Archaeology and Contradiction: An Existential Critique of Foucault’s Theory of Discursive Practice
Foucault’s work can be understood as defined by a contradiction: his denial of the knowing subject is only intelligible in terms of the transcendental grounds Foucault rejects as untenable. 1ltis contradiction manifests most sharply in his notion of archaeology, wherein his theory of discursive practice is exemplified. 1ltis paper traces the roots of the contradiction to Foucault’s misreading of Merleau-Ponty, whose appropriation of phenomenology rejects the transcendental component and offers an existential account of situated subjectivity. Merleau-Ponty’s account of discursive practice plays out in a developmental oscillation that centers and decenters the subject in relation to the subject’s historical, discursive, and cultural situation. I argue that Merleau-Ponty’s existential phenomenology cogently critiques Foucauldian archaeology and offers a viable non-contradictory alternative for a theory of discursive practice.
Peet, C. (2003). Archaeology and contradiction: an existential critique of Foucault’s theory of discursive practice. In N. Stephenson, L. Radtke, R. Jorna & H. Stam, (Eds.), Theoretical psychology: critical contributions, pp. 154-163. North York, Ontario: Captus University Press.