By Paul Veyne
Michel Foucault and Paul Veyne: the thinker and the historian. significant figures on this planet of rules, resisting all makes an attempt at categorization. undying thinkers who've lengthy walked and fought jointly. during this brief booklet Paul Veyne deals a clean portrait of his pal and relaunches the controversy approximately his rules and legacy. Foucault isn't who you think that he's , writes Veyne; he stood neither at the left nor at the correct and was once usually disowned by way of either. He used to be no longer loads a structuralist as a sceptic, an empiricist disciple of Montaigne, who by no means ceased in his paintings to mirror on 'truth games', on singular, developed truths that belonged to their very own time. a special testimony by way of a pupil who knew Foucault good, this ebook succeeds brilliantly in greedy the middle of his inspiration and in stripping away the confusions and misunderstandings that experience so frequently characterised the translation of Foucault and his paintings.
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31 Let readers who regret the absence of a transcen dent Being rest assured : belief is a fact or a gift that needs no proofs; and meanwhile an unbeliever, if he is a sceptic, can argue neither for nor against God. Montaigne's conclu sion, in the interests of public peace, was that all one could do is continue quietly to believe as before. But let us come back down to earth. In the physical nature that the exact sciences examine, the objects of scientific 'dis course' display regularities, as we all know.
That was a miracle in which philoso phy believed up until Nietzsche ( although Carneades does provide an example of scepticism in the ancient world ) . 49 Foucault's Scepticism Unfortunately, no 'discourse' can fill that subl i me role for, 'given that different " d i scourses" may a l l he equally power ful', as Schaeffer went on to say, 'only a superi or order of " discourse " , one incommensurable with h uman " d i scourses " , could operate such a n abstraction ' . Jean-Marie Schaeffer's letter t o m e then went on a s foll ows: Foucault's epistemological attitude did not consist in reduc ing reality to 'discourse', but in pointing out that once a reality is stated, it is always already structured discursively.
I have called him a samurai ( and am i ndebted to Jean Claude Passeron for suggesting this word that so well conveys the slight, elegant figure of our hero, i f not his great bursts of laughter) . And a samura i , a warrior, is not of a negative turn of mind. Fouca ult was not one of those hitter pessi mi sts who dream of blowing up the planet. And he criticized as facile and suspect the literature of essayi sts and sociologists 44 Foucault's Scepticism who cultivate the genre of the Latin satire to lambaste the vices of the day: bread and circuses, a society addicted to spectacles, consumerism and merchandise ( such platitudes are hard to avoid as it is virtually impossible to construct a serious anthropology of the present day ) .