<2014.4>: Technology, Modernity and Practice, or Kant, Heidegger and Foucault. An exercice with permanent reference to Dreyfus's “On the ordering of things”.  23.018 Zeichen. online 30. 12. 2014 .html

a. Foucault's links to Heidegger etc.

b. Toward a semantics of "progress"/"moderne Geschichtsphilosophie"

c. Kant between anthropology and Geschichtsphilosophie

d. Foucault's split view toward Kant

e. From Kant/Habermas to Heidegger and Foucault again

f. Endnotes

a. Foucault's links to Heidegger etc.

Foucault's thought comes from a hidden anthropology. He is Aufklärer, committed to enlightenment in his lecture about Kant including a certain morality and aesthetics of existence. Peculiarly, his project is, as Habermas says, connected with the "Dispute of the Faculties". And when Foucault alludes to the Kantian triplicity (as expressed in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Lectures about Logics), the space for an implicit interpretation of Kant is opened more than ever. This interpretation may be traced back to his thèse complémentaire consisting of a translation of Kant's Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View and an introduction to it (374 and 128 pages).

Perhaps we can suppose that because of this Foucault read Heidegger in the German original. We can further suppose, that reading Heidegger in France's 1950es must have taken place in a field of forces strongly dominated by the Sartre and Merleau-Ponty (0), intentionalist and political variants of phenomenology. Especially the latter derives from a reading based on Hegel, to whom Sartre and Merleau-Ponty were exposed by Alexandre Kojève. A strong anti-Hegelian view of things develops in a complicate relationship to Marxism and its philosophy of history and to the epistemology of Gaston Bachelard and the history of science of Georges Canguilhem. Foucault's The Order of the Discourse confirms this explicitly. As Dreyfus shows in "The Ordering of Things" – Hubert L. Dreyfus, On the ordering of things: Being and power in Heidegger and Foucault, in: Southern Journal of Philosophy 28 (1990), 83-96 – , Foucault has been inspired of Heidegger for his relativization of the human sciences and their epistemic conditions which are dealt with in the analysis of the modern institutions and forms of discourses and knowledge.

And to the surprise of some, already Heidegger unfolded in the course of preparation of "Sein und Zeit" a criticism of anthropology, more hidden than revealed. Heidegger's book Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics mirrors this fact. The problem of metaphysics is to be understood rather with a fundamental foundation by means of a Kant after the anthropological turn than merely in the perspective of critique. Explicitly, Heidegger relates to the famous passage of Kant's Lectures on Logics. I do not want to claim right away, that Being and Time as a whole figures as a meta-/pre-philosophical anthropology (philosophische Anthropologie), notwithstanding the critique of ontology and phenomenolgy. Although exactly that would make sense for the vehement debate between both "anthropologists" Dreyfus and Rabinow.

I only want to say at this point, that both Heidegger and Foucault are critical towards modernity and (modern) technology prompting the rejection of a concept of historical progress – for Heidegger the reason for rejecting a supposedly still deeper apostasy from the true history of being and for Foucault because of a scientistically sharpened claim of an auto-critique and enlightening of Modernity (and later of antiquity as well), both of them requiring a solid standpoint of be it an interpreter, be it an archaeologist or genealogist in the place for a redefinition of Weberian "Science as profession".

b. Toward a semantics of "progress"/"moderne Geschichtsphilosophie"

At least since Augustine human being is conceived of as a historical being. But it may be that only since 1800 this being is seen as the sole contents of history. On the contrary to this, it is the natural tendency of anthropologies to show history as a (structural) effect of human being's culture. According to Odo Marquard – Schwierigkeiten mit der Geschichtsphilosophie, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1973 – we can suppose a mutual relationship of compensation between anthropology and Geschichtsphilosophie. Neither of them does without the other. History is seen not religiously (as progressing by grace like the possibilities of an individual fate) but "modern", equipped by mechanist, physicalist and biologist perspectives, the aspects of which are necessity, determinism, increasement, accumulation, expansion, biologically finalistic self control, self subjection (mastery), development, evolution, economical-technological domination of nature directed onto wealth, welfare. The philosophy of history needs to assert itself against a philosophical anthropology, against a regional ontology of man, against those human sciences which state man as non-identifiable being as Nietzsche put it.

c. Kant between anthropology and Geschichtsphilosophie.

In Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, Heidegger holds, with Kant, that human reason reveals finitude in the three (or four) questions of limitedness, even that its interest aims at finitude itself (1). "Because these three questions ask about this one [problem], finitude, 'they let themselves be related' to the fourth: What is a human being?" (2). Pure sensibility and pure reason are derived in Heidegger from (transcendental) imagination. The position of radicality, allegedly suspected by Kant, destroys "the former foundation of Western metaphysics (spirit, logos, reason" and "demands a radical, renewed unveiling of the grounds for the possibility of metaphysics as natural disposition of human beings, i.e., a metaphysics of Dasein directed at the possibility of metaphysics as such, which must pose the question concerning the essence of human beings in a way which is  p r i o r  to all philosophical anthropology and cultural philosophy" (3)

The finitude of man – is it not exposed to an analytics which reaches concerning modernity far beyond the one of Being and Time? Here it is Foucault who detects an analytics of finitude at work against synthetic philosophies representing infinity up to Hegel (4) and an empirical analytics in the human sciences since Kant which is adjacent to Heidegger's concept of Dasein (5).

Explicitly and following to the operations of approach, carrying-through and setting originarity, Heidegger's own foundation of metaphysics as projected on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason sets in with a fourth course of "repetition" (not unlike Freud's Wiederholung and picked up later by Deleuze) made possible by means of a reperspectivation not within a pragmatic anthropology (Kant), but a philosophical anthropology. Accordingly, there is at stake, as announced in the title of § 40 of Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, "The Original Working-Out of the Question of Being as the Way to the Problem of Finitude in Human Beings" (6), as known from Aristotle's Physics. The paragraph concludes with renaming finitude with Dasein whose existentials in its own characteristics can only be revealed by a fundamental ontology as such. (7)

If this project is really founded by way of a new determination of transcendental imagination we may be tempted to see even "The Age of the World-Picture" of 1938/52 (8) being fed by Kant. A picture in Kant as an unthematized result of an objectivation of (transcendental) imagination is a picture per se of the world as partial as it may be: This world picture could for Heidegger simply be founded in being-in-the world. But for reasons unknown (perhaps due to the long distance between first draft and final version), Heidegger in "The Age of the World-Picture" presents the product "imagination" as a historical one of world picture. Hereby arise questions. Does Heidegger admit that the destruction of the history of ontology cannot have been achieved in Being and Time? Does the vacuum of pre-philosophical-anthropological thought catch up by means of a suspicious philosophy of history?

In the 1950's as already earlier, Heidegger is engaged in a critique of the metaphysics of the self-empowering Cartesian subject which steadily belongs more and more to the oblivion of being (Seinsvergessenheit). Therefore a critique of the self-empowering subject needs to be carried out within a framework of a history of being (with technology as one of its destinies) by which the subject enjoys extreme enhancement. Be this as it may, even in Heidegger the project of criticism/critique is founded on a basis both historico-philosophical and anthropological.

d. Foucault's split view towards Kant

Unfortunately and without touching the thèse, for Foucault "Kant" means as generally during the 1960s that period of modernity which changes reason from medium and realization of representation to a self-limiting subjectivity, or to put it in more Kantian terms, the change from metaphysics of nature and morals based on the business of the critique toward an increasement of the dynamics of the finite subject within a historical horizon of enlightenment. This change may be seen most clearly in The Order of Things.

