Outcome of Genealogy

Foucault in Power/Knowledge, through his “Two Lectures” proposes the idea that individuals are not separate from power nor can they stand objectively in relation to it; instead they are the effects of power. The individual as an effect of power is to be seen as a symptom of a type of power that is power relations that that intersect and embed within the individual morally and bodily. Foucault essentially speaks of a form of power ontology which is to an extent distinct from the one presented by Nietzsche in “On The Genealogy of Morals”.
However, in Foucault’s “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History”, genealogy creates an interesting outcome. In genealogy there are three uses of what Nietzsche refers to as the ‘historical sense’ that create what Foucault would categorize as an alternative-memory. The alternative-memory here would mean a division from any anthropological and metaphysical modals of history and hence break with traditional history or the dialectic. This divorce from dialectic then opens up a new conception of time that can account for what the dialectic can not account for concerning history and time and taking away pretend objectivities and the superstitions of truth which could hinder or pose a threat to humanity. In the last section of the essay, Foucault asserts that there are three uses that historical sense gives rise to , which all correlate with and opposes the modalities of history suggested by Platonism. The first use is what is called the parodic and refers to the use of history in which the historian offers people the prospect of changing their identities by presenting them individual historical figures as alternatives. This venerates past identities and past events but never gives a new interpretation or an honest sense of transformation concerning someone’s identity. In contrast to this, Foucault mentions that the genealogist will know that this method is only a disguise that points to our unreality as a symptom does to a disease. The genealogist’s response to the historian’s charade will be to push the masquerade of identities to the breaking point and “prepare the great carnival of time where masks are constantly reappearing” (Foucault 94). This push by the genealogist will supposedly create dissociation with the identities of the past in regards to our own fragile identity and create an ‘unrealization’ through the myriad choices of possible identities from the past.(94) By taking up these masks we are giving new life to the ridiculousness of history and possibly finding a new realm of originality by parodying history by a force interpreting an old mask. This is in contrast to veneration-this is parody. Foucault points out that Nietzsche in his Untimely Meditations called this parodying “monumental history” in which so called high points in historical development were to be reestablished (94). This reestablishing of historical high points was later criticized by Nietzsche as restricting access to the actual creation of life and its intensities. Thus we now have Nietzsche parodying the monumental.
The second use of historical sense is to systematically dissociate and destabilize identity. This second use opposes itself to any ideas of a stable identity or the rediscovery of a forgotten identity by analyzing history, and is against what Nietzsche would call “antiquarian history” which tries to create continuities with the past rooting our present to it or as Nietzsche says “it tries to conserve for posterity the conditions under which we are born” (95). Nietzsche criticizes this form of history for restricting creativity and instead supporting laws of loyalty to the continuity of the past and present. In response to this form of history, genealogy makes us question our so called native language, native land and what governs us , to expose the heterogeneous systems that intersect us and inhibit any formation of an identity, though all the while masked by what we phenomenologically experience as the self.
The third use of the historical sense is in regards to the sacrifice of the subject of knowledge. When Foucault looks at this particular part he mostly goes over Nietzsche’s warning of the will to knowledge which also wills a fuel to truth. The will to knowledge functions as historically and psychologically to require a sacrifice , a sacrifice that has mutated from a religious sacrifice of bodies to that of knowledge which requires the subject and humanity at large. Nietzsche’s warning of the will to knowledge and the will to truth are seen all over his texts, and indicate that this will to knowledge knows no limits and no sacrifice is too great, save for its own death. As we can already see the will to knowledge spawns a will to truth which indicates a point of end or limit, though in how it functions breaks apart all limits such as superstitions, and illusions. The way in which the will to knowledge functions then exposes a contradiction within its functionality and structure and re-installs new superstitions and illusions such as a truth or objectivity. I think that this could also reveal a self-deluding pathology within the seekers of knowledge and truth. We then have Foucault saying about the will to knowledge that “it creates a progressive enslavement to its instinctive violence” (96).

Why the Farmer Made the Best Citizen

Trying to rescue virtue from the morally deluded Europe, Jean-Jacques Rousseau took a surprising stance on the question proposed by the Academy of Dijon. In his response, Rousseau stated that the arts and sciences bring about not only the dissolution of morals but also the corruption of tastes. In fact, it is because the arts and sciences “owe their birth to our vices” that he could be certain of their disadvantages (48). Their origin was traced by Rousseau to an even larger issue in European society. Just as in Plato’s Republic, the first harm to the city was luxury: “luxury rarely develops without the science and arts, and they never develop without it” (50). In Rousseau’s Discourse, luxury signified a misuse of time. In addition, Rousseau considered idleness to be one of the greatest evils to society. The issue for Rousseau transformed from the arts and sciences and became the misuse of time, which laid the foundations for art and science to appear: “born in idleness, they nourish it in turn; and irreparable loss of time is the first injury they necessarily cause society” (49). Idleness was the root of evil in a society, and “every useless citizen may be considered a pernicious man” (49). If wasting time and being useless were the causes of corruption, then what was the solution? Somehow, citizens needed to be productive again and to find a correct use for their time.

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