Foucault and Experience
I don’t think its entirely accurate to say that Foucault is “anti-experience”. Sure, he was pretty dismissive of the phenomenological approach to experience, which is based on his rejection of the centrality of the perceptive subject. But at the same time, he makes frequent use of a concept of experience throughout all of his work. This is evident in the idea of a ‘limit-experience’ developed in relation to Bataille et al in the earlier work on literature. But it is also clear in the later work on ethics and to some extent in his discussions of critique. Of the last of these, he suggests at one point that critical philosophy has to be concerned with the actuality of the present, that is, the “present field of possible experiences”. He also poses History of Sexuality 1 as an attempt to write a history of the “experience of sexuality, where experience is understood as the correlation between fields of knowledge, types of normativity, and forms of subjectivity in a particular culture” (UP 4). The question then is what work the idea of experience does for Foucault and whether he really manages to escape the phenomenological conception that he opposes. On this, an interesting and revealing essay is his introduction to the 2nd edn of Canguilhem’s book The Normal and the Pathological, and which was also published in a revised form under the title “Life: Experience and Science”. Gary Gutting makes interesting comments on the concept of experience in Foucault, too, which I think is published in Boundary 2.