If the human sciences disappear with man, should not have philosophy vanished long since? In consequence the change of the epistemes signified with the Kantian turn is transformed to a methodological instrument which should be used for a historical analysis of discourse and power. The resulting Archaeology of Knowledge, a kind of Critique of Pure Reason, resolves all critique of pragmatic reason in a Nietzschean genealogy of power. Notwithstanding the political engagement of the specific intellectual, Foucault seems to have lost Kantian practical perspectives in the course of the consequences drawn by his criticism of Marxism amd modern Geschichtsphilosophie only to win the capacity of recognizing history – post factum – as a game of powers all the more concisely. That remains unsatisfying.

Therefore Foucault resumes anew a Kantian reflection in the course of his work for a historical anthropology of the self, now with the emphasis not of a retrospectively situated Copernican turn, but with a prospectively tuned political turn. Foucault mentions in "What is Enlightenment?" (9) explicitly the connection of Kant's "Beantwortung der Frage ..." with the three critiques, albeit without showing this in detail (10). But how is a criticism of the three Critiques – a handbook of reason in enlightenment embodying the age of critique – to fit in a teleology of time removed by the third Critique to the realm of observing nature on the one hand and an enthusiasm for progress in Kant's "Dispute of the Faculties" and "Ideas for a history in the purpose of world citizenship" on the other? Did Kant himself abandon the big threefold project for the sake of an anthropological and historical transformation defined as an attitude of modernity according to Foucault – a transformation as approached explicitly and deliberately by Fichte, Schiller, Hegel, Feuerbach und Marx?

e. From Kant/Habermas to Heidegger and Foucault again

Kant's schema of triplicity alters only slightly in more recent times, for instance in Habermas. The practical dimension of The Groundwork for a Metaphysics of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason becomes Habermas's critical-emancipatory dimension. The pragmatical dimension of Kant's cited two works becomes, enrichened with aesthetic judgment, Habermas's practical-hermeneutical dimension. The trancendental analytic and its mechanistic world-picture as derived from The Critique of Pure Reason and the teleological judgement of the Critique of Judgement – probably the result of the influence of Horkheimer's Kant-thesis and his Critique of Instrumental Reason, a criticism of a world historically universalized alluding to Kant's technology of nature – are packed into the technical-instrumental dimension. Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action emerges from a critical social theory of modern man being society at all. From this conception it is easy to see the role of the intellectual. For processes of planning one has to encourage and guide emancipatory action regarding its practical-hermeneutic conditions in relation to the technical-instrumental needs.

Heidegger's early philosophy arises from an active interpretation of a Critique of Pure Reason seen through the perspective of a phenomenology (critical of Kant) in the Husserlian provenance and an existential characteristics of a reading of Kierkegaard (critical of Hegel). While theoretical, pragmatical and teloelogical parts of the Kantian body enter the analysis of Dasein and its background practices, the transcendental analytics and teleological judgement become important for "The Age of the World-Picture" and teleological judgement in particular for "The Question Concerning Technology".

It is more difficult to schematize Foucault's work if it is to be centered in midst of a leading concept. One can describe his several phases almost along the three Critiques. One can see Kant with Foucault as a point in history founding subjectivity as well as a threshold between the classical system and modern anthropology. After the analysis of (meta-)discourses, the microphysics of power in the early 1970's can only connect to the dissolution of pragmatic-practical reason of a Nietzschean will to power. Not until the 1980's will Foucault find a way back to Kant's triple project of enlightenment by locating Kant's Geschichtsphilosophie and its Enthusiasm in an esthetics of existence and a modern attitude forming thereby an expanded question after enlightenment.

