Midst Anthropology's Problems

Excerpt From Essay

"In Les Mots et les choses (1966) Michel Foucault identified three arenas of discourse that in their (unstable and incomplete) coalescence at the end of the Classical Age constituted the object called man (rhomme). This figure emerges at the intersection of three domains—life, labor, and language—unstably unified around (and constituting) a would-be sovereign subject. The doubling of a transcendental subject and an empirical object and their dynamic and unstable relations defined the form of this being. In 1966 Foucault held an epochal view of man and of modernity. In his conclusion, Foucault intimated the imminent coming of a new configuration of language about to sweep the figure of man away like "a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea" (1966:398, my translation). It now appears that this presage was miscast: In the ensuing decades, language (in its modality as poiesis) has not turned out to be the site of radical formal transformations through which this being, man, would either disappear entirely, as Foucault intimated, or would transmute into a new type of being as predicted by Gilles Deleuze (1988)."

"Midst Anthropology's Problems," Paul Rabinow (135).

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