Le foucaldien

Should Critique be Tamed by Realism? A Defense of Radical Critiques of Reason

In Le foucaldien 5.1 (2019), 1–35.

Abstract

Critique, and especially radical critique of reason, is under pressure from two opponents. Whereas the proponents of “post-critical” or “acritical” thinking denounce critique as an empty and self-righteous repetition of debunking, the decriers of “post-truth” accuse critique of having helped to bring about our current “post-truth” politics. Both advocate realism as a limit critique must respect, but I will defend the claim that we urgently need radical critiques of reason because they offer a more precise diagnosis of the untruths in politics the two opponents of critique are rightfully worried about. Radical critiques of reason are possible, I argue, if we turn our attention to the practices of criticizing, if we refrain from a sovereign epistemology, and if we pluralize reason without trivializing it. In order to demonstrate the diagnostic advantage of radical critiques of reason, I briefly analyze the political and epistemic strategy at work in two exemplary untruths in politics.