Friday, February 02, 2007

Questions to Accompany a Reading of Chapter Four of Nick's Book, #4

Q13: Students of the history of social and political theory are used to the idea that some of the greatest thinkers in the tradition have defended pretty wretched politics in their time. Hobbes defended the absolute monarchy of Charles I; Locke defended slavery; Rousseau thought that the practice of rape-within-marriage would help to make the republic strong; Hegel thought that men should go out to work while women stayed at home because women “partook more of a vegetable nature”, or something like that; Alexis de Tocqueville championed the French colonisation of Algeria and defended the burning of silos and the taking of hostages there; and Carl Schmitt was a Nazi. Given all this, do you think that it is one of the most important facts about Michel Foucault that he was a bit more keen on the Iranian Revolution of 1978 than he really ought to have been? [p.107]

Q14: Given that women participated in the Iranian Revolution in large numbers (see, for example, Nikki Keddie’s Modern Iran, p.229) do you think that it was quite as obvious in 1978 that the Revolution would turn out as badly from the point of view of women’s rights as Nick seems to suggest? Do you think, in fact, that there’s much evidence of Foucault “revelling” in the denial of women’s rights in his various writings from Iran?

Q15: Nick writes, on p,109, that “The Enlightenment that Westerners imagined had freed them had in fact enslaved them in insidious ways that Westerners were too stupid to see – with the exception of French philosophers.” Given that this kind of critique is far more often associated with the Germans Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer, who made it first, why do you think Nick associates it only with the French?

3 Comments:

Anonymous Callan said...

Apropos of Foucault, I'm not sure that someone who supported the invasion of Iraq is really in a position to criticise someone for supporting a political project which at the time might have offered some hope for democracy in the region but, with hindsight, turned out to involve the deaths of large numbers of people to no good end.

2/02/2007 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Q13: Seems to me that Hobbes' absolute monarchism, Locke's imperialism, Rousseau's and Hegel's gender politics , Schmitt's Nazism, (etc.) are all material both to assessing the value of their theoretical proposals, and to understanding why they are 'canonical' authors in political theory and other authors are not.

2/02/2007 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous redpesto said...

Given all this, do you think that it is one of the most important facts about Michel Foucault that he was a bit more keen on the Iranian Revolution of 1978 than he really ought to have been? [p.107]

Not unless Nick starts picking on Foucault for being into S&M

2/02/2007 06:39:00 PM  

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