Saturday, January 14, 2006

Habermas, Foucault and Nietzsche: A Double Misunderstanding

by Thomas Biebricher


The article analyses Habermas' interpretation of Foucault in the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity and argues that the former misunderstands the Foucaultian project of genealogy fundamentally. While Habermas assumes that Foucault aims at a strictly scientific approach to the writing of history it can be shown that Foucaultian genealogy is strongly characterised by rhetorical aspects, creating a hybrid model of critique that stands in between science and literature. The essay goes on arguing that this misreading can be explained with reference to Habermas' reconstruction of Nietzsche's philosophy in the Philosophical Discourse. On the basis of this clarification the article analyses what a Habermasian position vis-à-vis genealogy including the rhetorical element would look like. Making use of Habermas' remarks on Derrida in the Philosophical Discourse the essay concludes that, counter-intuitively, a rhetorically understood genealogy has to be considered a valid philosophical approach even on Habermas' own terms.

Full article is available for free


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Thomas Biebricher
Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. of Political Science, University of Florida
(PhD: University of Freiburg, 2003)

Thomas Biebricher is a Visiting Assistant Professor from Germany. His stay at the Department is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Dr. Biebricher got his PhD at the University of Freiburg, Germany in 2003. His dissertation entitled "Selbstkritik der Moderne. Habermas und Foucault im Vergleich" (Self-Critique of Modernity. Habermas and Foucault in Comparison) will be published in the series Frankfurt Contributions to Sociology and Social Philosophy edited by the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany in the Fall of 2004.

Dr. Biebricher has also published several articles in edited volumes and German research journals. His primary research interests comprise 20th Century Political Theory and Philosophy (Critical Theory, Poststructuralism and Feminism in particular), as well as Comparative Politics (Theories of Comparative Politics, Western European Systems of Government and Welfare State Restructuring in particular).

Courses that Dr. Biebricher has taught at UF include German Social and Political Thought, Introduction to Political Theory and Comparative Politics of the Welfare State. Currently Dr. Biebricher is working on a number of papers that deal with the conceptual link between Poststructuralism and Critical Theory as it was developed by the early Frankfurt School.

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