In this book, Arnold Davidson elaborates a method for considering the history of concepts and the nature of scientific knowledge, a method he calls "historical epistemology." He applies this to the history of sexuality, with consequences for our understanding of desire, abnormality, and sexuality.
Without access to Michel Foucault’s courses, it was extremely difficult to understand his reorientation from an analysis of the strategies and tactics of power immanent in the modern discourse on sexuality (1976) to an analysis of the ancient forms and modalities of relation to oneself by which one constituted oneself as a moral subject of sexual conduct (1984). In short, Foucault’s passage from the political to the ethical dimension of sexuality seemed sudden and inexplicable. Moreover, it was clear from his (...) published essays and interviews that this displacement of focus had consequences far beyond the specific domain of the history of sexuality. Security, Territory, Population (Foucault, 2007) contains a conceptual hinge, a key concept, that allows us to link together the political and ethical axes of Foucault’s thought. Indeed, it is Foucault’s analysis of the notions of conduct and counter-conduct in his lecture of 1 March 1978 that seems to me to constitute one of the richest and most brilliant moments in the entire course. It is astonishing, and of profound significance, that the autonomous sphere of conduct has been more or less invisible in the history of modern (as opposed to ancient) moral and political philosophy. This article argues that a new attention should be given to this notion, both in Foucault’s work and more generally. (shrink)
Containing the debate between Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky on epistemology and politics, this book also features the most significant essays by the most important French thinkers who influenced and were influenced by Foucault. Foucault's teachers, colleagues, and collaborators take up his major claims, from his first to final works, and provide us with the authoritative context in which to understand Foucault's writings. This volume also includes several important works by Foucault previously unpublished in English. The other contributors are Georges (...) Canguilhem, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Pierre Hadot, Michel Serres, and Paul Veyne. Here for the first time is the French Foucault. This volume offers lucid and important texts that will appeal to students and professors at every level of study. It is essential reading for all scholars of twentieth-century philosophy and critical theory. (shrink)
Some years ago a collection of historical and philosophical essays on sex was advertised under the slogan: Philosophers are interested in sex again. Since that time the history of sexuality has become an almost unexceptionable topic, occasioning as many books and articles as anyone would ever care to read. Yet there are still fundamental conceptual problems that get passed over imperceptibly when this topic is discussed, passed over, at least in part, because they seem so basic or obvious that it (...) would be time badly spent to worry too much about them. However, without backtracking toweard this set of problems, one will quite literally not know what one is writing the history of when one writes a history of sexuality.An excellent example of some of the most sophisticated current writing in this field can be found in Western Sexuality, a collection of essays that resulted from a seminar conducted by Philippe Ariès at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in 1979-80.1 As one would expect, Western Sexuality is characterized by a diversity of methodological and historiographical approaches—social history, intellectual history, cultural history , historical sociology, the analysis of literary texts, and that distinctive kind of history practiced by Michel Foucault and also in evidence in the short essay by Paul Veyne. One perspective virtually absent from this collection is the history of science, and since I believe that the history of science has a decisive and irreducible contribution to make to the history of sexuality, it is not accident that I am going to focus on that connection. But the history of sexuality is also an area in which one’s historiography or implicit epistemology will stamp, virtually irrevocably, one’s first-order historical writing. It is an arena in which philosophical and historical concerns inevitably run into one another. 1. Philippe Ariès and Adnré Béjin, eds., Western Sexuality: Practice and Percept in Past and Present Times . Arnold I. Davidson, a coeditor of Critical Inquiry, is assistant professor of philosophy and member of the Committees on General Studies in the Humanities and on the Conceptual Foundations of Science at the University of Chicago. His previous contribution to Critical Inquiry, “How to Do the History of Psychoanalysis: A Reading of Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality,” appeared in the Winter 1987 issue. (shrink)
