Foucault News

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

Jane O’Grady, Sir Roger Scruton obituary, The Guardian, 15 January 2020

Philosopher, writer and political thinker with controversial views on education, hunting and architecture

Roger Scruton, who has died of lung cancer aged 75, was a philosopher and a controversial public intellectual. Active in the fields of aesthetics, art, music, political philosophy and architecture, both inside and outside the academic world, he dedicated himself to nurturing beauty, “re-enchanting the world” and giving intellectual rigour to conservatism.

He wrote more than 50 books, including perceptive works on Spinoza, Kant, Wittgenstein and the history of philosophy, and four novels, as well as columns on wine, hunting and current affairs, and was a talented pianist and composer.

Matthew McManus, On Mourning for One’s Enemies: Remembering Sir Roger Scruton, Merion West, 16 January 2020

Scruton could even be eminently generous to intellectual opponents he felt were worthy of respect, as in this telling paragraph discussing the work of Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty:

“Foucault’s approach reduces culture to a power-game, and scholarship to a kind of refereeing in the endless “struggle” between oppressed and oppressing groups. The shift of emphasis from the content of an utterance to the power that speaks through it leads to a new kind of scholarship, which bypasses entirely questions of truth and rationality, and can even reject those questions as themselves ideological.

The pragmatism of the late American philosopher Richard Rorty is of similar effect. It expressly set itself against the idea of objective truth, giving a variety of arguments for thinking that truth is a negotiable thing, that what matters in the end is which side you are on. If a doctrine is useful in the struggle that liberates your group, then you are entitled to dismiss the alternatives.

Whatever you think of Foucault and Rorty, there is no doubt that they were intelligent writers and genuine scholars with a distinctive vision of reality. They opened the way to fakes but were not fakes themselves.”

This is a far more nuanced take than the legions of empty takedowns on Foucaultian theory and post-modern Neo-Marxism one sees today.

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