
Chapter Four - Successive Hypotheses for Change and Resistance
In the preceding analyses, the groundwork has been laid by which we may understand Foucault’s successive hypotheses regarding the change of the conditions for the existence and appropriation of knowledge, and the conditions under which power makes subjects of people. Instead of the customary heuristic division of Foucault’s work into three methodologically oriented periods, here, my analysis rests upon a division into five periods, or rather, five successive hypotheses, some of which remain operative in successive stages of the development of Foucault’s account of historical change. It will also be seen that the sense in which Foucault uses the term event shifts according to these developments, from a more or less Deleuzean sense of the term in the earliest stages, to a more Heideggerian sense in the latest stages. What I propose, and hope to demonstrate is that in Foucault’s later thought, after the advent of the concept of Biopower, the Heideggerian sense predominates and leads to a radical change in Foucault’s understanding of the means by which power may be resisted. This is to say, that the event in Deleuze’s sense is much more fluid and susceptible to re-appropriation and change, whereas the sense of Heidegger’s Ereignis implies a stability of appropriation and expropriation in which the power-relation resists change of its own accord and cannot be resisted on a mass scale.
The series through which Foucault’s thought progresses may be per iodized as follows:
1966-8 - The Order of Things - Knowledge operates upon itself such that modification is produced from within.1969-70 - The Archaeology of Knowledge/Discourse on Language - Strategic choice and the appropriation of discourse. However at this point, the status of the agent acting upon discourse is not discussed.1971-75 - Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, Truth and Juridical Forms - The first articulations of the Genealogical project and the understanding of knowledge as created as event and appropriated by forces.1976-9- Discipline and Punish - History of Sexuality Part One, Society Must Be Defended - In this phase, change and resistance is envisioned as possible through the appropriation of subjugated and disqualified knowledges. The process is seen as analogous to
Nietzsche on language, as the appropriation via a bold new metaphor. However, at this time, Foucault comes up with the hypothesis of Biopower, which leads to the next stage.1979-1984 - History of Sexuality Part Two and Three and Contemporaneous texts - The impasse created by the stable appropriation constituted by Biopower leads Foucault to study the constitution of the ethical subject and the possibility of resistance on the individual level through self-aestheticization.
This periodization is not intended to be absolute, nor valid for any purpose other than understanding Foucault on the topic of change and resistance. This said, the analysis may begin with the second period.
II. Archaeological ChangeIn The Archaeology of Knowledge, change is possible through two
principle means. Change can be initiated by the appropriation of a discourse, or through the natural process by which knowledge evolves and changes. In The Archaeology, Foucault had not yet developed the theory of non-juridical, relational power, and as such had to abide by his repudiation of the activity of a subject. Thus, he writes “Rather than refer to the living force of change, rather than seek its causes, archaeology tries to establish the system of transformations that constitute ‘change’; it tries to develop the empty, abstract notion, with a view according it the analyzable status of transformation.” (AK 173) Moreover, change is seen, as in The Order of Things as a gradual “replacement of positivities” (OT 221) in which each positivity builds gradually, stretches its bounds and then ruptures in the birth of a new positivity. Archaeology attempts to be purely descriptive. Foucault writes that in epistemic change “it is always a discontinuity specified by a number of distinct transformations, between two particular positivities.” (AK 175) In other words, archaeology is attempting to describe a diachronic process in the synchronic accumulation of its residue. Moreover, “the contemporaneity of several transformations does not bean their exact chronological coincidence: each transformation may have its own particular index of temporal viscosity.” (AK 175) This is to say, that the rate of epistemic change across discourses is determined by the number and frequency of non-discursive contacts that the discourse has; presumably the more non-discursive entities the discourse must deal with, the slower the shift. This, however, proves to be patently false when taken beyond the
field of the sciences. However, to be fair to the archaeological method’s description of
change, I must cite Foucault’s statement that “Archaeology disarticulate the synchrony of breaks, just as it destroyed the abstract unity of change and event. The period is neither its basic unity… nor object… it is the name given to a tangle of continuities and discontinuities, modifications within positivities, discursive formations that appear and disappear… Rupture is the name given to transformations that bear on the general rules of one or several discursive formations.” (AK 176-7) Foucault, however, at this point introduces the possibility of the political playing a role in epistemic change, “thus the French Revolution… does not play the role of an event exterior to discourse, whose divisive effect one is under some kind of obligation to discover in all discourses; it functions as a complex, articulated, describable group of transformations that left a number of positivities intact, fixed for a number of others rules that are still with us, and also established positivities that have recently disappeared or are still disappearing before our eyes.” (AK 177) Thus, in the Archaeology we find the prefiguration of that which is to come in Foucault’s later thought. However, the French Revolution does constitute an event both within and without discourse. And subsumed within it are numerous inventions, productions of knowledge, power and truth, which cannot be discussed here, but suffice it to say that some survived and some did not, those that did not are the object of Genealogy.
In Foucault’s Candidacy Presentation at the College de France in 1969, immediately following the publication of The Archaeology of Knowledge, that “one can recognize the existence of a particular level that we may call the level of knowledge [savoir]. This knowledge is not embodied only in theoretical texts or empirical instruments but also in a whole set of practices and institutions… the development of this knowledge [savoir] and its transformations involve complex relations of causality.”122 Here change is admitted to occur in accordance with a form of causality, albeit one that Foucault admits cannot be described with the methodology he had at hand. He further writes “knowledge responded to quite particular economic needs and historical conditions.”123 Further, and more germane to the problem of historical-epistemological change is when he writes “we need to develop more precisely how… knowledge registers phenomena that had remained exterior to it up to that point; how it becomes receptive to processes foreign to it;
how, finally, alteration that occurred in one of its areas or at one of its levels can be transmitted elsewhere and take effect there.”124 This is to say that Foucault makes no claim that archeology composes an exhaustive method, and indeed, his works in the following years, including The Discourse on Language, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” and “Truth and Juridical Forms” do not repudiate anything of archaeology, however, they have in common an expansion of the domain of inquiry to include the domains of the political and economic.
III. Genealogical Re-appropriationThe aforementioned point is important in another manner. In none of
these works does power appear in the mature form developed by Foucault in Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality Part One. This is to say that genealogy as a methodology was articulated prior to Foucault’s development of a theory of power-knowledge. The genealogical method and the points developed in contemporaneous texts finds power-knowledge as an object only after the separate development of the theory of power-knowledge. The genealogical project, as originally articulated in The Discourse on Language and in the texts that follow is seen as a supplement to archaeology, not its replacement. In this text he set out a group of questions he refers to as “the ‘genealogical’ group, which brings the three other principles into play: how series of discourse are formed, through, in spits of, or with the aid of these systems of constraint: what were the specific norms for each and what were their conditions of appearance, growth and variation… the genealogical aspect concerns the effective formation of discourse, whether within the limits of control, or outside of them, or ass is most frequent, on both sides of the delimitation.”125 With the maturation of the theory of power-knowledge in “Truth and Juridical Forms” and Discipline and Punish, genealogy develops into a means by which a power relation may be inverted or substantially resisted, through the re-appropriation of disqualified and subjugated knowledges.
Genealogy is a means by which resistance is possible. Furthermore,genealogy constitutes a means by which a new appropriation of an ‘event’ is possible in so far as genealogy opposes the traditional history of continuity. In order to understand the manner in which genealogy may invert the relationship of power, the strong distinction between force and power must be retained. The subjugated force cannot directly appropriate power; it can only appropriate power through the appropriation of knowledge. The
dominant force appropriates knowledge through the exercise of power. Power and knowledge are both events, and as such, by virtue of the notion of event that we have elaborated, cannot enter into a relationship of causality with one another. However, they can be used to assert power over another force by virtue their appropriation by the other force.
Additionally, the formation of discourse itself constitutes an event of the same nature as the concatenation of power-knowledge, this interpretation is furthered by Foucault’s statement in The Archaeology that “We shall call discourse a group of statements insofar as they belong to the same discursive formation.”126 This is to say that if statements are considered to be events, then discourse itself constitutes an event of a larger scale, much as molar/macro power still constitutes an appropriable event. Foucault writes
Discourse… appears as an asset - finite, limited, desirable, useful - that has its rules of appearance, but also its own conditions of appropriation and operation; and asset that consequently…. Poses the question of power; an asset that is, by nature, the object of a struggle, a political struggle.127
Discourse is composed of events, and is appropriated in the same manner. Thus, discourse, knowledge and power are on the same ontological level and are subject to the same conditions of existence, namely the interplay of force relations and their simultaneous or successive purposive appropriation as events. Any modification to power, knowledge or discourse does not occur as a causal relation between one and another of these events, but through a detour through their mutually constitutive forces.
Now that the conceptual armature has been explicated, it can now be seen in what manner resistance is possible, and specifically, how genealogy may be employed as a mode of resistance. In order to do so, we must look at the Nietzschean text from which Foucault appropriates the notion of Erfindung: “On Truth and Lie in a Non-Moral Sense.” The mode of relation between force and the events of power, discourse and knowledge is of an analogous nature to the relationship that Nietzsche establishes between metaphor and language or truth. Nietzsche writes of language, “we believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colours, snow and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things - metaphors which correspond in no way to original entities… to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors… the concept… is nevertheless merely the residue of a metaphor.”128 This is the parallel, discourse, language and power are the concatenation of the metaphors that are created and, most importantly, used in relationships of force and confrontation.
Nietzsche continues to write “Only by forgetting this primitive world of metaphor can one live with any repose, security and consistency…”129 This forgetting of metaphor is of the same nature as power’s covering over of its origin in confrontations of force. Knowledge, discourse and power exist exclusive of the alternate interpretations by virtue of a forces usurpation of an invention in order to subdue its adversary. That invention is then forgotten as an invention and reinvented as a ‘truth.’
