Foucault News

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

Golder, Ben, How to do things with Foucault (legally) (February 2, 2021). SSRN

In this essay I discuss the legal theorist, Peter Fitzpatrick’s, reading of philosopher, Michel Foucault. My intent is to show how and why Foucault was important to Fitzpatrick and what this reveals about the latter’s practices of reading. I characterise this particular reading in three ways. First, against the disciplinary tendency to assume that Foucault is more useful to lawyers for how he approaches law (as method), Fitzpatrick takes seriously what Foucault has to say about law as a conceptual matter. Fitzpatrick hence reads Foucault as a legal thinker. Secondly, Fitzpatrick does not restrict himself to the conventional archive of Foucauldian texts that legal scholars routinely consult, but reads more widely and creatively in his search for law. Thirdly, Fitzpatrick reads Foucault open-endedly and generously rather than instrumentally or dismissively – textual ambivalence and contradiction is always in his hands a source of creative possibility and insight. This leads into some concluding reflections about Fitzpatrick’s practice of critically re-reading thinkers – all thinkers, not simply Foucault.

Peter Fitzpatrick, Michel Foucault, legal theory, reading practices

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