What an Apparatus is Not: On the Archeology of the Norm in Foucault, Canguilhem, and Goldstein

May 29th, 2015

  • Pasquinelli, Matteo (2015). “What an Apparatus is Not: On the Archeology of the Norm in Foucault, Canguilhem, and Goldstein”. Parrhesia 22,  79-89. +PDF
  • Italian translation: “Che cosa (non) è un dispositivo: Sull’archeologia della norma in Canguilhem, Foucault e Agamben”. In: D. Gentili and E. Stimilli (eds) Differenze Italiane: Politica e filosofia, mappe e sconfinamenti. Roma: Derive Approdi, 2015. +PDF
  • German translation: “Was ein Dispositiv nicht ist: Archäologie der Norm bei Foucault, Canguilhem und Goldstein”. In:  G. Siegmund et al. (eds) Theater als Dispositiv. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 2016. +PDF

 

Abstract. This essay clarifies the genealogy of the term and concept of dispositif in Foucault against a recent interpretation introduced by Agamben, one which via Hegel reduces the biopolitical dispositif to the idea of the theological dispositio, i.e. the Divine Plan according to early Christianity. On the contrary, this essay argues that Foucault was influenced by his master Canguilhem’s notion of socio-organic normativity, when in 1975 he introduced the idea of the dispositif of biopower as a normative project. The dispositif is then traced back, theoretically and philologically, to the definition of social normativity that Foucault takes from Canguilhem’s The Normal and the Pathological (1966) and to the use of the term dispositif by Canguilhem himself in the essay “Machine and Organism” (1952). Both these lineages proceed from the notion of organic normativity that Canguilhem adopts from the German-Jewish neurologist Kurt Goldstein, that is from a tradition of Lebensphilosophie that appears to be incompatible with Agamben’s theological thesis. However, the essay “Machine and Organism” also reveals that a critique of the theological dispositif was certainly not absent when this term was first discussed by Canguilhem in relation to the gears of power. In conclusion, the genealogy of normativity behind the notion of dispositif points once again to an under-recognized issue in the current theorizations of subjectivity, namely the normative autonomy of the subject and its constituent abnormality.

Simplified genealogy of biophilosophy and cybernetics +PDF

biophilosophy-cybernetics

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