Genealogy as exemplary critique: reflections on Foucault and the imagination of the political

Owen, David (1995) Genealogy as exemplary critique: reflections on Foucault and the imagination of the political. Economy and Society, 24, (4), 489-506. (doi:10.1080/03085149500000021).


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This paper suggests that genealogy (as it is elaborated and practised in the work of Foucault) is an exemplary form of critique. The stakes of this argument are established in the course of on intial response to critics of genealogy such as Habermas and Fraser (who claim that it involoves a performative contradiction) throght the distinguishing of legislative and exemplary forms or critique. The essay then goes on to to show how Foucault's central concern, namely, the relation of humanism and bio-power, leads him to articulate an ethics of creativity which exhibits an ethods of ironic heroization and discloses a conception of the political as agon. Reflecting on these features of genealogy's saying, it is argued that the form of genealogical reflection manifests these features. This emphasis on the showing of genealogy leads to the claim that Foucault's anti-humanism, mode of historical consciousness and perspectivism reproduce the substantive commitment of genealogy to the value of autonomy within the structure of genealogical reflection.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1080/03085149500000021
ISSNs: 0308-5147 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: foucault, genealogy, exemplar, critique, politics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Social Sciences > Politics and International Relations
ePrint ID: 34852
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
November 1995Published
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:02

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