Finally and most importantly, Nietzsche writes “The only way in which the possibility of subsequently constructing a new conceptual edifice from metaphors themselves can be explained is by the firm persistence of these original forms. That is to say, this conceptual edifice is an imitation of temporal, spatial and numerical relationships in the domain of metaphor.”130 It is only through these originary forms that it is possible to construct a new conceptual system is through the persistence of the substratum which originally constituted it. Likewise, the possibility of constructing a new relationship of power is the persistence beneath it of the force relation that constituted it. The subversiveness of genealogy is precisely the fact that genealogy attempts to isolate these confrontations and relationships of force that have been stabilized into relations of power that cover over their own origins. Genealogy can be seen as consisting of an unearthing of these relationships in order to find the knowledges that have been generated and subsequently excluded in order to appropriate them to invert the power relationship. This, like power, by virtue of the structure of power-knowledge, can only be conducted from the ground up, from below. Genealogy must unearth the micro-powers, the molecular level of power-knowledge, before these can be inverted and the configuration of power relationships that constitutes the macro-level of power altered. Thus, for Foucault, resistance to power is not only possible, but constitutes the whole of his project.
Insofar as forces are coextensive with power, force relations are the least stable, and a force involved in a struggle may strategically appropriate a subjugated knowledge or a discounted modality of power, and from the ground up, from the micro-level of micro-powers up to the functioning of the great strategic apparatuses, may initiate change by and through appropriation. By virtue of the fundamental imbrication of knowledge and power, the appropriation of knowledge has effects upon power, and moreover, the determination of truth which then has further effects upon the power relation. Thus genealogical resistance is an imperative to unearth the
subjugated knowledges and modalities of power and breathe new life into them and use them to overturn the great hegemonies; or to use Nietzsche’s terms, construct a new conceptual edifice, and with it, a new edifice of an inverted power relation.
IV. Resistance and Revolution
In The History of Sexuality Volume One, Foucault articulates a further hypothesis regarding resistance and change. At this point, it is not a function of willful appropriation of knowledge or modalities of power (it is likely that at this point that the sense of the term event shifts to a more Heideggerian understanding than the Deleuzean one) but as an immanent function of the structure of the power network. Foucault writes “Where there is power, there is resistance, ad yet, or rather consequently, this resistance is never in a position of exteriority to power.” (HS 95) The relational character of power relations ipso facto implies resistance; “these play the role of adversary, target, support or handle in power relations. These points of resistance are present everywhere in the power network.” (HS 95) Moreover, he continues “there is a plurality of resistance… by definition they can only exist in the strategic field of power relations.” (HS 96) The theory of resistance and revolution that is found in this work is as follows:
Just as the network of power relations end by forming a dense web that passes through apparatuses and institutions, without being localized in them, so too the swarm of points of resistance traverses social stratifications and individual unities. And it is doubtless the strategic codification of these points of resistance that makes a revolution possible, somewhat similar to the way in which the state relies on the institutional integration of power relations. (HS 96)
Thus, in effect, Foucault at this point, considers resistance to literally be a sort of counter-power. A counter-power that is functionally analogous to power, but at cross purposes with it. Thus counter-power forms a counter-discourse, counter-apparatuses, and so on, mimicking power on the structural and functional levels only with inverted purposes.
In lectures given at Stanford University in 1979, published as “’Omnes et Singulatim’ Toward a Critique of Political Reason,” Foucault makes more forceful statements regarding resistance and power, and states that these compose “the rudiments of something I’ve been working on for the last two
years,”131 which is to say, since the publication of The History of Sexuality Part One and encompassing the essays “Governmentality” and “On the Concept of the ‘Dangerous Individual.’” This is to say that between the publication of The History of Sexuality Part One, Foucault further refined his theory of power and resistance. In this lecture, Foucault seems to be affirming a capacity for human freedom and resistance, in spite of the theoretical impasse in which he has found himself (see Chapter Five). Foucault writes “If an individual can remain free, however little his freedom may be, power can subject him to government. There is no power without potential refusal or revolt.”132 In essence, this can be reduced to the formula that power implies possible resistance. Where there is no possible resistance, Foucault asserts that there is no power, only the crude struggle of forces. Freedom is a precondition for power’s exercise. In the same lecture, Foucault sets forth an imperative for resistance:
Those who resist or rebel against a form of power cannot merely be content to denounce violence or criticize an institution… What has to be questioned is the form of rationality at stake…. The question is: How are such relations of power rationalized? Asking it is the only way to avoid other institutions, with the same objectives, the same effects, from taking their stead.133
This model is probably the most realistic, and yet one of the bleakest, the odds of successful revolution are dismal at best, especially when fighting deeply entrenched power, and especially the form of power that Foucault articulates for the first time in The History of Sexuality Part One, Bio-Power. The problem posed in this period of Foucault’s work is precisely, how to criticize this form of political reason such that an escape may be effected?
Chapter Five: The Bio-power ImpasseGilles Deleuze, in Negotiations, writes of Foucault that:
His thought underwent a crisis in all sorts of ways, but it was a creative crisis, not a recantation. What Foucault felt more and more, after the first volume of The History of Sexuality, was that he was getting locked in power relations. And it was all very well to invoke points of resistance as ‘counterparts’ of foci of power, but where was such resistance to come from? Foucault wonders how he can cross the line, go beyond the play of forces in its turn.”134
It was not just Foucault who felt he was getting trapped in power relations it seems. Life itself it seems at the end of The History of Sexuality Volume One, becomes politicized and subject to an irrevocable appropriation (in a fully Heideggerian sense135) by power-relations. How is one to resist or escape if power has taken hold of life itself? The problem first posed in The History of Sexuality Part One, Society Must Be Defended, and then in “Governmentality” and the other texts of the late nineteen seventies, is that the apparatus of governmentality has grown so much that by degrees it has subsumed other political apparatuses and by their means penetrated the social body down to its most fundamental level, taking the “common good” as its objective and making life itself its object; turning the life of an individual or collective, rather than the juridical subject into the subject that is governed. The event (whose exact date cannot be pinpointed) constituted by this co-ordination of discourses and apparatuses constitutes what I will argue is an irrevocable appropriation of life to power and vice versa.
I. Bio-Power and Governmentality: Apparatus of EnsnarementThe first thesis I would like to advance here is that Bio-Power, as
discussed in The History of Sexuality Volume One and Society Must Be Defended is fundamentally made possible by what Foucault later terms Governmentality, which additionally consists of the penetration of the apparatus of governance into all spheres of the social including private life and into bare life itself. Bio-Power is born when the apparatus of governance subsumes the function of sovereignty and acquires a self-referential component in addition to its interest in the “well being” of its subjects. Thereafter the apparatus of governance has as its function not only the care and policing of its populace, but also the sustenance and reinforcement of its own power. “This means that the end of sovereignty is the exercise of sovereignty”136 In essence, the apparatus of governance
becomes co-extensive with the social and political body and subordinates all other apparatuses to its use.
Foucault’s definition of Bio-Power, in The History of Sexuality Volume One, is:
For the first time in history, no doubt, biological existence was reflected in political existence; the fact of living was no longer an inaccessible substrate that only emerged from time to time, amid the randomness of death and its fatality; part of it passed into knowledge’s field of control and power’s sphere of intervention. Power would no longer be dealing with legal subjects over whom the ultimate dominion was death, but with living beings, and the mastery it would be able to exercise over them would have to be applied at the level of life itself; it was the taking charge of life, more than the threat of death, that gave power its access even to the body… one would have ot speak of bio-power to designate what brought life and is mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life. (HS 143)
In Society Must Be Defended, Foucault discusses Bio-Power specifically as:What does this new technology of power, this biopolitics, this bio-power that is beginning to establish itself, involve?… a set of processes such as the ratio of births to deaths, the rate of reproduction, the fertility of a population, and so on - together with a whole series or related economic and political problems which, in the second half of the eighteenth century, become biopolitics’ first objects of knowledge and the targets it seeks to control.137
I am simply pointing out some of biopolitics’ starting points, some of its practices, and the first of its domains of intervention, knowledge and power: biopolitics will derives its knowledge from, and define its power’s field of intervention in terms of, the birth rate, the mortality rate, various biological disabilities, and the effects of the environment.138
Apparently, at the first glance, bio-power is simply a modality of power-knowledge that is characteristically modern, a “society’s ‘threshold of modernity.’” (HS 143) Moreover, it places life “inside human historicity, penetrated by the latter‘s techniques of knowledge and power.” (HS 143) Life becomes subject to governance and the technologies and apparatuses by which power operates. Interestingly, this entrance into the age of biopolitics coincides with the appearance of the human sciences that Foucault discussed in The Order of Things. However, the mechanisms by which bio-power operates are not elaborated at length in The History of Sexuality, nor in Society Must Be Defended. A few general characterizations are made that are telling of the profound problem that this notion of bio-power constituted. In Society Must Be Defended, Foucault writes that the purpose of biopolitics is “most important of all, regulatory mechanisms must be established to
establish an equilibrium, maintain an average, establish a sort of homeostasis… within this general population and its aleatory field.”139 Life is to be regularized, normalized, “now we have the emergence of a power that I would call the power of regularization, and it… consists in making live and letting die.”140 Corollary to this, Foucault writes in The History of Sexuality Part One, that “Another consequence of bio-power was the growing importance assumed by the action of the norm, at the expense of the juridical system of the law… Power whose task is to take charge of life needs continuous regulatory and corrective mechanisms.” (HS 144) Thus, in biopolitics, there is the continuance of the process by “which, through a series of appropriate technologies, so to speak created the ‘docile bodies’ that it needed”141 for capitalism to grow.
From these cursory discussions in Foucault’s texts, we can glean a few essential insights into his conception of bio-power and its relation to the concepts of governance and apparatuses. Bio-power is a specific modality of power which takes life as its object. Specifically in the sphere of sovereignty, it is when the state becomes fundamentally concerned with affairs of population, whose advent are inseparable from the inception of the mercantilist and capitalist economic systems. Sovereignty as a specific mode of power is eclipsed and eventually subsumed by governance.142 It is my argument that when the apparatus of governance subsumes sovereignty it acquires a supplementary self-referential element which makes bio-power specifically problematic for Foucault. Bio-power, in addition to governance of a population, when it qua apparatus subsumes sovereign power, the supplement is, specifically: bio-power’s raison d’etre is not only the care of a population but at the same time its own sustenance and propagation. Having already subsumed the entire body politic, it penetrates further and further into the lives of the population.
