Forms of empiricism in the work of radical philosophers: Deleuze, Foucault, Negri


  • Παναγιώτης Σωτήρης



Ιn this paper we are discussing empiricist tendencies in the work of three major continental radical philosophers: Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, and Antonio Negri. Deleuze's effort to refute traditional metaphysics and Hegelian dialectics in favor of a philosophy of difference (and not negation) led him to an empiricist ontology of social antagonism, especially in the books he co-authored with Felix Guattari. Ιn the case of Michel Foucault the original anti-positivist effort towards an archeology of discursive formations evolved into a nominalist conception of disciplinary practices. Thus, Foucault's empiricism takes the form of an atomistic nominalism of power relations. Ιn the work of Antonio Negri, we have another form of empiricism: an empiricist conception of worker subjectivity and labor resistance as the driving force behind modern capitalism. His effort to combine this empiricist conception of the multitude with historical optimism leads him to a form of metaphysical historicism, based οn the theorization of living labor as a creative force.
These empiricist tendencies all have to do with the way we can theorize social transformation: Is social transformation possible only οn the basis of a multitude of resistances and radical practices, or does it require ideological and theoretical ruptures? Ιn this sense all these variations of radical empiricism are in danger of being too close to the liberal (or neo-liberal) political and philosophical credo that any attempt towards an anti-hegemonic project can lead to some form of totalitarianism. Ιn a way there is an unavoidable contradiction for any attempt towards a materialist practice of philosophy: Either we focus οn what is immediately perceivable, οn the plurality of struggles and resistances, paying the price of empiricism, or we focus οn structural relations and essential determinations, running the risk of theoriticism and idealism. That is why we must try and combine the emphasis οn immanence with an emphasis οn a non-idealist and non-teleological form of dialectics.



How to Cite

Σωτήρης Π. (2005). Forms of empiricism in the work of radical philosophers: Deleuze, Foucault, Negri. Ariadne, 11, 301–326.