Ryan  Burns, phd
December 4, 2011

critique and relations

“The task of the critic is not to juxtapose an ideal, eternal standard to the existent, but through a ‘ruthless critique of the existent’ to reveal that what is, already contains within itself what ‘ought’ to be as a possibility.

Only when the immediate is viewed as mediated, only when what is, is understood in light of the forces that have made it become, can it be seen as the unity of actuality and possibility.

In revealing this unity, actuality also reveals what it could be but is not. In Marx’s words, out of ‘existing actuality’ one can develop future actuality as it ‘ought’ to be and its goal.

To view what is as non-rational is to view it as simply immediate, as a mere factum and mere given. The task of the critic is to show that the given is not a mere fact, that to understand it to be actuality is also to criticize it by showing what it could be but is not.”

Benhabib, S. 1986. Critique, Norm, and Utopia: A Study of the Foundations of Critical Theory. New York: Columbia University Press. Pages 34-35.

“…it’s my hypothesis that the individual is not a pre-given entity which is seized on by the exercise of power. The individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces. There is much that could be said as well on the problems of regional identity and conflicts with national identity.”

Foucault, M. 1980. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977. New York: Pantheon.

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