Philosophy and Freedom: Derrida, Rorty, Habermas, Foucault
Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, and Rorty belong to a transitional generation of thinkers whose philosophy, in the wake of Hegel and Heidegger, has ... Show synopsis Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, and Rorty belong to a transitional generation of thinkers whose philosophy, in the wake of Hegel and Heidegger, has become a project of liberation rather than a search for truth. But precisely what does philosophy liberate us from? Continuing the work he elaborated in Metaphysics and Oppression, John McCumber asserts that the true target of philosophical liberation is to break the structures of domination that have been encoded in Western civilization. Because of the emancipatory nature of their thought, Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, and Rorty challenge domination, but, McCumber contends, they do not see their challenge clearly and it does not rise to the level of conscious critique in their writings. Eliciting the various gestures with which each of these thinkers confronts philosophy's structures of domination, McCumber discovers that Derrida cannot differentiate what in his own discourse is truly liberating from what is banal or unintelligible, Rorty cannot substantiate his claims that the "ironist" can escape history altogether, Habermas cannot shake loose from a universalism that he neither needs nor can vindicate, and Foucault cannot explain how his accounts of something as evanescent as power can be "descriptive." Using Nietzsche's writings on "the great liberation" as a starting point, McCumber captures the valuable, but elusive insights of these thinkers and places them into the larger, pluralistic movement toward philosophical freedom.