Foucault's Kantian critique: Philosophy and the present

Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (4):357-382 (2008)
Abstract
In several lectures, interviews and essays from the early 1980s, Michel Foucault startlingly argues that he is engaged in a kind of critical work that is similar to that of Immanuel Kant. Given Foucault's criticisms of Kantian and Enlightenment emphases on universal truths and values, his declaration that his work is Kantian seems paradoxical. I agree with some commentators who argue that this is a way for Foucault to publicly acknowledge to his critics that he is not, as some of them charge, attempting a total critique of Enlightenment beliefs and values, but is instead attempting to transform them from within. I argue further that Foucault's self-professed Kantianism can also productively be read as a means of encouraging change in his intellectual audience, a call to courage to take up the thread of Enlightenment thought that Foucault finds in Kant's essay, `What is Enlightenment?': that of directing one's philosophical efforts towards questioning and transforming one's own present in its historical specificity, for the sake of promoting the values of freedom and autonomy therein. Though much of Kant's philosophical work is focused on that which lies outside of history, Foucault locates in some of it a concern for what is happening here and now that, I argue, he encourages his audience to take up for themselves through tracing his own intellectual lineage to Kant. In so doing, he encourages contemporary philosophers to consider the value and effects of their work on the present social and political contexts in which they live.
Keywords Enlightenment  Michel Foucault  Intellectuals  Immanuel Kant
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0191453708088509
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
References found in this work BETA
The Subject and Power.Michel Foucault - 1982 - Critical Inquiry 8 (4):777-795.
The Critique of Impure Reason.Thomas Mccarthy - 1990 - Political Theory 18 (3):437-469.
Foucault and Enlightenment: A Critical Reappraisal.Amy Allen - 2003 - Constellations 10 (2):180-198.
Foucault and the Question of Enlightenment.David R. Hiley - 1985 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 11 (1):63-83.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Foucault's Kantian Legacy.Ferda Keskin - 2007 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 11:97-107.
Freud, Foucault and 'the Dialogue with Unreason'.Joel Whitebook - 1999 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 25 (6):29-66.
Foucault’s Alleged Irrationalism.Corey McCall - 2007 - Idealistic Studies 37 (1):1-13.
Practicing Politics with Foucault and Kant: Toward a Critical Life.Dianna Taylor - 2003 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 29 (3):259-280.
Foucault and Enlightenment: A Critical Reappraisal.Amy Allen - 2003 - Constellations 10 (2):180-198.
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
559 ( #3,804 of 2,231,945 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
348 ( #516 of 2,231,945 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature