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Foucault, normativity and critique as a practice of the self

Han-Pile, B (2016) 'Foucault, normativity and critique as a practice of the self.' Continental Philosophy Review, 49 (1). 85 - 101. ISSN 1387-2842

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Abstract

© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. In this paper I distinguish between two main critical questions: ‘how possible’ questions, which look for enabling conditions (empirical or transcendental) and raise issues of epistemic normativity; and ‘whether permissible’ questions, which relate to conditions of legitimacy and ethical normativity. I examine the interplay of both types of questions in Foucault’s work and argue that this helps us to understand both the function of the historical a priori in the archeological period and the subsequent accusations of crypto-normativity levelled against Foucault by commentators such as Taylor and Habermas. I chart the complex conceptual space available for a defense. After examining several possible replies (in particular deflationary and constructivist), I conclude that the most effective option, and the one that fits Foucault’s approach best, is to refuse the demand for normative justification as self-defeating, and to opt for the cultivation of an appropriate ethical sensibility through an emphasis on critique as a performative practice of the self. I offer in conclusion some thoughts on what such practice may look like for Foucault.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 24 May 2016 14:39
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 16:23
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16634

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