At this juncture, the apparatus of governance has become (at least in the societies with which Foucault is concerned) co-extensive with the social body. Thus, there is no position of exteriority to government, the ruler is no exception.143 Foucault writes “We find a plurality of forms of government and their immanence to the state: the multiplicity and immanence of these activities distinguish them radically from the transcendent singularity of Machiavelli’s Prince.”144 Thus we find government, in its relation of immanence to the state, establishing power as an exercise of the apparatus of government upon the governed. Government finds its rationality in its exercise, “The population now represents more the end of government than the
power of the sovereign; the population is the subject of needs, of aspirations, but is also the object in the hands of government, aware, vis-à-vis the government, or what it wants, but ignorant of what is being done to it.”145 Thus, government has a dual objective, under this hypothesis, first, the growth of population and the increase of quality of life, but at the same time, the complete penetration of the society by governmental apparatus. This consists of the development of “power techniques oriented toward individuals and intended to rule them in a continuous and permanent way. If the state is the political form of a centralized and centralizing power, let us call pastorship the individualizing power.146 This individualizing power that Foucault refers to as pastoral is the necessary consequence of government making the transition “from a regime dominated by structures of sovereignty to one ruled by techniques of government, [which] turns on the theme of population.”147 In accordance with the principle that all apparatuses are fundamentally overdetermined, the natural consequence, in a biopolitical regime is to micro-manage the population for which it is charged with caring. Thus the integration of pastoral techniques into government. And this occurs in the context of the governmental state taking sovereignty to be its property and whose only position of exteriority is occupied by other states. Thus a properly bio-political government is dominated first and foremost by the apparatus of governance itself, and then by the apparatuses of security148 and regulative, normative and disciplinary apparatuses which conform to the modality of power exemplified by the pastorship that Foucault speaks of in “Omnes et Singulatim.” Foucault implies that that which constitutes the functional unity of these apparatuses is the institution of the police. Foucault writes in the previously mentioned text “Polizeiwissenschaft is at once an art of government and a method for the analysis of a population living on a territory.”149 In the latter portion of this text (one of Foucault’s latest that explicitly deals with the problem of power on the state level) he discusses an early text on police Johann Heinrich Gottlob von Justi’s Elements of Police, in which the function of police in the properly biopolitical state is evinced; Foucault writes:
Von Justi defined much more clearly what the central paradox of police is. The police, he says, is what enables the state to increase its power and exert its strength to the full. On the other hand, the police has to keep the citizens happy - happiness being understood as survival, life and improved living. He perfectly defines what I feel to be the aim of the modern art of government, or state rationality, namely, to
develop those elements constitutive of individuals’ lives in such a way that their development fosters the strength of the state.150
Thus we find the problem that probably vexed Foucault considerably. State power now circulates to such a degree and on such a small scale, that resistance or establishing a form of exteriority is (nearly) impossible from the perspective within which he was working. Whence the one who defies the normalizing aims of governance. What is the status of government with respect to sovereignty? It is clearly ingrained in the governmental system of modern representative democracies that no individual is above the law, but the law itself, the government itself is an acephalous apparatus. There is a nominal head of state, but this head of state is not sovereign, sovereignty belongs to the apparatus of government itself. The government apparatus at the same time, penetrates further into the body of the social and further institutes normalizing principles. Foucault writes in Society Must Be Defended: “The normalizing society is a society in which the norm of discipline and the norm of regulation intersect along an orthogonal articulation… We are, then, in a power that has taken control of both the body and life or that has, if you like, taken control of life in general - with the body as one pole and the population as the other.”151
II. The Impasse - ParadoxesLet us summarize the preceding section and see how the advent of
biopolitics presents an impasse for Foucault.1. The Apparatus of Government, which has population as its object has become co-extensive with the state and has subsumed both sovereignty and discipline.2. There is no exteriority with respect to government except the foreign state. In order for the fundamentally overdetermined apparatus to increase in domain is to penetrate the social body to the level of the individual.3. This penetration of the social body is achieved through the use of police, whose multifarious functions converge in the regulation and normalization of the population while at the same time ensuring their well-being.4. This penetration of the social body is achieved to such an extent that the biological life of the individual as a member of the population becomes the object of state power-knowledge and control.5. Consequently, biological life and power-knowledge become irrevocably appropriated to one another. The biological life of the subject is ultimately subordinated to the life of the population.
The necessary consequence of this is that resistance becomes a futile struggle. The event that constituted the birth of biopower resulted in an
irrevocable appropriation of biological life to the apparatuses of power-knowledge of the state. The state apparatus inevitably and invariably holds the upper hand in the power relationship established by this event. This is expressed in several instances that Foucault cites. For instance “we can therefore immediately identify the paradoxes that appear at the points where the exercise of biopower reaches its limits… the workings of contemporary political power are such that atomic power represents a paradox that is difficult, if not impossible, to get around… [it] represents the deployment of a sovereign power that kiss, but it is also the power to kill life itself,”152 furthermore, “this excess of biopower appears when it becomes technologically and politically possible for man not only to manage life but to make it proliferate, to create living matter, to build the monster, and, ultimately, to build viruses that cannot be controlled and are universally destructive. This formidable extension of biopower… will put it beyond all human sovereignty.”153
Furthermore, Foucault discusses the problem of racism and Nazism as permeated by biopolitical elements, which Giorgio Agamben will take up in Homo Sacer, Means Without End and Remnants of Auschwitz. Foucault writes of racism “It is primarily a way of introducing a break into the domain of life that is under power’s control: the break between what must live and what must die… The fact that the other dies does not mean simply that I live… the death of the other, the death of the bad race, of the inferior race (or the degenerate, or the abnormal) is something that will make life in general healthier: healthier and purer.”154 Furthermore, a fortiori, Foucault writes “Once the State functions in the biopower mode, racism alone can justify the murderous function of the state… racism justifies the death-function in the economy of biopower by appealing to the principle that the death of others makes one biologically stronger… insofar as one is an element in a unitary living plurality.”155
It is this biopolitical mode of power that makes sexuality the important domain of research for Foucault, because the technologies appropriate to its regulation were “tied to the disciplines of the body… it was applied to the regulation of populations, through far-reaching effects of its activity. It fitted into both categories at once, given rise to infinitesimal surveillances, permanent controls, extremely meticulous orderings of space… to an entire micro-power concerned with the body.” (HS 145-6) This convergence on the body of normative and regulative power proves to be an immense theoretical impasse for Foucault. Not only for Foucault,
but for Agamben who follows Foucault in the analysis of biopolitics. The central political problem for both Foucault and Agamben is the Nazi German state. (See appendix B)
These paradoxes evince a fundamental problem for freedom and resistance, whose possibility seem to be fundamental presuppositions for Foucault. It would appear, and history bears it out, that in a truly biopolitical state, freedom and the possibility for resistance diminishes drastically if not disappears entirely. Yet, Foucault is well aware that despite the immensity of the biopolitical/governmental apparatus, there is resistance. Faced with the reality of resistance against the theoretical impossibility of resistance, Foucault, at this point is in a bind. The underlying forces that constitute the biopolitical state’s power-knowledge are strongly regularized and well concatenated. Resistance on the basis of the underlying force relations or on the basis of re-appropriating subjugated knowledges is futile in such a state. The apparatuses of government penetrate too deeply into the social body for a simple re-appropriation or revolt to have any effectiveness.156 Is it then useless to resist?
III. The Line of FlightFoucault continued his work on power and knowledge for some time after
the publication of The History of Sexuality Volume One and did not publish the following volumes until just before his death in 1984. When the following volumes did appear, they seemed to have nothing to do with the project on which it had seemed he had been working. His friend Gilles Deleuze says of Foucault in an interview entitled “Breaking Things Open, Breaking Words Open” that “I’m afraid I didn’t see him in the last years of his life: after the first volume of The History of Sexuality he went through a general crisis, in his politics, his life, his thought… I got the impression that he wanted to be left along, to go where none but his closest friends could follow him.”157 I believe that this crisis was due, at least in part, to the theoretical impasse constituted by his discovery of biopower. This irrevocable appropriation of life by power-knowledge, and moreover, by the power-knowledge of the State would be intolerable. If resistance, then, on the mass level is outright impossible and resistance on the individual level, while remaining on the level of power relations is likewise difficult if not impossible, what then?
