Foucault News

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

Source: Critical Theory blog

..Chomsky proceeds to answer a question concerning Foucault’s idea of regimes of truth, attacking Foucault as someone who “wildly exaggerates” the influence of power in scientific discourse. This is the idea that what is portrayed as incontrovertible scientific fact is rather a product of specific power relations which produce that fact as truth. Instead, he argues,

I think Foucault wildly exaggerates. There’s kind of a truism which is not controversial that power systems have some effect on how scientific work proceeds so that it can be accepted and so on. At the extreme it’s Stalinist biology, there’s corporate influence on how drug trials are conducted, that’s true, there are professional constraints, I’ve lived through them in my entire life, when I started my work I couldn’t publish because it was too inconsistent with accepted ideas. In fact, the first book I wrote in 1955, it didn’t come out for 20 years. When it came out then it was submitted but rejected. When it came out later it was more a historical interest as the field had grown. But it’s marginal. There are self-correcting procedures in the sciences which work pretty well…not perfectly…but pretty well. So there is an element of power relations that enter into say, scientific work, to talk about regimes of power that seems to me to be radically overstating the case. Like moving from non-controversial moral relativism to incoherent moral relativism.

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