This is an important introduction to and critical interpretation of the work of the major French thinker, Michel Foucault. Through comprehensive and detailed analyses of such important texts as The History of Madness in the Age of Reason, The Birth of the Clinic, The Order of Things, and The Archaeology of Knowledge, the author provides a lucid exposition of Foucault's "archaeological" approach to the history of thought, a method for uncovering the "unconscious" structures that set boundaries on the thinking of (...) a given epoch. The book casts Foucault in a new light, relating his work to Gaston Bachelard's philosophy of science and Georges Canguilhem's history of science. This perspective yields a new and valuable understanding of Foucault as a historian and philosopher of science, balancing and complementing the more common view of him as primarily a social critic and theorist. (shrink)
The late 20th century saw a remarkable flourishing of philosophy in France. The work of French philosophers is wide ranging, historically informed, often reaching out beyond the boundaries of philosophy; they are public intellectuals, taken seriously as contributors to debates outside the academy. Gary Gutting tells the story of the development of a distinctively French philosophy in the last four decades of the 20th century. His aim is to arrive at an account of what it was to 'do philosophy' in (...) France, what this sort of philosophizing was able to achieve, and how it differs from the analytic philosophy dominant in Anglophone countries. -/- His initial focus is on the three most important philosophers who came to prominence in the 1960s: Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Derrida. He sets out the educational and cultural context of their work, as a basis for a detailed treatment of how they formulated and began to carry out their philosophical projects in the 1960s and 1970s. He gives a fresh assessment of their responses to the key influences of Hegel and Heidegger, and the fraught relationship of the new generation to their father-figure Sartre. He concludes that Foucault, Derrida, and Deleuze can all be seen as developing their fundamental philosophical stances out of distinctive readings of Nietzsche. The second part of the book considers topics and philosophers that became prominent in the 1980s and 1990s, such as the revival of ethics in Levinas, Derrida, and Foucault, the return to phenomenology and its use to revive religious experience as a philosophical topic, and Alain Badiou's new ontology of the event. Finally Gutting brings to the fore the meta-philosophical theme of the book, that French philosophy since the 1960s has been primarily concerned with thinking the impossible. (shrink)
In this book Gary Gutting tells, clearly and comprehensively, the story of French philosophy from 1890 to 1990. He examines the often neglected background of spiritualism, university idealism, and early philosophy of science, and also discusses the privileged role of philosophy in the French education system. Taking account of this background, together with the influences of avant-garde literature and German philosophy, he develops a rich account of existential phenomenology, which he argues is the central achievement of French thought during the (...) century, and of subsequent structuralist and poststructuralist developments. His discussion includes chapters on Bergson, Sartre, Beauvoir, Merleau-Ponty, Foucault, and Derrida, with sections on other major thinkers including Lyotard, Deleuze, Irigaray, Levinas, and Ricoeur. He offers challenging analyses of the often misunderstood relationship between existential phenomenology and structuralism and of the emergence of poststructuralism. Finally, he sketches the major current trends of French philosophy. (shrink)
This VSI highlights Foucault's life and thought, showing his impact on today's society. Beginning with a brief biography to set the social and political stage, Gary Gutting then tackles Foucault's thoughts on literature, in particular the avant-garde scene; his philosophical and historical work; and his treatment of knowledge and power in modern society, including his thoughts on sexuality.
THE GOAL OF THIS PAPER IS TO DEFEND SCIENTIFIC REALISM (OF\nTHE SORT PROPOSED BY WILFRID SELLARS) AGAINST THE ATTACK ON\nIT IMPLICIT IN HUSSERL'S "CRISIS". IN PARTICULAR, I DISCUSS\nTHREE ANTI-REALIST HUSSERLIAN THESES: (1) THAT THE METHOD\nOF SCIENCE IS IN ESSENCE ONE OF THE IDEALIZATION; (2) THAT\nALL SCIENTIFIC CONCEPTS CAN BE TRACED BACK TO OUR\nLIFE-WORLD EXPERIENCE; (3) THAT ANY SCIENTIFIC DESCRIPTION\nOF THE WORLD NECESSARILY OMITS MAJOR DIMENSIONS OF OUR\nLIFE-WORLD EXPERIENCES. I ARGUE THAT EACH OF THESE THESES\nIS INCONSISTENT WITH A CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF (...) SCIENTIFIC\nMETHODOLOGY. I FURTHER ARGUE THAT THESE THESES DERIVE ONLY\nFROM HUSSERL'S FAULTY EXPLICATION OF SCIENTIFIC METHOD;\nTHERE IS NOTHING IN HUSSERL'S BASIC EPISTEMOLOGICAL\nPOSITION THAT IS INCONSISTENT WITH (A PROPERLY CONSTRUED)\nSCIENTIFIC REALISM. (shrink)
The project of “religious epistemology,” as it has developed and thrived among certain analytic philosophers over the last thirty years, has seldom exhibited a strong historical sensibility. Nonetheless, contemporary discussions of the rationality of religious belief obviously have important antecedents in the history of modern philosophy, particularly in the history of the Enlightenment project that so strongly challenged traditional religious belief. This paper develops two themes from this history that I will try to show are particularly important for understanding contemporary (...) issues about the rationality of religious belief: the affirmation of ordinary life, and the question of radical evil in human nature. (shrink)
This book is an important introduction to the critical interpretation of the work of the major French thinker Michel Foucault. Through comprehensive and detailed analyses of such important texts as The History of Madness in the Age of Reason, The Birth of the Clinic, The Order of Things, and The Archaeology of Knowledge, Professor Gutting provides a lucid exposition of Foucault's 'archaeological' approach to the history of thought - a method for uncovering the 'unconscious' structures that set boundaries on the (...) thinking of a given epoch. The book also casts Foucault in a new light, relating his work to two major but neglected influences: Gaston Bachelard's philosophy of science and Georges Canguilhem's history of science. This perspective yields a new and valuable understanding of science, balancing and complementing the more common view that he was primarily a social critic and theorist. An excellent guide for those first approaching Foucault's work, the book will also be a challenging interpretation and evaluation for those already familiar with his writings. (shrink)
This paper discusses the controversy between philosophers of science (e.g. Grünbaum) and historians of science (e.g. Holton) regarding Einstein's discovery of STR. Although Holton is surely correct on the historical point that experimental results (especially the Michelson-Morley experiment) had little influence on Einstein's development of STR, this fact is not sufficient to establish his (and Polanyi's) claim that major scientific discoveries are primarily matters of private, nonspecifiable insights into physical reality. It is possible that Einstein's work was based primarily on (...) non-empirical but nonetheless publicly discussable, objective considerations. And a more comprehensive survey of the discovery of STR shows that this was indeed the case and thus excludes STR as a supporting instance of Holton's and Polanyi's assertions of the primacy of "private science.". (shrink)