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The Department of Philosophy Colloquium Series presents:
Locating Foucault's Genealogies in Sellars Logical Space of Reason
Guest Speaker: Sean Wilcox (Graduate Student)
Day/Date: Thursday, February 13, 2020
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Abstract: If Sellars read Foucault he would have identified with his project and been deeply impressed with the results. The History of Madness reveals that construction of the mentally ill subject by psychiatry was not scientific, but an epistemically suspicious new form of social control. Foucault’s genealogies show that the truth is the product of historically relative power relations and can lead to what I want to call a “philosophical hissy-fit.” If some proposition is caught up with relations of force then it must be false. If Foucault’s genealogies are immersed in the systems they describe, then they undercut their own epistemic foundation as well. How can he use reason to critique rationality? This makes the work of Sellars vitally important. Sellars provides the justification and framework for a theory of knowledge which is located in power relations i.e.normative social practices, and then Foucault shows us what this theory entails in a world full of language speaking, obligate social creatures like us. The conception of knowledge which emerges from Sellars makes it clear why a genealogy is not self-refuting. Knowledge is not based on certainty, it is located in our shared practices of justification. The strength of a claim lies in its ability to justify itself justifiably i.e.by following the appropriate rules of inference, not because it is indubitable in some foundational sense. It is false that Foucault is an irrationalist. The forms of rationality he calls into question just are some of the inferential networks in the logical space of reasons, and his genealogical critiques just are a part of the self-correcting enterprise which is rationality itself.
Everyone is welcome.