Foucault writes of his last works in the original, yet published 64
separately, “Preface to The History of Sexuality, Volume Two”, that “The project of a history of sexuality was linked to a desire on my part to analyze more closely the third of the axes that constitute any matrix of experience: the modality of relation to the self.”158 His last interviews emphasize the role that this modality of the relation of self to self is a condition for freedom. The aestheticization of the self was Foucault’s way out of the biopower impasse. If freedom and resistance is not possible on a large scale, it is at least possible for one to through certain procedures put oneself in a position of exteriority to the State. While this exteriority is fleeting and does not negate the power wielded by the state, this self-relation constitutes the one relation of force that Foucault did not discuss during his work on power. Deleuze writes apropos of this:
Foucault wonders how he can cross the line, go beyond the play of forces in its turn. Or are we condemned to conversing with Power, irrespective of whether we’re wielding it or being subjected to it… Crossing the line of force, going beyond power, involves as it were bending force, making impinge on itself rather than on other forces: a ‘fold,’ in Foucault’s terms, force playing on itself. It’s a question of ‘doubling’ the play of forces, of a self-relation that allows us to resist, to elude power, to turn life or death against power… it’s a matter of optional rules that make existence a work of art, rules at once ethical and aesthetic that constitute ways of existing or styles of life (including even suicide). It’s what Nietzsche discovered as the will to power operating artistically, inventing new ‘possibilities of life’159
Namely, it is that bending back of a force upon itself, creating a fold that does indeed allow the exercise of resistance or a degree of freedom. I will conclude here, with Foucault’s words on this from the conclusion of The Care of The Self, “It is not the accentuation of the forms of prohibition that is behind these modification in sexual ethics. It is the development of an art of existence that revolves around the question of the self, of its dependence and independence, of its universal form and of the connection it can and should establish with others, of the procedures by which it exerts it control over itself and the way in which it can establish a complete supremacy over itself.”160
ConclusionIt has been seen how Michel Foucault’s thought regarding
epistemological and political change fundamentally relates to his theory of force and events. These notions evince the profound influence that Foucault drew from sources such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, his mentor Georges Canguilhem and his friend and contemporary, Gilles Deleuze. The many shifts in the structure and focus of his thought continually took shape as the expansion of the domain of inquiry and a process of posing new questions. His successive methodologies and problematics, archaeology, genealogy and the technologies of the self had an additive and cumulative quality, rather than the quality of a reformulation and a replacement of discarded theories. In his last years, Foucault asserted a fundamental unity of his project, that it constituted a tryptich, that his work, while proceeding along three separate axes, at all times consisted of a single project. The distinctions between force and power, the nature of the apparatus and importantly the understanding of event show clearly how his disparate studies can fall together into a coherent whole. Foucault never systematized his thought, and this present work, although systematizing some elements of his work is not meant to be a complete synthesis or a totality. It is as much a fiction as Foucault said that his works always were. But, if all works are fictions, they can only be judged against one another, and I believe that this interpretation constitutes a complete and coherent one. I shall summarize below:
1. The episteme is a specifically discursive apparatus, which thus transmits power and provides for the possibility of truth in a discourse claiming scientificity.2. The episteme is an oscillating system between the conditions of possibility for discourse and the actual concrete existence of discourse. It is at once transcendental and empirical. It is an apparatus which is profoundly Deleuzean in that respect.3. Forces lie under all power relations. Power is a moment in a force relation in which the relation is stabilized. Power and knowledge bothare effects of force relations and as such are events with multiple interpretations or possible appropriations.4. The term event is to be understood first in a similar sense to that used by Deleuze in Nietzsche and Philosophy, Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense, and subsequently and in a manner complementarily in the sense of Martin Heidegger’s Ereignis.
5. The sense of the term event shifts over time to be profoundly Heideggerian in Foucault’s last published works.6. Apparatuses have as their fundamental rule of existence in their constant expansion. Interactions between apparatuses are events that in some cases spawn new apparatuses. The interactions are unpredictable, but tend toward the subordination of all apparatuses to one. 7. Foucault had a series of hypotheses regarding change; each of which was shown to be insufficient by his continuing research and ultimately, his theory of power-knowledge and apparatuses led him to the impasse constituted by biopower.8. In the end, Foucault is forced to acknowledge that in a biopolitical regime, resistance is only possible on the individual level, but a relation of force to itself. The force relating to itself creates the event known as a life whose meaning is only determinate by the one force capable of appropriating it. One of the parties to the relation: The self.
Appendix A: Truth and the Nietzschean Hypothesis
In “Society Must be Defended” Foucault writes:So you see, once we try to get away from economic schemata in our attempt to analyze power, we immediately find ourselves faced with two grand hypotheses; according to one, the mechanism of power is repression.. Reich’s hypothesis… according to the second, the basis of the power relationship is the warlike clash between forces… Nietzsche’s hypothesis.161
It has been established that, for Foucault, power and knowledge are inextricably linked, and thus, the Nietzschean hypothesis on power is also a hypothesis regarding knowledge. The Nietzschean hypothesis, stated briefly, is to say that power relations are fundamentally in the mode of a struggle, confrontation, battle or war, not in a state of contractual, mutual agreement, as Foucault writes “Power relations… are essentially anchored in a certain relationship of force that was established in and through war at a given historical moment that can be historically specified.”162 Knowledge and Truth are events that emerge from this power struggle and along with Practices constitute the fundamentally productive, rather than repressive aspect of power, regarding this, Foucault writes “Political power is perpetually to… re-inscribe that relation of force, and to re-inscribe it in institutions… language, etc.”163 Here I would like to discuss Foucault’s development of this hypothesis.
Most interesting is the way in which Truth figures into this hypothesis. For Foucault, “’Truth’ is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation, and operation of statements. ‘Truth’ is linked in a circular relation with systems of power that produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it - a ‘regime’ of truth.”164 Moreover, “The political question… is truth itself. Hence the importance of Nietzsche.”165 Truth thus constitutes a strategy of power. Truth is fundamentally political, polemical and interested, “multiple relations of power traverses, characterize, and constitute the social body; they are indiscernible from a discourse of truth, and they can neither be established unless a true discourse is produced, accumulated, put into circulation, and set to work.”166 Thus, truth, and by implication knowledge itself (insofar as truth is a politicization of knowledge; political knowledge; knowledge that discounts other knowledge) is a codification of power relations. The production of knowledge and the definition and use of truth are the means by which power solidifies its hold and ossifies power relations. A discourse of
truth and knowledge serve the purpose of advancing knowledge that reinforces the power relation that provided for its emergence. Once a meaning is appropriated or a relation of truth defined, this meaning and truth becomes a sort of Framing [Ge-Stell] through which the world is seen. A subject appropriated to a discourse of truth takes that discourse of truth as the a priori conditions for truth and knowledge, analogous to a discourses historical a priori from The Archaeology of Knowledge.
Knowledge and Truth are indispensable for power’s operation. Foucault writes “the delicate mechanisms of power cannot function unless knowledge, or rather, knowledge-apparatuses, are formed, organized and put into circulation…”167 And ultimately, “truth is… a truth that can be deployed only from its combat position, from the perspective of a sought after victory.”168 This correlates with Foucault’s characterization of truth in “Truth and Power”, “Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its ‘general politics of truth’… is subject to constant economic and political incitement… it is the object… of immense diffusion and consumption… It is produced and transmitted under the control, dominant, if not exclusive, of a few great political apparatuses.”169 Moreover, truth is the product of a power relation, and importantly, the product sanctioned by the dominating power. Knowledge in its initial emergence is not yet appropriated. Truth is the mode of appropriation of knowledge by power. True indicates which power element has appropriated knowledge. False indicates the power that was dominated in that struggle. Truth then serves to reinforce and maintain that power relation that enabled its emergence as an invention-event. “[Truth and] Knowledge is never anything more than a weapon in a war, or a tactical development within that war.”170 Traditional history cannot escape the truth-effects of power relations. It is caught up in the meanings supplied by power and leave subjugated knowledges marginalized. Genealogy is the method that “being on one side - the decentered position - that makes it possible to interpret the truth, to denounce illusions and errors that are being used… to make you believe we are living in a world in which order and peace have been restored.”171 Genealogy interprets truth itself from an admittedly interested vantage point, rather than interpret the interested vantage point from the perspective of a supposedly neutral ‘truth.’ The latter reinforces the power relation that is codified in discourse and ensures the marginalization of subjugated discourses. Genealogy, by interpreting truth itself brings
marginalized discourses back into play.
Appendix B - Biopolitics: Problems and Discussion
A central problem to the theory of biopower is the distinction between bare life and qualified life, a distinction made strongly by Giorgio Agamben in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Moreover, a distinction in the biopolitical regime that is fundamental, that is discussed also by Foucault in Society Must Be Defended is the distinction between “life worth living” and “life that is not worth living.” This problem finds its most telling instantiations in the Nazi German state and in the problem of legal death. Foucault writes in Society Must Be Defended, “Nazism was in fact the paroxysmal development of the new power mechanisms that had been established since the eighteenth century. Of course, no State could have more disciplinary power than the Nazi regime. Nor was there any other State in which the biological was so tightly, so insistently regulated. Disciplinary power and biopower: all this permeated, underpinned, Nazi society.” (SD 259)It is not only Foucault’s analysis that shows this, Agamben writes: “It is certain that the reappearance of the formula coined by Binding to juridical credence to the so called “mercy killing”… coincides with a decisive development in National Socialism’s biopolitics… the transformation of the program… from a theoretically humanitarian program into a work of mass extermination did not in any way depend on circumstance”172 Thus, eugenics and mercy killing formed a fundamental biopolitical force in the Nazi State. This in addition to the racial separation of life that was deserving of living, and life that was not, evidenced the biopolitical nature of the regime. The fact that it was not only “life that was not worth living” that was exposed to the possibility of death further evinces the Nazi state’s biopolitical nature. “It had to reach the point at which the entire population was exposed to death… The Nazi State makes the field of life it manages, protects, guarantees and cultivates in biological terms absolutely coextensive with the sovereign right to kill anyone, meaning not only other people, but its own people.” (SD 260)
It is in the biopolitical state, Agamben argues, that the life that can be killed with impunity, bare life itself, is precisely coextensive with qualified life. Foucault would be in agreement with this reading. As evidenced by the preceding quotation, the Nazi state, according to Foucault did indeed function as if the spheres of qualified and unqualified life were co-extensive. Agamben’s conclusion that the modern is inherently biopolitical and that the concentration camp is the model for the modern
society is disputable, and perhaps subject to interpretation as a trope of rhetoric, but indeed, his discussion in the section entitled “Politicizing Death” does lend some credibility to his argument. The fact that the definition of death is so malleable and subject to political considerations that it seems that life, when at the verge of death, no longer is in its “ownmost confrontation” as Heidegger would put it, but eminently in the political sphere, due to the advent of life support technology and organ transplantation. Agamben writes “an exact definition of the moment of death was required in order for the surgeon responsible for the transplant not to be liable for homicide… The dark zone beyond coma, which Mollaret and Goulon had left wavering uncertainly between life and death, now furnishes precisely the new criterion of death.”173 He further writes that “The ‘frightful and incessantly deferred borders’ of which Mollaret and Goulon spoke are moving borders because they are biopolitical borders, and the fact that today a vast process it under way in which what is at stake is precisely the redefinition of these borders indicates that the exercise of sovereign power now passes through them more than ever…”174 If it is true that the power of the state is the ultimate arbiter of the boundary between life and death, then perhaps Agamben’s somewhat rhetorical position is in essence correct; the power over life is coextensive with life itself.
