Foucault News

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

Philosophers DVD
Author(s): Moderator and commentator Fons Elders
Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault
Sir Alfred Ayer and Arne Naess
Leszek Kolakowski and Henri Lefèbvre
Sir Karl Popper and Sir John Eccles

A series by Fons Elders

This DVD is available at a more reasonable price from Fons Elders’ site than from Icarus films.

Review by Brian Boling

In 1971, a Dutch initiative called the International Philosophers Project brought together the leading thinkers of the day for a series of one-on-one debates. The participants included intellectual superstars Alfred Ayer and Arne Naess, Karl Popper and John Eccles, Leszek Kolakowski and Henri Lefèbvre, and – most notably, in a now justifiably famous exchange – Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault.

This two-disc set collects all four remarkable conversations, along with introductions and commentary by Dutch philosopher and writer Fons Elders. Elders moderated the original debates – hand-picking each of the participants after spending some time getting to know them. Now, looking back four decades later, he offers perspective and context, summarizing the arguments and highlighting the key moments of each debate.


DISC ONE (80 and 74 minutes)

Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault  

The Chomsky-Foucault debate has become a much-studied classic. This DVD captures all the energy and passion of the two philosophers, as they discuss whether or not some form of universal human nature – an inherent ability to understand language and scientific concepts, for instance – exists, or whether our responses are purely socially and culturally conditioned.

Alfred Ayer and Arne Naess  

A lively debate between British empiricist Alfred Ayer, who champions a limited skepticism, and Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, the founder of the deep ecology movement, whose philosophy embraces interconnectedness.


DISC TWO (80 and 77 minutes)

Karl Popper and John Eccles  

Historian of science Karl Popper and his close friend, Nobel-prize-winning neuroscientist John Eccles, discuss Popper’s famous criterion of falsifiability: the idea that a statement is only scientific if it could possibility be proved false, which he had articulated against the traditional positivist view of the scientific method.

Leszek Kolakowski and Henri Lefèbvre  

Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski and French thinker Henri Lefèbvre (both former Communist Party members) debate the ongoing significance of Marxism and the concept of alienation – while at the same time struggling to define what a future, post-capitalist society might hold.


 
 

Each of these conversations captures the intellectual and social ferment of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when dramatic social and economic transformation seemed imminent – and philosophical questions underpinned discussions about what form the new society would take. Though many of the questions under discussion are timeless, this social and political context gives them a particular sense of urgency.

2 thoughts on “Philosophers DVD: Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault

  1. stuartelden says:

    Reblogged this on Progressive Geographies and commented:
    The well-known Chomsky-Foucault debate, plus the other discussions in the series, including one with Henri Lefebvre.

  2. Nicholas says:

    Reblogged this on Installing (Social) Order and commented:
    Foucault vs. Chomsky … be ready.

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