DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.5195/jffp.1994.85

Abstract

The English translation of Foucault's unpublished French manuscript addressing Kant's statement on enlightenment appeared in 1984, 200 years after the publication of Kant's essay. Foucault meant to entitle his essay as Kant did, but instead he gave it the interested and partially correspondent title What is Enlightenment? This is only a partial correspondence, because the full title of Kant's essay is Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung? Foucault's title suppresses the fact that Kant's essay is not framed as a question, but as a definitive answer. This is present in the perfectiveness of the initial substantive; it is not an Antwort but a Beantwortung, not a simple response to the question, but the perfective and definitive resolution of the question itself. This is underscored by the interposition of a colon, which acts to objectify and organize the answer, and more forcefully by the fact that the text itself begins with a definition. Foucault's title is an allusion and not an identification, a partial reading that enables Foucault to frame Kant's answer as an incipient instance of problematization and difference. He claims that, with Kant's text, "entre discretement dans I'histoire de la pensee une question alaquelle la philosophie modeme n'a pas ete capable de repondre, mais dont elle n'est jamais parvenue a se debarrasser." He sees Kant's text as "la question lancee, voici deux siecles, avec tant d'imprudence: Was ist Aufklärung?"'

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1994

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 1994, University of Pittsburgh Press. This article first appeared in Bulletin de la Société Américaine de Philosophie de Langue Française: 6:1-2 (1994), 104-115.

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