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Étienne Balibar – A Thought of/from the Outside: Foucault’s Uses of Blanchot

Event Date: 21 February 2013

Lecture Theatre E002, Granary Building,
Central Saint Martins,
London N1C 4AA

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) and the London Graduate School in collaboration with Art and Philosophy at Central Saint Martins present:

Professor Étienne Balibar (CRMEP) – A Thought of/from the Outside: Foucault’s Uses of Blanchot

A well-known essay published by Foucault in 1966 on the work of Maurice Blanchot, La pensée du dehors, was translated into English in two different ways: ‘The thought of the outside’, and ‘The thought from outside’. This indicates a deep ambiguity concerning its possible interpretations. Together with the earlier essay on Bataille (‘Preface to Transgression’), the essay forms the metaphysical counterpart to the early ‘archeological’ work, beginning with History of Madness and ending with The Order of Things, centered on the ‘anti-humanist’ doctrine of the elimination of the subject. It is widely supposed that, in his later work, when studying apparatuses of power-knowledge, and when outlining a history of regimes of subjectivation and truth, Foucault had entirely reversed this orientation. The lecture will discuss the enigmatic notion of the ‘outside’ and its relationship to transcendental philosophy, assess the importance of a dialogue with Blanchot in the formation of Foucault’s philosophy, and argue that, contrary to established wisdom, it never ceased to frame the critique of subjectivity in Foucault’s work.

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