jump to navigation

New Foucault Publications January 8, 2011

Posted by Andy in Foucault.
Tags: , ,
1 comment so far

The usual suspects have not posted it yet, so I’d best let everyone know that the next set of Foucault’s lectures is imminent, and it’ll look something like this:

It’ll be about the will to knowledge, which is obviously the title to the first volume of his History of Sexuality. But it was delivered in the first couple months of 1971, so you’d expect more Archeology of Knowledge  type insights. The course summary (which has been available for some time) does appear fairly theoretical, albeit with a concrete focus on Nietzsche and Aristotle. At the same time, the title is not so misleading: Foucault’s thought was focused on penal forms of knowledge from at least this period. As it is, if the course anything like the lectures he delivered in 1973 (and rumour has it they do resemble each other at important points), it’ll be some of the most insightful work on law we have yet seen.

In other news, Amazon is recommending I buy a book called Madness: the Invention of an Idea. However, this is just a re-issue of Mental Illness and Psychology, the revised version of his earliest work, Mental Illness and Personality, which has still never been translated. Foucault all but disowned it. The translated work, though, acts as a good run up to his great work (still to my mind one of the best three) Madness and Unreason, just as Portrait of an Artist is a good run up to Ulysses.

The Critique of Institutions September 18, 2010

Posted by Andy in Foucault, pedagogics, philosophy.
Tags: , , , , ,
5 comments

The popular, textbook version of Kant’s ethical thought often goes as follows: morality is doing one’s duty, and doing one’s duty amounts to following good rules of behaviour. Good moral rules are not the same as good prudent rules in that they are not slave to some other function, they are good in themselves. Good rules are also good for everyone. So to solve a moral problem, you have to make up a good rule, see if it can be universalised and retain its logic, and then follow it. (more…)

Listening to the past December 6, 2009

Posted by Andy in Idea History, philosophy, theology.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

I feel duty bound to share the information that some wonderful people have seen fit to record complete readings of two of the most elegantly written books in Western philosophy, namely Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus and Augustine’s Confessions.

These two books are examples of how well humans can think. I have at times attempted to emulate their style, and failed drastically. It takes more than a mere decision. They are also models that demonstrate the principle that style and content can not be separated.

Cheers Librivox!

Forget Andy December 1, 2009

Posted by Andy in philosophy, theology.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Basically, forget ad absurdum. Hard-hitting blog An und für sich have a great book event going on about Philip Goodchild’s striking Theology of Money. Get over there are read. Read the book. Then sit down and have a think.

Goodchild’s work is probably the only set of writings that has persuaded me to signficantly change direction in my thinking. Apart from being my supervisor, he is also the one that makes it most clear to me that doing modern philosophical theology is worthwhile.

And Anthony knows his work better than most, so if you’ve never read Goodchild, this is a good way in.

Teaching teenagers: a learning experience November 26, 2009

Posted by Andy in Idea History, pedagogics.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

I’ve been spending a large part of the time since completing my PhD teaching teenagers about English and Religion. It’s been a learning experience.

In many ways, preparing to complete a PhD has been a lesson in concentration. I spent one entire year studying someone (Berkeley) who barely got a mention in the final thing. You have to focus in on topics and shut out other concerns.

So going from that to teaching eighteen and nineteen year olds about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Philosophy and Religious Studies per se in the course of one year, with three lessons per week is something of an experience. Instead of going narrow and deep, you have to go shallow and broad. A couple weeks back, for example, I ran through, in the course of about 50 minutes, the tensions between Mediterranean power blocs and Iranian steppe-based power blocs from 500 BCE to around 700 BCE as a way to go from Buddhism to Islam. I used google map and my time line.

Now I’m teaching Islam, and ploughing my way through the Qu’ran (which is also available for free as a spoken word book), which is frankly exhilerating. Also, given that I am somewhat bearded and foreign, it gets me loads of street cred. Some strangers enthusiastically engage me in conversation, others take steps to avoid me.

My point is, all of us have a series of books that are really basic, but way outside their central field of interest that they’ve never gotten around to reading. Not having read the Qu’ran is a particularly heinous academic sin, but surely most people have similar academic skeletons in the closet. So I would wish every PhD graduate a chance to teach in school for a year or two before they continue their trek towards tenure. I’ve been forced to it (although I do not know if I will even rejoin the trek…) and have already seen how wonderful it is.

Not least because you’ll have an excuse to read Critchley’s hilarious Book of Dead Philosophers.

My Thesis online November 10, 2009

Posted by Andy in Foucault, theology.
Tags:
4 comments

I’ve recently discovered that the University of Nottingham have finally uploaded my PhD thesis “The Holy Fools: A Theological Enquiry” so that everyone can take a look. In the final phases of writing, I was tempted into discerning the various reasons I had for writing this stuff.

The boring biographical reason is that immediately before finishing my MA thesis on Augustine and Signs, I had ruled out the idea of taking a PhD because I didn’t have any big idea. The morning after making this decision, I woke up with an idea.

It turned out, however, that the idea was pretty crap. I had read Dostoevksy’s novels and Foucault’s Madness and Civilisation, and wondered how the Christian holy fool tradition would face up to the Foucauldian critique, which I still saw epistemologically, as basically interpreting nonsense (itself conceived in a Wittgensteinian framework).

