April 18, 2012
A conversation with UC-Berkeley professor of philosophy Hans Sluga on the life and work of Michel Foucault.
Outro Music: La Féline, "La Nuit du Rat"
notes from Professor Sluga's
I was born and grew up in Germany and though I have lived since then in the English-speaking world I remain considerably influenced by German culture and thought. Through an early education in the classical languages I became interested in philosophy (both ancient Greek and German). I initially pursued that interest at the Universities of Bonn and Munich where I was exposed to philosophical ideas coming from both the “analytic” and the “Continental” tradition. This left me convinced that the division between these two currents of contemporary thought is somewhat artificial and certainly unfruitful.
At Oxford, I became familiar with Wittgenstein’s writings which made a decisive impression on me. Under the influence of Michael Dummett I also concerned myself exensively with Frege’s contribution to the development of modern logical and philosophy of language. At the same time my teachers R. M. Hare and Isaiah Berlin stirred my interest in questions of ethics and politics.
My overall philosophical outlook is radically historicist. I believe that we can understand ourselves only as beings with a particular evolution and history. For this reason I have been drawn to the work of Nietzsche and Foucault. I am doubtful of the possibility of a “pure” apriori philosophizing. In consequence,I feel attracted to a realist and naturalistic view of things rather than any sort of formalistic rationalism.
In addition to numerous essays, Professor Sluga has published various books, "Gottlob Frege" (Routledge, 1980, later reprinted and translated into Chinese and Greek), "Heidegger's Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany" (Harvard University Press, 1993), "The Philosophy of Frege" (as editor, multiple volumes, Garland Press, 1993), "The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein" (as co-editor with David Stern, Cambridge University Press, 1996), "Wittgenstein" (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011). He is also working on the forthcoming "The Care of the Common." He has taught at various universities both in Europe and in the United States and has been the recipient of several distinguished fellowships.