History of Structuralism
Volume 2: The Sign Sets, 1967-Present
Francois Dosse


Part IV

The Decline



Lost Illusions (I): The Gulag Effect

The situation changed in the mid-seventies. Since 1967 there had been many attempts to pluralize and conquer structuralism. This time, the inexorable wane carried the day. This by no means meant a return to ground zero, since a good part of the program had quite simply been thoroughly assimilated and no longer needed the media to become known. There were several shocks, essentially external to structural thinking itself, which together contributed to this decline. The first and most spectacular was political: the shock waves set off by Solzheni-tsyn's revelations. To be sure, Solzhenitsyn was not the first to describe the totalitarian reality of the Soviet world. As early as the twenties, Trotsky had already denounced the Stalinist dictatorship, and many accounts came later of the trials and the camps, including Varlma Chalamov's Tales of Kolyma, the first, shortened edition of which came out in France in 1969.

There was, however, a particular blindness. This was combined with a parallel effort, particularly by Althusser, to theorize socialism without considering its reality, so that no true reflection on the historical lessons to be drawn from the disastrous Soviet experience could take place. The revolt and rhetoric of May '68 owed a heavy debt to the purest Marxism and in no way allowed all the consequences to be drawn from what was known about totalitarian reality, even though the August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia had provided a spectacularly clear example.

Making Peace with Democratic Values

When the French translation of the The Gulag Archipelago came out, the situation was already quite different. In fact, 1974 was an opportune moment for the work to have a resounding impact. Leftism was in complete disarray and the traditional French left was gaining ground, but within a political system with which it had reconciled itself by signing the Common Program of 1972. The first effects of the economic crisis quite quickly came to contradict those who thought the light at the end of the tunnel was within sight. To the contrary, this was the end of the glorious postwar years and the beginning of a long period of stagflation, recession, and restructuration. No more great revolutionary eves or enchanting end-of-crisis dawns. At a time when unemployment was on the rise, revolutionary hopes were evaporating, and the Rome Club foresaw zero growth, the Gulag effect was decisive. In particular, it showed that although Marx could not be held responsible for the Gulag, as some argued (this would be like condemning Jesus for the Inquisition), it was no longer possible to consider Marxism without acknowledging the somber procession of its concrete effects on the history of humanity. The crisis ran deep, and blaming it on any simple cause-the excesses of the personality cult or a simple overabundance of bureaucrats--eould not save the system.

Moreover, the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, which had radicalized a large part of the world's youth, provided a favorable context for reconsidering the values of the European democracies. A new binary logic contrasting democracy with totalitarianism began to take root. The Gulag was a final condemnation, even for those who had not waited until 1974 to struggle against this system. This was the case for Claude Lefort and his Socialism or Barbarism group. "A book like that one, ... a few of us had been waiting for it for a long time." 1

Little by little, sights were turned to the defense of human rights, which had heretofore tended to be considered formalities. The enormous tome of collective memory gathered by Solzhenitsyn between 1958 and 1967 put an end to this kind of subterfuge. When the West received the author of The Gulag Archipelago, who was banished from the USSR in February 1974, it put itself in a position to hear voices that had made themselves heard beyond the Iron Curtain only with great difficulty, the dissidents thrown into psychiatric hospitals for having demanded that human rights be respected, among them

Vladimir Bukovsky and Leonid Plyushch. Marxism ebbed to the rhythm of the arrival of these dissidents and the horrors they had experienced. In 1977, the revelations of Pol Pot's Cambodian revolution did not contribute to a convulsion in tabula rasa thinking: it was in his name that the systematic extermination of two million men and women, out of a population of nine million, had been carried out!

"We are at the end of the realm of critical consciousness when we can no longer imagine going further."2 The ebb of Marxism also tolled the bell for an instrument for total historical and social analysis. Structuralism was not immune from this ebb, for, in addition to the structural-Marxist path taken by some, structuralism purported to be the very expression of critical thought and of the critical paradigm. It had long refused to grant any scientific validity to observable, empirical reality in order to better perceive the hidden, total logics. Yet the Gulag effect demonstrated that it was enough to listen, read, or see in order to understand, in stark contrast to a certain conceptual speculation with scientific pretensions that had served as a smoke screen for the real issues of the tragedy that was unfolding, and the objective complicity of those who supported the torturers.

This was fatal for structuralist ideology. The dissidents' message was a message of human rights and of a certain humanism-values that had been marginalized by the structuralist method, whose approach aimed precisely at eliminating the Subject in order to gain access to Science. In this case, it was the East that led to a return of the repressed. Even the most radical were obliged to publicly ask themselves a few questions.

I remember Derrida, at the ENS on the rue d'Ulm, after having been stopped in Czechoslovakia. During his seminar, he said that he had been quite distressed because after having spent his life as a philosopher deconstructing humanism and saying that the idea of the author and of responsibility did not exist, he had one day been stripped naked in Czechoslovakia at a police station. He had to admit that this was a serious infringement of human rights. On that day, Derrida demonstrated his great lucidity by saying that he was in a very bizarre intellectual situation. So he proposed a category of the intellectual baroque, because, according to him, the two levels did not intersect. But we can't remain eternally in the baroque.!

This paradox characterized the new situation in which intellectuals found themselves and many cut the Gordian knot to confront the new demands of political reality, particularly in the East. This evolution continued to grow throughout the entire decade, which ended with the success of Solidarity in Poland in August 1980, and jaruzel-ski's state of war in December 1981. On the basis of this new battle being waged in the name of rights and of democracy, many concluded that it was impossible to maintain two contradictory discourses.

Intellectuals progressively reconciled themselves with a certain number of Western values heretofore deemed mystifying and purely ideological. It became more difficult to be ironic about democratic values and to deconstruct all the apparatuses of this democracy: everything had to be reconsidered. The organic intellectual was already long dead and buried, and it was the turn of the hypercritical intellectual to experience a crisis of regret. It is not surprising that one could speak of a "silence of intellectuals," which became more pronounced after 1981.

This fracture during the seventies produced different reactions. Some,, like Roger-Pol Droit, who was in charge of the social sciences section of Le Monde, became momentarily aphasic, and headed out to the hinterlands. Overnight, he resigned all of his positions. In 1977, "He left. 'He' dissolved himself."4 Roger-Pol Droit left Le Monde and abandoned "Dialogue," the collection he had launched at Flammarion, and which had already put out three book projects with Roman Jakobson, Noam Chomsky, and Gilles Deleuze. He left behind the work he was planning with Foucault: "I dropped everything."> Roger-Pol Droit showed up at Berck-sur-Mer High School, where for seven years he got deeply involved in teaching students in their last year of high school. During this radical cure, he did not write a single line; he only read books that predated Shakespeare.