Pierre Hadot, whose inaugural lecture to the chair of the History of Hellenistic and Roman Through at the Collège de France we are publishing here, is one of the most significant and wide-ranging historians of ancient philosophy writing today. His work, hardly known in the English-reading world except among specialists, exhibits that rare combination of prodigious historical scholarship and rigorous philosophical argumentation that upsets any preconceived distinction between the history of philosophy and philosophy proper. In addition to being the translator (...) and author of monographs on Plotinus, Vitorinus, Porphyry, and many others, Hadot’s most important general philosophical work is entitled Exercises spirituels et philosophie antique.1 Combined with detailed studies of Socrates and Marcus Aurelius, this work presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity, an account of their decline in modern philosophy, and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have companied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises. Hadot’s “Forms of Life and Forms of Discourse in Ancient Philosophy” provides an overview of his major themes and preoccupations, and gives some indication of the historical scope of his work. This lecture also illuminates the methodological problems one faces in studying the history of thought, especially problems concerning the evolution, reinterpretation, and even misunderstanding of the meaning and significance of philosophical terminology. In this brief introduction, I can do no more than attempt to provide a context for Hadot’s inaugural lecture, by way of summary of his major work, and, more specifically for reader’s of Critical Inquiry, to sketch the profound importance that Hadot’s writings had for the last works of Michel Foucault. Arnold I. Davidson, executive editor of Critical Inquiry, is associate professor of philosophy and a member of the Committees on the Conceptual Foundations of Science and General Studies in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He introduced and edited the “Symposium on Heidegger and Nazism” . He is currently working on the history of horror as it relates to the epistemology of norms and deviations. (shrink)
The rubric “The Late Derrida,” with all puns and ambiguities cheerfully intended, points to the late work of Jacques Derrida, the vast outpouring of new writing by and about him in the period roughly from 1994 to 2004. In this period Derrida published more than he had produced during his entire career up to that point. At the same time, this volume deconstructs the whole question of lateness and the usefulness of periodization. It calls into question the “fact” of his (...) turn to politics, law, and ethics and highlights continuities throughout his oeuvre. The scholars included here write of their understandings of Derrida’s newest work and how it impacts their earlier understandings of such classic texts as Glas and Of Grammatology . Some have been closely associated with Derrida since the beginning—both in France and in the United States—but none are Derrideans. That is, this volume is a work of critique and a deep and continued engagement with the thought of one of the most significant philosophers of our time. It represents a recognition that Derrida’s work has yet to be addressed—and perhaps can never be addressed—in its totality. (shrink)
Here we are witness to the great cultural event of the West, the emergence of a Latin philosophical language translated from the Greek. Once again, it would be necessary to make a systematic study of the formation of this technical vocabulary that, thanks to Cicero, Seneca, Tertullian, Victorinus, Calcidius, Augustine, and Boethius, would leave its mark, by way of the Middle Ages, on the birth of modern thought. Can it be hoped that one day, with current technical means, it will (...) be possible to compile a complete lexicon of the correspondences of philosophical terminology in Greek and Latin? Furthermore, lengthy commentaries would be needed, for the most interesting task would be to analyze the shifts in meaning that take place in the movement from one language to another. In the case of the ontological vocabulary the translation of ousia by substantia, for example, is justly famous and has again recently inspired some remarkable studies. This brings us once more to a phenomenon we discretely alluded to earlier with the word philosophia, and which we will encounter throughout the present discussion: the misunderstandings, shifts or losses in meaning, the reinterpretations, sometimes even to the point of misreading, that arise once tradition, translation, and exegesis coexist. So our history of the Hellenistic and Roman thought will consist above all of recognizing and analyzing the evolution of meanings and significance. Pierre Hadot holds the chair of the History of Hellenistic and Roman Thought at the Collège de France. He is the author of many books and articles on the history of ancient philosophy and theology. Among his works are Plotin et la simplicité du regard, Porphyre et Vitctorinus, Marius Victorinus: Recherches sur sa vie et ses oeuvres, and Exercises spirituels et philosophie antique. Arnold I. Davidson, executive editor of Critical Inquiry, is associate professor of philosophy and a member of the Committees on the Conceptual Foundations of Science and General Studies in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He introduced and edited the “Symposium on Heidegger and Nazism” . He is currently working on the history of horror as it relates to the epistemology of norms and deviations. Paula Wissing, a free-lance translator and editor, has recently translated Marcel Detienne and Jean-Pierre Vernant’s The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks . She also contributed translations of articles by Maurice Blanchot, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, and Emmanuel Levinas for the “Symposium on Heidegger and Nazism.”. (shrink)
