Foucault: Anti-Representationalism and Logophobia

Claire Colebrook

in Philosophy and Post-structuralist Theory

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780748622276
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671663 | DOI:
Foucault: Anti-Representationalism and Logophobia

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This chapter discusses the philosophy of Foucault. Foucault's criticism of representation and its concomitant modern motifs differs from other accounts in that it does not just attack the Enlightenment separation between the subject and the world. Whereas representation is often criticised for posing a Cartesian ‘ghost’ or mirroring subject who then has to meet or find a world, Foucault's antirepresentationalism targets the unifying or normalising force of the representational Western episteme in general. The problem with the idea of representation is that it creates a passage or right path between presence and representation, and in so doing submits thought to a proper relation to an outside. In contrast, Foucault will assert the break, gap or force that characterises any event of language. The world itself does not speak; things are not meaningful in themselves. Thought is not a proper reaction to the world but an active event. Nevertheless, it is because language is a positive event — with its own force, effect and being — that Foucault will also assert a logic of existence. Experience is not the immediate or self-present apprehension of a world; rather there is a logic to experience.

Keywords: representation; Enlightenment; language; logic; experience

Chapter.  16023 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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