New Italian website

I’ve had a nice note from Daniele Lorenzini about a new Italian Foucault website at Materiali Foucaultiani. The site is available in French, Italian and English. They also want to start a new journal. Here is part of their manifesto:

More precisely, we wish to build up a framework to investigate and to highlight the essential link between the Foucaultian “boîte à outils” and the search of a sense to give to our actualité. To this purpose we shall firstly outline a cartography of the receptions and applications of the concepts elaborated by Foucault, to show that his “boîte à outils” is still fundamental if we want to put into question our present and take a clear stand in front of the issues emerging from our actualité. Then, we have to explore the ensemble of appropriations and interpretations which has made Foucault’s theory a “travelling theory”, i.e. a perspective of analysis and, at the same time, a critical posture capable of crossing disciplinary limits, sifting archives different from those opened by Foucault himself, and offering tools and materials to reflect soundly on events belonging to our multi-spatial and multi-temporal global present. In short, the aim of our project is to broaden the spectrum of problematizations proposed by Foucault, using the instruments provided by his work. For instance, it is an undeniable fact that in the postcolonial or gender studies the Foucault legacy has generated several theoretical and political evolutions that it is now impossible to put aside – even when the Foucaultian method has been forced or adopted only partially.

It looks interesting and I wish them well.


Update on the Middlesex situation

John Protevi provides an update on the Middlesex situation, with some (partial) good news at last.

The campaign to save our philosophy programmes has just won a partial but significant victory: Kingston University in south-west London announced today that it will re-establish our Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) at Kingston, by employing the four senior staff in Philosophy at Middlesex (Eric Alliez, Peter Hallward, Peter Osborne and Stella Sandford). Our MA and PhD programmes (full-time and part-time) will be re-launched at Kingston this September, and all current post-graduate students will be invited to move along with the staff.

(Quoting from here.)

The Middlesex campaigners explicitly credit the groundswell of support they have received in helping make this possible. There are still many worrying issues this event has raised that remain a problem, not least of course university governance. From an international perspective as well, anyone looking to pursue a career in the UK (whether as a returning citizen such as myself or not) must surely now be given pause due to the financial situation in the country as a whole, and the likely cuts to higher education.

New Book: Space in theory

New book published by Rodopi which I think is a Dutch publisher:

WEST-PAVLOV, Russell, Space in Theory. Kristeva, Foucault, Deleuze, Amsterdam / New York, Rodopi (Spatial Practices: An Interdisciplinary Series in Cultural History, Geography and Literature), 2009, 275 p.

ISBN 978-90-420-2545-5

Space in Theory: Kristeva, Foucault, Deleuze seeks to give a detailed but succinct overview of the role of spatial reflection in three of the most influential French critical thinkers of recent decades. It proposes a step-by-step analysis of the changing place of space in their theories, focussing on the common problematic all three critics address, but highlighting the significant differences between them. It aims to rectify an unaccountable absence of detailed analysis to the significance of space in their work up until now.
Space in Theory argues that Kristeva, Foucault and Deleuze address the question: How are meaning and knowledge produced in contemporary society? What makes it possible to speak and think in ways we take for granted? The answer which all three thinkers provide is: space. This space takes various forms: psychic, subjective space in Kristeva, power-knowledge-space in Foucault, and the spaces of life as multiple flows of becoming in Deleuze.
This book alternates between analyses of these thinkers� theoretical texts, and brief digressions into literary texts by Barrico, de Beauvoir, Beckett, Bodro�ic or Bonnefoy, via Borges, Forster, Gide, Gilbert, Glissant, Hall, to Kafka, Ondaatje, Perec, Proust, Sartre, Warner and Woolf. These detours through literature aim to render more concrete and accessible the highly complex conceptulization of contemporary spatial theory.
This volume is aimed at students, postgraduates and researchers interested in the areas of French poststructuralist theory, spatial reflection, or more generally contemporary cultural theory and cultural studies.

Introduction: Entering Space
Kristeva�s Chora
Kristeva�s Kehre
Foucault�s Spatial Discourse
Foucault�s Discursive Spaces
Deleuze�s Territories
Deleuze�s Intensities
In Place of a Conclusion �

Foucault behaving badly

Foucault and Heidegger are two philosophers in a new book called Philosophers behaving badly. (Good title, named after a TV show I think.)

Here’s a review in Philosophy Now.

Heidegger you’d think would get some coverage here and indeed he has long been a source of debate in terms of how much do you take into account the life of the man vs. the philosophy. And it’s interesting that we don’t scale this as much for other disciplines (asshole geographers can still be interesting, but philosophers and anthropologists can’t be?).

Anyway… Continue reading

Foucault as phenomenologist

Barry Stocker, a philosopher in Istanbul, makes the case for Foucault as phenomenologist:

My main thoughts are that Foucault is not the kind of social constructivist he is often taken to be; and that his epistemology can be better understood if it is interpreted in a Phenomenological context. The Phenomenological aspect of Foucault should orientate understanding away from intellectual construction to embodiment, the extended mind, and perceptibility. All the discussion of archeology, genealogy, the order of discourse and so on, can be better understood as bringing perception into the conceptual than as conceptual construction.

Throughout the phases of his work, there is a constant underlying concern with Phenomenological themes. If he’s talking about abstract discourse or about punishment of criminals, Foucault is always concerned with the revelation of truth. Truth is appearing, there is a coming into light. The last phrase is very reminiscient of Heidegger. Heidegger turned Husserl’s abstract transcendental forms of Phenomenology into Being-in-the-world. Being-in-the-world is a big thought in Heidegger, but here we can say it includes the concrete experience of always existing in a world of care, concern and Being-with.


Continental and analytical philosophy

Some interesting comments on this all too often tired debate:

Brian Leiter has claimed that the distinction between analytic and continental philosophy, whatever its merits might have been forty years ago, is no longer useful. Gualtiero Piccinini responds, arguing that there is a real distinction and that it goes like this:

Analytic philosophy is a set of overlapping traditions whose founding fathers are Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, and Moore, whose exemplars include works by Carnap, Quine, and Kripke (among others), whose main sources of authority are logic, mathematics, and science, and whose core concerns include what there is and how we can know it.
Continental philosophy is a set of overlapping traditions whose founding fathers include Hegel, Nietzche, and especially Heidegger (or a subset thereof, depending on the specific sub-tradition), whose exemplars (besides Heidegger) include works by Gadamer, Foucault, and Derrida (among others), whose main sources of authority are art and hermeneutics, and whose main concerns include understanding “the human condition”.

So Piccinini draws the distinction in three areas: founding fathers, sources of authority, and core concerns.