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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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Section I: Perspectivism Resolved In this, the final chapter, I hope to do two things: first to resolve some of the remaining difficulties encountered in previous chapters and second, to present a coherent framework for comprehending the goals, methods and procedures for a proper genealogical inquiry. As I see it there are four remaining issues that need further clarification: 1) perspectivism; 2) virtue foundherentism; 3) the precise role the emotions play in the course of a genealogical inquiry and 4) the relationship between the genealogist and his or her work. Each section that follows will clarify one or more of the above sticking points. The final section will explain how all of the aspects of genealogy discussed thus far come together in order to form a coherent and epistemically justified reconstruction of the genealogical method. Turning to the issue of perspectivism, we learned in chapter three that perspectives cannot be mere beliefs. Perspectives, rather, as we saw from our investigation in chapters four and five, are modes of the will to power. That is, perspectives simply put, refer to the internal contract under which a particular thing has agreed to organize itself. Moreover, it was discovered that a thing is simply a tension of competing powers. A thing is simply an “agreement” between disparate and competing forces. The agreement formed is a compro- mise of sorts. It is a realization on the part of each and every quantum of power that only an agreement will serve to advance the power...

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