1 had lived this period of the sixties and seventies as something terrifying. It took me some time to understand (1 needed to leave in order to understand) that thinking could be extremely joyful, playful, invigorating, whereas what 1 had retained from my structuralist battles was that thinking had to be very solid, rigorous, abstract, and cold, that everything that could be carnal was unthinkable.e

Roger-Pol Droit did return to Le Monde-at first slowly and from a distance, and later regularly-but he was transformed. Since then, he has continued to address the issue of exclusion of the East from Western thought.

The "New" Philosophers

The "new philosophers" did not elect the path of flight and solitary meditation. On the contrary, they used the media in a big way in order to play out, before the widest possible public, something of an exorcism of what, for most of them, had been their Maoist involvement in the Proletarian Left (GP). Revolutionary eschatology being moribund, this was the moment when a whole generation rejected its '68 past and took a collective confessional leap to assuage its sins. "These spoiled, overgrown kids wanted the revolution right away.

No, it didn't come, so they tapped their feet, impatiently.... Poor

little lost things,"? lamented Pierre Viansson-Ponte, Those who had idolized Mao-s-Andre Glucksmann, Christian Jambet, Guy Lardreau, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Jean-Paul Dolle-s-champions of mystic fidelity to the "Great Helmsman," terrorized anyone who was lukewarm. Suddenly, they discovered the discreet charms of liberalism. This became a general clamor. Beyond the criticism they elicited quite early on from, among others, Gilles Deleuze, Francois Aubral, and Xavier Del-court," these voices were clearly a painful symptom of the last throes of the hopes of a generation. The Gulag effect was immediate. In 1975, Andre Glucksmann wrote The Cook and the Maneater,9 which showed that the Gulag was already present in Plato. In 1976, Les Nouvelles littéraires had Bernard-Henri Lévy prepare a piece on the "new philosophy," proof that the movement was and wanted to assert itself as the new vulgate. The editorial vein was used to double advantage by such essays as Bernard-Henri Lévy's Barbarism with a Human Face,10 which quickly became a best-seller, and by novels such as The Unclassed and The White Years by jean-Francois Bizot.tt

This new philosophical discourse denounced May '68, which had become the image of Evil hiding the Master. Jean-Pierre Le Dantec had forgotten his sunscreen and henceforth warned against The Dangerous Sun,12 attacking the "gangrene" not only in Marx but in the very idea of revolution and its "congenital propensity toward terror-ism."13 Michel Le Bris, another defrocked Maoist militant, chose self-flagellation: "What finally, was May '68? An insurrection of daddy's boyS."14 Bernard-Henri Lévy saw in it the colorless dusk of our twentieth century: "We are living the end of history because we are living in the orb of ongoing capitalism." 15 An orphaned generation wailed its confusion and distress, but also prepared its reconciliation with the values of the society whence it hailed, expressing with particular acuity the fault lines produced by the Gulag effect. Nonetheless, we see equally violent thinking, the same propensity for exaggeration in other directions, as Althusser had counseled, in order to be heard. In this respect, certain vestiges of continuity remained with the structuralist past that had been unceremoniously discarded. Public debate was used even more diligently to legitimate the correctness of one's ideas, and reality was left behind, much as it had been before. It had disappointed, so only discourse remained, but not just any dis-course-the discourse of the Master.

Anyone who dissented was accused of all the evils of totalitarianism all the more vociferously in that not long before, Mao Tse-tung Thought had been obligatory. "Any criticism of New Philosophy was an apology for censorship and for the intellectual Gulag."16 For jacques Bouveresse, the triumphant period of structuralism led to the New Philosophers, who employed a similar intellectual terrorism, the same sectarianism, and a cynical use of the press and publicity campaigns. Most people held the media responsible for this change, but Bouveresse considered that the root was the very evolution of philosophical discourse; the media was used, but not simply for sociological reasons. He argued that the reason for this was that philosophers in the sixties encouraged "the tendency to reason in terms of power, domination, relationships of force, struggles for influence, strategic opportunity, and efficiency, and above all, not of truth or falseness."17

Beyond the vectors of these new philosophical messages, discourse that abandoned all scientistic perspective offered refuge: "I say: reality is nothing but discourse."18 After the Maoist mystique, there was a reconciliation with metaphysics, but it was a godless religion, a belief with no other idol than the lack of being or its placeholder, LACAN: "The century IS Lacanian."19 The authors of L'Ange demanded a clean choice between loan of Arc and Stalin, and they chose loan of Arc and thus received the blessing of Maurice Clavel. The horrors of the world disappointed them and incited them to adopt Christian detachment. Faith continued to guide their steps, but along which path? Francois Maspero, who had little tenderness for these moments of passion, replied: "That was the new right. Ten years ago, they were the Marx and Coca-Cola generation. Today, only Coca-Cola remains. "20 Indeed, the New Philosophy was often shallow, a form of thinking in bites expressed by slogans like "Without Marx, there is no revolution, without Marxism, no camps"21 and "The Gulag was born in 1844."22 History cannot be reduced to the mere production of ideas, without reading human history in the most reductive and simplifying manner possible. But the hubris that this vision of the world and its repeated and abrasive action revealed accompanied and accelerated a much deeper consideration of the shifts augured in the East, at the heavy price of a true destruction of all models of analysis. One had gone from deconstruction to dissolution, with no transition.


Lost Illusions (11): Extenuated Scientism

In 1975, The Structural Revolution! sketched a panorama of structuralism in all its manifold dimensions and celebrated it as the dawn of modernity. In fact, however, dusk was drawing over this form of thinking, inexorably dragged toward a first-class burial, particularly in its ambition of uniting all the social sciences around a common methodological core. The wane was everywhere, and the troops scattered so chaotically that only a certain eclecticism was left, set against a backdrop of disillusionment. Did this express the failure of a philosophy, of a scientific method? Or, rather, was it the end of the movement of intense socialization in the social sciences, whereby ideological issues were losing their appeal, in order to better establish its scientific positions?

Althusserianism Dies a Sudden Death

Althusserianism had gone furthest in trying to establish a philosophy that encompassed the social sciences, which Althusser had wanted to revisit and reevaluate in the name of historical materialism. This was not a slow decline, however, but a sudden death, as spectacular as its rise. In May '68, Georges Seguy, secretary-general of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), had made his famous remark "Cohn-Bendit? Who's that?" which students repeated after 1975, but this time with reference to Althusser, whereas until then, research had been dominated by Althusserian thinking. This amnesia gave the measure of the change. At Paris VII, Pierre Ansart was directing Saiil Kartz's thesis on Althusser: "The only truly serious work I supervised on the issue. But when it came time to name a jury, there was no one around. For two or three years, we only talked about SIAs and by the fourth year, it was completely over!"?

