Date: Fri, 07 Jun 1996 10:12:18 +0100
Gabriel, my apologies I got your name wrong.
>Maybe, but this *is* one of his later writing, it appears one paragraph after
>the citation you put in your signature.
Does its historical/textual location alter his distinction between the
thought of truth and truth? The point I am trying to make is that the quote
I use in my signature deals with the ontological issue, whereas the one you
supply above is essentially about the epistemological problems. That there
are many does nothing to negate the ontological status of the concept as
distinct from its epistemological aix.
>>of course, I think it is encumbent upon those of us _interested_ in F to be
>>critical of his work, and in this respect, the quote you use seems to be
>>self-contradictory, since he wants to deny that this is a process that
>>either preexists its symbolisation in thought or that it is created in
>>thought. I personally find this formulation vacuous.
>First, isolating the question weather F. conception of truth
>has changed can be done apart from evaluating it.
Oh yes I agree, but its much more interesting to discuss how and why it
might have changed. I have problems with F's conception of truth in both
formulations (accepting of course that you reject that there are two) still,
disussing them, not taking F as having solved the problem of truth, which
would require, of course a 'truth', is one way of learning about truth,
and/or the thought of truth and its function in discourses.
>Second, If "Madness & Civilization" is a problematisation of the object
"mental illness" >then this object is neither created by Foucault,
Nor truth might we say?
obviously, nor is it represented
>by him. For "M&C" has its object not "mental illness" which is the object of
>psychiatry, but "mental illness as object of psychiatry".
Well, exactly, still leaving open to the question of 'mental illness' as
distinct form its status as an object of psychiatric inquiry, and I might
. I also get the feeling that you didn't really get to grips with point of
>Not for me, for as I said, I don't think that F.'s truth/thought
distinction can be
>reduced to reality/representation of reality. Can you show F. defining
>truth as that which is represented by thought?
No. I can't, why would I try? As I've said, I view F's earlier position on
truth to be an epistmological account of the rules that negotiate its
emergence within discourses. That is, he is not concerned about its
ontological status, either in or out of thought, but in how it emerges. This
by the way is what I consider to be an error in his work, since he is
confusing how we arrive at something with the nature of that something. His
later position however, displays a more nuanced recognition of the
ontological questions, he doesn't satisfactorily resovle them, he can't, I'm
not sure that at this point in our history anyone can, but the lack of a
comprehensive philosophical account of truth does nothing to negate its
existence, anymore than the lack of knowledge of global warming entailed
that that process was not going on long before we became aware of it.
Existence is not dependent upon human awareness of it.
>The object of discourse which is also the object of thought, what other
>objects do we have in science? chemical-reactions-in-themselves?
Oh we've been here before on this list and I'm not sure anything can be
resovled by going over this ground again. It displays a commitment to an
anthropocentric positivist ontology transmuted into a linguistic register.
To be is to be spoken. Yes there are such things as chemical reactions in
themselves that were going on long before we popped up to impose our humnist
arrogances on the cosmos, and lets just hope we do nothing to upset the fact
that they wil continue long after we are gone.
>The question seems to me not of not reduction to power, but of accounting
>for the choices taken in the game in terms of practices, of manipulating
>of looking at things, of speaking/writing, of social interaction between those
>who are part of the game, and of cross-interference with other games, etc.
>Power is involved, but is not as an explenatory master-key.
Well agin all of this is fine but more than a little one-sided, that is,
these are basically epistemological issues. But of course, nature speaks to
us and rejects some of our stories. Again though, you avoided my para as
opposed to dealing with it. Which of course you can't, because although we
can only talk about the form of the earth from within language our ways of
speaking about it don't affect its form (I accept of course that we cut down
forests build dams etc, thus in effect changing it).
>>No, since truth talk always emanates from some source then it will always be
>>implicated in power. However, not every truth is equally implicted, the
>>scale is differentiated. My claim that I like computers, which is basically
>>truth calim, that is I could be lying, differs from my claim that this is a
>Both claims are not part of a science, and hence are of little importance
as far as
>F. is talking about truth.
Well aren't we just more than a little guilty into buying in to some form of
separation of science as distint from social life here? And the fact that,
as you point out, these claims have little bearing on how F was talking of
truth provides evidence of the poverty of his formulation.
>That's besides the point about F.'s conception of truth which is set out
>against this straw figure.
Oh I accept this totally, but I'm not convinced you recognise the
implications of it. Since F was not encumbered by anything so naive as
accurately representing M's view of ideology he was free to say anything he
liked about it. It was as he made it and no one can criticise his view of
it. No academic standards apply. In fact no standards apply. The Marxian
corpus is indeed a cook-book for F. (I don't accept this reading of F BTW)
>Well, the question is not if it is different, but how different it is.
Is this a move of some kind. a concession?
>have to give reasons why in this quote 'truth' means 'things as they really
>are as opposed to what we think they are'.
No. why? Foucault by distinguishing between truth and the thought of truth
gives his own reason for distinguishing between truth and the thought of
truth. Perhaps his belief in its existence?
>>>The problem, however, is what makes one such system of ordered procedures
>>preferable over another.
>>Example: I claim that you can't walk on water. You claim that you can. Try
>>it and see.
>I don't find in this example two systems of ordered procedures for ordering
I don't understand this obscufation. But, incidentally you only asked for _one_.
"What I try to achieve is the history of the relations which
thought maintains with truth; the history of thought insofar as it is the
thought of truth. All those who say truth does not exist for me are
Department of International Politics
University of Wales, Aberystwyth