Badiou interviews Michel Foucault (1965) 1/3 English Subtitles

Uploaded by mmanu19 on 28.12.2010

"It is the same
to have your eyes closed without ever opening them
--Said Descartes--
and to live without Philosophy".
The teachings of Philosophy
Philosophy and Psychology
There is a life of philosophy outside of the classrooms
a city of philosophers that encloses and nourishes it
Talk between Mr. Alan badiou, professor at the Reims High School, and
Michel Foucault, Professor of Social Sciences and Humanities
What is Psychology?
Generally, when that question is formulated,
and moreover to a psychologist,
we are, in fact, asking two very different questions.
First we are asking: What is Psychology about?
But I do not think that is the most important question,
and that it worries about the most.
I have the impression that in formulating that question,
"what is Psychology?"
we are automatically asking a more fundamental one:
"Is Psychology a science?"
I have just said a triviality,
but anyways, I think that it is very important.
It is because it is public and notorious
that the scientific status of Psychology
is not well established, nor is it really clear.
And I fear that, in asking this question
of if Psychology is a science,
we are omitting a more fundamental question;
one that would allow us to solve, if not all,
at least the most essential one.
I would like that we not only interrogate psychology
about the type of objectivity that it can reach
the form of science that it is capable of,
but that we interrogate psychology
like any other type of culture.
What do you understand by "type of culture"?
By "type of culture",
I understand the type in which,
within a determined culture,
there forms a knowing,
there is institutionalized,
there is liberated a language that is proper to
and, eventually, reaches a certain type of
"science" or "para-science".
I would like that we interrogate Psychology in that sense.
In what sense Psychology in western culture
is a type of knowing
and if said knowing could be considered a science
or eventually not.
From that point of view, what would be your answer?
I think that Psychology
belongs to a certain type of culture
that was constructed in the western world,
perhaps in the 19th century´╝î
and this type of culture,
having emerged at that moment,
does not date completely back to the 19th century.
It is evident that the type of culture
founded by Psychology
is inscribed in the history of the other types of culture.
I think of, for example, in what could have been confessional
during the christian centuries.
I think, similarly,
in what could have been literature or the theatre
in the functioning of those institutions
during the course of the Middle Ages,
even in the 16th century; the call to love, the saloon.
It's about this interrogation that man
always formulated to himself about man himself,
the question that in a given moment
took on this type of culture,
is what we today call Psychology.
You didn't refer to Philosophy.
Philosophy, then, is not a type of culture
or there does not exist a link between Psychology
as a type of culture and Philosophy?
You are asking me different questions.
You are asking me if philosophy is or not a type of cultures.
And you are asking me if Philosophy and Psychology,
understanding both as types of culture,
have a relationship between them, and finally,
you are asking me what is the relationship
that could exist between these two types of cultures.
To the first question, I think we could reply
by saying that Philosophy probably is
the most characteristic and general type of culture
of the western world.
Since greek thought
and even Heidegger...and even the present,
Philosophy was the mirror
where western culture was always reflected.
In that sense, Philosophy is not a type of culture,
But the most general type of culture of our culture.
And now, the question of if there exists a relationship
between the type of culture that Philosophy is
and the type of culture that Psychology is,
What can we reply to that question?
We can reply in two ways.
We can say that Psychology
did nothing more that retake,
in a positive and scientific style,
a series of questions
that had been hounding Philosophy
during the previous centuries,
and that Psychology
in treating conduct and behaviour,
did nothing more than demystify on one side
and make positive on the other
notions such as those of the soul or of thought.
In that sense, Psychology would be purely and simply
the scientific version of what, up to that moment,
had been hidden under the form of Philosophy.
And like this, Psychology seems to be
the type of culture in which the western man
questions himself
and Psychology would be the fundamental relationship
between man and himself in a culture like ours.
But there exists another possible reply
and this is my favorite.
It would consist in saying that, Philosophy, in being
the most universal type of culture of the west,
was produced in a given moment,
within the said type of culture
and within the interrogators that authorized
there came about a highly fundamental event
that probably dates back to the 19th century
maybe the late 18th century.
This event was the apparition of what we can call
a type of anthropologic reflection,
that is to say, for the first time there appeared in that moment
the question that Kant formulated in his Logic
"What is man?"
But before Kant,
there are other works titled "on the human nature,"
there exists a reflection about man.
Yes, but I think that the reflection about man...
in the 17th and 18th centuries...
those works over human nature,
about man, in reality did nothing more than
produce a second-order reflection
with respect to the philosophic reflection.
That is to say, the problem of Philosophy
was, at least since the christian era,
a reflection about infinity.
Man only put forth questions
with respect to this Philosophy of Infinity.
We were asking ourselves in what conditions
and how was it possible that finite beings could,
on one side, have real knowledge;
that is to say, knowledge of infinity
and, despite it, eternally reside in the finitude
because of things like error, dreams, or the imagination.
In that sense, the question, "What is man?"
was not the fundamental question of Philosophy.
And after Kant, there is a change of perspective...
With Kant comes a change in perspective. For the first time,
Philosophy asked itself primitively
about the finite, it is from the finite
that Philosphical questioning breaks away.
Moreover, it is characteristic that, from past times,
thought over the finite
had emerged from Mathematics.
However, Critique of Pure Reason
is not an anthropology.
Yes, but I would reply with Kant's text in Logic.
When Kant formulates three questions:
"What can I know?, what should I do?,
and what can I expect?"
these are related
to another fourth question Was ist der Mensch?
meaning, "What is man?"
and this is the question of Anthropology
and the most general question of Philosopy.
And in that sense, I think that Kant, if not the founder,
he is at least the discoverer
of this new Philosophical field
that is Anthropology, which came in the 19th century
and through the dialectic of Hegel and Marx,
rediscovered the area which traditionally
had belonged to Philosophy.