Foucault on descent – and, by way of implicature, the advantages of speaking a language secondarily

Posted on 29 Oct 2014.
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault Image by Verso Books.

Descent attaches itself to the body. It inscribes itself in the nervous system, in temperament, in the digestive apparatus; it appears in faulty respiration, in improper diets, in the debilitated and prostrate bodies of those whose ancestors committed errors. Fathers have only to mistake effects for causes, believe in the reality of an “afterlife,” or maintain the value of eternal truths, and the bodies of their children will suffer. Michel Foucault, “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” in Truth and Method, p82.

Is it no so, then, than speaking one’s first language entails, to Foucault, a certain relation to the nervous system, temper, digestion, etc., and when we acquire a second language these relations are altered? Should we ask how the mistakes of fathers are reproduced in second language acquisition (“you can’t say that!” or “that’s an improper subject-verb constellation!”, etc) – and the manner in which the element of grammer in our teachings serves to maintain a metaphysical relation to language (pace Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols, “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar”)?

is part of our task – finally – to reduce suffering?

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Wittgenstein on the “foreign” experience

Posted on 28 Jul 2014.

What a statement seems to imply to me, it doesn’t to you. If you should ever live amongst foreign people for any length of time and be dependent on them you will understand my difficulty. Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Making do with structure

Posted on 27 Mar 2014.
Jacques Lacan
Jacques Lacan

...or how to cope with the precedence of language

When psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan noted that it is not so much a matter of there being language to cover all the objetcs in the world as it is a question of a language that suffices to satisfy our needs .. did he not foreshadow an approach to language learning that emphasises skills acquisition organised around specific contexts of practice – so that when we learn how to speak in situations related to travel, we acquire language oriented towards coping with such situations– ?

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The Future of the (Online) University

Posted on 13 Feb 2014.

The Economist writes about the innovative Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and how they challenge the traditional higher education strucure of learning. The point here is that, while traditional courses come with high marginal costs – adding additional students entail large investments in teaching staff and physical structure –, MOOCs come with “rock bottom marginal cost” per student. After developing the course and getting started, adding new students is “virtually free,” according Economist.

The story, published in the paper edition on Feb 8, 2014, surmises that

  • “until recently” students were required to be present “in a lecture hall to hear the professor” or “around a table with fellow students” – implicating that teachers are distant to learners in traditional university settings, and that collaborative face-to-face learning is undesirable, or, in the least, not superior to online alternatives.
  • students crave more intimate contact with teachers. The story claims that “interaction with professors is limited to keep costs down.” Nevertheless, interaction with skilled teachers is costly, and online contact is not of the same quality as physical proximity offered in traditional university settings.

Two interesting and relevant corollaries are offered by way of quotations from Stanford professor Caroline Hoxby:

First, “less than selective (read: cheap) institutions are close substitutes for MOOCs. ... Most are at serious risk of displacement.”

Second, “elite institutions face very different circumstances.” They offer “labour-intensive education to highly qualified students” aiming to “cultivate a sense of belonging ... in order to recoup their investment decades later in the form of donations.” However, when such institutions offer MOOCs, “the personal link between students and the university” is broken, making elite graduates feel less like “the chosen few. For top schools, the best bet may simply be to preserve their exclusivity.” Writes The Economist. On page 64. Of the Feb 8, 2014, edition.

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Å brette læringssubjektet

Posted on 8 Nov 2013.

Om Deleuze. :

På en måte er Gilles Deleuzes’ forståelse av bretten en kritikk av dem som forstår subjektivitet som en enkel innside og utside (fasade og essens eller overflate og dybde), for bretten hevder at innsida ikke er noe mer eller noe annet enn en innbretting av utsida.
Michel Foucault illustrerer denne relasjonen slik: Renessanseepokens gale, den som settes ut i en båt og der blir passasjer eller “fange” i det eksternes interiør, dvs i havets innbretting, blir for Deleuze en stadig mer kompleks skildring av mangfoldet av innbrettingsmodaliteter: Fra innbretting av våre materielle selv, våre kropper, til tidsinnbrettinger, altså minnene våre.
Subjektivitet i seg sjøl kan forstås som en innbrettingas topologi. Bretten er slik også navnet på en relasjon vi har til oss sjøl (til følelsene vi har for – og som dermed virker på – oss sjøl). I antikkens Hellas oppdaget og iverksatte man denne bretteteknikken. Det er dette vi kjenner som sjølmestring.Simon O’ Sullivan, “Definition: Fold”
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Everything can ...

Posted on 23 May 2013.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
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A Krashen course in SLA

Posted on 10 May 2013.

Stephen Krashen’s classic Second Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning, online from his own weg-site. It’s a bit longish, and dates back to the glorious eighties (1981 to be precise). But it made waves. And still does. 

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About Torgeir Fjeld
Writer, publisher, and educational administrator, holding PhDs in Philosophy (EGS, 2017) and Cultural Theory (Roehampton, 2012). Latest publications include Introducing Ereignis: Philosophy, Technology, Way of Life (2022) and Rock Philosophy (2019) and articles in Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, International Journal of Žižek Studies, and others. Presently serving as Head of Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts, Publisher at Tankebanen forlag, and Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed journal Inscriptions. Fjeld has taught at universities across North America, Europe, and Africa. Here is section dedicated to poetry in translation. This page has a cookie policy.