Foucault First Impressions
My initial impression of Foucault, after reading Foucault for Beginners, was negative, but upon further reflection I think it was due to the way this book was written. As I read the Foucault Reader, this impression is changing.
Some initial impressions and unresolved questions:
1) I was impressed that Foucault separates the search an explanation of a phenomenon, with the act of identifying a phenomenon. I understand him to mean that before we try to come up with an explanation, we need to truly understand all the aspects of a problem.
2) Foucault recognizes that ideas in his earlier works had evolved. He readily admits to have misunderstood concepts, and does not dogmatically stick to his original thinking. As a matter of fact he often seems very self critical for not recognizing the error in his thinking.
3) It will be interesting to see if Foucault turns the lens on himself and attempts to analyze how his own biases, political, or sexual, for example, influence his thinking.
4) I was struck with how heavily the terminology of "political struggle" figures in the thinking of European intellectuals. I had forgotten about this, living in the US. I don't really recall any mainstream American intellectual whose worldview is so heavily predicated on concepts of political struggle. In general, whereas the Europeans seem heavily influenced by Marxism, the Americans seem to treat it very abstractly, if at all.