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On questioning being: Foucault's Heideggerian turn

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Abstract:

Attempts to resolve the question of Foucault's relationship to Heidegger usually look for points of substantive correlation between them: the coincidence of being and power, the meaning of truth, technology, ethics, and so on. Taking seriously Foucault's claim in his final interview that he uses Heidegger as an 'instrument of thought', this paper looks for a correlation in practice . The argument focuses on a structural isomorphism between Heidegger's concept of the fourfold event ( Ereignis ) of being and later Foucault's critique of 'problematization' ( problématique ). This isomorphism, I argue, indicates a covert philosophical confrontation between Foucault and Heidegger, which was determinative for Foucault in the period of the turn to ethics (1976-84). This is a confrontation over the meaning of the 'event of thought'. Such an interpretation not only permits a literal reading of Foucault's comments regarding Heidegger in his final interview, but also casts the developments in Foucault's later work in a fascinating new light. Foucault's critique of problematization, on this view, is founded in an historicized version of Heideggerian 'other' thinking, and pivots on a ontologically tempered enactment of the Heideggerian turn ( Kehre ).

Keywords: Foucault; Heidegger; events; freedom; problems; self-transformation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0967255042000278067

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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