Between fiction and reflection: Foucault and the experience-book [Book Review]

Continental Philosophy Review 36 (1):27-43 (2003)
Foucault notoriously suggests that his historical analyses are fictions. Commentators typically interpret this claim in a negative light to mean that Foucault's works are not, strictly speaking, true. In this paper, I present a positive interpretation of Foucault's claim, basing my argument on a hitherto marginalized aspect of his work: the experience-book. An experience-book is defined as a use of fiction in the practice of critique with desubjectifying effects. My argument for this interpretation proceeds in three steps. First, to prepare a preliminary account of Foucault's concept of fiction and its effects, I look at Blanchot's ontological interpretation of the work of literature in The Space of Literature. Blanchot, I suggest, provides a template for understanding Foucault's concept of the experience-book. Second, I identify traces of Blanchot's concept of fiction in Foucault's study of Jules Verne, Behind the Fable. I argue that Foucault's critique of fiction, in this paper, anticipates and prefigures his later use of fiction in the practice of critique. Third, pursuing this intuition, I develop an interpretation of Discipline and Punish understood as a use of fiction and experience-book. This interpretation provides a new, immanent perspective on Foucault's critique, and mitigates the epistemological skepticism of the claim that his works are fictions
Keywords Philosophy   Phenomenology   Philosophy of Man   Political Philosophy
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DOI 10.1023/A:1025166608906
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Timothy O’Leary (2008). Foucault's Turn From Literature. Continental Philosophy Review 41 (1):89-110.

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