Staging the non-event: Material for revolution in Kant and Foucault

Philosophy and Social Criticism 28 (3):337-358 (2002)
Abstract
Since the fall of the former Soviet Union, and following geographical and technological changes in the global economy, theorists in Europe as well as the United States have lamented the confusion and emotional disengagement of many groups formerly identified with the left. This paper addresses the Kantian origins of the idea that 'revolution', however defined (or deferred), is the only plausible image for effective historical engagement capable of motivating spectators to action. Drawing on Foucault's inquiries into conditions for the possibility of 'heroizing' the present, I examine two frameworks for understanding the ontological impact of historical models for 'eventfulness', those offered by Heidegger and Bergson. I then explore their implication for debates between Foucauldian theorists over the technological and bodily bases required to recognize the optimistic moral significance Kant attributed to revolution in practices characterizing the 'new capitalism'. Key Words: Bergson • Foucault • Heidegger • historiography • Kant • revolution.
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