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Philosophical Genealogy- Volume II

An Epistemological Reconstruction of Nietzsche and Foucault’s Genealogical Method


Brian Lightbody

Philosophical genealogy is a distinct method of historical and philosophical inquiry that was developed by the nineteenth-century philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, and subsequently adopted and extended by the twentieth-century philosopher, Michel Foucault. In brief, genealogies critically examine the historical origin of philosophical concepts, ideas and practices. They challenge the value of traditional methods of philosophical inquiry along with the results that these inquiries produce.
Philosophical Genealogy Volume I: An Epistemological Reconstruction of the Genealogical Method explored the three axes of the genealogical method: power, truth and the ethical. In addition, various ontological and epistemic problems pertaining to each of these axes were examined. In Philosophical Genealogy Volume II: An Epistemological Reconstruction of the Genealogical Method, these problems are now resolved. Volume II establishes what requisite ontological underpinnings are required in order to provide a successful, epistemic reconstruction of the genealogical method. Problems regarding the nature of the body, the relation between power and resistance as well as the justification of Nietzschean perspectivism, are now all clearly answered. It is shown that genealogy is a profound, fecund and, most importantly, coherent method of philosophical and historical investigation which may produce many new discoveries in the fields of ethics and moral inquiry provided it is correctly employed.


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PREFACE In Philosophical Genealogy Volume One, I investigated the underlying struc- tures, goals and methods that are common to any genealogical investigation. Specifically, I explored the three axes of genealogy, namely, truth, power and ethics. I also demonstrated why and how the body must serve as the non-doxastic, or causal touchstone for the genealogical method. As I showed, it is necessary to have such a touchstone in place because without one it would be impos- sible to trace the rise and development of specific, historical dispositifs (power/ knowledge apparatuses). I ended the volume by providing a close reading of On the Genealogy of Morals and Discipline and Punish with the aim of concretizing what was demonstrated in only schematic form in earlier sections. In essence the “what” question of genealogy was answered in the previous volume: I explained what genealogy is and how it is very different from other historical and philo- sophical forms of inquiry. Nevertheless, this investigation revealed that the “why” of genealogy still remained intact. That is: ‘Why perform a genealogical inquiry?’; ‘What advan- tages does this sort of investigation have when compared and contrasted to more traditional sorts of philosophical investigation?’; ‘Is genealogy more truthful than more established forms of philosophical and historical analyses?’ These questions become even more pressing when one considers the number of epistemic, onto- logical and ethical problems I posed for genealogical inquiry in the first volume. It is the goal of the present volume to answer this all...

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