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What Foucault and I might say about YECism

YYW
Posts: 36,287
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3/2/2014 5:28:32 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Michel Foucault introduced the concept of the "regime of truth" in Discipline and Punish, which is probably his most widely known book. Essentially, a regime of truth, is the sum of a formulated body of knowledge, means to know that knowledge, and discourse about that knowledge that intersects with power in that such a body of knowledge, and those who know and produce it, have the ability to both produce the truth and distinguish truth from falsehood. So, what we know and how we know it are inherently political in that the ability to distinguish fact from fiction is itself a kind of power. What that means, curiously enough, is that rather than the intellectual being distinct from or beyond the realm of politics, the intellectual and political realms always already overlap and what counts as "true" impacts intellectual's power of necessity.

The idea is that each community has its own way of producing truth -and truth is definitively something that is 'produced' and does not just exist as something to be found. Regimes of truth are characterized by the way people talk about things, the means by which truth is separated from falsehood, the way that discourse and the means of truth production are societally sanctioned, the way that sanctioning is "valorized" as being of "truth producing" capacity, and the status of those who gets to decide what is true or not. Regimes of truth, then exist as systems to produce, regulate, distribute, circulate and orient what counts as true in any given society -and to change what counts as true, then, requires an institutional change in the way truth is produced.

I think an argument could be made that Young Earth Creationism is both an attempt, and one which is predisposed to fail, to redefine what counts as true for a few reasons. The first is that Young Earth Creationism is ostensibly "scientific" -or at least it claims to be scientifically viable. I know that to a lot of us, that's hilarious -but it's only hilarious to the extent that we understand very basic realities like how carbon dating works. But Young Earth Creationism, however insane it might be, is nothing more than a conservative attempt to gradually undercut scientific finding by working within modern science's "regime of truth" to the end of producing some kind of quasi-scientific confirmation of a very specific idea about the earth's creation. In that the account of creationism YECism proposes doesn't play by modern science's rules, it's both inside science's regime, but predisposed to failure inasmuch as it doesn't actually count as scientific -but it pretends to, presumably as a means to legitimize itself in the context of a modern world. To someone who lacked a firm grounding in science, YECism might cary some water only because they don't know enough to be able to themselves distinguish bullsh!t science from science.

(I thought about making a more detailed argument, but I don't think most people won't read it, so I'll just leave the above at the conclusion I would have eventually gotten to.)

What's most pathetic about all of this is that religion, specifically a very isolated kind of fundamentalist Christianity, undermines itself in that it's trying to be something it cannot be (science), and doing so at its own expense. Religion cannot play by science's rules, not should it be expected to. Science, equally, cannot play by religion's rules, nor has it been required to since the Enlightenment -but the fact that religion is seeking legitimization in quasi-scientific discourse is sufficient to indicate that as a society, we've come full circle.
Tsar of DDO
Dogknox
Posts: 5,056
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3/3/2014 3:26:14 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/3/2014 12:54:32 PM, YYW wrote:
Does no one have anything to say about this? Surprising.

YYW Good to meet you...
I reply: I agree..... The bible is not a book of science it is used by Archaeologist yes.. But it is not a book of science, it is a love story.. About God and Man!
Ipsofacto
Posts: 164
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3/3/2014 6:42:48 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/2/2014 5:28:32 PM, YYW wrote:
Michel Foucault introduced the concept of the "regime of truth" in Discipline and Punish, which is probably his most widely known book. Essentially, a regime of truth, is the sum of a formulated body of knowledge, means to know that knowledge, and discourse about that knowledge that intersects with power in that such a body of knowledge, and those who know and produce it, have the ability to both produce the truth and distinguish truth from falsehood. So, what we know and how we know it are inherently political in that the ability to distinguish fact from fiction is itself a kind of power. What that means, curiously enough, is that rather than the intellectual being distinct from or beyond the realm of politics, the intellectual and political realms always already overlap and what counts as "true" impacts intellectual's power of necessity.

The idea is that each community has its own way of producing truth -and truth is definitively something that is 'produced' and does not just exist as something to be found. Regimes of truth are characterized by the way people talk about things, the means by which truth is separated from falsehood, the way that discourse and the means of truth production are societally sanctioned, the way that sanctioning is "valorized" as being of "truth producing" capacity, and the status of those who gets to decide what is true or not. Regimes of truth, then exist as systems to produce, regulate, distribute, circulate and orient what counts as true in any given society -and to change what counts as true, then, requires an institutional change in the way truth is produced.

I think an argument could be made that Young Earth Creationism is both an attempt, and one which is predisposed to fail, to redefine what counts as true for a few reasons. The first is that Young Earth Creationism is ostensibly "scientific" -or at least it claims to be scientifically viable. I know that to a lot of us, that's hilarious -but it's only hilarious to the extent that we understand very basic realities like how carbon dating works. But Young Earth Creationism, however insane it might be, is nothing more than a conservative attempt to gradually undercut scientific finding by working within modern science's "regime of truth" to the end of producing some kind of quasi-scientific confirmation of a very specific idea about the earth's creation. In that the account of creationism YECism proposes doesn't play by modern science's rules, it's both inside science's regime, but predisposed to failure inasmuch as it doesn't actually count as scientific -but it pretends to, presumably as a means to legitimize itself in the context of a modern world. To someone who lacked a firm grounding in science, YECism might cary some water only because they don't know enough to be able to themselves distinguish bullsh!t science from science.

(I thought about making a more detailed argument, but I don't think most people won't read it, so I'll just leave the above at the conclusion I would have eventually gotten to.)

What's most pathetic about all of this is that religion, specifically a very isolated kind of fundamentalist Christianity, undermines itself in that it's trying to be something it cannot be (science), and doing so at its own expense. Religion cannot play by science's rules, not should it be expected to. Science, equally, cannot play by religion's rules, nor has it been required to since the Enlightenment -but the fact that religion is seeking legitimization in quasi-scientific discourse is sufficient to indicate that as a society, we've come full circle.

Foucault says quite a lot about power, repression and his conception of the truth.

It must be noted that he does does in a post-Nietzschean landscape. The will to power is a rather facile concept, and many would be rather uncomfortable pairing such a view alongside a analytic tradition.

Postmoderns "lions" lying down with Analytic "lambs"? Sounds downright biblical.

Quite curious how Foucault is reconciled with the hard edges of science.