In economics at Nanterre, Andre Nicolai confirmed that 1975 was a watershed year. All structural-Marxist thinking, which had been predominantly Althusserian, was washed away by the return of microeconomics, neoclassics, and marginalism. "Nanterre remained quite chaotic until 1975, and from then on, there was a feeling of being fed up with student disruptions, and intellectually, we had had enough of Althusserian dogmatism.... By 1975, it was over!"3

Emmanuel Terray rated Althusserian structural-Marxism in anthropology as "generally mediocre."4 First of all, the scientific perspective no longer enjoyed the same prestige as it had during the sixties, and the results were modest. It was true that Marxist structuralists like Godelier had made it possible to change some notions of anthropological economics and to surpass the old antagonism between formalists and substantialists. But anthropology was only partially affected, and such central notions as the mode of production, which should have furthered analytical models of primitive societies, turned out to be disappointing, and to provide little more than a means of classifying or typologizing observed social diversity. "We continued to rely on functionalist explanations, particularly with respect to the relationship between infra- and superstructures."5 In the second place, Althusserian anthropologists had hoped to link theory and political practice. But the fusion between political commitment and professional practice in the field quickly turned out to be disappointing. As the Althusserian wave ebbed in 1975, it carried with it the hopes for a single, unified science of man.

The demise of this hope also corresponded to a contraction in universities, where certain disciplines were withdrawing into their specific traditions. Theoretical innovation and interdisciplinarity had flourished just after 1968, at a time when young teachers were being recruited for their innovative profiles, but in the mid-seventies, to the contrary, the university was no longer hiring. This period of austerity saw fewer jobs filled, and budgets were being rationalized. This retrenchment contributed to a chilly withdrawal on the level of theory.

Those who aspired to university careers had to adopt a career profile that was well calibrated to disciplinary canons and the most consensual thesis topics. "I saw young researchers throw themselves into a search for odorless, colorless, and tasteless subjects so as to avoid making any waves, and to avoid any historical or ideological implication."6 Where an ability to innovate had been a plus for getting a job in the sixties, from 1975 on, adhering to the norm became the recruitment criterion. Those who had endured the structuralist wave could finally lift their heads high; the parenthesis was finally closed and they could shamelessly return to the canonical values of their discipline, values that had been momentarily forgotten.

The Triumph of Eclecticism

Eclecticism replaced the desire to totalize in an increasingly mediatized society where events had to yield to "news." An entire language aimed at reaching the greatest number, and therefore necessarily immured in universal stereotypes, flooded the media and further serialized society into increasingly isolated individuals "who belonged to nothing," as the psychoanalyst Gerard Mendel put it. This meant that any attempt at totalizing a universe and the means of communication escaped intellectual control. "A Freudian discourse would not work for the media, but what does work is what a Freudian intelligence can program."?

Pierre Nora was particularly lucid about the intellectual reversal even though he had played a seminal role at Gallimard in structuralism's rise. But he knew that a page had been turned. Acknowledging the failure of these efforts at globalization, he launched Le Debat, a new review that, in 1980, was a real event in French intellectual life. It made no claims to speak for any particular system of thought or method, but simply to be a meeting place for ideas: "Le Debat has no system to impose, no message to deliver, and no ultimate explanations to provide."! Le Debat took an open approach, and therefore took its distance from structuralism, replacing it with eclecticism and juxtaposing more far-reaching viewpoints, without giving preference to this or that method of analysis.

Asking "What can intellectuals do?" Nora observed that the shift in the center of gravity from literature to the social sciences was perhaps in the process of reversing itself. Certainly, the social sciences made it possible to understand that we speak a different language from the one we think we speak, and to know that we are unaware of the motivations for our behavior, and that the initial project often ends up misjudging the final product. In this respect, the results were positive, and the moment demanded a new relationship to knowledge since "the political irresponsibility of intellectuals is well removed and protected from the critical function."?

This new orientation broke radically with the structuralist paradigm and its vocation to be a grid of critical analysis. It also marked the distance between Pierre Nora and Michel Foucault. Structuralism had generated personalities perceived as gurus, but it had not really generated a true school of thought.

Nora clearly saw that Foucault, outside of his own books, had no school. ... At Gallimard, Foucault felt that nobody gave a damn about him. This was not particularly pointed at Nora, but the fact was that no one ever asked him anything, whereas he had lots of plans and would have liked to be more actively involved in publishing and administration.t?

When Nora chose Marcel Gauchet to head the review, he only reinforced his distance from Foucault, given Gauchet's very critical positions on Foucault's work.

Le Debat demonstrated that intellectuals had reconciled themselves with the values of Western society, had reevaluated the democracy of the Lumieres, and had progressively converted to Aronism. The review remarked that models proposed for "going beyond" were exhausted, whether with respect to a future henceforth considered foreclosed, and in mourning for any progressive or revolutionary future, or, scientifically,an ideology-free rigor. The period was one of soft, mobile thinking that revealed the lost illusions of the scientism of the sixties. Le Debat's subtitle was, moreover, symptomatic: "History, Politics, Society." In 1980, the disciplines that had played the pilot role during structuralism's hour of glory-anthropology, linguistics, psychoanalysis-were all in a state of crisis, ebb, and theoretical disarray.

From the Other to the Same: From the Unconscious to the Conscious Anthropology, turning its attention to the figure of the Other, no longer answered the needs of Western society, which was now more interested in the figure of the Same, in its own past and values. Moreover, since it had borrowed its modes of demonstration from other disciplines (from nineteenth-century biology when it conceived society to be an organism, and structural linguistics in the twentieth century), anthropology was at a loss for models when structuralism was on the wane. And it also underscored the undeveloped potential of the structural period, such as politics, for example, which showed the failed early ambition to encompass all fields. As Marc Abélès put it, "Daily life takes its revenge."ll

Anthropologists were facing new questions about the domination of old people by the young, the relationship between the sexes, slavery, and the institutional and symbolic realities of the mechanisms of political power. Aware of these new challenges, anthropologists underwent a serious conceptual crisis before looking to new models like topology or catastrophe theory. In the meantime, ethnology tended to become ethnography, a simple description with no particular categorical grid. "Anthropology survived by successively adopting different models from other disciplines. These models guided research, in the Bachelard-ian sense of the term, and were fruitful for a time, but they had to be replaced. This was the kind of crisis we were in."i2

At each step, the models used had made it possible to move toward new discoveries. Efforts to establish anthropology as a science were thus not in vain. As they waned, there were certainly some advances, even if they were not always successful at definitively transforming anthropology into a hard science, perhaps because "beyond the combinations and formalism, Man was not there."13 Moreover, structural anthropology would soon be criticized for its cultural relativism, which became an obstacle for reconciling intellectuals with the values of their own society.

In 1973, Robert Castel, who was close to Foucault, denounced "psychoanalysm,"14 which was also on the wane in the mid-seventies. More and more of Lacan's disciples were leaving the Master and his topology, even before Lacan dissolved his school. This parallel waning of anthropology and of psychoanalysis showed that models of consciousness were again being examined critically; the unconscious was no longer the sole locus of truth, whether for individuals or for collective social practices.

