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A Mirror Image of The Order of Things? In this article, I examine the relation between phenomenology and anthropology by placing Foucault’s first published piece, “Introduction to Binswanger’s How to trade binary options profitably review of literature and Existence” in dialectical tension with The Order of Things. A difficult point in The Order of Things lies in the historical situation of the archaeologist himself, especially when he speaks about the present. Is it possible to have an adequate view of the episteme in which you stand?
Is not the very concept of episteme that of an unconscious determination of the space of knowledge, so that it would be an illusion to claim to be able to “objectify” one’s own epistemological situation? Foucault’s histories are typically aimed at what he regarded as intolerable political consequences of knowledge-based disciplines such as psychiatry and medicine. But The Order of Things is hard to fit into this pattern. What are the intolerable political consequences of the metaphysical and epistemological “humanism” the book attacks? The Sixth Annual History and Theory Lecture: VINCENT DESCOMBES The Order of Things: An Archeology of What? Foucault’s Les mots et les choses has been translated as The Order of Things.
The title of the book, both in French and in English, would remain enigmatic without the subtitle: An Archaeology of Human Sciences. But which disciplines are the human sciences to be accounted for by the archaeologist? To this question, there seem to be three possible answers. Foucault rejects Merleau-Ponty’s claim to have found a way out of anthropologism through the so-called phenomenological reduction.
Then one can read Foucault’s archaeology of human sciences as an attempt to offer an alternative way for radical thinking. An explicit controversy stirred by Foucault’s announcement of the “death of man” in Les mots et les choses had a side effect: it hid another kind of controversy between allies and friends, that is between Foucault and contemporaries of the new moment he was opening, among whom were Canguilhem, Deleuze, and Derrida. These internal and unexpected controversies are the very life of the “60s” moment in French philosophy. Historical thinking has long defined itself in part through opposition to the natural, in spite of periodic critical efforts to bridge the gap. Deeper in Western traditions of historical reflection are traces of modes of thought through which the distance between human history and nature writ large tends to collapse. Two thinkers not often placed in dialogue—Michel Foucault and Walter Benjamin—both unearthed aspects of this subterranean current.
Foucault’s analysis of the history of evolutionary thought in Les Mots et les choses introduces monsters as incomplete beings that form important steps on the evolutionary ladder toward the terminal species. Monsters represent attempts by nature to achieve the perfection of the terminal species and are, therefore, significant for naturalists to construct the details of the natural continuum. This article uses Foucauldian monsters to understand the making of historical narratives about the precolonial past in nineteenth-century Egypt, where one of the earliest European-style medical schools in Africa and Asia was built in the early nineteenth century. In this school and surrounding emerging educational system, narratives about science, modernity, and religion produced new histories that came to form colonial subjects. The Order of Things Order is uniquely relevant to historians because it is about the contradictions of writing history in the present day, and because it makes claims absent from other books often seen as similar, such as Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
For Order, the present-day modern episteme is characterized by unconscious elements that connect Man through time. Understood as a form of temporality, modernity is seen as consisting of empty time and space. However, careful examination of the origins of modern notions of empty time and space suggest they arose from background assumptions in wide use across Eurasia in the early modern period, and also that they arose prior to, and independent of, the emergence of the modern nation-state. Recent readings of what is commonly known as the dialectic of master and slave have tended to focus either philosophically on concepts such as desire, reflection, and recognition or historically on the specific nature of the economic relation it evokes. DOMINICK LACAPRA Trauma, History, Memory, Identity: What Remains? Despite the considerable amount of work already devoted to the topic, the nexus of trauma, history, memory, and identity is still of widespread interest, and much remains to be investigated on both empirical and theoretical levels.
The ongoing challenge is to approach the topic without opposing history and memory in a binary fashion but instead by inquiring into more complex and challenging relations between them, including the role of trauma and its effects. TRACIE MATYSIK on Knox Peden, Spinoza contra Phenomenology: French Rationalism from Cavaillès to Deleuze History and Theory 55, no. In this essay I reflect on Knox Peden’s Spinoza contra Phenomenology, a history of French rationalist Spinozism in the mid-twentieth century. The book marks an important intervention in modern French and European intellectual history, depicting the importance of Baruch Spinoza’s thought in the negotiation of and resistance to the phenomenology that captivated much of twentieth-century French intellectual life. As seems suitable for this journal, the review focuses primarily on Greif’s own standpoint and methods. For a New West, a collection of previously unavailable essays by Polanyi, and Fred Block and Margaret R.