Foucault – Lectures on the Will to Know

Graham Burchell’s transiton of Foucault’s Lectures on the Will to Know is scheduled for publication in June 2013 (via Foucault News). You can read my review of the French text at Berfrois. Here’s the publisher blurb:

will-to-knowThis volume gives us the transcription of the first of Michel Foucault’s annual courses at the Collège de France. Its publication marks a milestone in Foucault’s reception and it will no longer be possible to read him in the same way as before.

In these lectures the reader will find the deep unity of Foucault’s project from Discipline and Punish (1975), dominated by the themes of power and the norm, to The Use of Pleasure and The Care of the Self (1984), devoted to the ethics of subjectivity.

Lectures on the Will to Know remind us that Michel Foucault’s work only ever had one object: truth. Discipline and Punish completed an investigation of the role of juridical forms in the formation of truth-telling, the preparatory groundwork for which is found here in these lectures. Truth arises in conflicts, in rival claims for which the rituals of judicial judgment provide the possibility of deciding between who is right and who is wrong.

At the heart of ancient Greece there is a succession of different and opposing juridical forms and ways of dividing true and false into which the disputes between sophists and philosophers are soon inserted. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles stages the peculiar force of forms of telling the truth: they establish power just as they depose it. Against Freud, who will make Oedipus the drama of a shameful sexual desire, Michel Foucault shows that the tragedy articulates the relations between truth, power, and law. The history of truth is that of the tragedy.

Beyond the irenicism of Aristotle, who situated the will to truth in the desire for knowledge, Michel Foucault deepens the tragic vision of truth inaugurated by Nietzsche, who Foucault, in a secret dialogue with Deleuze, rescues from Heidegger’s reading.

After this course, who will dare speak of a skeptical Foucault?

About these ads
This entry was posted in Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Foucault – Lectures on the Will to Know

  1. Pingback: Foucault – Lectures on the Will to Know | Little Father Time

  2. André Dias says:

    I’ve recently stumbled upon an ‘Anti-Oedipus’ reference to this course, which surprised me (p. 233n52). I’ve heard people mention Deleuze couldn’t have know Foucault’s unpublished courses, etc., specially after their falling apart, but it’s perfectly reasonable to suppose he could have access to the tapes through his students, for intance. He even mentions the unpublished manuscripts on Manet and ‘Les aveux de la chair’ as if he had read but could not dare speak about them. Are you aware of any confirmation that Deleuze kept close attention to Foucault’s work on Collège de France? Because—at the same time—he kind of underplays them in his ‘Foucault’…

  3. aindanaocomecamos says:

    I’ve recently stumbled upon an ‘Anti-Oedipus’ reference to these lectures, which surprised me (p. 233n52). I’ve heard people mention Deleuze couldn’t have known Foucault’s unpublished lectures, etc., specially after their falling apart, but it’s perfectly reasonable to suppose he could have access to the tapes through his students, for instance. He even mentions the unpublished manuscripts on Manet and ‘Les aveux de la chair’ as if he had read but could not dare speak about them. Are you aware of any confirmation that Deleuze kept close attention to Foucault’s work on the Collège de France? Because—at the same time—he kind of underplays their importance in his ‘Foucault’…

    • stuartelden says:

      I don’t have any special information, but I remember from reading the Deleuze book that he’d seen unpublished work. I’ll keep it in mind as I work on this project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s