Linguistics no longer drove the social sciences. Indeed, its acquired institutional grip began to loosen. The review Langages had had a stable print run of 3,000 to 3,500 copies, but its sales in the eighties dropped palpably, to 1,800 to 2,000. In 1986, Jean Dubois even wanted to close down the review altogether. This wane in terms both of the editorial attitude and the general intellectual explosion in all of the social sciences was compounded by a shift in the efficacy of the linguistic model toward industrial structures, toward "the language industries."

Linguistics had not lost its power; the center of power had shifted within industrial society, which was responding to the demand for software programs, for artificial speech: "Linguistics was infinitely more powerful than it had been, but this was no longer publishing power, but industrial power."15 This linguistics of engineers in big research laboratories, like the one directed by Maurice Gross where Jean Dubois worked, implied a different relationship between subjectivity, originality, and realizing a program, a reversal of the prior situation. "Now, neither I nor anyone-not even the laboratory director-can work without accepting the analytical method of the entire laboratory. This is a true science laboratory, and we must follow a methodology that no longer lets us be completely ourselves. "16 A certain form of linguistics had thus found its way to scientific operationality, but had given up its role of modelizing hub at the heart of the social sciences. This withdrawal accompanied the general ebb of the structuralist paradigm and led to a new paradox. Linguistics was less concerned with ideology and more concerned about an operational methodology, at a time when scientism seemed to be on the road to exhaustion, after having nourished the most exorbitant ambitions.


Lost Illusions (111): The Return of Ethics

Structuralism had been an attempt to get free of philosophy, whose proximate end was endlessly proclaimed in the name of Science and Theory. Yet, as structuralism waned, philosophy, ostensibly dethroned, regained its prior place, at the center. The 1978 issue of the review Critique, entitled "Philosophy after All," announced "The End of the End of Philosophy."! The avoidance of a certain number of properly philosophical questions, by choosing the social sciences, had led people to think that with structuralism, questions on ethics and metaphysics were made obsolete once and for all. Yet, with the major shift under way in the mid-seventies, these were the very questions that were to dominate French intellectual life for quite some time. This ethical quest was, among others, that of a philosopher who had remained true to his materialism and his initial allegiance to Althusser. Andre Comte-Sponville turned toward research on wisdom and the art of living, which he called ethical materialism. Reconciling Althusser's or Levi-Strauss's subjectless thought with Buddhist anatta, he seemed to be clearing the path for an egoless ethics of self unencumbered by any unreasonable ambitions to free humanity from its chains.

The Ethics of Responsibility

Whether in making the limits of scientism in the social sciences palpable or in the return to the question of human rights, ethics once again reclaimed a central role. And the nature of the question changed.

"Through the death of structuralism, a new kind of intellectual is being born whose ethic is no longer-to once again use Raymond Aron's categories-that of conviction, but the ethics of responsibility."? Whence the reaffirmation of an imperative for the "concrete analysis of a concrete situation," at the risk of empiricism, but which at least made it possible to consider the ends and the means used to reach them, and to more discerningly evaluate the variability of situations in time and space. From now on, intellectuals wanted to avoid being taken in, as they had with the USSR-which, for many, had incarnated the historical vanguard of humanity-and then by substitute vanguards such as China and Cuba.

We might date the final public convulsion of the ethics of conviction to I978, when Michel Foucault, who had been sent to Iran for Le Nouvel Observateur, described the Iranian revolution. Impressed with the protest against modern Western values, he saw this revolution as a movement that made possible a return to a positive political spirituality: "The situation in Iran seems to be suspended in a great joust between two characters clad in traditional coats of arms: the king and the saint, the armed sovereign and the poor exile. The despot faced with the man raising his naked hands, acclaimed by an entire population."! Today, we know to what degree the Islamic government that Foucault presented as liberating, as the sign of something new, as the incarnation of resistance against oppression, became an even more brutal dictatorship than the regime it overthrew. This type of mistake, which became exceptional and incongruous after I975, was not so unusual for the period, and can be seen as the result of a hypercriti-cism of democracy and its institutions.

If intellectuals are to exercise this criticism and avoid a certain number of political follies, democracy cannot be taken so for granted that we ignore what has been gained so as to better exalt some elsewhere or other. "The problem is not that we have produced this type of critical discourse against democracy, but that we haven't made the effort to make it match a declaration of solidarity,"!

The philosophy of suspicion tried to erode the bases of democracy by denouncing its underside. But it quickly reversed itself, giving way to a period of soft ecumenism of beatific naïveté denuded of all critical capacity. The reversal of the seventies led to an equally unsatisfactory attitude, for in both cases, lucidity lost out.

The Return of Religion

As the constellation of what has been called the New Philosophy emerged, unified and sanctified by Maurice Clavel, we witness a re-legitimation of religion. Although we might have thought that the religious idea was historically past, a re legitimizing of it was taking place, particularly in the Maoist movements, where some replaced the "Great Helmsman" with God. In 1975, Philippe Némo adopted Lacan's four discourses but shifted their meaning to valorize the position of the discourse of the Master. Although he kept his Lacanian perspective, he did so in order to better transcend it. "Man as a soul is contemporary with the transcendence traversing him; he is the son of God."> The very title of his work, Structural Man, signaled his ambition of reconciling structure and transcendence, which should never be sought elsewhere than within structural man.

After the war, the iconoclastic philosopher Vladimir jankelevitch had established moral obligation as an absolute in terms of rational will, in an effort to root it in immanence and universality- jankelevitch was rather unknown during the structuralist vogue and had devoted his life to the moral quest and to metaphysical reflection; his efforts were rewarded and his concerns adopted by the entire intellectual world at the very moment of his death in 1985.

Thanks to a philosophy principally concerned with ethics, another philosopher, Emmanuel Levinas, then occupied the center of the philosophical stage. He had introduced Husserl in France in the thirties, and remained at a remove from the structuralist fervor, but he returned with the return of the question of the Subject, and of intersubjective relations. Like the structuralists, Levinas was concerned with the basis for our obedience to the Law, but these foundations were located in ethics: "Everything begins with the other's rights and by my infinite obligation with respect to him."? Levinas used phenomenology to situate the radical alterity separating the Same and the Other; ethics was based in their copresence. "My way of understanding the meaning of man does not begin with considering the concern men have for the places where they value being-for-being. Above all, I think about the for-the-other."8

jankelevitch and Levinas were both moved by the revelation of the concentration camps. Both tried to forge a path toward a provisional morality, and toward considering the relationship to the Other.

Levinas augured contemporary thinking about dialogics, based on the concept of interaction that was returning at the very moment of ideological crisis and the awareness of historical disasters occasioned by the creation of totalizing systems: "To imagine a provisional morality, a minor task for Descartes in the project of mastering nature, became a major issue among people today who transform an auxiliary provisional morality into a total project in itself."?

