Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Prado, C. G. "Review of Timothy Rayner's FOUCAULT'S HEIDEGGER." NDPR February 20, 2008.

Rayner, Timothy. Foucault's Heidegger: Philosophy and Transformative Experience. London: Continuum, 2007. In this pricey book, Timothy Rayner hypothesizes that Foucault acknowledges a debt to Heidegger "at precisely the same time as he came to understand philosophy as a self-transformative activity of thought," and that "Foucault appropriated, modified and began to articulate a quasi-Heideggerian transformative philosophical practice." (5, 35) The thrust is that it was only as Foucault's thought evolved to understanding philosophical thinking as transformative that he appreciated how much he owed Heidegger, about whom he previously had said little. Rayner's treatment of Foucault puts him squarely among those I think of as Whiggish Foucauldians who read Foucault with two crucial presuppositions: that his thought was progressive throughout his career, and that Foucault's observations on the development of his own thought can be taken at face-value. (33-34, 35) I disagree with both presuppositions, thinking Foucault's "progress" was more a matter of shifts and changes, and finding the import of his comments on his own work as circumscribed by time, context, and especially mood. Rayner admits Foucault was "mercurial," but does not take seriously enough just how mercurial he was. (1) Rayner also quotes passages where Foucault extols the need to think differently, but reads them as aiming at advancement in thought. Against this, I think Foucault valued and sought difference in thought, not to progress intellectually in a way that could only be objective, but to escape intellectual normalization. With this card on the table, I will say what most struck me about the book. . . . Read the rest of the review here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=12423.

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