Foucault and the Imperatives of Education: Critique and Self-Creation in a Non-Foundational World [Book Review]

Studies in Philosophy and Education 25 (3):245-271 (2006)
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This article outlines Foucault’s conception of critique in relation to his writings on Kant. In that Kant saw Enlightenment as a process of release from the status of immaturity in that we accept someone else’s authority to lead us in areas where the use of reason is called for, it is claimed in this article that Foucault’s notion of critique reveals his own conception of maturity. Whereas Kant sees maturity as the rule of self by self through reason, Foucault sees it as an attitude towards ourselves and the present through an historical analysis of the limits, and the possibility of transgression, of going beyond. Critique is thus a permanent interrogation of the limits, an escape from normalization, and a facing-up to the challenges of self-creation while seeking to effect changes in social structures on specific regional issues of concern. The article concludes by suggesting that the problem of historical and epistemological relativism, which a conception of total critique gives rise to, may not be as insurmountable as some critics of Foucault have claimed.



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Mark Olssen
Auckland Institute of Technology