Forget vitalism: Foucault and lebensphilosophie

Philosophy and Social Criticism 23 (1):33-47 (1997)
Recent interpretations of Michel Foucault's work have leaned heavily on a reading that can be traced back to the 'vital ist/mechanist' debate in the philosophy of science from earlier in this century. Friends (Gilles Deleuze) and enemies (Jürgen Habermas) both read Foucault as a kind of vitalist, championing repressed and unrealized life-forces against a burdensome facticity. This reading of Foucault, however, comes with a prohibitively high cost: the giving up of Foucault's most trenchant insights regarding the nature of power. In fact, Foucault has a quite different relation to the history and philosophy of science than the one ascribed to him by critics. Key Words: Bergson • Canguilhem • Foucault • opposition • vitalism.
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DOI 10.1177/019145379702300103
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