Subject Some petty reflections
Posted by Julie_Cheng
Posted on Tue May 16 00:59:15 2000
From IP  

It never occurs to me that I should ever doubt the propriety of the way people categorize all beings. The example Foucault gives in The Order of Things, about the Chinese encyclopaedia, is very amusing, but also confusing at the time. It doesn¡¦t appear a credible taxonomy. What makes it strange is the juxtaposition of animals seen in everyday life with those in fairy tales or ancient legends. It can be the reason that Foucault gives those comments on this encyclopaedia, such as ¡§thought without space¡¨ and its categories ¡§lack all life and place¡¨ (380).

In this excerpt, tabula and a priori can be key words, but I don¡¦t quite get their meanings. So I just leave them alone. But some ideas or concepts he brings out are quite interesting. It is true that no taxonomy can include everything in another taxonomy, and vice versa. He uses the word ¡§division¡¨ when proposing this idea. ¡§[T]here is no similitude and no distinction¡¨ is one of his paradoxical sophistication. It seems so unusual, but it is very true at the same time. Sometime between distinctions and similarities of beings only lies a then line. His remark reminds me Freud¡¦s concept of ¡§uncanny¡¨: heimlich and unheimlich. The former can mean the opposite or the same meaning with the latter. However, Foucault wants to show us the tentative nature of orders.

Foucault¡¦s concept of ¡§the Other¡¨ and ¡§the Same¡¨ is rather ¡§Marxist¡¨ to me. The Other, is not actually so alien to us. It is only not the main stream in the history, so it is labeled as ¡§Other.¡¨ What makes the Same familiar to us is the dominant power. So what is to be the Other and the Same are determined by the authority. As a result, a person who takes over the power can control and determine the discourse. Foucault also talks about struggle, in various fields.

Human beings have been seeking ¡§truth¡¨ for thousands of years, but now deconstruction and Post-Structuralism inform us that there¡¦s no truth. Derrida de-centers the possible core of the universe. It seems that we can be close to truth, but we cannot pluck it. So those who claim their acquirement of truth is not truth, but pseudo-truth. Those theorists shatter the beliefs but do not build soothing substitutes for us. I admit there¡¦s not truth, but there are really something worth believe in for a lifetime. I think it is quite ok to believe in something, for a human¡¦s life is usually less than 100 years. It does not influence the history as a whole. I believe those theorists also believe in something. Like Derrida, his ¡§something¡¨ that is neither a theory nor a concept is what he believed.

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