f. Endnotes

(0) Of Heidegger's works was translated into French 1931 the shorter texts "Von der Natur der Ursache" and "Was ist Metaphysik", 1938 a collection of "Essais", 1948 the lecture "Vom Wesen der Wahrheit" and only in 1953, at the time Foucault had started his reading Heidegger, Heidegger's first book in French Kant et le problème de la métaphysique (compare footnote 1 in Dreyfus about Heidegger and Foucault). One must not underestimate Sartre's role of a mediator between the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger and the phenomenological studies of young Foucault. Sartre was the first, under the conditions and influence of the résistance, to "translate" Heidegger. He has with Heidegger in common an early strong phenomenological period: Sartre publishes 1936 the book "L'imagination" and the article "La transcendence de l'ego", in 1938 "La nausée" and the article "La structure intentionnelle de l'image" (Revue de Metaphysique et de Morale, 45: 4, Oct. 1938, 543-609), 1939 "Esquisse d'une théorie des émotions" and 1940 "L'imaginaire: psychologie phénoménologique de l'imagination". However, there are dissimilarities between Sartre and Heidegger, for instance the distancing "Brief über den Humanismus" of the latter and the influence of Hegel's Phenomenology of Mind via Kojève's lectures of 1930-36 and Hyppolite's first translation in 1939/41 on the former. This influence is at work in L'être et le néant (1943), and it might have bothered Foucault in his occupation with medical phenomenology (Binswanger) and in his Marxism-Leninism or Anti-Marxism (comp. Dreyfus, op.cit.) Finally should be mentioned a personal parallel: Sartre and Foucault enjoy stays in Germany by help of the Institut français. Whereas the former looks for Husserl and finds Heidegger, the latter enters German 1950's soaked in with Heidegger and undoubtedly aware of that fact. We may suppose that Foucault read Heidegger's Kant-book in French started to think about a translation of whatever of Kant. Probably, Heidegger's Kant-book (1953) set Foucault's perspective towards the difficult Sein und Zeit which appeared in French as L'Être et le temps only in 1964.

(1) Kant subordinates the three questions of the three critiques to a forth one at least since 1793. On May 4 of that year he writes in a letter to Carl Friedrich Stäudlin (Akademie-Ausgabe XI, p.414): "My plan since some time ago of the working of the field of pure philosophy incumbent on me was directed to the solution of the three tasks: 1) What can I know? (metaphysics) 2) what should I do? (morals) 3) What may I hope? (religion) – , which should follow at last the forth one: What is man? (anthropology; on which I have read already since more than 20 years yearly in the Collegium)." (my translation) Heidegger relates to the passage which is more known: "Philosophy is thus the system of philosophical knowledge or the knowledge of reason out of concepts. That is the notion of school of this science. According to the notion of world it is the science of the last goals of human reason. ... the field of philosophy with the purpose of world citizenship can be brought to following questions: 1) What can I know? 2) What should I do? 3) What may I hope? 4) What is man? The first question answers metaphysics, the second morals, the third religion, and the forth anthropology. Basically one could count all of this as belonging to anthropology, because the three first questions relate to the last one" (my translation) – a surprising statement with regard of its late utterance, considering the fact that the Lectures on Logics, as edited and introduced by Gottlob Benjamin Jäsche in 1800, counted as Kant's conservative standing leg since 1765! This course was at first based on Georg Friedrich Meier's Extract of the Doctrine on Reason (Halle, bei Gebauer, 1752) and expanded to logics with the annotations at the margins and on additional paper for a Doctrine of Cognition as a Propedeutics (introduction). This logic consisted primarily of an elementary doctrine of concept, proposition and conclusion and a short doctrine of method – short because its materials were taught already in the introduction, for instance demonstrations, definitions, a logical taxonomy of concepts. Besides, Kant extended on the history of logics, which for him consisted mainly of Aristotle's Analytics, Lambert's Organon and the general logic of the Leibniz/Wolf school as delivered by Baumgarten and Meier. Compare Kant's Critique of Practical Reason (Akademie-Ausgabe V, p. 143: "I want that a god ... be," in Reflexionen zur Metaphysik of 1776/77) and that philosophy is "practical knowledge of man". Also keep in mind that Kant read besides logics, metaphysics and ethics in the fall term anthropology, in the spring term physical geography.

