Genealogy as Critique: Foucault and the Problems of Modernity — New Book by Colin Koopman

Some of you will remember Colin Koopman’s 2009 Pragmatism as Transition, which treats the usual pragmatist suspects old and new (Dewey and James, Rorty and Putnam), but with the help of some perhaps-unlikely figures (Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Bernard Williams, and Stanley Cavell). The text labors to reconcile select conflicts within the tradition, as well as to rescue certain pragmatist insights for the sake of a forward-looking critical-philosophical project.  His second book, just out from Indiana University Press, takes that forward-looking critical-philosophical project as both its object of inquiry and aim. More information about the text can be found here, and below.


Viewing Foucault in the light of work by Continental and American philosophers, most notably Nietzsche, Habermas, Deleuze, Richard Rorty, Bernard Williams, and Ian Hacking, Genealogy as Critique shows that philosophical genealogy involves not only the critique of modernity but also its transformation. Colin Koopman engages genealogy as a philosophical tradition and a method for understanding the complex histories of our present social and cultural conditions. He explains how our understanding of Foucault can benefit from productive dialogue with philosophical allies to push Foucaultian genealogy a step further and elaborate a means of addressing our most intractable contemporary problems.

Table of contents
Introduction: What Genealogy Does
1. Critical Historiography: Politics, Philosophy & Problematization
2. Three Uses of Genealogy: Subversion, Vindication & Problematization
3. What Problematization Is: Contingency, Complexity & Critique
4. What Problematization Does: Aims, Sources & Implications
5. Foucault’s Problematization of Modernity: The Reciprocal Incompatibility of Discipline and Liberation
6. Foucault’s Reconstruction of Modern Moralities: An Ethics of Self-Transformation
7. Problematization plus Reconstruction: Genealogy, Pragmatism & Critical Theory

Colin Koopman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oregon and author of Pragmatism as Transition: Historicity and Hope in James, Dewey, and Rorty.

For those of you interested in Foucault studies, Clare O’Farrell does an exemplary job administering Foucault News.  I’ve also heard rumor of a conference in Paris this June on Foucault and Wittgenstein, but can’t seem to find an announcement online.  I hope you’ll contact me with any leads!



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