Foucault News

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

Daniele Lorenzini (2020) On possibilising genealogy, Inquiry, Published online: 09 Jan 2020

DOI: 10.1080/0020174X.2020.1712227

In this paper, I argue that the vindicatory/unmasking distinction has so far prevented scholars from grasping a third dimension of genealogical inquiry, one I call possibilising. This dimension has passed unnoticed even though it constitutes a crucial aspect of Foucault’s genealogical project starting from 1978 on. By focusing attention on it, I hope to provide a definitive rebuttal of one of the main criticisms that has been raised against (unmasking) genealogy in general, and Foucauldian genealogy in particular, namely the idea that Foucault’s genealogical project lacks normative grounding and is therefore ultimately incapable of telling us why we should resist and fight against the mechanisms of power it nevertheless reveals in an empirically insightful way. This conclusion, I argue, is mistaken because it conceives of Foucauldian genealogy exclusively as an unmasking or problematising method, whereas I claim that Foucault’s genealogical project possesses a possibilising dimension that provides his work with sui generis normative force.

KEYWORDS: Genealogy, political philosophy, Foucault/Habermas debate, critical attitude, normativity

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