Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

HUMAN NATURE: JUSTICE versus POWER. The Chomsky-Foucault Debate
Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault
Edited by Fons Elders

Souvenir Press Ltd
43 Great Russell Street, London WClB 3PA
Tel: 020 7580 9307
Fax: 020 7580 5064

A new edition of this work to be released with a new introduction by Fons Elders:
October 6th £10

In 1971, at a time of enormous political and social change, two of the twentieth century’s most influential public intellectuals, Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, were invited by the Dutch philosopher Fons Elders onto Dutch television to debate the question: is there an ‘innate’ human nature independent of our experiences and external influences?

The resulting dialogue is one of the most original, provocative, and spontaneous exchanges to have occurred between contemporary philosophers, and above all serves as a concise introduction to their basic theories. What begins as a philosophical argument rooted in linguistics (Chomsky) and the theory of knowledge (Foucault) soon evolves into a broader discussion encompassing a wide range of topics, from science, history, and behaviourism to creativity, freedom, and the struggle for political justice. Both Chomsky and Foucault were also committed political activists closely associated with the promotion of ‘progressive’ causes, and it is their engagement with the wider political implications of their philosophical positions that has made this debate so influential (and as relevant today as in 1971).

This debate is still widely discussed, and it has also touched a popular nerve as over 800,000 people have watched it on youtube. Over the last three years Souvenir Press have sold translation rights for this book all over the world, from the USA to Spain and most recently China, demonstrating the continuing relevance of both Chomsky and Foucault to the concerns of the twenty-first century.

This is an intellectually exciting record of a meeting between two important philosophers that serves as an introduction to the defining themes of their individual theories, as well as being an introduction to the essential concerns and ideas of contemporary philosophy.

Noam Chomsky is one ofthe world’s most famous political activists and intellectuals (in 2005 Chomsky was voted by readers of ‘Prospect’ magazine to be the world’s leading public intellectual), while Michel Foucault’s writings on power, sexuality and knowledge are among the most influential works of the twentieth century (especially on writers in the fields of feminist and queer studies).

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