Appendix C: Phenomenology, Historical a priori and the Unconscious
What follows is a brief exploration of the possible connections between Foucault and his former teacher Maurice Merleau-Ponty as well as Foucault’s relation with his contemporary Jacques Lacan. The issue at hand is the status of the historical a priori, whether it is unconscious and unlearned, or conscious and learned, or unconsciously acquired through experience of the world. In viewing this problem, It is indeed curious to note that the second chapter of The Order of Things bears the title “The Prose of the World”. This is hardly insignificant if understood in the context of Michel Foucault’s contact with Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In his Michel Foucault, Didier Eribon all but removes all doubt as to some influence of some character when he writes: “Foucault never missed a single lecture given by Maurice Merleau-Ponty at the ENS in 1947-48 and 1948-49.”1 Moreover, despite their ostensible topics being other than this, the lectures by Merleau-Ponty that were attended by Foucault “…dealt with language.”2 However, the particular significance of this particular allusion is anything but apparent. There is the possibility that this allusion to Merleau-Ponty, is to see it as serving to subtly situate an aspect of Foucault’s project in the context of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. The second hypothesis’ probability is dramatically increased by Eribon’s revelation that “Foucault would have liked to give his work the title that would appear for its second chapter ‘La Prose du monde.” But Merleau-Ponty had wanted to give this title to a text found among his papers after his death. Foucault was not eager to seem too much influenced by the philosopher he had so long admired.”3 One must now think; Foucault was well aware that 1 Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, Translated by Betsy Wing, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), pg.
2 Ibid. Additionally, Merleau-Ponty’s “lectures were published in the Bulletin de psychologie almost as soon as
they were given, and there is no doubt that Foucault took advantage of them. The course on ‘human sciences,’ for
example, given in 1951-52… certainly would have been of the greatest interest to Foucault, who began to teach at
that every time and on the very same subjects.” In a note to the above cited extract, Eribon cites these lectures as
Merleau-Ponty a la Sorbonne, (Paris; Cinara, 1988), I have been unable to find an English translation of these.
However Themes from the Lectures at the College de France 1952-1960 exists in translation, and I will use these
as a basis for comparison of Merleau-Ponty’s thought, from his lectures, to Foucault’s thought.
3 Ibid, pg. 155. Considering the time during which Foucault’s interest in Merleau-Ponty seemed most active, it is
especially likely that the title “La Prose du monde” either originated in Merleau-Ponty’s proposed title (In the
editor’s preface to The Prose of The World, pg. xiv ff Claude Leport places the writing of most of The Prose of the 73
this title would elicit in the attentive reader an association with Merleau-Ponty. The question that follows is: to what purpose?
In an interview conducted in 1978, Foucault, after discussing the “dominant influences in my university training in the early fifties – Hegel and Phenomenology,” refers explicitly to Merleau-Ponty: “Establishing a meeting point between the academic philosophical tradition and phenomenology, Maurice Merleau-Ponty extended existential discourse into specific domains, exploring the question of the world’s intelligibility, for example, the intelligibility of reality. My choices ripened within that intellectual panorama: on the other hand, I chose not to be a historian of philosophy, on the other, I decided to look for something completely different from existentialism.”4 However, while seeking something radically different, Foucault would not deny that a certain phenomenology served as his point of departure. It is not unreasonable to infer that elements of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, particularly those concern language and corporality permeate many of Foucault’s concepts. Indeed, contrary to Beatrice Han’s assertion of a fundamental incompatibility between the thought of Foucault and that of Merleau-Ponty, it seems that nowhere is Merleau-Ponty’s influence more evident than in Foucault’s notion of the historical a priori.5
The historical a priori constitutes the rules to which statements must conform in order to become part of discourse,h here we may see the manner in which his conception of the historical a priori may be seen as having a certain resonance with a certain aspect of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. To this end, we must see how Merleau-Ponty, in his concern for the intelligibility of speech and communication with the other lays a groundwork that Foucault appropriates into his theory of discourse. To this end, when we speak of a “world of language” or a “universe of language” in Merleau-Ponty, we must think, in Foucault’s terms, of a discourse. In The Prose of the World, Merleau-Ponty writes:
Just as out common membership in the same world presupposes that my experience, insofar as it is original, should be the experience of being, so our membership in a common language or even a common universe of language presupposes a primordial relation between me and my speech, which gives it the value of a dimension of being in which I
World in the vicinity of 1950-1952) or shared another common origin.
4 Michel Foucault, “Interview with Michel Foucault”, in Power, edited by James Faubion (New York: The New
Press, 2000), pg. 247.
This “primordial relation” that we bear toward our speech is very much analogous to Foucault’s historical a priori. It is primordial inasmuch as the historical a priori is prior to experience because it is a property of discourse and language rather than the speaker. This is to say, the conditions of possibility for the existence of statements predates the originator of the statement. Thus, in each statement, the rules by which the statement is constituted are contained in the already formed discourse that the statement enters into. It is already determined in advance, by the conditions that constitute the historical a priori, whether a statement is considered part of discourse, or excluded and not considered, properly speaking, a statement at all.
Additionally, the fundamental mutability of the historical a priori and moreover, of the structure of discourse, is prefigured in Merleau-Ponty. Meaning and signification is said to be sedimented by Merleau-Ponty. He writes, once again, in The Prose of the World: “Established significations contain the new signification only as a trace or a horizon. The new signification will later recognize itself in them, but even when it takes them up again it will forget what was partial and naïve in them.”7 When Foucault, in The Order of Things, writes that it is perhaps impossible to fully describe the conditions of the modern episteme or the present historical a priori of a discourse because we are still within them, we find a clear echo of Merleau-Ponty’s conception of linguistic change.
Moreover, in close proximity to the previous citation, we find a tantalizing precursor to Foucault’s thought regarding historical change. Merleau-Ponty writes: “The configurations of our world are all altered because one of them has been torn from its simple existence in order to represent all the others and to become the key or style of this world, a general means of interpreting it.”8 In Foucaultian terms, this would be to say that in a historical shift, a particular discursive practice becomes the dominant mode for the sifting of statements from non-statements, and thence all other discursive practices become subordinated to this one. Of course it would be an overt simplification to state that this is the mechanism by which epistemic and discursive change occurs for Foucault, it undoubtedly constitutes one means by which change may occur.
6 Maurice Merleau-Ponty The Prose of The World, Translated by John O’Neil (Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1973). Pg. 140.
7 Ibid, pg. 132
8 ibid. 75
In essence, it may be said, that in building from his teacher’s work, Foucault, at once removes the speaking subject from the analysis of discourse, and at the same time, defines and analyses with greater specificity this relation of things coming into discourse. To paraphrase Merleau-Ponty in Foucault’s terms, we may say ‘a statement’s participation in a discourse presupposes a historical a priori to which the statement always already conforms. The relation between words and things is presupposed by the discourse into which statements are enunciated.’ Thus we can see the relation that Foucault bears to Merleau-Pontian phenomenology. It is not that Foucault sees phenomenology as a useless methodology or a failure. Foucault admits at many points that phenomenology constituted a point of departure for Foucault, a point from which he began. That is to say, Foucault critiques phenomenology, not for being wrong, but for (1) clinging too tightly to the knowing subject and (2) not going far enough in its description of discourse. Foucault writes in 1970:
“Phenomenology, on the other hand, reoriented the even with respect to meaning: either it placed the bare event before or to the side of meaning – the rock of facticity, the mute inertia of occurrences – and then submitted it to the active processes of meaning, to its digging and elaboration; or else it assumed a domain of primal significations, which always existed as a disposition of the world itself, tracing its paths and privileged locations, indicating in advance where the event might occur and its possible form. Either the cat whose good sense precedes the smile or the common sense of the smile that anticipates the cat. Either Sartre or Merleau-Ponty. For them meaning never coincides with the event; and from this evolves a logic of signification, a grammar of the first person, and a metaphysics of consciousness”9
From this and the preceding analysis of the relation of Merleau-Ponty’s thought to Foucault’s, we may further situate Foucault in relation to phenomenology. Foucault, rather than abandoning phenomenology, modifies this understanding by situating these primal significations not in the world, but in discourse. Discourse always pre-exists both the speaker in discourse and the constitutive elements of discourse that come into discourse through time. These significations that inhere in discourse are the rules of discourse, viz. a historical a priori. This historical a priori ‘indicates in advance where the [discursive] event might occur and what form it must take.’ This should suffice to illustrate that Foucault takes Merleau-Pontian phenomenology, as opposed to Sartrean phenomenology, as his starting point,
9 Michel Foucault “Theatrum Philosophicum” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, Translated by Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977). Pg. 175
and appropriates many phenomenological concepts by shifting their emphasis from the existential to the discursive.
This shift was for Foucault unavoidable. In the context of Foucault’s critique of the human sciences in The Order of Things, it was doubly so. It was precisely Merleau-Ponty’s use of the human subject as a foundation that Foucault found necessary to move away from. It is founded upon the conception of man as a subject that Foucault finds so questionable in The Order of Things. Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow write that in Merleau-Ponty, and moreover, all post-Kantian philosophical discourse, “One sought a discipline which both has empirical content and yet is transcendental, a concrete a priori, which could give an account of man as a self-producing source of perception, culture, and history.”10 Thus Foucault imports and appropriates some key ideas from Merleau-Ponty, while at the same time recentering the a priori in discourse.