The other sign of the new importance given to ethics was the late but spectacular recognition of the important work of the philosopher Paul Ricoeur. Ricoeur had been one of the major detractors of Levi-Strauss's in the 1963 debates in Esprit when he argued against Levi-Strauss's general theory of relationships and in favor of a general theory of interpretation. In 1969, he challenged Michel Foucault's candidacy at the College de France. Incarnating a hermeneutics with which structuralism, in its heyday, wanted to ensure a radical rupture, Ricoeur was an all the more disturbing adversary in that his philosophical perspective had assimilated and integrated all the advances of the social sciences, thanks to his intangible position of debate and openness. In 1965, he had already published an essay on Freud, On Interpretation.tv in which he attempted a reflexive reconsideration of Freud's work by integrating the psychoanalytic perspective into an archaeology of the subject. In 1969, he published his articles in The Conflict oflnterpretations.n essentially a hermeneutical reflection on language. Ricoeur did not contest the epistemological basis of the semiological approach, but he refused to give the linguistic model any absoluteness, and already imagined surpassing it by showing that beyond taxonomy, language is speaking. He pursued his work on language as well as his debate with structuralist positions, particularly in The Live Metaphor,12 in which he criticized the axiom of the immanence of language.

Although the structuralist heyday was past, we can better appreciate the fundamental impetus of Paul Ricoeur's philosophy today for he was able to preserve the dimensions of the Subject, of action, of the referent, and of ethics, which were out of vogue, while at the same time adopting whatever was positive in semiology. He refused to accept that language is hermetic, and always added the dimension of human action and presented his work as complementing serniology.P He was thus better situated than anyone today for resisting the wave that swept all the thinking of the sixties into the abyss, and for letting the change come, by being a major player in the current return of ethics. He explored the many dimensions of the Subject, and defined a third path between the idealism of the Cartesian cogito and deconstruction, by reinterpreting the dialectic of the Same and the Other.l" After having been celebrated in the United States (he teaches in Chicago), Germany, Italy, and Japan, Ricoeur was finally recognized and celebrated in France. A special issue of Esprit came out in July-August I99I on his work, and a colloquium was held at Cerisy.!' Seuil published three volumes entitled Readings, which drew together his various texts: prefaces, commentaries, articles, as well as his trilogy on temporality, which came out in paperback in I99I.16Paul Ricoeur was the great contemporary philosopher at the heart of the city.

The Return to Philosophy

Julien Freund is an example of another, and later, symptom of this return of philosophy and of ethics. One of the persons responsible for introducing Max Weber in France, Freund had left pure philosophy in order to better answer the questions raised by the social sciences!? Yet he quit his social investigations in order to return to Philosophical Pbilosopby.u in which he called for philosophy to once again take possession of itself as a specific discourse that he considered to be in its death agony since the time of Nietzschean criticism. "We might entitle this work 'Against Nietzsche."'19 He also wanted to save sinking morality at a time when the artifice of postmodernism appeared to be triumphing. Freund did not denounce the detour he had taken, and which led him to the social sciences: "This long journey through the social sciences was beneficial from many points of view."2o But he observed simply that the social sciences could not replace philosophy, and he favored returning to the division, rejected by postmodernism, between the notions of true and false, good and evil, therefore considering that metaphysical questions were fundamental. "Reflecting on essence is not a gratuitous game ... since it involves the effort of both identifying and differentiating notions, without which we would be sunk in confusion. "21

The return to philosophy also meant being receptive to foreign influences; analytical philosophy had been barred in France by the structuralist excitement, which did not allow the Subject to be included in the field of investigation. The breakthrough was quite clearly helped along by structuralism's wane, but also by the discovery of Wittgenstein's work, particularly thanks to Jacques Bouveresse.V In the mid-eighties, Bouveresse criticized the tendency of philosophers to delight in the negation of their identity.v He contrasted the Anglo-Saxon practice of philosophy as an argumentative discipline with its literary status in France, which too often led to an indifference to content and argumentation. Bouveresse compared deconstruction or ultrastructuralism with the demand for clarity, which, for Wittgenstein, defined philosophy's specificity, and differentiated philosophy from the spirit of science and from its contemporaneity. "Today, the new Dionysians insist that we must absolutely put an end to the reign of logic, reason, and science. "24 Embracing Frege's and Wittgenstein's positions, Bouveresse also held that moral judgment could not be dispensed with, nor human responsibility denied.

Negating this dimension belonged to what Popper called "naive rnonisrn." "The type of self-revelation that the individual owes to the most remarkable discoveries of the social sciences resolves no ethical or political problem. "25 Thus psychoanalysis, which had gone furthest in this respect, did not cure man any more than did religion or Marxism. And yet the structuralist period characteristically affirmed psychological, sociological, and cultural determinism. It had a tendency to replace rational man with psychological man, a creature both richer and more dangerously unpredictable, according to Bouveresse. As he saw it, Wittgenstein represented the last of the great philosophers whose "ascetic, distant, and implicitly ironic 'realism' had some very real similarities with certain Ancient sages, . . . an attitude that amounted to accepting only minimal dependency and trying to acquire a maximum of freedom from imposed needs and satisfactions."26


From Reproduction to Regulation: Heirs to Keynes and Althusser, and the Crisis

For economists, 1973 was a decisive year. Until then, the "Thirty Glorious Years" as Jean Fourastier had baptized the decades between the two world wars (and which Jean Chesneaux rebaptized the "Thirty Shameful Years"), were years of spectacular postwar growth for the West. Suddenly, the crisis reversed the situation, belying optimistic projections and standard economic explanations. All efforts to end it proved quite doubtful.

Althusserian notions of reproduction were shaken. Reproduction was so dysfunctional that movement and contradictions had to come into play. Similarly, the crisis struck neoclassical economists, who were forced to question their conception of the perfect market. Although the market it had seemed to function relatively well until then, and had served as their basic analytical paradigm since the fifties, it no longer worked. No general equilibrium existed, and outside elements had to be taken into account. The structuralist orientation shifted the positions in economics, which went progressively from reproduction to regulation.

This was also the product of Keynesian thinking. "The Keynesians from the South call themselves structuralists. The CEPAL described a structuralist analysis of inflation, and a structuralist analysis of development."! These ideas had easily taken hold in France because of Durkheim's influence on economists, which could be seen in the necessary construction of an object of analysis, of pure models for analyzing economic reality using structures that led to the behavior of this or that category of agents, and making their formalization possible.

But the structuralist grid came into the economic sciences through Althusserianism. The regulationists- grew out of this current of structural-Marxist thinking and a simultaneous critical distantiation from Althusser's ideas: "We regulationists are something like the rebellious sons of Althusser."3 Alain Lipietz discovered Marx thanks to Althusser and wrote his doctoral thesis on him in 1972.4 Faced with the crisis in the mid-seventies, he had to rectify certain of his initial positions in order to understand how the economic situation evolved. He and those who later organized themselves into the regulation school insisted on the contradictory character of social relations of production, which fettered the simple mechanisms of reproduction. They also realized that Althusserianism and its Subjectless process was a dead end.

