Foucault – ‘Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual’ 1980 interview online

The Foucault interview entitled ‘Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual’ was conducted on 3 November 1980, and first published in History of the Present 4 (Spring 1988), 1-2, 11-13, although some excerpts appeared in the Berkeley student newspaper in 1980. Because it was published after Foucault’s death, it was deemed to be a ‘posthumous publication’ and therefore not included in Dits et écritsIt is listed in Jacques Lagrange, “Complément bibliographiques”, DE IV, 838; and in Richard Lynch’s bibliography in A Companion to Foucault as OT-80-04.

Colin Koopman’s Genealogy as Critique alerted me to an online version, which can be found here, posted by Michael Bess who conducted the interview. A minor, but interesting text.

Update: also available here (thanks to Clare O’Farrell in comments for the link)


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7 Responses to Foucault – ‘Power, Moral Values, and the Intellectual’ 1980 interview online

  1. Naxos says:

    I think that if we consider what Chomsky once asserted regards to Foucault –that he had never meet someone so completely amoral like Foucault- i.e, in light of the three moral principles that Foucault mentions and applies to himself, we can extract by defect and as a logical consequence as well, the three principles that would explain Chomsky’s conservative moralizing –which would give us an account of his condition of ideologue: (1) to accept unconditionally and as self-evident the things that are proposed to us, especially if the person who proposes them is an overrated intellectual figure with a false political conscience, (2) the non-need to analyse and learn from self-experience and own-understanding –as it would be also needed to have a ‘linguistic competence’ to justify the intellectual responsibility –in the form of evidence, precisely to who presumably ‘knows’, and (3) the indifference towards the possibility of creating change, the insistence of promoting conformism as well, despite the fact that ‘our human nature’ implies in its ‘deep structure’ an allegedly ‘transformational grammar’. It should not come as strange that these Chomskian principles can lead us to consider the primary ideologem that triggers his discoursive reactivism.

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  3. stuartelden says:

    I don’t agree with Chomsky’s description of Foucault, though he was certainly unsettled by the encounter. But I don’t know enough about Chomsky’s own work to judge on the rest – I find some of his political work useful, but am indifferent to the linguistic stuff, and his attacks on ‘poststructuralism’ largely irrelevant.

  4. Naxos says:

    I am glad that Foucault spoke in favour of his moral principles and I like to think that he did so in order to reply against Chomsky’s castrated assertions.

  5. Clare O'Farrell says:

    Stuart, A transcription of the interview in the original French can now be found in L’origine de l’herméneutique de soi. Conférences prononcées à Dartmouth College, 1980 This interview is one of my favourites.

  6. Pingback: Michel Foucault: “In a sense, I am a moralist.” (1980) | Museum of Education

  7. Clare O'Farrell says:

    This interview can also be found currently on Michael Bess’s own site

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