It is interesting to note another parallel between Foucault and Merleau-Ponty – that is, the primacy accorded to the actual in their work. Merleau-Ponty considered his project to have been an existential phenomenology, while Foucault’s discursive analysis is only concerned with statements in their actuality; it is meaningless to speak of latent statement for Foucault, according to Deleuze, because the statement or ‘serious speech act’ must exist to be understood, much like the body and world must exist in order to be understood and to understand for Merleau-Ponty. The ‘universe of language’ that Merleau-Ponty speaks of is analogous to Foucault’s idea of discourses, insofar as it governs the production of meaningful statements and thence truths.
The problem posed here is really where the historical a priori is localized, whether it is transmitted by discourse or is part of our relation to language as Merleau-Ponty would have it. Even further, if the historical a priori is not conscious, whether a condition of participation in discourse or language, or participation in existence, it broaches the question of Lacan’s idea that the unconscious is a signifying system. Lacan writes “Speech begins only with the passage from the feint to the order of the signifier… Truth draws its guarantee from somewhere other than the Reality it concerns: it draws it from Speech. Just as it is from Speech that Truth receives its mark that instates it in a fictional structure.”175 Furthermore, Lacan writes “No authoritative statement has any other guarantee here than
10 Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 2nd edition
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983) pg 33.77
its very enunciation, since it would be pointless for the statement to seek in it another signifier, which could in no way appear outside that locus.”176
This is but an excursus, however, Foucault did acknowledge a kinship to both Merleau-Ponty and Lacan in interviews. If the historical a priori is unconscious in any way, we may see an influence from either thinker.
Giorgio Agamben Potentialities, Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999)
Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998)
Georges Canguilhem “Report from Mr. Canguilhem on the Manuscript Filed by Mr. Michel Foucault…” Translated by Ann Hobert, in Critical Inquiry 21 (Winter 1995) 277-281
“On Histoire de la folie as an Event” Translated by Ann Hobart, in Critical Inquiry 21 (Winter 1995) 282-286
Gilles Deleuze The Logic of Sense, Translated by Mark Lester with Charles Stivale (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990)
Foucault, Translated by Sean Hand, Forward by Paul Bove (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988)
Nietzsche and Philosophy, Translated by Hugh Tomlinson, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983).
Negotiations, Translated by Martin Joughin, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995).
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Volume Two, Translated by Brian Massumi (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987)
Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 2nd Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983)
Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, Translated by Betsy Wing, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991)
Michel Foucault The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Volume One:Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others (New York: The New Press, 1997)
The Essential Works of Michel Foucault Volume Two: Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others(New York: The New Press, 1998)
Essential Works of Michel Foucault Volume 3: Power, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others, (New York: The New Press, 2000)
The Archaeology of Knowledge and Discourse on Language, Translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith and Rupert Swyer, (New York: Tavistock, 1972)
The Order of Things, Translated by Alan Sheridan, (New York: Vintage, 1994)
Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, Translated by Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977)
Discipline and Punish, Translated by Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage, 1979)
Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, Edited by Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon, 1980).
The History of Sexuality, Volume One: An Introduction,Translated by Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990)
The History of Sexuality, Volume Three: The Care of the Self, Translated by Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1986)
Philosophy, Politics, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977-1984 edited with introduction by Lawrence D. Kritzman, translated by Alan Sheridan and others (New York: Routledge, 1988)
“Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at The College De France 1975-1976“, Translated by David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003)
Gary Gutting, Ed. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)
Beatrice Han, Foucault’s Critical Project: Between the Historical and the Transcendental, Translated by Edward Pile, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002)
Martin Heidegger Identity and Difference, Translated by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002)
Off the Beaten Track, Translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)
On The Way to Language, Translated by Peter D. Herz (San Francisco: HaperSanFrancisco, 1971)
On Time and Being, Translated by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002)
Albert Hofstadter “Enownment” in Boundary 2, Volume 4, Issue 2 (Winter 1976) 357-378
Gad Horowitz “The Foucaultian Impasse: No Sex, No Self, No Revolution” in Political Theory, Volume 15, Number 1 (February 1987) 61-80
Jacques Lacan Ecrits: A Selection, Translated by Bruce Fink (New York: Norton, 2002)
Friedrich Nietzsche On The Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo, Translated by Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale, (New York: Vintage,1967)
Reiner Schurmann “’What Can I Do?’in and Archaeological-Genealogical History” in The Journal of Philosophy, Volume 82, Number 10 (October 1985), 540-547
Martin Saar “Genealogy and Subjectivity” in European Journal of Philosophy, Volume 10 Issue 2, 2002, 231-245
Jacqueline Stevens “On The Morals of Genealogy” in Political Theory, Volume 31, Number 4, (August 2003) 558-588
Charles Taylor “Foucault on Freedom and Truth” in Political Theory, Volume 12, Number 2 (May, 1984), 152-183
“Connolly, Foucault and Truth” in Political Theory, Volume 13, Number 3 (August, 1985), 377-385
1 I am not unaware of Foucault’s own criticism of the presupposed unity of the works of an author and, moreover, his criticism of the concept of the author. However, the empirical fact of an author’s existence cannot be completely ignored. This paper is based upon the possibility of divining precisely what sort of unity may be found in Foucault’s works.2 Addressing the particulars of this heuristic division, as established by Han, Dreyfus and Rabinow, would be a work unto itself. For the present, this division that is widely accepted as valid will be taken as given. The particulars of this division are found in most works written on Foucault. 3 Michel Foucault, “Truth and Power,” in The Essential Works of Foucault Volume 3: Power, Edited by James Faubion (New York: The New Press, 2000), pg. 144 Michel Foucault, “The Return of Morality” in Philosophy, Politics, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977-1984 edited with introduction by Lawrence D. Kritzman, translated by Alan Sheridan and others (New York: Routledge, 1988), pg. 250.5 Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Pantheon, 1972), pg
131. Hereafter referred to as AK 6 Michel Foucault, “On the Ways of Writing History” in The Essential Works of Foucault: Volume 2: Aesthetics, Methods
and Epistemology, Edited by James Faubion, (New York: The New Press, 1998), pg. 2907 Michel Foucault, “On the Archaeology of the Sciences: Response to the Paris Epistemology Circle,” in Ibid, pg. 310
Hereafter referred to as AS8 positivity / historical a priori9 Gilles Deleuze, in Foucault writes of statements, “It is not necessary for someone to produce a statement, and the statement does not refer back to any Cogito or transcendental subject that might render it possible, or to any ego that might pronounce it for the first time, or to any Spirit of the Age that could conserve, propagate and recuperate it.”(Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, translated by Sean Hand (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), pg 4) The statement, in Deleuze’s reading of Foucault, is completely autonomous – or would go even so far as to say that the relation between statement and the speaking subject is inverted, that is, that the statement determines the subject, rather than vice versa. This, I believe to be the sense in which Foucault intended the statement. Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, in Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 2nd edition, discuss the statement in comparison to the ‘speech acts’ of John Searle. More specifically, they discuss an analogy between statements and so-called ‘serious speech acts’ in contradistinction to ordinary utterances and everyday ‘speech acts’, for whose understanding “the hearer must hear it in a local context and against a shared background of practices which are not merely other statements”(Hubert L. Dreyfus & Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 2nd Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pg. 46-47). Serious speech acts are “divorced from the local situation of assertion and from the shared everyday background so as to constitute a relatively autonomous realm… can be understood by an informed hearer to be true in a way that need make no reference to the everyday context in which the statement was uttered”(pg. 48). Thus ‘serious speech acts’ or statements are fundamentally analogous to the speech of the sciences. That is to say, to properly qualify as a statement, an utterance must derive meaning not from its context but from the rules of its formation, discursive or otherwise. Only statements can be evaluated regarding truth in terms of knowledge [savoir], utterances dependent on context merely constitute truths of knowledge [connaissance], because their truth does not modify the structures that rendered their utterance possible. Moreover, the statement is not of the same ontological priority as the utterances understood as statements; Deleuze writes that “Statements are not in any sense portrayed as a synthesis of words and things, or as composite phrases or propositions. On the contrary, they precede the phrases or propositions which implicitly presuppose them, and lead to the formation of words and objects.”(Deleuze, pg. 12)10 When a statement is enunciated outside of a discursive formation, it is not capable of being judged true or false. The example of Mendel in The Discourse of Language is a prime example of such an enunciation. The Discourse on Language, published as an appendix to The Archaeology of Knowledge, pg. 22411 Michel Foucault, The Will to Know in The Essential Works of Foucault, Volume One: Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, Edited by Paul Rabinow, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others (New York: The New Press, 1997) 11-16. Also Translated as “History of Systems of Thought: A Summary of a course given at College de France 1970-1971” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, Edited by Donald Bouchard, Translated by Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977) 199-204. I cite from the former translation. 12 Michel Foucault, The Will To Know, pg. 1113 Ibid, pg. 1214 Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, Translated by Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage, 1979) Hereafter referred to as DP15 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, (New York:Vintage,1994) Hereafter referred to as OT 16 Georges Canguilhem, “The Death of Man or Exhaustion of the Cogito?” in The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, Edited by Gary Gutting (Cambridge: Cambridge, 1994), pg. 8417 Ibid. 18 Michel Foucault, “The Return of Morality” in Philosophy, Politics, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings 1977-1984 edited with introduction by Lawrence D. Kritzman, translated by Alan Sheridan and others (New York: Routledge, 1988), pg. 250.19 Albert Hofstadter, “Enownment”, pg. 37420 Michel Foucault, “On the Genealogy of Ethics” in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault: Volume One: Ethics:
Subjectivity and Truth, Edited by Paul Rabinow, (New York: The New Press, 1997), pg. 26221 Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, Translated by Betsy Wing, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), pg. 31It should also be noted that Heidegger’s works in which Ereignis is first publicly discussed were available in French by the end of the 1960’s. “On Time and Being” in 1968, “Identity and Difference” in 1958 and “The End of Philosophy and the Task for Thinking in 1966” So Foucault would in all likelihood been exposed to these, or if not, have had them available. 22 Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, Translated by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2002), pg. 3623 James D. Faubion, in his introduction to volume two of The Essential Works of Foucault speaks of the relationship of the idea of event in Foucault to the idea of event in Deleuze: “In 1970, he appeared to strike an ontological alliance with the premier French philosopher of events - his friend and contemporary Gilles Deleuze… [“Theatrum Philosophicum”] asserts clearly enough two principles that Deleuze and Foucault shared. The first establishes the general priority of the event over the object: the second establishes the specific ontological priority of thought as an event over thought as any structure or system…” James D. Faubion “Introduction” in The Essential Works of Foucault Volume Two: Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology, (New York: The New Press, 1998), pg. Xxi-xxii24 Michel Foucault, “Theatrum Philosophicum” in Language, Counter-Memory. Practice, Translated by Donald Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977).25 Michel Foucault, “Questions of Method” in Essential Works of Foucault Volume 3: Power, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others, (New York: The New Press, 2000), pg. 226-227 26 Ibid, pg. 22727 C.F. “Truth and Juridical Forms”, pg. 8 on knowledge and truth. 28 Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, (New York: Vintage, 1994), pg. 217-218
29 Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge and Discourse on Language, Translated by A.M. Sheridan Smith and Rupert Swyer, (New York: Tavistock, 1972), pg. 25
30 Ibid, pg. 101-10231 Ibid, pg 12932 Ibid, pg. 169. In his “On The Archaeology of the Sciences: Response to the Epistemology Circle” pg. 308 ,Foucault writes “the aim is to grasp how these statements, as events and in their so peculiar specificity, can be articulated to events that are not discursive in nature, but may be of a technical, practical, economic, social, political or other variety.”33 Ibid, pg. 17134 Michel Foucault “Questions of Method”, pg. 226-227
35 Foucault, Discourse on Language, pg 23036 Ibid, pg. 231
37 ibid, pg. 233-23438 Moreover, five year later in 1976 Foucault says: “To put it in a nutshell: Archaeology is the method specific to the analysis of local discursivities, and genealogy is the tactic which, once it has described these local discursivities, brings into play the desubjugated knowledges that have been released from them. This just about sums up the overall project.” Michel Foucault Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at The College De France 1975-1976, Translated by David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), pg. 10-11. The Discourse on Language is not merely a transitional piece in this respect, as may be asserted, because , this conception of the interrelation of genealogy and archaeology persists beyond the publication of Discipline and Punish. 39 In the text “Nietzsche, Freud, Marx” originally published in 1967 and found in The Essential Works of Foucault Volume Two. Notably, the figures that Foucault associates most closely with Genealogical critique are envisioned here as having “founded once again the possibility of a hermeneutic…. Interpretation has at last become an infinite task” pg. 272, 274. Most importantly, “There is nothing absolutely primary to interpret, for after all everything is already interpretation, each sign is in itself not the thing that offers itself to interpretation but an interpretation of other signs.” pg. 275 Essentially, this is to say that in the period between the publication of this text and the publication of The Discourse on Language, the significance of Nietzsche for Foucault did not significantly change, however the name associated with the methodology developed out of a Nietzschean inspiration changes from hermeneutics to Genealogy. 40 Here, having delineated the domain and terminology of genealogy, we must pause in order to address a few criticisms raise by Jacqueline Stevens in her article “On the Morals of Genealogy.” I have already begun to address her first criticism, that is, her question as to whether genealogy constitutes anything more than a shift in vocabulary.# It will become more evident later the greatness of the distinction. Moreover, her criticism that is of the first order to me and that must be addressed before I proceed is the assertion that
Foucault claims to derive his devotion to genealogy from Nietzsche, yet Nietzsche himself mocked genealogist and their enterprise. Approaching Nietzsche through Deleuze, Foucault misreads the single text in which
Nietzsche discusses the concept of genealogy, and seems thereby to have led a herd of academics away from Nietzsche’s own meaning of ‘Genalogie’ and into what by now may have become a revaluation of the word.# This criticism, in my opinion fundamentally misreads both Foucault’s use of Nietzsche in his two texts directly pertaining to
Nietzsche and Nietzsche‘s text itself. 41 Foucault “Truth and Juridical Forms”, pg. 1342 See Appendix A43 Michel Foucault, “Structuralism and Post-Structuralism” in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault Volume Two: Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology, pg. 44544 Foucault, LCP, pg. 14045 Ibid, pg. 147 46 Ibid, pg. 149-15047 Michel Foucault “Truth and Juridical Forms” in The Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984, Volume 3: Power, Translated by Robert Hurley and others (New York: The New Press, 2000), pg. 648 Foucault, LCP, pg 15049 Foucault “Truth and Juridical Forms”, pg. 750 Ibid.51 This notion of agency that is admitted by genealogy does not, in fact, contradict Foucault’s rejection of the author and relegation of the author to a function of discourse. Invention’s agency can be seen as a discursive function as much as the author. This is to say, an invention implies an inventor in the same manner as a text implies an author. However, for Foucault, the importance is the status of the entity rather than the identity of the entity. Moreover, that which is most important to Foucault with respect to this is the position in the power-relation that permitted the invention to occur.
52 Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended’ pg 185 - See also section 3. Disciplinarization is a mode of power-knowledge which was invented in response to an emergence.
53 Genealogy is always a purposive methodology. Genealogy is never without a polemical object or without an interest to which it is subordinated. Foucault recognizes through Nietzsche that all discourse is fundamentally interested. Martin Saar, in his article “Genealogy and Subjectivity” in European Journal of Philosophy, Volume 10 Issue 2, 2002, 231-245 writes that “Genealogy - in Nietzsche and Foucault - consists of an interlocking ensemble of these three levels… genealogy should be understood as a mode of writing history or a historical method; it should be seen as a mode of evaluation, I.e. as critique; and it should be grasped as a textual practice or a style specific for a genre. Second on all of these three levels, there is a decisive and constitutive relation between genealogy and subjectivity or a ‘self’ that comes into play in different ways and forms.” pg. 232 “It is a specific writing of history of certain object. This historiography accounts for ‘our’ history…” pg 234 That is, of events that pertain to the interested genealogist. “Doing genealogy then is: telling the subject the story of the powers working on him, telling the story of his own becoming” pg 236, and that Genealogies are histories of a particular present. Saar explores the impact of the fundamental interestedness of genealogy.54 The term invention is not used in “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” however, it figures prominently into Foucault’s treatment of Nietzsche in “Truth and Juridical Forms.”55 Foucault LCP pg. 15056 Ibid, pg. 15157 Foucault LCP, pg. 151-15258 Foucault “Nietzsche, Freud, Marx” pg. 276
59 Foucault, LCP, pg. 151-15260 Ibid, pg 14861 Foucault, “Truth and Juridical Forms” pg. 8
62 Gilles Deleuze The Logic of Sense, pg. 4-563 Ibid, pg. 864 Foucault, “Truth and Juridical Forms” pg. 765 Foucault “The Will To Knowledge” Translated by Robert Hurley, in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Volume One, pg. 14
66 Gilles Deleuze Nietzsche and Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 1983), pg. 467 Foucault, “The Will to Knowledge”, pg. 1468 Deleuze, pg 569 Martin Heidegger, On Time and Being, Translated by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), pg. 1970 Foucault “The Will to Knowledge” pg. 15 71 Martin Heidegger, “Summary of a Seminar on the Lecture, ‘Time and Being’” in On Time and Being Translated by Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), pg. 33 - Heidegger also discusses the way in which Gestell constitutes a form of appropriation in “The Way to Language” in On The Way to Language, Translated by Peter D. Herz (San Francisco: HaperSanFrancisco, 1971), pg 132: “Language always speaks according to the mode in which the Appropriation as such reveals itself or withdraws. For a thinking that pursues the Appropriation can still only surmise it, and
yet can experience in… Framing (Ge-Stell). Because Framing challenges man, that is, provokes him to order and set up all that is present being as technical inventory, Framing persists after the manner of Appropriation.” And in “The Age of the World Picture” in Off the Beaten Track, Translated by Julian Young and Kenneth Haynes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) pg. 68: “The world picture does not change from an earlier medieval to a modern one; rather, that the world becomes picture at all is what distinguishes the essence of the modern.” Gestell forces one to view the world in its terms, it gives order to the world, much like the power-knowledge, episteme and historical a priori do for Foucault. 72 Foucault can be seen as criticizing Heidegger for reserving the term Ereignis for the pure event of being as such. It is particularly evident in the text “On The Archaeology of the Sciences: Response to the Epistemology Circle” in The Essential Works Of Michel Foucault Volume Two. In which he writes:
It is crucial to renounce two postulates… The one assumes that it is never possible to find the irruption of a genuine event in the order of discourse; that, beyond every apparent beginning, there is always a secret origin - so secret and primordial that it can never be entirely recaptures in itself… The point itself could only be its own emptiness;
all beginnings from that point could only be recommencements or occultations (strictly speaking both…). pg 305
Linked to this is the thesis that ever manifest discourse secretly rests on an ‘already said’; but that this ‘already said’ is not just a phrase already pronounced, a text already written, but a ‘never said’ - a disembodied discourse, a voice as silent as a breath… It is thus resume that all that discourse happens to put into words is already found n the half silence which precedes it… which it uncovers and renders quiet. Pg. 305-306
Each moment of discourse must be welcomed in its irruption as an event; in the punctuation where it appears; and in the temporal dispersion that allows it to be repeated, known, forgotten, transformed, wiped out down
to its slightest traces and buried far from every eye in the dust of books. There is no need to retrace the discourse to the remote presence of its origin; it must be treated in the play of its immediacy. Pg. 306
Albert Hofstadter in his article “Enownment” writes of “mode of enownment [Ereignis], that Gestell is not merely a precursor to Ereignis but a historical mode of Ereignis. Albert Hofstadter, “Enownment,” in Boundaries 2, Volume 4, Issue 2 (Winter 1976), pg 375-376.