(2) Martin Heidegger, Kant und das Problem der Metaphysik, 4th, Enlarged edition, Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann 1973, 211 (Martin Heidegger, Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, 2nd Edition, Enlarged, Bloomington-IN: Indiana University Press 1990, 148). In the Vorbemerkungen to the third German edition of 1965, included in both volumes, the problem of metaphysics is rendered as "the question concerning beings <entities> as such in their totality" (XIX), and the preface of the forth edition states: "Das Kantbuch bleibt eine auf einem fragwürdigen Umweg versuchte Einleitung in die noch weiter bestehende Fragwürdigkeit der in 'Sein und Zeit' gestellten Zeitfrage." (XV) One of the slips of the mid-thirties of Heidegger's personal copy of the book, reproduced in the final editions, reads "vgl. IV. Absch(nitt) Anfang zu neuem Anfang" (XIII), which is the division with the anthropological turn stemming from Being and Time.

(3) Martin Heidegger, “Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and the Task of a Foundation of Metaphysics” <résumé of the three lectures in Davos, March 17 through April 6, 1929 under the same title>, in: Davoser Revue IV (1929), Nr. 7, pp. 194-196; reprinted in: Martin Heidegger, Kant ..., pp. 243-245 (English edition 169-171), here p. 245 (171). It is most important to emphasize that with the consent of Heidegger the book's 4th edition closes with the first publication of a "Disputation" between Heidegger and Cassirer which took place in Davos right after the lectures of either one, as recorded by pupils of Heidegger. The discussion, amongst many important points, shows clearly that if there is any humanism in 1929 Heidegger then it is certainly not rooted in practical but theoretical reason of transcendental imagination as seen through the anthropological lens of Dasein.

(4) Georg W.F. Hegel, Preface to Science of Logics (1812), in general his phrase of the representation of god by the word (Begriff).

(5) Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, 9.III. There can be no doubt that Foucault's 1963 thèse complémentaire (translation of and introduction to Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View) has been formed under the impression of his occupation with Heidegger in the 1950's and in opposition to ahistorical/antirelativist structural anthropology.

(6) Heidegger, Kant ... , pp. 215-219 (151-154).

(7) op. Cit., 224-239 (157-168).

(8) Martin Heidegger, Die Zeit des Weltbildes, in: M.H., Holzwege, Tübingen: Niemeyer 1952, again in: Holzwege, Gesamtausgabe, vol. 5, pp. 75-113.

(9) Michel Foucault, What is Enlightenment <Magazine littéraire, May 1983>, in: Paul Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader, New York: Pantheon Books 1984, pp. 32-50. The same connection is established by Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno in Dialektik der Aufklärung the Hegelianism of which had already been slowed down in Cassirer's Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, vol. 2, and Philosophy of the Enlightenment. The latter book is the only one to which Foucault devoted a publication during the years of writing and publicizing The Order of Things: a review in 1966.

(10) In his 1984 answer to Foucault entitled "Taking Aim at the Heart of the Present: On Foucault's Lecture on Kant's What is Enlightenment ?" (Mit dem Pfeil ins Herz der Gegenwart: Zu Foucaults Vorlesung über Kants „Was ist Aufklärung“, in: taz, 7. Juli 1984) Jürgen Habermas points at Kant's "Dispute of the Philosophical with the Juridic Faculty. Renewed Question: Whether Mankind Is in Continuing Progress to the Better", for instance to the "Sign of History" as described by Kant (signum rememorativum, demonstrativum, prognosticon) for the "tendency" of mankind as a whole (A 142) and at this passage: "For this event is too great, too much interwoven with the interest of mankind and, according to its influence, spread out on the world in all its parts, as that it should not be brought to the mind of the peoples in any case of favorable conditons and should not be awakened for the repetition of new attempts of this kind." (A 150) And Habermas remembers that on A 144 Kant speaks of the enthusiasm as a desire for an event that proves the tendency to the better. "Now, this and the participation in the good with affect, the enthusiasm, although it, because all kinds of affect as such deserve blame, is not to be granted wholly, this induces the important remark for anthropology: that true enthusiasm can only be grafted upon the Ideal <das Idealische> and that is the purely moral, as is the concept of law, and not upon self-interest <Eigennutz>."A145-6

© Peter Mahr 2014