Lyotard, Foucault, and "Philosophical Politics"
In order to avoid repeating the type of totalizing systems they criticize, Lyotard and Foucault restrict their "philosophical politics" (Lyotard's term) to negating totalities and valorizing only the most indeterminate bases for political judgments: "bearing witness to difference" for Lyotard and "giving new impetus to... the undefined work of freedom" for Foucault. I argue that these indeterminate principles lead to unacceptable political consequences. These consequences can be overcome, however, by reformulating Lyotard's and Foucault's characterizations of society in terms of the notion of a "multi-voiced body" and Mikhail Bakhtin's concept of "hybridization". Besides precluding the unacceptable consequences of Lyotard's and Foucault's philosophical politics, this reformulation avoids any commitment to the constricting metanarratives that Lyotard, Foucault, and other postmodernists repudiate.
Keywords: Foucault, Lyotard, Philosophical Politics, Bakhtin, Multi-Voiced Body.
Prof. Fred Evans
Professor, Dept. of Philosophy, Duquesne University