It is probably impossible to deny, however, that I was attracted to all this because of my charismatic background (to which I said farewell theologically in a contribution to this book), and this was brought home to me when I heard someone play the DC talk song “Jesus Freaks”.

So if anyone is going to be bothered to read my thesis, I would suggest the following soundtrack:

  • DC Talk, Jesus Freak
  • REM, Saturn Rising
  • Joan Osbourne, Crazy Baby
  • U2, Staring at the sun
  • Tom McCrae, Human Remains
  • The Divine Comedy, Your Daddy’s Car
  • The Blue Nile, Family Life
  • Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (among others), God is in the House
  • Mew, Comforting Sounds
  • Joni Mitchell, Blue
  • Bonnie Prince Billy, I see a darkness
  • Jeff Buckley, Lilac Wine

I’d like to point out that I’m not saying any of these are good songs – the first should convince us of that – but they may have guided my thought for good or ill in the course of writing.

We could go on and mention films (Fight Club, Wedding Crashers, etc.), but that could go on for ever. I think the novels that could accompany the thesis are more enlightening, and they would perhaps include:

  • Dostoevsky, Demons, Brothers Karamazov, the Idiot (obviously)
  • Flaubert, The Temptations of Saint Anthony
  • Iris Murdoch, Under the Net
  • Kafka, The Trial.

But I would be much more willing to stand by the quality of these! Curiously, I barely referred to them in the thesis, for which I was bizarrely criticised in my defence. Milbank wanted more Dostoevsky. But then, I think that’s because he was reading Rowan at the time…

Ben de la Mare, 1938-2009 November 6, 2009

Posted by Andy in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
3 comments

I just got news that my dear friend and some time chaplain Revd. Ben de la Mare passed away last week, on the 29th October. I am in no position to tell his life story – I only met him in 1997 – but I do know that he had been a priest for most of his life, previously as chaplain in Oxford (where he met his wife, Clare Stancliffe), and most recently as a chaplain at Collingwood college and priest in charge in St Oswald’s, Durham. (more…)

Syllabus and Liberation Theology October 28, 2009

Posted by Andy in liberation theology, theology.
6 comments

I’ve been given responsibility for a class next semester in Intercontextual Theology that is to prepare MA students for writing their thesis. The course is primarily for international students (in this semester, students from Tanzania, Ghana, Poland, Ethiopia and Norway), and the thesis usually includes a short stay in the student’s home country, during which time they may collect data or something like that.

My question is: what kind of literature should I give them to read? The course should result in a thesis proposal but nothing more. The program in general covers liberation theology, inculturation theology, feminist theology, postcolonial theology and that branch of the discipline. It should be methodical, and should prepare them for taking their first steps into research.

My thoughts so far have included:

Boff, Introduction to Liberation Theology.

Tanner, Theories of Culture.

Something by Sugirtharajah

Maybe some sections of Said’s Orientalism (with a thought to the fact that they will be engaging in data collection).

A chapter or two by de Certeau.

“Can the Subaltern speak?” by Spivak.

But to be honest, I don’t know Tanner’s work very well, and feel a little out of my depth. Any suggestions would be very welcome. They will have already read these books from this course that I am teaching at the moment. So no repetitions. Otherwise, the options are many.

Summer of Foucault September 2, 2009

Posted by Andy in Foucault.
Tags: , ,
9 comments

This summer has been a great summer for Foucault Studies. Personally, I started it off with an application to the Norwegian research council for a post-doc on Foucault and Theology: yup, I’m going for the strikingly obvious.

On the 25th June, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of his death, which is being marked by books, conferences, etc. There’s also a conference coming up in Lund on The politics of life which I’m really frustrated to miss.

And then, just to make us really happy, Berkeley library have published as mp3 files most of the Collège de France lectures that are also available in book form! All that scouring the net is now over: they’re here. And they’re mostly of great quality too. Even if your spoken French is as rusty as mine, it only takes a couple lectures of getting used to the voice and style and you can really start taking the lectures in. This includes the theologically relevant governmentality lectures on Security, Territory and Population, and the unique economic analyses, Birth of Biopolitics. There are also the lectures I summarised earlier this year, The Courage of Truth.

There are also some lectures there in English (including those previously published as Fearless Speech), so lack of French doesn’t hinder your enjoyment.

Update: I forgot to mention that French mag Le Point published in Jule one of the unpublished interviews with Foucault with the bold title “Foucault was not revolutionary”. Not really unpublished this time (they did this in 2004 too): it was Roger-Pol Droit that did some interviews in 1975 and has now published them as a book in French called “Interviews“. My thanks to Morthen Sørlie for keeping me on my toes in this respect!

Joy…

Foucault’s 1984 course summary June 18, 2009

Posted by Andy in Foucault, Le Courage de la Vérité.
Tags: , ,
2 comments

I’ve now made a pdf version of my summaries of Foucault’s 1984 lectures, Le Courage de la Vérité, and included my response. Hope this comes in useful if anyone’s working on this stuff. You could also just click on the right category, and then you’ll get to see the comments too.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.