We Nietzscheans: Foucault & Deleuze, Difference -Wendy Grace

“the Battle to Think Philosophically Otherwise: France occupies a singular position in debates about Nietzsche, and Foucault and Deleuze are invariably singled out as French Nietzscheans par excellence. But what does this label “Nietzschean” really mean? Is it useful or misleading for understanding the respective trajectories of Foucault and Deleuze, not to mention the nebulous umbrella term “post-structuralism”? Many commentators have assumed that Foucault and Deleuze were propelled by the same Nietzsche, a man who lived during the 1870s and 1880s as a “philosopher.” I argue that this locks Nietzsche into the history of philosophy, overlooking his role inaugurating a history of Western culture, otherwise known in Foucauldian terms as the history of systems of thought. As Foucault argued during the Colloque de Royaumont in July 1964, “The history of philosophy should not be confused with an archaeology of thought.”
Moreover, the philosophical understanding more readily suits Deleuze’s appropriation of Nietzsche as philosophe maudit – even granting the difficulty of pinning down a Nietzschean system in the first place. But while Deleuze reads Nietzsche as a “counter philosopher”, Foucault admires and emulates Nietzsche in a role I would call “ethnographer of the present.” Of all concepts associated with post-structuralism, “difference” has curiously evaded critical scrutiny. But difference has opposite if not contradictory meanings in Deleuze and Foucault. Essentially for Deleuze, difference is internal to the individual, immediate (non-representational), and elucidated through a strictly philosophical method. For Foucault, on the other hand, difference is external, dependent on representational truth regimes for its effects, and made manifest through various interpretative strategies broadly ethnographic and comparative.”


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