Regulationists had to deal with the imperious necessity of re-introducing the Subject, its representations, and its strategies within the very mechanisms of reproduction, via established frameworks. Lipietz nonetheless acknowledged Althusser's historical merit of having dealt a decisive blow to an inflexible Marxism and therefore to the "myth of a single contradiction, of the messianic expectation of a revolution by the implacable virtue of the contradiction between productive forces and relations of production, interiorized in a proletariat-bourgeois contradiction."5 Althusser had upset economist determinism, and advancing the concept of the mode of production as a structure articulated by three instances made it possible to complexify the analytical grid, and, advantageously, to leave the vulgate behind. But Althusserianism was not satisfying for the regulationists when it described an essentially static reality and when, in the name of combating historicism and evolutionism, it ignored transitions and changes.

Althusserians essentially defined the mode of production as the reproduction of places within structure, not in time but on the level of a map with a logic of displacement on it. Regulation theory was essentially based on a critique of these limits. "Rejection of contradiction and of the Subject: this double censorship seemed, for classical Althusserian thinking, to be the ransom for allowing the notion of Reproduction to emerge."6

Regulationism, therefore, had to go beyond Althusser in order to conceptualize the crisis and demonstrate that reproduction cannot be taken for granted and that although it could continue for a period as long as the "Thirty Glorious Years," certain contradictions would ultimately lead to a crisis. But Lipietz recalled his debt to Althusser, who, like Hegel in the past, was too often considered to be a "dead dog." "Unfortunately, those who 'forget' Althusser today in fact 'forget' Marx, the existence of structures of exploitation, and the weight of social relationships."?

In the early seventies, Michel Aglietta went to the United States to study the reasons for efficient growth there at the time. He was particularly interested in what kind of state action could brake the crisis. "For that, I switched camps and went to the United States to do this work."8

Aglietta wanted to uncover the modes of intermediate coordination that would show that it was not enough to juxtapose state logic with market logic to be able to see the big structure. He inaugurated what eventually became the great originality of the regulationist school: its search for forms of intermediary, institutional relationships. These relationships masked a reality that Keynesianism had considered from a strictly instrumental viewpoint, and that was rejected as nonpertinent and exogenous by the supporters of general equilibrium.

Aglietta introduced an institutional dimension into the analysis, excluded until then from the initial axiom about the coherence of the economic and social structure: "This was the first requirement. The second was to say that social groups and not only individuals do have some efficacy."9Economic thinking, for him, included the rationalities resulting from people's behavior taken as group actions rather than individual actions. There was clearly some coordination, but equally clear were contradictions and conflicts of interest, which meant that there was constant movement within the structure. Aglietta saw that his subject was changing with the 1973 crisis, and when he published his book, he examined both growth and the crisis.l? At that point, he imagined a regulationist approach that was theoretically close to Althusserianism. Once he had finished his book, "[I showed it] to Althusser and to Balibar. They endorsed it and saw some similarities between their work and this approach."ll Like Alain Lipietz, Aglietta was influenced by Althusser's epistemological model and had adopted the idea of considering problems in terms of overdetermination, and of seeing structures as articulated wholes. Before leaving for the United

States, in fact, he had worked on a research project on the problems of growth with Philippe Herzog using the Althusserian question grid, adapting the idea of intermediary and nested forms to economics. More generally, the structuralism of the late sixties influenced the orientation of his work because he had also tried to understand how diversity could function in a single structural framework, how regulation processes could be different and complex and still function within a single capitalist system. And this let him suggest different solutions in different national contexts. "We were looking for references that could encompass what all of these societies had in common. So the idea of a social formation was essential, as was an idea that cut across these references." 12

In placing the singular and the universal into a dialectic, Michel Aglietta had carefully read Georges Dumezil's work, "because he emphasized the essential role of representations," 13 and thus made it possible to see a single form of ideological legitimacy as the common basis of these societies. Aglietta was also influenced by Foucault, "because he raised questions about institutions and gave answers." 14 What seduced him in particular was Foucault's concern for micropowers, his shift from the center to the peripheral, his pluralization of a polymorphous power that corresponded to the regulationists' desire to reach intermediary institutional bodies. Moreover, Foucault had made it possible to take some distance from "the fundamentalist conception of Marxism," 15 and to understand that this smooth growth curve depended on a system of conciliation and a concentration of interests. Until then, the antagonism between capitalists and workers was considered irreconcilable. "That is what I tried to show next in the form of compatible progression of real salaries and employment with the progression of the profit rate, on a global macroeconomic level." 16

Clearly, Michel Aglietta fused different poles of structuralist thought. He had been influenced by Pierre Bourdieu, whose orientation he had appreciated very early on, ever since 1963, when he had attended some lectures by Bourdieu at Polytechnique in which he laid out his approach to the early state. The sociological dimension was by definition part of the goal of regulation, which sought to understand this reconciliation of a priori divergent class interests-whence Agli-etta's interest in how social groups were restructured by their integration into the salaried world, in the framework of a state that created social security, provided an educational system, and afforded access to consumerism. In so doing, it had reshaped these groups, stratifying them by shifting the system of rules itself. These different influences on regulationism appeared to be different, but in fact they converged and were part "of this same family of ideas whose goal was to understand society by seeking its minute structures."!"

Economics was the only social science to have managed such far-reaching formalization, and it had been the initial model for the structuralist paradigm. As the structuralist heyday drew to a close, economics benefited from the fallout of the epistemological effervescence of the sixties, and a new and dynamic school could be born. The regu-lationists made it possible to assimilate a good part of the structural program, although on the condition of dynamizing structures and reintegrating the economic players-human beings.

History and Actors Come Back into the Picture The regulation school was at the intersection of three heterodoxies: first as an heir to "Althusserized" Marxism; second, by its link to Key-nesian economics, by considering real demand, and by arguing for a conception of money as an institution, and a conception of work as a relationship rather than a market; and finally, as an heir to institution-alism. Robert Boyer, one of the founders of the school, laid out this legacy quite clearly in a brief essay published in 1986.18 This work had become all the more necessary in that the regulationist school was beginning to become known internationally, while still including members with increasingly divergent positions. There was the "Grenoble school" headed by Gerard Destanne de Bernis and the GREEC,19 who often espoused positions close to those of the PCF, and the Paris school, around the CEPREMAP.20 From the outset, Boyer accepted the "mixed" nature of regulationist doctrine, which had to adapt to a new context and a new set of problems, and which differed from other self-regulatory market doctrines by its openness to social and historical elements.

