Misunderstanding Foucault — Foucault. Habermas, and the Debate that Never Was (Part III)

Persistent Enlightenment

My last post on the so-called «Foucault/Habermas Debate» focused on the eulogy JürgenCoin_-_College_de_France_02Habermas wrote in the wake of Michel Foucault’s death. The main theoretical claim of the eulogy was that Foucault, the one-time critic of the «Enlightenment project» (a project that, for Habermas, is more or less identical with the «project of modernity») came to realize that his theory of power ultimately undermined the normative foundations on which his critique of power relations rested. Habermas went on to argue that, in the face of this contradiction, Foucault found himself drawn «back into a sphere of influence he had tried to blast open, that of the philosophical discourse of modernity.»1 The result was a rejection of the position that Foucault had once shared with fellow «young conservatives» such as George Bataille and Jacques Derrida who, following the path blazed by Nietzsche, had sought «to appropriate the fundamental experience of…

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