Eric Steere's Reviews > The Chomsky - Foucault Debate: On Human Nature

The Chomsky - Foucault Debate by Noam Chomsky
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May 21, 12

Although probably not the best introduction to Foucault and Chomsky's thought (though Chomsky does tend to follow a more linear position), this debate is more indicative of their respective approaches to the social sciences. As Chomsky posits a kind of communitarian society or set of cosmopolitan social relations, Foucault questions the institutions that individuals are embedded within as a kind of power structure bent on maintaining the status quo and controlling those elements of society in "need" of coercion. He goes further and suggests that all state institutions, down from the clinic and police station to the seemingly "benign" institution of the university are actually in need of interrogation (through language, through discourse) to determine how they ultimately maintain and enforce a certain cet of power relations. Their approaches are different, for example Foucault rarely answers questions but asks his own, but most noticeable in these debates are Chomsky's poise and Foucault's incendiary violence in words. Enjoy!
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Quotes Eric Liked

Michel Foucault
“The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.”
Michel Foucault, The Chomsky - Foucault Debate: On Human Nature

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