Both Anglo-American and Continental thinkers have long denied that there can be a coherent moral defense of the poststructuralist politics of Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jean-Fran9)is Lyotard. For many Anglo American thinkers, as well as for Critical Theorists such as Habermas, poststructuralism is not coherent enough to defend morally. Alternatively, for Foucault, Deleuze, Lyotard, and their followers, the practice of moral theorizing is passe at best and more likely is insidious. Todd May argues both that a moral defense of (...) poststructuralism is necessary and that it is possible. First, he develops a metaethical view of moral theoriz ing that treats it as a social practice rather than a transcendentally derived guarantee for right action. He then articulates and defends antirepresen tationalism, a principle central to poststructuralism. Finally, May offers a version of consequentialism that is consonant both with the principle of antirepresentationalism and with other poststructuralist commitments. In conclusion, he distinguishes morality from an aesthetics of living and shows the role the latter plays for those who embrace anti representationalism. (shrink)
Michel Foucault's thought not only converges with a certain type of pragmatism; it can deepen our understanding of pragmatism. There is an ambivalence in pragmatist thought between an approach that privileges the question of: ”What works?” and ”How does it work?” The former misses the political idea that some practices don't just work, but work for one purpose or another. Foucault's pragmatism does not focus on what works, but instead utilizes the concept of practices as a unit of analysis, and (...) then asks how they work. This reintroduces a political element that sometimes goes missing in pragmatist thought. (shrink)
Politics today seems to be marked either by fear or conciliation. The idea of a radical break with the present has, for many, been removed from the agenda. What tie together the thought of Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou is a commitment to politics as offering the possibility of a break with the present. This paper examines their common thought, as well as what divides them, from the perspective of a renewal of the political project of resistance.
How might we think about equality in a non-hierarchical fashion? How might equality be conceived with some degree of equality? The problem with the presupposition of liberalism is that, by distributing equality, liberals place most people at the receiving end of the political operation. There are those who distribute equality and those who receive it. Once you start with that assumption, the hierarchy is already in place. It’s too late to return to equality. Equality, instead of being the result of (...) a political process, must be conceived as the presupposition of those who act. It must be the expression of political actors rather than the possession of a political hierarchy. In the formulation of Jacques Rancière, whose ideas form the framework of my thinking in this paper, “Politics only happens when these mechanisms are stopped in their tracks by the effect of a presupposition that is totally foreign to them yet without which none of them could ultimately function: the presupposition of the equality of anyone and everyone.”. (shrink)
Alain Badiou argues in “Rancière and Apolitics” that Rancière has appropriated his central idea of equality from Badiou’s own work. We argue that Badiou’s characterisation of Rancière’s project is correct, but that his self-characterisation is mistaken. What Badiou’s ontology of events opens out onto is not necessarily equality, but instead universality. Equality is only one form of universality, but there is nothing in Badiou’s thought that prohibits the (multiple) universality he positsfrom being hierarchical. In the end, then, Badiou’s thought moves (...) in a Maoist direction while Rancière’s in an anarchist one. (shrink)
While teaching values is an important part of education, contemporary moral education, however, presents a set of pre-established values to be inculcated rather than comprising a critical inquiry into their possible rightness and wrongness. This essay proposes a somewhat different direction by saying that education, rather than concerning itself with the moral, should concern itself with the ethical. Although morals and ethics are usually equated, we use ethical here as posited by Gilles Deleuze's question of who we might be, based (...) on the recognition that we have no real idea of who we might be because we do not yet know what a body (which for Deleuze, after Spinoza, is both physical and mental, corporeal and incorporeal) is capable of. This essay addresses the ethical dimension of Deleuze's philosophy in the context of education and pedagogy as based on several important conceptual shifts. First, it proposes a broader inquiry into who we might be. Second, it proposes that it is what we do not know, rather than what we do, that is of educational significance. Third, it asserts that much of our world, as well as our learning, are unconscious rather than conscious. This postulate accords with Deleuze's larger ontology, in which there is more to this world than appears to common sense in immediate experience. And fourth, it proposes education as committed to experimentation rather than the transmission of facts or inculcation of values. (shrink)
Other books have tried to explain Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), one of the twentieth century's most important and elusive thinkers, in general terms. However, Todd May organizes his introduction around a central question at the heart of Deleuze's philosophy: How might we live? He demonstrates how Deleuze offers a view of the cosmos as a living entity that provides ways of conducting our lives that we may not have even dreamed of.
In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault offers a history of the rise of discipline in its application to the body. Foucault suggests, although he does not develop this suggestion, that the politics of discipline is war carried on by other means. The lecture series “Society Must Be Defended” can be seen as a development of this suggestion. In these lectures, Foucault offers a way of thinking about the society and its politics in terms of war, as well as a way (...) of thinking about war. If this concept of war is integrated into the thought ofDiscipline and Punish, the work that that text does can be extended in several ways. First, we are offered an analysis of the social body that fractures the holism in the name of which penal reform is offered. Second, the disciplinary body can be seen not merely as the confluence of a series of power effects, but as the site of a contestation of power. Finally, the possibility of resistance, which has often been found lacking in Foucault’s genealogical works, appears as a live possibility. (shrink)
Much has been written recently about the Deleuzian concept of becoming. Most of that writing, especially in feminist criticism, has drawn from the later collaborations with Guattari. However, the concept of a becoming arises earlier and appears more consistently across the trajectory of Deleuze's work than the discussion of specific becomings might lead one to believe. In this paper, I trace the concept of becoming in Deleuze's work, and specifically in the earlier works. By doing so, I hope to shed (...) some light on the specific becomings that are the focus of the collaborative work with Guattari, and to deepen an understanding of the concept in general. (shrink)