The issue was to discover what lay at the foundation of situations that were stabilized by time. The four major characteristics that Robert Boyer advanced to define the regulationist approach were, first, a certain loyalty to Marxist analysis in its concern for studying social relationships from a holistic view; second, recognizing laws governing tendencies, which implied a certain criticism of structuralism's vision of immobilized time or Paul Boccara's views of monopoly state capitalism; third, a concern for institutional forms deriving either from a market relationship or from the relationship between capital and labor; and finally, an interest in Kalackian macroeconomics, which was part of a process of capital accumulation.

Taking the five institutions considered particularly important for the study-money, forms of competition, the relationship of salaried workers, the state, the mode of insertion into a world economy-all of which were as variable in time as in space, the modes of regulation combined into types of accumulation and also defined this particular development.

This very ambitious approach focused on the interaction between economics and the social order, by starting with concrete situations and by reinstating them in a dynamic perspective, making it possible to "study the transformation of social relationships that create new economic and noneconomic forms organized in structures and reproducing a determinant structure, the mode of reproduction. "21

Early Althusserianism, with its notions of mode of production, instances, and overdetermination, was confronted with historicity, with long- and medium-term history, which explained that it was possible to abandon structuralism for dialogue and an interest in the work of historians, particularly that of Fernand Braudel. "Braudel's work is useful for economists who argue that historical material is necessary for developing the science of economics. "22 This was true for the regulation school, where a holistic and anthropological conception of economic mechanisms meant considering historicity as one of the interpretative tools in conceptual analysis. Its concern was to break the ossified, mechanical systems, for example, the predetermined stages of the Marxist vulgate based exclusively on the state of the forces of production. But the regulationists also attacked the idea that these mechanisms were permanent, the basis of a strictly structuralist approach. "Referring to different orders of accumulation avoids making invariants, which are so often invoked in structuralist-inspired Marxist literature." 23

The second great opening of the regulationists lay in the awareness of the difference between a social logic of the whole and the strategies used by social groups. Starting from the notion of a coherent whole, they argued that it should not occult "the necessity of explaining the mediations that determine collective and individual behavior. "24 They therefore made possible a return to the Subject, although without in any way making themselves the apostles of a methodological individualism of microeconomics, altogether foreign to their concerns. The issue was not formalization or setting individual behavior into equations, but to reintroduce actors in terms of groups and social categories, actors who were to become central to the analysis, particularly by inflecting the relationship of salaried workers, which became the most important instance in the long-term transformation of modes of development.

The relationship to salary underlay regulatory mechanisms, and would reveal the new pauses in accumulation. In 1974, in his thesis, Michel Aglietta showed how American postwar growth depended on generalizing the Fordist system, a type of intensive accumulation based on mass production and consumption and on the accession of salaried workers to the American Way of Life.25 The Taylorism of the interwar period gave way to the better regulated system of Fordism, which would undergo a decisive crisis in its turn, at the end of the sixties, a crisis made all the more palpable by the slowing down of gains in productivity.

Aglietta's thesis played a seminal role when Althusserian structural-Marxism thinking was on the wane. "In 1975-76, Michel Aglietta organized the discussion of his thesis during a long seminar that would inspire the work of the CEPREMAP team."26 The regulationists would become the best path-breakers for analyzing crisis factors, because they could give a multidimensional explanation centered on the crisis of the salarial relationships? They also revisited money. Aglietta and Alain Lipietz criticized traditional Marxism's underestimation of the importance of money, and Althusser's negation of the contradictory nature of market relationships. "In the market exchange and in the salarial relationship, the issue is allocated work time, and the overtime that must be dragged out of workers. "28

Aglietta managed another shift in the approach in order to understand money not only as one mode of regulation among others, but as an irreducible and necessary phenomenon. "Economic science does not ask questions about the nature of monetary phenomena. "29 He argued against the theory of use value and exchange value, which he felt hid the disorder, violence, arbitrariness, power, and compromise that money establishes.

We were working downstream, but when it came to money, I could not continue; we were at the heart of the matter once we had defined

money as the basic economic institution and determined that this institution was inconceivable on the basis of market logic. That led me to raise the question of the socialization of separate relationships based on something other than the logic of value, since money had become the founding relationship.t?

Reestablishing the role of money implied a critical rereading of the use postwar neo-Keynesianism had made of it. The Keynesians saw the state as able to regulate flows of money at will with a central guide rail. Aglietta and Andre Orlean equally rejected the liberal tradition of, in Jacques Rueffs terms, "silent money," the important mute voice in the endogenous laws of the market.

This double dissatisfaction led them to develop "a qualitative theory of money. "31 Thus arose the possibility of a structuralist approach called the theory of monetary circulation. The authors acknowledged that this theory was more advanced than a naturalist viewpoint, but they emphasized its major drawback: it assumed that institutions were givens and therefore was concerned solely with describing their immutable reproduction. "Structuralism saw each type of social organization as entirely defined by its rules and tending only toward its own preservation." 32

Money, with its duality and ambivalence, allowed the regulation-ists to get at the tension between the different logics of individual affirmation and of systemic coordination. "We might say that we escape structuralism in a certain way by somehow considering this tension to be unavoidable. "33 While shifting theoretical stances, the authors discovered Rene Girard's work, "which made it possible to bring out the general character of violence and its foundations. We could therefore draw a certain number of enlightening parallels between the market and sacrificial orders."34 The analysis of money was incorporated into a general anthropological perspective that saw having as the metonymy for being, in a ternary relationship that put the subject, the object, and the rival into conflict, according to Girard's mimetic layout. Thus, Aglietta could reintroduce conflict and contradiction into the market relationship without adopting methodological individualism.

Administrative Renewal and University Marginality

The Althussero-structuralist legacy that had given birth to regulation theory had one characteristic that clearly set it apart from the other social sciences. It only marginally affected the university but was rnas-sively present within the upper echelons of the civil service. Taking up from the postwar "developmentalists" who had begun French planning in a neo-Keynesian accounting context, these economist-engineer graduates of the "grandes ecoles" (Polytechnique, Mines, Ponts et Chaussees) decided to work in the civil service rather than go into private business or industry. "I said that we were the rebellious sons of Althusser, but also of Pierre Masse, the great chief of the Plan of the sixties."35 Most of the regulationists were Polytechnicians-Michel Aglietta, Hugues Bertrand, Robert Boyer, Alain Lipietz, Jacques Mis-tral-and they worked at INSEE, at the CEPREMAP, at the commissariat for the Plan, and in the administration.

Because they were marginal to the fundamental poles of intellec-tuallife, regulationists were somewhat removed from interdisciplinary dialogue and dialogue with other disciplines, and the opening toward the latter owed more to an autodidactic ambition than to transversal structures. This explains how Michel Aglietta discovered Rene Gi-rard's work when he was in his forties, and could then incorporate the notion of violence into his discussion of money. Marc Guillaume, who was also a Polytechnician, was dissatisfied with his training: "An engineer's training in France is on a good scientific and technical level, and is somewhat encyclopedic, but it crams a brain that has no social knowledge. In this respect, our lack of culture is absolute."36 Later, Guillaume was trained as an economist, and passed the economics agrégation in 1968. It was only then that he became aware of and interested in the ambient excitement over structuralist ideas, the Frankfurt School, and Herbert Marcuse.

