Foucault on experiences and the historical a priori

with Husserl in the rearview mirror of history

Thomas R Flynn

pp. 55-65

I defend three claims regarding Foucault's historical a priori (HP) and the intelligibility of history that counter commonly received accounts of Husserl's approach to the same. First, Foucault is not a transcendental thinker in the Kantian sense of the term. His use of the HP is contingent, postdictive, regional and hypothetical. Second, the three "axes" of the dyads knowledge/truth, power/government, and subjectivation/ethics along with Foucault's "history of the present" enclose a space called "experience" Erfahrung as nonreflective and "freed from inner life." At this point, "experience" and "multiplicity" (relation without unity) coalesce to confirm Foucault's anti-phenomenological bias and nominalist commitment. Finally, the relations of transformation and displacement that define archaeological change support a "fittingness" between the epistemes in question. Neither necessitating nor aleatory, their relation could be called "aesthetic" in a broad sense. I conclude by listing ways Husserl's approach to historical intelligibility is the inverse of Foucault's.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/s11007-015-9357-x

Full citation:

Flynn, T.R. (2016). Foucault on experiences and the historical a priori: with Husserl in the rearview mirror of history. Continental Philosophy Review 49 (1), pp. 55-65.

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