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Between Foucault and Derrida

Edited by Yubraj Aryal, Vernon W. Cisney, Nicolae Morar, Christopher Penfield

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Explores the biographical, historical and philosophical connections between Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault

Between Foucault and Derrida explores the notorious Cogito debate and includes: the central articles, an important piece by Jean-Marie Beyssade, along with a letter Foucault wrote to Beyssade in response – both these pieces available for the first time in English translation. In the second part of the book, 10 essays written by some of the most well-known scholars working in contemporary continental philosophy address the various philosophical intersections and divergences of these two profoundly important thinkers.

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1. Introduction
Christopher Penfield

I. The History of Madness Debate

2. Cogito and the History of Madness
Jacques Derrida

3. My Body, This Paper, This Fire
Michel Foucault

4. ‘But Such People Are Insane’: On a Disputed Passage from the First Meditation
Jean-Marie Beyssade

5. A Return to Descartes’s First Meditation
Michel Foucault

6. Deconstruction, Care of the Self, Spirituality: Putting Foucault and Derrida to the Test
Edward McGushin

II. The End of Reason

7. The History of Historicity: The Critique of Reason in Foucault (and Derrida)
Amy Allen

8. 'The End of Man: Foucault, Derrida, and the Auto-Bio-Graphical'
Ellen Armour

III. The Voice

9. ‘Murmurs’ and ‘Calls’: The Significance of Voice in the Political Reason of Foucault and Derrida
Fred Evans

10. 'Let Others be Ends in themselves': The Convergence between Foucault’s Parrēsia and Derrida’s Teleiopoesis Leonard Lawlor

IV. The Placeless Place

11. The Aporia and the Problem
Paul Rekret

12. The Folded Unthought and the Irreducibly Unthinkable: Singularity, Multiplicity, and Materiality, in and between Foucault and Derrida
Arkady Plotnitsky

V. Crisis, Life and Death

13. Living and Dying with Foucault and Derrida: The Question of Biopower
Jeffrey T. Nealon

14. Philosophy on Trial: The Crisis of Deciding between Foucault and Derrida
Peter Gratton

Notes on Contributors


About the Author

Yubraj Aryal is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Montreal and Visiting Scholar at New York University. He is also the editor of Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry. Dr. Aryal has interviewed Brian Massumi, Kwami Anthony Appiah, Lauren Berlant, Paul Patton, Richard Rorty, Robert Young and others.

Vernon W. Cisney is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies and Philosophy at Gettysburg College. He is the author of Deleuze and Derrida: Difference and the Power of the Negative (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and Derrida’s Voice and Phenomenon: An Edinburgh Philosophical Guide (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). He is the co-editor of Between Foucault and Derrida (Edinburgh University Press, 2016); The Way of Nature and the Way of Grace: Philosophical Footholds on Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life (Northwestern University Press, 2016); and Biopower: Foucault and Beyond (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

Nicolae Morar is Assistant Professor in Philosophy and Environmental Studies and an Associate Member with the Institute of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Oregon.

Christopher Penfield is Postdoctoral Scholar in Philosophy at Purdue University. He is the author of several articles on or related to Foucault, including those appearing in Foucault Studies (2014), The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon (2014), Tate Research (2016), and Understanding Foucault, Understanding Modernism (2017). He is translating Gilles Deleuze’s 1985-1986 Foucault Seminars on a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant.


In bringing together the key texts in Foucault’s and Derrida’s ground-breaking intellectual confrontation, alongside the insights of some of their most astute readers, Between Foucault and Derrida attests to the ongoing force of their philosophies in the present. Each has provided us with ways of thinking about language, knowledge and power that have defined our age but also oriented it in very different, even contrary, directions. This book is a careful analysis of the wide-ranging implications of this most unusual of encounters.

- Elizabeth Grosz, Duke University

These outstanding essays by leading scholars open up productive new ways of reading the Derrida-Foucault debate. This is an essential collection for all those interested in this epochal exchange between two of the twentieth century’s greatest thinkers.

- Paul Patton, University of New South Wales

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