Archives and the Event of God

Archives and the Event of God: The Impact of Michel Foucault on Philosophical Theology

David Galston
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt8056f
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  • Book Info
    Archives and the Event of God
    Book Description:

    The philosophical works of Michel Foucault have profoundly influenced many disciplines, but his influence on theology has seldom been considered. Archives and the Event of God unravels the effects that Foucault’s Archaeology of Knowledge and Discipline and Punish have had on the study of theology and religion.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8058-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION: What Is Philosophical Theology?
    (pp. 3-14)

    IF ONE WERE TO CHART THE COURSE of philosophical theology, no doubt the river’s current would flow through Aristotle, wind its way in and out of Thomas Aquinas, and crash on the shore of Immanuel Kant.¹ I am not proposing to write this history, but I would like to make a point.

    In the Western tradition, the philosophical contemplation of theology has a long-standing tie to proofs for the existence of God and related problems (such as evil), but the “God” in question, perhaps beginning at Melitus, has consistently found its form in Aristotelian logic. Thomas Aquinas supplied the most...

  5. 1 Archaeology, Genealogy, and the Archive
    (pp. 15-27)

    MANY NORTH AMERICANS first became acquainted with Michel Foucault as a member of the new school of structuralism. Foucault actually divorced himself from this subject, but since he had made such warm remarks about it and seemed initially to accept the label as flattering, it was common to locate his thinking within this French school of thought. Its diffuse membership included the influential anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, and the ever-affable personality Roland Barthes. All these members, along with Foucault, once appeared in a French cartoon entitled “The Structuralist Picnic.”¹ And given that Foucault, in the preface to...

  6. 2 Statements and Space in the Archive
    (pp. 28-39)

    FOUCAULT’S DEFINITION OF THE STATEMENT is often circuitous and unsatisfactory. Instead of a succinct description, he delivers a set of warnings. “A statement does not have a correlate confronting it (as if in a face to face relation) ... as a proposition has a referent (or lacks one) or as a proper noun designates someone (or no one).”¹ The statement does not have an author who is “the cause, origin, or point of departure for the phenomenon of the written or spoken sentence.”² And further, it is “not sufficient to state a sentence” or “to state it in relation to...

  7. 3 Genealogy and Archive Spaces
    (pp. 40-48)

    According to foucault, the reintroduction of Roman law into Western discourse in the twelfth century is a pivotal moment in Western history. He considered it, in fact, the foundation of the modernepisteme.

    This resurrection of Roman law had in effect a technical and constitutive role to play in the establishment of the authoritarian, administrative, and, in the final analysis, absolute power of the monarchy. And when this legal edifice escapes in later centuries from the control of the monarch, when, more accurately, it is turned against that control, it is always the limits of this sovereign power that are...

  8. 4 Visibles and Articulables: A Philosophy of the Event
    (pp. 49-58)

    THE WORLD THAT IS SPOKEN is the articulable world; the world that is seen is the visible world. Articulables and visibles construct the world of experience and are its mode of expression.¹ In both worlds there exists aconstriction of possibility: events and their interpretation are limited to what the epistemological space of the archive can tolerate. In both worlds there is ahorizon, which stands at the limit of the archive and restricts thepotentialexperience of the event. The epistemic moments of human experience lie within the archive and between the relationship of articulables and visibles.

    Despite the...

  9. 5 The Panopticon: Technology of an Accomplished Archive
    (pp. 59-69)

    UNDER, IF NOT IN CONTENTION WITH, the ostentatious and cruel punishments of Louis XV’s regime lay the variable forces of what Foucault called the “juridical” archive. While public executions were often accompanied by the enthusiasm of the masses, we have seen that there always remained another side to the story. Public executions created spaces of reversal, as Foucault astutely noticed, where the intentions of the monarch more or less backfired. The crowd could judge a criminal penalty unjust. Riots rather than awe could be the consequence. The potential of social unrest, even as onlookers stood in silence, lurked in the...

  10. 6 Statements and Things: On the Emergence of Archives
    (pp. 70-81)

    THE PANOPTICON IS RELATED to the juridical archive that preceded it and gave “permission” to its architecture. Precedent archives create the conditions for liminal or counter-archival events that mark in their activity an area of permission (a horizon) for new accomplishments. I have called this area of permission aconstriction of possibilityin the sense that it opens space conditionally related to the productivity of precedent archival forces. But new space can’t be simply anything. Rather, the forces of a new epistemic order will in some manner be the product of the older activity: this is why the new space...

  11. 7 Social Teleology: Archive Tautologies and Theological Difficulties
    (pp. 82-94)

    FOUCAULT’S STUDIES CLEARLY INVOLVE understanding discursive formations as the product of power and as the expression of relationships of power. Furthermore, the lofty idea of teleology, a trans-historical theme that signifies an intention or aim to history, contradicts Foucault’s commitment to the mundane, to the local, that he claimed “no teleology would reduce in advance.”¹ Therefore, an objection to the introduction of teleology is certainly on the mark.

    It must be made clear at the outset that the notion of teleology, along with the qualification that it is “social” teleology, does not summon traditional ideas of transcendence. Social teleology does...

  12. 8 The Archive and Theology
    (pp. 95-111)

    THERE ARE FEW PRECEDENTS for philosophically “thinking” the concept of God in the archivist way: employing articulables and visibles, permissions and resolutions, and shadows and side effects. It is a struggle to take these terms, which are not even commonly employed in the study of Foucault, from their setting in the archive to the context of philosophical theology. First, the archivist question is not the same as traditional questions in the philosophical contemplation of theology. In the latter, questions generally concern the compatibility of the idea of God with the limits of reason. This is essentially an apologetic task: it...

  13. 9 Archaeological Theology
    (pp. 112-124)

    IN THE SECOND PREFACE toThe Gay Science(Die fröhliche Wissenschaft), Nietzsche tells the reader that the work arose from his newfound strength after one of his long illnesses. “‘Gay Science’: that signifies the saturnalia of a spirit who has patiently resisted a terrible, long pressure – patiently, severely, coldly, without submitting, but also without hope – and now who is all at once attacked by hope, the hope for health, and theintoxicationof convalescence.”¹

    It is easy to contrast one type of thinking with another as sickness to health, and perhaps overdone. Postmodern thinking, additionally, makes such contrasts difficult; after...

  14. 10 Genealogical Theology
    (pp. 125-133)

    IF THE GOD CONCEPT can be described as a form emerging in archival operations, if it can be displayed as an ineluctable side effect of the event of the statement, a natural question concerns the future of theology as a study, and its point. In archaeological theology, the quest is to uncover the social teleological circulation of power in order to account for an archive’s metaphysical resolution. In its activity, it renders the God-form fictional and dismisses the question of the existence of God as both misleading and misdirected. The question is not whether God exists but what function the...

  15. 11 Displaying and Dwelling in the Archive
    (pp. 134-148)

    THE REVIEW OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL THEOLOGY and genealogical theology opens two questions for consideration in the context of the philosophical study of theology. One is the archaeology question about the epistemological condition of thinking theologically in the archive. This can be called the question of displaying the archive. The second question concerns the genealogical practice of being in the archive. This can be called the question of dwelling.

    In light of the new accounting of metaphysical ideals as ineluctable yet phantom side effects of archive activity, the primary criticism directed against the apologetic forms of philosophical theology, which I have called...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 149-160)
  17. Index
    (pp. 161-165)