manmass entitles his piece “debunking Andrew Scull.”
The review is quite good but will probably not change the minds of the participants in this battle. This is why a good history-based seminar or day-long conference is needed on all this, as I’ve called for before.
A correction regarding a claim about this blog: Joseph claims I said that Scull seeks to discredit all of Foucault’s work. I never said this. I have cited Colin Gordon who has said in print that Scull is “blackening” Foucault’s name. I have no idea what Scull’s motivations, scholarship or “intent” may be with regard to “all” of Foucault ‘s work, and I don’t think anyone else can from the review alone.
Joseph then says:
In fact, the entry at FoucaultBlog shows a curious unwillingness to defend Madness and Civilization.
If this is “curious” (see a previous entry!) then let me say that the History of Madness (the actual title) is outside my area of expertise, and I am loath to comment, defend, or contextualize Foucault’s (or anyone else’s) historical veracity of a book in dispute outside my area. This is why we’d need the day-long conference. Too many people these days are willing to express themselves on subjects about which they know little, and I try to avoid that.
I note that Kugelmass himself adopts as his blog-motto the Wittgenstein phrase “whereof we cannot speak we must pass over in silence.” There you have it.
If people are interested in what I find useful about Foucault’s work then I certainly invite them to read my publications. But I don’t insist that other people “must” use Foucault, nor that Foucault cannot be wrong factually, or that Foucault is some kind of alpha and omega.
(In fact Kugelmass is a bit generous to Foucault about the ship of fools. Foucault discusses its literary and metaphorical role, but also says that they must have “been quite a common sight” (p. 9) in the Middle Ages.)
Here is the end of Kugelmass’s review, which I found powerfully stated:
Scull may be right that the real historical conditions in mental institutions did not always match the rhetoric of the age. He calls Foucault out as a fortunate deceiver, “cynical” and “shameless,” and hints darkly at Foucault’s effect on “people’s lives.” But if we have learned anything from Foucault, and from his predecessor Nietzsche, it is that certain kinds of ideological errors react with material histories, and alter them. To treat the lot of Foucault’s textual criticism of madness as nothing – that is pure, indefensible ideology. It endeavors to silence Foucault, and restores to us a good conscience we have done nothing to deserve.