Perhaps the question “What is philosophy?” can only be posed late in life, when old age has come, and with it the time to speak in concrete terms. It is a question one poses when one no longer has anything to ask for, but its consequences can be considerable. One was asking the question before, one never ceased asking it, but it was too artificial, too abstract; one expounded and dominated the question, more than being grabbed by it. There are (...) cases in which old age bestows not an eternal youth, but on the contrary a sovereign freedom, a pure necessity where one enjoys a moment of grace between life and death, and where all the parts of the machine combine to dispatch into the future a trait that traverses the ages: Turner, Monet, Matisse. The elderly Turner acquired or conquered the right to lead painting down a deserted path from which there was no return, and that was no longer distinguishable from a final question. In the same way, in philosophy, Kant’s Critique of Judgment is a work of old age, a wild work from which descendants will never cease to flow.We cannot lay claim to such a status. The time has simply come for us to ask what philosophy is. And we have never ceased to do this in the past, and we already had the response, which has not varied: philosophy is the art of forming, inventing, and fabricating concepts. But it was not only necessary for the response to take note of the question; it also had to determine a time, an occasion, the circumstances, the landscapes and personae, the conditions and unknowns of the question. One had to be able to pose the question “between friends” as a confidence or a trust, or else, faced with an enemy, as a challenge, and at the same time one had to reach that moment, between dog and wolf, when one mistrusts even the friend. Gilles Deleuze was professor of philosophy at the University of Paris VIII, Vincennes-St.-Denis, until his retirement in 1987. Among his books translated into English are the two-volume Capitalism and Schizophrenia , the two-volume Cinema , The Logic of Sense , and Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza . Daniel W. Smith is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Chicago. He is at work on a study of the philosophy of Deleuze, and is translating Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: Logique de la sensation. Arnold I. Davidson, executive editor of Critical Inquiry, teaches philosophy at the University of Chicago and is currently Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. (shrink)
I have two primary aims in the following paper, aims that are inextricably intertwined. First, I want to raise some historiographical and epistemological issues about how to write the history of psychoanalysis. Although they arise quite generally in the history of science, these issues have a special status and urgency when the domain is the history of psychoanalysis. Second, in light of the epistemological and methodological orientation that I am going to advocate, I want to begin a reading of Freud’s (...) Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, one whose specificity is a function of my attachment to this orientation, to a particular way of doing the history of psychoanalysis. Despite the enormous number of pages that have been written on Freud’s Three Essays, it is very easy to underestimate the density of this book, a density at once historical, rhetorical, and conceptual. This underestimation stems in part from historiographical presumptions that quite quickly misdirect us away from the fundamental issues.In raising question about the historiography of the history of science, I obviously cannot begin at the beginning. So let me begin much further along, with the writings of Michel Foucault. I think of the works of Foucault, in conjunction with that of Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem, as exemplifying a very distinctive perspective about how to write the history of science. In the English-speaking world, perhaps only the work of Ian Hacking both shares this perspective and ranks with its French counterparts in terms of originality and quality. No brief summary can avoid eliding the differences between Bachelard, Canguilhem, Hacking, and Foucault; indeed, the summary I am going to produce does not even fully capture Foucault’s perspective, which he called “archaeology.”1 But this sketch will have to do for the purposes I have in mind here, whose ultimate aim is to reorient our approach to the history of psychoanalysis. 1. The sketch that follows reproduces, with some omissions and additions, the beginning of my “Archeology, Genealogy, Ethics,” in Michel Foucault: A Critical Reader, ed. David Hoy , pp. 221-34. Arnold I. Davidson is assistant professor in the department of philosophy, the Committee on the Conceptual Foundations of Science, and the Committee on General Studies in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He is currently writing a book on the history and epistemology of nineteenth-century psychiatric theories of sexuality. (shrink)
