Thursday, April 15, 2004

More inter-documental hyper-radishing... Am reading "Why I became a conservative" by Roger Scruton, as linked to by Phil, and noticed criticism of Michel Foucault, such as:

"Only in France is he widely regarded as a fraud."

What's the easiest way to check through French literature these days? Google, I thought. So off to some French sites, using Mozilla's handy "translate" doodah.

Now I think this ties in with a previous post I made, regarding thinking without language. I'm now considering changing that to thinking cross-languages - and, indeed, this is one of those things that I find interesting about anyone that can speak more than one language - do they think about "life" differently at all? Just as there is no real English equivalent of "joie de vivre", there must be a host of concepts that we miss out on by restricting ourselves to one language. (This is also why I'm a little depressed by the Anglicisation of the world.)

So now I'm curious if I can get closer to a level of "languageless concept" through more languages.

Also, I haven't read the whole article yet, but Scruton's dismissal of Foucault's "theories" and apparent counter-arguments seems mostly mistargetted. For instance...

" the common law of England is proof that there is a real distinction between legitimate and illegitimate power, that power can exist without oppression, and that authority is a living force in human conduct. English law, I discovered, is the answer to Foucault."

...supposedly to "answer" Foucault's claims...

"Look everywhere for power, he tells his readers, and you will find it. Where there is power there is oppression. And where there is oppression there is the right to destroy."

...misses the point. IIRC (and I may well not), Foucault talks of power and oppression in more "abstract" terms - power is everywhere, it's a natural force just as gravity "oppresses" our ability to fly. I think what Scruton tries (or tried, it's a historic account) to do is counter the "take-up" of Foucault's ideas by alleged "liberals" (which is an argument I can more readily appreciate, under recent years and experiences - I am not, however, becoming a conservative, I just think the left isn't quite as left as claims to be). Indeed, Foucault himself, I believe, separated himself from any "political bias" in his work:
"It's true that I prefer not to identify myself, and I'm amused by the diversity of the ways I've been judged and classified."

Still, I look forward to reading the rest of it.

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