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Chomsky-Foucault debate

onlinediscountanvils
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Undecided


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onlinediscountanvils
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Quote:
Excerpts from the Foucault-Chomsky debate on human nature and power have circulated online for years — now it’s available in full for the first time.

In 1971, with the Vietnam war in full swing and radical social movements destabilizing the social, political and cultural order throughout the Western world, Dutch philosopher Fons Elders invited two of the world’s leading thinkers — the American linguist and activist Noam Chomsky and the French social theorist Michel Foucault — to debate a thorny and perennial question: is there such a thing as an “innate” human nature, and if so, what are its implications for our ideas about power, justice, revolution, and the shape of the ideal human society?

The resulting dialogue has been described as one of the most original, provocative, and spontaneous exchanges to have occurred between contemporary philosophers, and above all serves as a concise introduction to their basic theories. What begins as a philosophical argument rooted in linguistics (Chomsky) and the theory of knowledge (Foucault), soon evolves into a broader discussion encompassing a wide range of topics, from science, history, and behaviorism to creativity, freedom, and the struggle for justice in the realm of politics.

http://roarmag.org/2013/05/chomsky-foucault-debate-full-video-subtitles/


Catchfire
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Whoa.


Slumberjack
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Thanks for posting this.  Previous online versions were chopped up and poorly translated.  Chomsky had little use for post-structuralist influence, but he did credit Foucault for his direct activism and for distancing himself from the Paris clique.


Slumberjack
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In the loosely federated state of anarcho-syndicalism, the laws would have to be sufficient to ensure that among the sub-elements administering populations within their respective political boundaries, a bourgeoisie class could not re-emerge. This would necessarily give rise to a judicial system populated with competencies normally associated law, justice, and enforcement, for the purpose of repressing dissent and restoring order where required. In such a federated state, would the history books provide a true, universal reflection of the events, or could the narrative contain variances to the official truth?

In the area of language development with the example of a child, evolutionary processes are able to explain an innate capability to process information toward the development of language and conscious evaluation, which says nothing about the type of information being processed as the child develops, or where it comes from. Children switched at birth and taken to different countries with different languages, will speak the language and know the customs of the unsuspecting parents.

Foucault sounds a cautionary argument in terms of proposing an alternative political system, while Chomsky has one conveniently at hand that he doesn't shy away from promoting. The main question always comes back to what information will feed such a biologically maintained system as it develops. What notion of justice and reasoning will it arrive at? How would it hold itself accountable? What type of human nature will formulate the information in the first place?


Slumberjack
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The Dominion and The Intellectuals

Quote:

QUESTION: It seems to me, with a certain degree of difference, that the concept of a virtual senate is similar to Negri's and Hardt's concept of Empire. [Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000)]

CHOMSKY: Empire, yes, but I have to say I found it hard to read. I understood only parts, and what I understood seemed to me pretty well known and expressible much more simply. However, maybe I missed something important.

QUESTION: Yes, and the book arrives to the same conclusion as yours but through a more complicated, less readable way...

CHOMSKY: If people get something out of it, it's okay. What I understand seems to be pretty simple, and this is not a criticism. I don't see any need to say in a complicated way what you can say in an easier way. You can make things look complicated, that's part of the game that intellectuals play; things must look complicated. You might not be conscious about that, but it's a way of gaining prestige, power and influence.

QUESTION: Do you look at Foucault's work in this perspective?

CHOMSKY: Foucault is an interesting case because I'm sure he honestly wants to undermine power but I think with his writings he reinforced it. The only way to understand Foucault is if you are a graduate student or you are attending a university and have been trained in this particular style of discourse. That's a way of guaranteeing, it might not be his purpose, but that's a way of guaranteeing that intellectuals will have power, prestige and influence. If something can be said simply, say it simply, so that the carpenter next door can understand you. Anything that is at all well understood about human affairs is pretty simple. I find Foucault really interesting but I remain skeptical of his mode of expression. I find that I have to decode him, and after I have decoded him, maybe I'm missing something. I don't get the significance of what I am left with. I have never effectively understood what he was talking about. I mean, when I try to take the big words he uses and put them into words that I can understand and use, it is difficult for me to accomplish this task. It all strikes me as overly convoluted and very abstract. But what happens when you try to skip down to real cases? The trouble with Foucault, and with this certain kind of theory, arises when it tries to come down to earth. Really, nobody was able to explain to me the importance of his work...

Lost in the Clouds?

Quote:
One often hears the lament: Why has philosophy become so remote, why has it lost contact with people?  The complaint must be as old as philosophy itself.  In Aristophanes’ “Clouds,” we meet Socrates as he is being lowered to the stage in a basket.  His first words are impatient and distant: “Why do you summon me, o creature of a day?”  He goes on to explain pompously what he was doing before he was interrupted: “I tread the air and scrutinize the sun.”  Already in Ancient Greece, philosophy had a reputation for being troublesomely distant from the concerns that launch it.


