Monday, January 09, 2006

Of truth and other demons

Can the concept of truth claim an innocent history alongside human existence over centuries? Foucault has some insightful reflections on it. He has always challenged the idea of gradual unveiling of truth with human growth along history. According to Foucault, man has always created truths to exclude, homogenize, standardize and normalize the variety of discourses that occur around him. Truth has always been an instrument for veiling power. However, this idea will never be clear to us unless we consider the triangular reinforcement that has existed between power, pleasure and knowledge. Foucault, in his History of Sexuality: Part 1 uses a beautiful phrase to represent the mutual reinforcement that knowledge and pleasure makes: (correct me if I am wrong) The pursuit of power has always been "...knowledge of pleasure, a pleasure that comes out of knowing pleasure, knowledge pleasure." As far I can see there is not philosophy in it because the concepts he uses to establish his point is already known to us, knowledge, pleasure and power. And the parameters he sets, the meaning he assigns to each concept is taken from a common man's understanding.

If the concept of truth is discussed philosophically we will be taking a different approach altogether. Let's think about the division / the binaries that prevail in philosophy and sciences. Thought and judgement has always been divided between reason and madness, between truth and follie, between good and bad etc. Notwithstanding their possibility to attain meaning only through an interplay of their own absence and presence in language and discourse, these concepts have undergone a serious division among themselves. This divide is the 'author', it is also the history of logos. With the author everything has undergone a division. Life and death, pain and relief, stagnation and motion, sovereign and his subjects stare at each other with a new strangeness unknown to them.

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