Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

By Michael Peters; James Marshall | Go to book overview

293). All of these models must be subjected to historical and philosophical examination.

This knowledge that one has of the forms that the self takes (self-knowing) is active and highly political as it was for the Greeks. For the philosopher this becomes doubly so, "in terms of intensity, in the degree of zeal for the self, and consequently, also for others, the place of the philosopher is not that of just any free man" ( Foucault, 1984a, p. 293). Here Foucault was assigning a special role for the philosopher that Wittgenstein was reluctant to assign. In Foucault's case it was a role that was academic because it was also scholarly, although it was philosophy not in the normal and more traditional academic sense but in a very overt sense of the political. This was foreshadowed by the curriculum that he had established as professor of philosophy at Vincennes, and that was to be criticized by Minister of Education Oliver Guichard, and ultimately excluded from the national accreditation of degrees in philosophy in 1970 ( Eribon, 1991, p. 207).

Foucault was to respond with these questions in Le Nouvel Observateur (quoted in Eribon, 1991): "What is the reason for this quarantine? What is so dangerous about philosophy that so much care must go into protecting it? And what is so dangerous about people from Vincennes?" These were questions that might well have been posed to the critics of Wittgenstein and his works. More recently they are applicable to the violent rejection by many philosophers of the recent proposal to offer Jacques Derrida an honorary degree at Cambridge.


CONCLUSION

For both Wittgenstein and Foucault there is no such thing as a self, if we mean by that a substance referred to by "I." Foucault sees it as a kind of logical form, not fixed or immutable, capable of change through care by the self of the self, and a concomitant reconceptualizing of the self. (We will discuss this notion of care in Chapter 11.) This is not, however, a metaphysical notion of the self like that of Schopenhauer, vestiges of which remained with Wittgenstein.

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