Through the thickets of recent debates, I take two facts as clear enough starting points. The first is that Heidegger’s participation in National Socialism, and especially his remarks and pronouncements after the war, were, and remain, horrifying. The second is that Heidegger remains of the essential philosophers of our century; Maurice Blanchot testifies for several generations when he refers to the “veritable intellectual shock” that the reading of Being and Time produced in him.5 And Emmanuel Levinas, not hesitating to express (...) his reservations about Heidegger, can nevertheless bring himself to say that a person “who undertakes to philosophize in the twentieth century cannot not have gone through Hiedegger’s philosophy, even to escape it.”6 In this century, perhaps only Ludwig Wittgenstein has had a comparable impact and influence on philosophy. I do not mean to deny that one can reject the over seventy volumes of Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe as worthless, that one can, as with Wittgenstein, find that his work is obscure, indulgent, impossible to read, that nothing in it contributes to philosophy. But both Heidegger and Wittgenstein write in anticipation of this reaction, recognizing that their desires, differently articulated, to overcome philosophy will help to determine how their writing is received. Stanley Cavell’s characterization of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations describes Heidegger as well:Philosophical Investigations, like the major modernist works of the past century at least, is, logically speaking, esoteric. That is, such works seek to split their audience into insiders and outsiders ; hence they create the particular unpleasantness of cults ; hence demand for their sincere reception the shock of conversion.7When combined with Heidegger’s political engagement, the particular unpleasantness of cults and indifference are more than joined. Thus it can seem as though one must either exculpate Heidegger, explain away his relation to Nazism as an aberration from the outside, or reject his thought entirely, declare that his books should no longer be read. In an attempt to begin to confront these issues, Critical Inquiry is publishing this symposium. 5. Maurice Blanchot, “Thinking the Apocalypse: A Letter from Maurice Blanchot to Catherine David,” trans. Paula Wissing, p. 479 of this issue.6. Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity: Conversations with Philippe Nemo, trans. Richard A. Cohen , p. 42. See also the last line of Gadamer, “ ‘Back from Syracuse?’ “ p. 430.7. Stanley Cavell, The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy , p. xvi; hereafter abbreviated CR. Arnold I. Davidson, a coeditor of Critical Inquiry, is associate professor of philosophy and member of the Committees on General Studies in the Humanities and on the Conceptual Foundations of Science at the University of Chicago. His most recent contribution to Critical Inquiry is “Sex and the Emergence of Sexuality”. (shrink)
Biologists, historians, lawyers, art historians, and literary critics all voice arguments in the critical dialogue about what constitutes evidence in research and scholarship. They examine not only the constitution and "blurring" of disciplinary boundaries, but also the configuration of the fact-evidence distinctions made in different disciplines and historical moments the relative function of such concepts as "self-evidence," "experience," "test," "testimony," and "textuality" in varied academic discourses and the way "rules of evidence" are themselves products of historical developments. The essays and (...) rejoinders are by Terry Castle, Lorraine Daston, Carlo Ginzburg, Ian Hacking, Mark Kelman, R. C. Lewontin, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Mary Poovey, Donald Preziosi, Simon Schaffer, Joan W. Scott, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. The critical responses are by Lauren Berlant, James Chandler, Jean Comaroff, Arnold I. Davidson, Harry D. harootunian, Elizabeth Helsinger, Thomas C. Holt, Francoise Meltzer, Robert J. Richards, Lawrence Rothfield, Joel Snyder, Cass R. Sunstein, and William Wimsatt. (shrink)
Pierre Hadot, vous êtes un grand spécialiste de la philosophie antique. Vous êtes, entre autres, auteur de Qu’est-ce que la philosophie antique1et vous venez de publier une édition du Manuel d’Épictète2. Mais vous avez aussi écrit, par exemple, sur Montaigne, Kierkegaard, Thoreau, Foucault, Wittgenstein...
