“Why is this idea, apparently so simple, difficult to understand to the point where the ‘death of man’ has caused so much misinterpretation? Either the objection was raised that it was not a question  of real men but only a concept of man; or else it was felt that Foucault and Nietzsche saw a real man transcending himself and, they hoped, becoming a superman. In both cases, we have a total misinterpretation of Foucault as well as Nietzsche (we shall leave aside question of the malevolence and stupidity to be found sometimes in commentaries on Foucault, as the case with Nietzsche

In fact the question is not that of the human compound, whether conceptual or real, perceptible or articulable. The question concerns the forces that make up man: with what other forces do they combine and, what is the compound that emerges? In the classical age all the forces of man are referred back to a force of ‘representation’ that claims to isolate the positive elements, those that can be raised to infinity, such that the set of forces makes up God and not man, while man can emerge only between categories of infinity. This why Merleau-Ponty defined classical thought by the innocent way in which it conceived of infinity: not only did infinity predate finity, but the qualities of man, once raised to infinity, served to make up the unfathomable unity of God. In order for man to appear as a specific compound, the forces that create him enter into a relation with new forces which evade representation, even to the point of deposing it. These new forces are those of life, work and language, in so far as life discovers an ‘organization’, work a ‘production’, and language a ‘filiation’, qualities which put them outside representation. These dark forces of finitude are not initially human but enter into a relation with the forces of man in order to bring him down to his own finitude, and communication to him a history which he then proceeds to make his own.” (Deleuze, Foucault, p73) 

Advertisements