Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

By Michael Peters; James Marshall | Go to book overview

4
The Self: Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Foucault

How one becomes what one is

-- Nietzsche, 1992, p. 1

Neither Wittgenstein nor Foucault saluted each other in person or explicitly in print. When Wittgenstein died in April 1951 Foucault, still a student at École Normal Supérieure, was preparing for his second attempt at the aggrégation, after which he was to continue studies at the Fondation Thiers, and then take a lowly teaching position at the University of Lille in 1952. Wittgenstein would not have been aware of Foucault's existence.

However, Foucault was aware of Wittgenstein, although he has claimed that he did not study him in detail ( Miller, 1993, p. 131, quoting from an interview in 1989 with Hans Sluga, a Wittgenstein scholar). Arnold Davidson ( 1997, p. 2) draws our attention, however, to a lecture given by Foucault in Japan in 1978 ( Foucault, 1978, p. 540f.): "For a long time one has known that the role of philosophy is not to discover what is hidden, but to make visible precisely what is visible, that is to say, to make evident what is so close, so immediate, so intimately linked to us, that because of that we do not perceive it. Whereas the role of science is to reveal what we do not see, the role of philosophy is to let us see what we see."

There are a number of passages in Wittgenstein Philosophical Investigations that bear close similarities to what Foucault has said in this brief extract, for example, "Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual

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