Power and Enlightenment: Micro-practices
In the face of reproaches, in the spirit of firmly refusing the polemical demand that we justify ourselves (http://somatosphere.net/2012/09/on-concept-work.html#comments), and as an aid to practice:
A few years ago, I wrote a paper for a medical anthropology seminar comparing Foucault and Bourdieu, and I thought I'd give an account of the argument, prompted both by some recent discussions in the seminar, and by the assigment of both authors in the same week during my teaching of “History of anthropological thought”, both of which raised the collective blood pressure.
Earlier in the semester I posed the question if inquiry is a ‘moral act’? I meant this to be a provocative assertion to encourage thinking about the intent, or ‘why’, of the act of anthropological research, and hopefully, foster discussion among the diverse members of the seminar.
Over the past few weeks there has been one peculiar conversation that has occurred several times and to which I have been privy, adjacent to, and occasionally, submerged within. The contours of the conversation are something like this: Dewey’s ‘inquiry’ is a reaction; an irritation, to a particular set of circumstances; something about which disturbs the viewer/thinker, and to which the process of intervening into, and seeking some sort of ‘resolution’ to, is precisely the role of inquiry. If this schematic representation is accurate, then how does this process differ from a strict instrumen
Following on from Stan’s provocation on the question of truth and subjectivity, (“Between ‘labor’ and ‘ownership’ what is the possibility for askesis?”), the question of askesis and anthropology recently came up in an exchange between Carlo Caduff and Didier Fassin in Anthropological Theory, (link)which provoked a couple of thoughts for me with regards to the practice of anthropologies of ethics.
Rereading the first hour of Foucault’s January 6, 1982 lecture the other day led me to be struck by several parallels between Foucault’s argument and the early work of Hans Blumenberg. To start with, Foucault posits the modern age as being one in which the subject is capable of truth (via knowledge), but that the truth cannot save the subject (no interaction with subjectivity beyond knowing) (2005: 19).
This is an interesting philological background text for those interested in the term paraskeue; the author's interest in the term comes from her study of Thucydides, who uses the term significantly more frequently than his contemporaries, e.g, Herodotus.