Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Foucault vs. Foucault

Many Christians get their postmodern theory filtered through a friendly neighborhood progressive theology professor. The straight drink however is best imbibed from the native distillery - the graduate seminar room of selected University humanities departments.

Therein Freud, that dreaded foe of faith, might theoretically be appealed to by a Christian to defend the now scorned concept of self in face of its detractors. The anti-Christian Marx might prove to be a believer's uncanny ally, for in contrast to those who deny the category completely, at least Marx believed in history. Likewise humanism, once billed as faith's hostile competitor, in the face of post-humanism appears one of Christianity's newfound, and much needed, friends.

Which is why this article in the Chronicle of Higher Education is so interesting:
"He has been venerated and canonized as the messiah of French antihumanism: a harsh critic of the Enlightenment, a dedicated foe of liberalism's covert normalizing tendencies, an intrepid prophet of the 'death of man.'

But increasingly that perception seems wrong, or, at best, only partially true. Considerable evidence suggests that, later in life, Foucault himself became frustrated with the antihumanist credo. He came to realize that much of what French structuralism had during the 1960s rejected as humanist pap retained considerable ethical and political value."
The book under discussion, Foucault 2.0, seems reminiscent of Oliver Davie's suggestion, based on his later work, that
"Derrida is aware (more than Deleuze, for instance) that the very negativity which defines his semantic philosophy also offers a potential reappropriation of his deconstruction back into the reconstructive ontotheologies to which he declared himself opposed. Having been banished to the very margins of contemporary intellectual life, the deus absconditus might redefine that margin as the new epi-centre of a metaphysical/postmetaphysical re-enactment of traditional theism"(124).
Foucault the humanist? Derrida the traditional theist? The early Foucault and Derrida undone by none other than the later Foucault and Derrida? Friends, it just might be.