Catchfire
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To the citizen Maurice Lachâtre

Dear Citizen,

I applaud your idea of publishing the translation of “Das Kapital” as a serial. In this form the book will be more accessible to the working class, a consideration which to me outweighs everything else.

That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to move on at once.

That is a disadvantage I am powerless to overcome, unless it be by forewarning and forearming those readers who zealously seek the truth. There is no royal road to science, and only those who do not dread the fatiguing climb of its steep paths have a chance of gaining its luminous summits.

Believe me,
dear citizen,
Your devoted,

Karl Marx
London

March 18, 1872

Capital, Preface to the French Edition, 1872


epaulo13
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Chomsky-Foucault debate removed due to copyright

In a grandiose display of Foucauldian irony, one of the greatest anti-capitalist debates of our time has been reduced to an intellectual commodity.

We are terribly sad to announce that the YouTube video of the legendary Chomsky-Foucault debate that we shared on our website on Wednesday has been removed following a copyright claim by the New York-based distribution company Icarus Films. ROAR never claimed ownership over the video; we just helped to provide proper subtitles to a full version that had already been circulating online for months. The video had been brought to our attention by a group of Dutch anarchists who also assisted in its translation....

http://roarmag.org/2013/05/chomsky-foucault-debate-public-knowledge/


Catchfire
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Gahh. I didn't finish it!


Slumberjack
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There'll likely be unauthorized versions floating around before too long.  The complete text is on Chomsky's site, along with many of his other debates and interviews.


6079_Smith_W
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There is a version (posted 3/3/13) still up.

 


knownothing
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Noam Chomsky helped lobby Stephen Hawking to stage Israel boycott

US professor Noam Chomsky expressed regret at Hawking's initial acceptance of invitation to speak at conference in Israel

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/10/noam-chomsky-stephen-hawking...


Unionist
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Catchfire wrote:

Gahh. I didn't finish it!

 

I downloaded it, but sans subtitles. I'll see if I can add a subtitle track somehow. Copywrong.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

@ U.

Most of those you don't have to. If you have a proper .srt file that matches with the video the player does it automatically. If they have the same name and are in the same folder and your subtitle function is turned on, it will splice automatically.

And if this was a hardcoded video I'm sure it won't be too long before the subs turn up as .srt files.

 

 


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

I know, Winston. I was just hoping someone could help me find a .srt file. As you point out, we may have to wait for that. Meanwhile, I'll hang on to the video and share with anyone who needs a copy.


6079_Smith_W
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You are a saint as usual, and looking out for others... just like during the en masse crash.


Unionist
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By the way, it's still watchable online here, with subtitles.

 


Unionist
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And... I've just extracted the .srt file corresponding to that video! Copyleft.

 


epaulo13
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Unionist wrote:

By the way, it's still watchable online here, with subtitles.

..works for me. txs!


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

Ok. In case the above link disappears, I have uploaded a copy of the video plus a working .srt (subtitle) file. You need to put them in the same folder to view properly.

Anyone wants the links, just PM me.

Freedom!

 


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

I'm feeling jolly already this morning.  Thanks Unionist!


Slumberjack
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Joined: Aug 8 2005

Chomsky wrote:
The only way to understand Foucault is if you are a graduate student or you are attending a university and have been trained in this particular style of discourse.

Marx wrote:
That is the good side of your suggestion, but here is the reverse of the medal: the method of analysis which I have employed, and which had not previously been applied to economic subjects, makes the reading of the first chapters rather arduous, and it is to be feared that the French public, always impatient to come to a conclusion, eager to know the connexion between general principles and the immediate questions that have aroused their passions, may be disheartened because they will be unable to move on at once.

Rancière appears to have addressed intellectual capability assessments of the masses.  The starting point of human equality that he uses to critique educational processes already contains quite a lot of knowledge, which empire corresponds against by adjusting its repressive posture, gradually or in double time as the circumstances warrant.

The sheer fact that more things are being declared illegal and more restrictions are put in place is the result of a specific type of knowledge that is increasingly common, in the gaps that form between subject and empire; for instance, when people realize they can no longer live very well or keep up with the well packaged consumerist advice being fed along conveyor belts and other modes of transmission, and compensate accordingly by turning to criminal appropriation. So thought and deed are approximate and complimentary as forms of knowledge, even as only one is able to suggest a clear response.  Perhaps there are more reasons after all that have made it necessary for advancements in theory and illegality to prefer obscurity.

In any event, striving toward more knowledge or more material and wanting to be above this or that, along whatever avenue of approach, may very well indicate a general understanding that everything currently being provided is beneath us, including the surrogate form of knowledge called materialism that distracts from everything else.  Which incidentally may help to explain the current pace at which its being shovelled in.

With Chomsky and Foucault and the matter of trying to determine sense from nonsense, there's a problem with sketching out an emancipatory future while using a type of federalism for a model.


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