Be Like Adam's Son: Foucault and History as Reference

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We said something above about Foucault. He concluded that although psychoanalysts have succeeded in unraveling some types of madness, they have not got to the extreme madness, a form of seeking others' good that falls outside the domain of rationality or science, in Foucault's system. This form of altruism is in direct clash with Western culture; and, as those who know Foucault well declare, he himself has opted to affiliate with the small group who uphold altruism.

Nietzsche had announced the death of God, and Foucault announced a few decades later the death of man. Of course, what the former is asserting is that the traditional reference of knowledge had died, and so the latter is announcing that not only the conventional reference of knowledge has died, but even a human as the reference has. But neither Nietzsche nor Foucault has indicated the great authority embodied in history, a reference that a human can always review and draw on. It is the dialectic that relates man to culture. It is the place where man can ascertain how culture used to develop spontaneously, and then it was a human's responsibility to intervene and direct culture's development. And it was through his earthly means that man was granted this ability.

It is such a striking discovery, this chance for a human to play a major part in shaping his own character, by having control over the contents of his mind. A human being is no longer a simple creature, since God Himself is awaiting his/her doing his/her part, before God does His part! "Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in their souls." (13:11) The point here is that culture itself is a product of the human being, but it also shapes the human mind. You see how a human can be above anything in this creation, but can also lower than many animals.

The novel thing here is that a few individuals here and there have awakened to the importance of a human's ability to find his/her way and forge ahead. Some believers and some non-believers realize that now, although their number is quite insufficient.

When one's eyes are opened to the potentials of knowledge, he will no longer feel any hostility, none to any individual or conviction. And when an individual gets to that height, he may feel diffident, since he may be ostracized by society, and this is what makes Foucault hesitate and hold back. He would use words like 'pragmatic' 'altruism' or 'ontology' to describe such conditions, but is diffident when he does so; he thinks that those conditions are beyond the reach of knowledge or science, that the persons characterized with this are kind of mad.