73 Heidegger, On Time and Being, pg. 2174 Ibid, pg. 22-23
75 Foucault, “Truth and Juridical Forms” pg. 1276 Joan Stambaugh, Introduction to On Time and Being, pg. Xi.77 Giorgio Agamben, “*Se: Hegel’s Absolute and Heidegger’s Ereignis” in Potentialities, Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), pg 12978 Foucault, LCP pg. 15079 Here I am trying to show Foucault’s appropriation or use of similar concept, I am not making any claim to veracity regarding Heidegger’s position. And moreover, I have restricted the idea of Ereignis to apply only to invention-events that pertain to savoir. 80 Nietzsche, Genealogy, pg. 46
81 Regarding Foucault’s placement of appropriation in the category of ‘critical’ or archaeological questions, 82 Michel Foucault “Society Must Be Defended” Lectures at the College De France 1975-1976 Translated by David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003). Pg. 783 Ibid.84 “Truth and Power” in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault Volume Three: Power, pg. 118 85 See Chapter 386 Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended”, pg. 1187 “Discourse transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart it. In like manner, silence and secrecy are a shelter for power, anchoring its prohibitions; but they also loosen its holds an provide for relatively obscure areas of tolerance.” Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Part One: An Introduction, Translated by Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990), pg. 10188 Michel Foucault Discipline and Punish, Translated by Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage, 1979), pg. 30589 Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, Translated by Sean Hand, Foreword by Paul Bove (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), pg. 3190 Ibid, pg. 3391 Foucault “Society Must Be Defended”, pg. 13892 Genealogy, for Foucault is a means for resisting power. Moreover, it is not power that one resists when one conducts genealogy; it fights “the power-effects of any discourse that is regarded as scientific.” Foucault, “Society Must Be
Defended”, pg. 9 These power-effects, of course are the accepted domains of verifiability; domains within which it is possible to predicate truth or falsity of a statement. The task of genealogy is then to unearth discourses which cannot be adapted into these forms of knowledge, and watch to make sure that they do not get coopted by the power-effects of a discourse. However, one must wonder, does this not make genealogy a counter-power? Foucault admits that genealogy can be seen as constituting an anti-science. And thus, a counter-power in conflict with power would concomitantly give rise to new power-effects, new inventions, it would constitute a new place of emergence. So ultimately the concerns previously raised are merited more on the possibility of generating new invention-events rather than on the possibility that the events revealed by a genealogy could be “re-annexed, reassimilated,” 93 Deleuze, Foucault, pg. 2794 Foucault, “The Subject and Power” pg. 22595 Ibid.96 Hereafter referred to as HS97 Foucault, “The History of Sexuality”, pg. 18998 All translations of the same French term dispositif, which translates literally to mechanism. I will use the term apparatus because it seems to capture Foucault’s meaning most clearly. 99 Michel Foucault “The Confession of the Flesh” in Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977, Edited By Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon, 1980), pg 197 See also The Discourse on Language.100 Ibid. 101 The term archaeology persists in this period, although it is not prominent. It is mentioned in a 1977 interview entitled “The History of Sexuality”, referring to an “archaeology of psychiatry”, pg. 192 and in The History of Sexuality Part One, when he writes “The history of the deployment of sexuality, as it has evolved since the classical age, can serve as an archaeology of psychoanalysis.” pg. 130102 Foucault, “The Confession of the Flesh”, pg. 194103 Ibid, pg. 195104 Ibid, pg. 195-6105 This is an apparent paradox, in which discourses become nested like Russian dolls. As the apparatus or discourse expands by virtue of its overdetermined nature and its re-utilization of unintended effects, micro-discourses or micro-apparatuses appear within. This could proceed without limit, however, it is my opinion that the empirical data serves as an endpoint for this regressus. 106 Michel Foucault, The Discourse on Language, Translated by Rupert Swyer, Appendix to The Archaeology of Knowledge (New York: Pantheon, 1972), pg. 224107 Michel Foucault, “Truth and Power,” in The Essential Works of Foucault Volume Three: Power, edited by James D. Faubion, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others (New York: The New Press, 2000), pg. 131108 Ibid, pg. 131-2109 Ibid, pg. 133110 Foucault “Truth and Juridical Forms” pg. 13-14111 This contrasts directly to Alain Badiou’s category of the event. Badiou writes “For a truth to affirm its newness, there must be a supplement. This supplement is committed to chance. It is unpredictable, incalculable. It is beyond what is. I call it an event. A truth thus appears, in its newness, because an evental supplement interrupts repetition.” Alain Badiou, Infinite Thought, Translated by Oliver Feltham and Justin Clemens (London and New York: Continuum Press, 2003), pg. 62, For Badiou, the event is the un-decidable supplement that makes a truth possible. For Foucault, and moreover, for Deleuze, the ‘event’ is truth or knowledge itself. The event rather than being un-decidable, is profoundly determinate and historically situated. 112 Foucault, “The Confession of the Flesh”, pg. 199113 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Translated by Brian Massumi (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1987, pg. 224-225114 Deleuze, Foucault, pg. 73115 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pg. 305116 Hence Foucault’s comment that the history of the deployment of sexuality could serve as an archaeology of psychoanalysis. 117 Foucault, “Governmentality” in Power, pg. 202118 Foucault, “About the concept of the ‘Dangerous Individual’” in Power, pg. 199119 Ibid, pg. 192-3120 Ibid, pg. 194121 Albert Hofstadter’s interpretation of Ereignis in his article “Enownment”, in Boundaries 2, Volume 4 Issue 2 (Winter 1976), 357-378, suggests that Ereignis would account for this correlation between knowledge and power, and between the subject and knowledge. He writes “Man is man only in his belonging together with Being and Being is Being only in its belonging together with man. They are not given antecedently to the belonging.” pg. 365 I do not fully agree with this
interpretation, nor do I fully disagree; I merely think that the relation between knowledge and power, the subject and object of knowledge, etc is of a more complicated structure. Likewise, when he writes that “Enownment is what lets conflict, with all its hatred, opposition and destruction be”(369) this would suggest a structure of Ereignis between opposing forces. It is rather that the conflict enables and encourages appropriation, not the inverse. 122 Michel Foucault “Candidacy Presentation at College de France, 1969”, in The Essential Works of Foucault Volume One: Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, Edited by Paul Rabinow (New York: The New Press, 1997), pg. 7123 Ibid.124 Ibid, pg. 9125 Foucault, The Discourse on Language, pp. 231-3126 Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, pg. 117127 Ibid, pg. 120128 Friedrich Nietzsche, “On Truth and Lie in a Non-Moral Sense” in Philosophy and Truth, Translated and Edited by Daniel Breazeale, (Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press, 1990), pg. 83-85129 Ibid, pg. 86130 Ibid, pg. 88131 Foucault, “’Omnes et Singulatim’ Toward a Critique of Political Reason” in Power, pg. 324132 Ibid.133 Ibid. pg. 324-5134 Gilles Deleuze, “Life as a Work of Art” in Negotiations, Translated by Martin Joughin (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), pg. 98135 This assertion is doubtless conjectural, but I point to a passage in The History of Sexuality Part One, immediately preceding the discussion of Bio-power as evidence of Heideggerian thinking “Now it is over life, throughout its unfolding, that power establishes its dominion; death is power’s limit, the moment that escapes it; death becomes the most secret aspect of existence, the most ‘private’… suicide… testified to the individual and private right to die, at the borders and in the interstices of power that was exercised over life.” pg 138-9 This resonates strongly with Heidegger’s discussion of Being-toward-Death in Division Two of Being and Time. 136 Foucault, “Governmentality”, in Power, pg. 210137 Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, pg. 243138 Ibid, pg. 245139 Ibid, pg. 246140 Ibid, pg. 247141 Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer, Translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), pg. 3142 Foucault, “Governmentality”, pp. 213,218,219143 In contrast to the position of the sovereign as both within and without the juridical order in Schmitt’s theory as recounted by Agamben in Homo Sacer pp. 15-29. In Schmitt’s theory of sovereignty, the sovereign in his exteriority is the guarantor of the juridical order. This is profoundly incompatible with both Foucault’s theory of power as distinct from juridical power and with Foucault’s notion of the biopolitical state. 144 Foucault, “Governmentality”, pg 206145 Ibid, pg. 217146 Foucault, “Omnes et Singulatim”, pg. 300147 Foucault, “Governmentality”, pg. 218148 Ibid, pg. 221149 Foucault, “Omnes et Singulatim”, pg. 323150 Ibid, pg. 322151 Foucault, Society Must Be Defended, pg. 253152 Ibid.153 Ibid, pg. 254154 Ibid, pg. 254-5155 Ibid, pg. 256-258156 History bears witness to this. In the Nazi state, which Foucault and Agamben agree was the first truly biopolitical state, every attempt at resistance, rebellion, coup, etc was unsuccessful until the ultimate military collapse of the regime. 157 Gilles Deleuze, “Breaking Things Open, Breaking Words Open,” in Negotiations, pg. 83158 Foucault, “Preface to The History of Sexuality, Volume Two” in The Essential Works of Foucault Volume One: Ethics, Subjectivity and Truth, Edited by Paul Rabinow, Translated by Robert Hurley and Others (New York: The New Press, 1997), pg. 204159 Deleuze, “Life as a Work of Art” in Negotiations, pg. 98160 Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume Three: The Care of The Self,
Translated by Robert Hurley, (New York: Vintage, 1986), pg. 238-9161 Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended,“ pg. 16
162 Ibid, pg. 15163 Ibid, pg. 16164 “Truth and Power” in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault, Volume Three, pg. 132165 Ibid.166 Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended” pg. 24167 ibid, pg. 33-34168 Ibid, pg. 52169 “Truth and Power”, pg. 131170 “Society Must Be Defended” pg. 173171 Ibid, pg. 53172 Agamben, Homo Sacer, pg. 140173 Ibid, pg. 162174 Ibid, pg. 164175 Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: A Selection, Translated by Bruce Fink, (New York: Norton, 2002), pg. 294176 Ibid, pg. 298