2 Answers

  1. Yes. For several reasons.

    First of all, because in the field of social and humanitarian knowledge, we live in the “Fucian” (“Fucoldian”) or, if you prefer, “post-Fucian” era. Even if we take the prefix “post -” seriously and agree with it, this is not only a recognition of the significance of Foucault, one of the most influential intellectuals of the twentieth century, but also of the fact that to this day we continue to think “in his shadow”, even if by pushing away, rejecting his positions.

    Secondly, Foucault is not so much about concrete concepts, although there is no shortage of them (microphysics of power, discursive power, archeology of knowledge, etc.), as a style of thinking. “Style” does not accidentally refer to the field of art – it can be perceived and assimilated, like a style in music or in painting, without learning a set of individual positions, but by first of all “listening”, the eye must “see enough” of this artist, this school of painting, just as a student of a painter learns his craft by copying the works of masters. In the case of Foucault, the “device of the eye” plays a primary role – and Foucault's own works are poorly replaced by an array of subsequent literature. On the contrary, a reference to the original source allows us to see how topics and approaches that seem to be quite heterogeneous in modern usage coalesce – or how something that has become obvious is problematized: for example, the discursive power mentioned above and the “neutrality of the [scientific] view”.

    Among the ideas of Foucault that we encounter and need when thinking about our own everyday life, we can, for example, cite:

    • “biopolitics” is about the power sewn into our bodies when we are required, for example, to get a medical certificate when applying for a job or are forced to lead a “healthy lifestyle”;

    • the “microphysics of power” associated with it, the interweaving of power relations in all spheres of our existence – that power does not nest somewhere outside, but is built up from these very innumerable actions; this power is not symmetrical – but each element of the system has its own power: and the slave rules over the master, although in a different way than the master over the slave;

    • “discursive power” – for example, in order for our judgment to be heard, it must be expressed in a certain way (for example, shouting at a meeting of the dissertation council: “you are a fool! “will not be regarded as criticism of the speech, for this you need to put it in the form:” with all due respect to the venerable opponent, many judgments of his report cause me confusion. So, in the sixth paragraph, he notes…”, etc.). To be very blunt, the peculiarity is that the ” form “here is not neutral in relation to the” content “– the” form “determines which” content ” can, and which in principle cannot be expressed, is in the zone of the unpronounceable. Hence Foucault's famous formulation: the only language that the oppressed can speak is the language of the oppressors, i.e. they are oppressed not only by what they are not allowed to say, but by what they can only say that is not their own. But since power relations are universal, the change is the emergence of a new “domain of silence” that always accompanies the “domain of speaking.”

  2. This question is difficult to answer unequivocally. Probably not.

    For many, it is tempting to give Foucault's work some general interpretation, to highlight his main “concepts”, theory and method. In my opinion, this is meaningless, since Foucault's work is essentially arbitrary and fragmentary, while attempts to generalize his entire work distort and blur the original meanings of each specific case. Foucault does not develop a general theory, applying and developing it in each subsequent work. On the contrary, each of his books is only superficially related to the other (they practically do not refer to each other at all) and differs in its own unique themes and approaches. Any of its tools and concepts (archeology/genealogy of knowledge/power, theory of knowledge, power, subject, etc.) are needed only insofar as they are applicable in the context of a specific work, but not as a brick in the building of a general theoretical discipline. This is easily understood if we remember that “discipline” (not in the sense in which he explores it in “Supervise and Punish”, but as a field of power) is the worst evil in Foucault's worldview. Having become a “normal” theory, his work will by definition have to take its place in discursive/power relations, so Foucault's voice is always marginal, fragmentary, arbitrary. (He was unable to keep himself in the margins; generically interpreted Fucoldian concepts are an integral part of modern culture, especially the social sciences.) In this sense, Foucault is the flesh of a certain intellectual context of the 20th century, and his works may be more correctly considered as historical works (post)modernist literature, and not as theoretical works that may be relevant or outdated.

    But there is another aspect of Foucault's work – about “transgression” and “ultimate experience”. In one interview, he said:: “I think that the pleasure that I would consider real pleasure should be so strong, so intense, so overwhelming that I would not be able to survive it. I would have died. … It is also a fact that some drugs are really important to me, because they partly convey those incredibly intense pleasures that I strive for, but which I am not able to afford to experience on my own. It's true that a glass of wine, good wine – aged and all – can be pleasant, but not for me. The pleasure must be something incredibly strong. … I am not able to give myself and others these average pleasures that make up an ordinary life. Such pleasures are nothing to me, and I am not able to organize my life in such a way as to allocate space for them. For this reason, I am not a social being, in principle, not even a cultural being, which is why I am so boring in everyday life. “(Politics, Philosophy, Culture)

    This is an existential and deeply personal topic. For me, and probably for many others, this side of Foucault allows me to see him as a close person, and also to understand something about myself. And in this sense, his work is always relevant.

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