viernes, enero 23, 2009

Foucault: What is Enlightenment?

Instead of looking at the present as a world era in which one belongs, or an event whose signs are perceived, or the beginning of an achievement, Kant sees the present as an “exit” or “way out”. He wants to understand the present as a difference. Enlightenment is the pass from maturity from immaturity, a pass that change the pre-existing relation associating will, authority and reason. And a man/woman has to free him/herself, Kant shows the obligation to know : “dare to know,” “have the courage, the audacity, to know”. Enlightenment is both a collective process and a personal act, men are elements and actors of a single process. Enlightenment is both a spiritual and institutional, ethical and political process through reason for reasoning’s sake. Reason must free in its public use and must be submissive in its private use (which is the opposite of the usual call of freedom of conscience). Reason must be subjected to particular ends in view. There is enlightenment when the universal, the free, and the public uses of reason are superimposed on one another. The public and free use of autonomous reason will be the best guarantee of obedience, on condition, however, that the political principle that must be obeyed itself be in conformity with universal reason. The self-reflection of Kant on his own work in this little article, is for Foucault a point of departure, the attitude of modernity. For Foucault modernity is an attitude rather than an epoch or a precise historical moment, it’s a way of thinking and feeling and a way of acting and behaving (tensions between the attitudes of modernity vs attitudes of “countermodernity”). For Boudalaire modernity is “heroize” the present and he says “we are each of us celebrating some funeral”. Modernity is not only a certain attitude/relationship with the present but also a relation with oneself, a production of himself. It is a simultaneous problematization of man’s relation to the present, man’s historical mode of being, and the constitution of the self as an autonomous subject. A permanent critique of ourselves but not confuse humanism vs Enlightenment and not fall in the “blackmail of Enlightenment” of being against or for Enlightenment (beyond outside-inside alternative): criticism consists of analyzing and reflecting upon limits. A genealogical/archeological inquiry of historical events, of particular areas, partial transformations and practical attitudes are perhaps more clear to analyze. Growth of capabilities and growth of autonomy/freedom are not separated from the intensification of power (state) relations (knowledge, power and ethics).

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