19th- and 20th-century continental (with particular interest in Hegel, Nietzsche, Foucault, and existentialism)
Logic, Philosophy of Language
I am in the beginning stages of writing my dissertation, which focuses on the genealogical works of Michel Foucault. My aim is to reconstruct his account of power and the ways in which power shapes individuals so as to make it both plausible and relevant to projects of social criticism today. Given Foucault’s emphasis on the ways in which individuals are constituted by power, there is a real question as to the extent to which individuals are capable of criticizing modes of power that go as far as to “normalize” them into particular ways of behaving. Criticisms of Foucault have often focused on the idea that power deterministically shapes the actions of individuals as well as the argument that if the human subject is merely a construct of power, then there is nothing stable to appeal to (such as human nature or fundamental human rights) when trying make claims about injustice, oppression, etc. Getting clear on Foucault’s accounts of power and the subject will involve drawing a distinction between power and domination and dispelling the idea that power determines actions. I will then be in a position to argue that there are methods of social criticism available to those who would take Foucault’s accounts seriously. Genealogy and a version of immanent critique (without the idea of a rational and necessary dialectical synthesis) are both methods of historically contextualized social criticism that Foucault himself employs.