On Foucault’s Review of Cassirer’s Philosophy of the Enlightenment

A discussion of Foucault and Cassirer on the Enlightenment, and of Foucault’s review of Cassirer on this topic. Thanks to Foucault News for the link.

Persistent Enlightenment

It is unfortunate that no one has gotten around to translating Michel Foucault’s 1966 review of the French translation of Ernst Cassirer’s Philosophie der Aufklärung.1 Granted, it is a short text and – prior to its reprinting in Foucault’s Dits et Ecrits – finding it required some (though not much) digging. But it is a text worth knowing: sensitive to the political context of Cassirer’s study of the Enlightenment and sympathetic to his general approach. Had it been more widely known, it might have complicated certain assumptions about Foucault’s stance towards the Enlightenment. All of this is more than enough to suggest that the editor of What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions was guilty of a significant lapse in judgment when he failed to include it in his collection. The accused is not inclined contest that verdict and will try to make amends in this brief…

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