During the last several years, we have witnessed a reopening of questions concerning National Socialism whose full scope and implications have yet to be determined. The Historikerstreit has provoked new discussions of the problem of the specificity or uniqueness of Auschwitz. While raising general methodological issues about the nature of historical explanation and understanding, the Historikerstreit has also revolved around specific questions concerning the role of moral concepts and memory in assessing National Socialism.1 Disclosures about Paul de Man’s wartime writings (...) and further examination of Martin Heidegger’s involvement with National Socialism have led to broader consideration of the relations among philosophy, theory, and politics, and have forced us to rethink the problem of intellectual responsibility with renewed urgency.2 These and related topics were at the center of a major international conference, “Nazism and the Final Solution,” organized by Saul Friedländer last April, which took as its organizing theme the limits of ethical, aesthetic, and historical representation of the Final Solution.3In light of these continuing discussions, we are publishing two remarkable essays written during the early years of National Socialism. To the often-posed challenge, how could one be expected to respond lucidly to Nazism in the early 1930s?, these essays by Robert Musil and Emmanuel Levinas constitute, by the sheer power of their insights, decisive answers. Although significantly different in approach, these essays show not only that one could recognize the reality of National Socialism as it was coming to power, but indicate further that analyses of permanent value could be formulated virtually from the beginning. Musil and Levinas serve to remind us concretely of the capabilities of the human mind and of its responsibilities—capabilities and responsibilities that even the most severe political circumstances need not overwhelm. 1. For documents from and discussion of the Historikstreit, see the special issue of New German Critique 44 .2. On Paul de Man, see Critical Inquiry 14 : 590-652, and Critical Inquiry 15 : 704-44, 764-873. On Martin Heidegger, see Critical Inquiry 15 : 407-88.3. The proceedings of this conference are forthcoming. Arnold I. Davidson, executive editor of Critical Inquiry and associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, is currently Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. (shrink)
We think the present moment is a timely one for debating the relation between evidentiary protocols and academic disciplines. Since academic practices for constituting and deploying evidence tend to be discipline-specific, the much-discussed crisis of the disciplines in recent years has given rise to a series of controversies about the status of evidence in current modes of investigation and argument: deconstruction, gender studies, new historicism, cultural studies, new approaches to the history and philosophy of science, the critical legal studies movement, (...) and so on. Unfortunately, these controversies too often devolve into oversimplified debates about who has the evidence and who does not, who did their homework and who did not, or about the dangers of an ill-defined academic relativism. Attention needs to be better and otherwise directed: at the configuration of the fact-evidence distinction in different disciplines and historical moments, for example; or at the relative function of such notions as “self-evidence,” “experience,” “test,” “testimony,” and “textuality” in various academic discourses; or at the ways in which the invoked “rules of evidence” are themselves the products of historical developments, and themselves undergo redifferentiation and reformulation. James Chandler, professor of English at the University of Chicago, is the author of Wordsworth’s Second Nature . He is currently completing England in 1819, studies in and of romantic case history. Arnold I. Davidson, executive editor of Critical Inquiry, teaches philosophy and the history of science at the University of Chicago. He is currently working on the history of horror as it relates to the epistemology of norms and deviations and is editing a collection of essays on Heidegger, philosophy, and National Socialism. Harry Harootunian, a coeditor of Critical Inquiry and professor of history and East Asian languages and civilizations at the University of Chicago, is the author of Things Seen and Unseen: Discourse and Ideology in Tokigawa and editor, with Masao Miyoshi, of Postmodernism and Japan. (shrink)