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Aff – Genealogy Cannot Solve

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Aff – Genealogy Cannot Solve

Genealogy is trapped in a double bind: its extreme relativism either undercuts its political usefulness or a new master discourse is produced.

Habermas, 87- Permanent Visiting Professor at Northwestern (Jürgen, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, p. 279)

Foucault's historiography can evade relativism as little as it can this acute presentism. His investigations are caught exactly in the self-referentiality that was supposed to be excluded by a naturalistic treatment of the problematic of validity. Genealogical historiography is supposed to make the practices of power, precisely in their discourse-constituting achievement, accessible to an empirical analysis. From this perspective, not only are truth claims confined to the discourses within which they arise; they exhaust their entire significance in the functional contribution they make to the self-maintenance of a given totality of discourse. That is to say, the meaning of validity claims consists in the power effects they have. On the other hand, this basic assumption of the theory of power is self-referential; if it is correct, it must destroy the foundations of the research inspired by it as well. But if the truth claims that Foucault himself raises for his genealogy of knowledge were in fact illusory and amounted to no more than the effects that this theory is capable of releasing within the circle of its adherents, then the entire undertaking of a critical unmasking of the human sciences would lose its point. Foucault pursues genealogical historiography with the serious intent of getting a science underway that is superior to the mismanaged human sciences. If, then, its superiority cannot be expressed in the fact that something more convincing enters in place of the convicted pseudo-sciences, if its superiority were only to be expressed in the effect of its suppressing the hitherto dominant scientific discourse in fact, Foucault's theory would exhaust itself in the politics of theory, and indeed in setting theoretical-political goals that would overburden the capacities of even so heroic a one-man enterprise. Foucault is aware of this. Consequently, he would like to single out his genealogy from all the rest of the human sciences in a manner that is reconcilable with the fundamental assumptions of his own theory. To this end, he turns genealogical historiography upon itself; the difference that can establish its preeminence above all the other human sciences is to be demonstrated in the history of its own emergence.
Spanos does not sufficiently connect his genealogy to specific policy recommendations—the alternative fails to influence the real world.

Lewandowski, 94 - Associate Professor and Philosophy Program Coordinator at The University of Central Missouri – 1994 (Joseph D. Lewandowsi, Philosophy and Social Criticism, “Heidegger, literary theory and social criticism,” ed. David M. Rasmussen, P. 115-116)
The point to be made here is that Heidegger's politics are not the only (or necessarily the largest) obstacle to coupling him with critical theory. Hence much of Spanos's energetic defense of Heidegger against his 'humanist detractors' (particularly in his defiant concluding chapter, 'Heidegger, Nazism, and the "Repressive Hypothesis": The American Appropriation of the Question') is misdirected. For as McCarthy rightly points out, 'the basic issues separating critical theory from Heideggerean ontology were not raised post hoc in reaction to Heidegger's political misdeeds but were there from the start. Marcuse formulated them in all clarity during his time in Freiburg, when he was still inspired by the idea of a materialist analytic of Dasein' (p. 96, emphasis added). In other words, Heidegger succumbs quite readily to an immanent critique. Heidegger's aporias are not simply the result of his politics but father stem from the internal limits of his questioning of the 'being that lets beings be', truth as disclosure, and destruction of the metaphysical tradition, all of which divorce reflection from social practice and thus lack critical perspective. Spanos, however, thinks Foucault can provide an alternative materialist grounding for an emancipatory critical theory that would obviate the objections of someone such as Marcuse. But the turn to Foucault is no less problematic than the original turn to Heidegger. Genealogy is not critical in any real way. Nor can it tame or augment what Spanos calls Heidegger's 'overdetermination of the ontological site'. Foucault's analysis of power, despite its originality, is an ontology of power and not, as Spanos thinks, a 'concrete diagnosis' (p. 138) of power mechanism. Thus it dramatizes, on a different level, the same shortcomings of Heidegger's fundamental ontology. The 'affiliative relationship' (p. 138) that Spanos tries to develop between Heidegger and Foucault in order to avoid the problem Marcuse faced simply cannot work. Where Heidegger ontologizes Being, Foucault ontologizes power. The latter sees power as a strategic and intentional but subjectless mechanism that 'endows itself' and punches out 'docile bodies', whereas the former sees Being as that neutered term and no-thing that calls us. Foucault (like Spanos) never works out how genealogy is emancipatory, or how emancipation could be realized collectively by actual agents in the world. The 'undefined work of freedom' the later Foucault speaks of in 'What Is Enlightenment?' remained precisely that in his work.4 The genealogy of power is as much a hypostatization as is fundamental ontology: such hypostatizations tend to institute the impossibility of practical resistance or freedom. In short, I don't think the Heideggerian 'dialogue' with Foucault sufficiently tames or complements Heidegger, nor does it make his discourse (or Foucault's, for that matter) any more emancipatory or oppositional. Indeed, Foucault's reified theory of power seems to undermine the very notion of 'Opposition', since there is no subject (but rather a 'docile' body) to do the resisting (or, in his later work, a privatized self to be self-made within a regime of truth), nor an object to be resisted. As Said rightly points out in The World, the Text, and the Critic, 'Foucault more or less eliminates the central dialectic of opposed forces that still underlies modern society' (p. 221, emphasis added). Foucault's theory of power is shot through with false empirical analyses, yet Spanos seems to accept them as valid diagnoses. Spanos fails to see, to paraphrase Said's criticisms of Foucault's theory of power, that power is neither a spider's web without the spider, nor a smoothly functioning diagram (p. 22l).

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