Foucault on experiences and the historical a priori: with Husserl in the rearview mirror of history

Flynn, Thomas
March 2016
Continental Philosophy Review;Mar2016, Vol. 49 Issue 1, p55
Academic Journal
I defend three claims regarding Foucault's historical a priori (HP) and the intelligibility of history that counter commonly received accounts of Husserl's approach to the same. First, Foucault is not a transcendental thinker in the Kantian sense of the term. His use of the HP is contingent, postdictive, regional and hypothetical. Second, the three 'axes' of the dyads knowledge/truth, power/government, and subjectivation/ethics along with Foucault's 'history of the present' enclose a space called 'experience' Erfahrung as nonreflective and 'freed from inner life.' At this point, 'experience' and 'multiplicity' (relation without unity) coalesce to confirm Foucault's anti-phenomenological bias and nominalist commitment. Finally, the relations of transformation and displacement that define archaeological change support a 'fittingness' between the epistemes in question. Neither necessitating nor aleatory, their relation could be called 'aesthetic' in a broad sense. I conclude by listing ways Husserl's approach to historical intelligibility is the inverse of Foucault's.


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