Contracts with the CORDES multiplied among consultants. And yet Althusserian Marxism was particularly present in these teams, in their desire to reconcile Marx and Keynes by working on econometric models. Moreover, "Althusserianism, like structuralism, was ideal for ensuring that Marxism make its way in the administration, which was very highly policed, and polished."37 This was how Bernard Guibert at the INSEE wrote his fresco on French economics, which became the official line of an entire section of the administration.V So it was around the present and future necessities of the Plan, under the state's impetus, that thinking about types of regulation took root within the French administration. "That led us in 1966-68 to the limits of the model of interpretation of these practices,"39 because the juxtaposition of econometric models imported from the Anglo-Saxon world into a sectorial plan, applied to state action as an action on structures, was considered inadequate by researchers like Robert Boyer, Michel Aglietta, and Philippe Herzog. "This was the beginning of some thinking that raised structuralist-type problems,"4o rejecting the traditional dichotomy between an underground that belonged to the market and an aboveground of state actions appropriate to great changes. The goal, to the contrary, was to understand the interactions between these two levels. This type of analysis was born at the very heart of the problems raised in the administration, the ultimate product of the structuralist breakthrough.

Economists did not come to structuralism because of any university influence, where acknowledging a full-fledged independence of the economic sciences and the rupture with those in literature had led to slowdowns, sluggishness, and occasionally indigent thinking. "We only began to teach Keynes in the university at the beginning of the sixties; he was still unknown in the fifties. "41 Innovation and modernity were alien to university cadres and their orthodoxy, and only some independent thinkers like Francois Perroux of ISEA kept his work alive.f-

Only with the post-'68 generation did the French university begin to benefit from any of the impact of theoretical work done elsewhere and witness the arrival of enough technically competent staff to rival Anglo-Saxon training. This would strengthen the domination ofmar-ginalists in the French university, or, for a small minority among them, would help enrich the regulationists' work, thanks to new blood.

University economists wanted a hard, formalizable science. Since mathematics was the criterion of scientificity, it was not particularly valorizing to be interdisciplinary. Moreover, unlike in America, where political science was important and studied power strategies in a very theorized and narrow way, linked to economics, economics and political sciences were not linked in France. "Notions of political regimes seen as modes of regulation on the basis of concepts adopted from political science were developed in the United States. These concepts included compromise, strategy, and accepted rules____I used this literature a lot. "43

Some heterodox professors managed to gain some influence, albeit marginal, but as structuralism waned around 1975, they too lost their power base. Neomarginalism carried the day everywhere and left only crumbs to the other currents.

Henri Brochier, who considered that economics could not be completely separated from the other social sciences, was a professor at Dauphine in 1969, where he began teaching a seminar on Baudrillard and Barthes. Using econometric models, he compared the study of coefficients of correlation between income levels and types of consumption, and price levels and consumption, and demonstrated the necessity for considering social groups and categories as well as other variables such as home and ideology. But Brochier quite quickly realized that he was completely wrong to have imagined that Dauphine was a good place for the social sciences; it soon became a successful business school, a practical "grande ecole." "The important ideological disengagement between 1965 and 1975 having diminished somewhat, I got interested in the epistemology of economics. "44

The department of political economy at Vincennes, headed by Michel Beaud, was another place for nonmainstream economists. But, as we have already seen, this department did not award second-year diplomas (Licence) and its curriculum complemented what the other departments were doing. From the outset, it had only a limited impact.

The few freethinkers in the university system had in fact already addressed the question of regulation. Thus Henri Bartoli had subdivided his 1960-61 "Systems and Structures" course into a part on structures and a second part on regulation. Andre Nicolai, who had created the political economy department at Vincennes, although he stayed at Nanterre, and who had planned to define the foundations of a general economic anthropology, wrote an article for the Revue économique in 1962 titled "Inflation as Regulation"45 in which he showed how roles reproduce themselves through inflationary processes. He directly adopted his approach from structural anthropology, which led him to raise the question of the reality of the inflationist phenomenon as a reproduction machine and not only as the simple expression of systemic dysfunction. "It was certainly here that Levi-Strauss's influence on my work was the strongest, in this reproduction of roles through the regulation processes. "46 Andre Nicolai looked upon the regulationists somewhat regretfully since his ideas had resembled theirs, but his ideas fell on deaf ears when he expressed them: "Regulationists are a little like a posthumous revenge."47 After 1968, he saw the university reject Keynes and Marx, and return to pure economics completely dominated by neomarginalism. "Every structural dimension had been jettisoned; we imagined a perfect market. "48 Nicolai could not gain a hearing at the time, since he was caught between those who held to a neoclassical formalized and hermetic economics, and those who held to an ultradeterminist Marxism. There was no place for a middle ground.

As of 1975, the theory of general equilibrium became the central paradigm of academic economic science, against the backdrop of waning structural-Marxism. The heterodox researchers tried to express themselves outside traditional institutions. Some of them met on the editorial board of the review Critiques de l'économie politique, published by Maspero (Alain Azouvi, Hugues Bertrand, Robert Boyer, Bernard Guibert, Pierre Salama, Bruno Theret, among others). Others, somewhat later, collaborated on the Bulletin du MAUSS.49 This was particularly true for an economist from Paris I named jerome Lallement who, having defended Althusserian ideas, later felt that they led to dead ends and had finally "crumbled to dust."5o He gave up structural-Marxism, but between 1969 and 1974 was particularly inspired by Michel Foucault's The Order ofThings to rethink the evolution of economic thinking in terms of simultaneity and epistemes. "This idea of episteme was truly a source of inspiration that made me work a lot."51 Lallement reread the evolution of economic science around the notion of the sign, along the Saussurean model. He observed a major shift in political economy, contemporary with Saussure and Proust, which gave rise to a change of episteme in the way Foucault defined it. "This episteme of the sign functioned like what Saussure did using the signifier/signified distinction. In economics, the signifier was the price and the signified the use, or the signifier was the market and the signified the individual."52 From the 1870S on, political economy shifted toward an economy of the sign and began to resemble semiology, and no longer addressed reality itself, the referent. Lallement concluded his thesis by explaining that economists could never understand reality since it was always outside their realm, by the very definition of the epistemology of their science. He argued for an archaeological approach against traditional histories of thought, and compared the positions of Foucault and Thomas S. Kuhn: "Both are relativists, both refuse the idea of an immutable and definitive truth that would wait silently to be slowly unveiled."53 But he preferred Foucault's paradigm because it addressed the social sciences and did not, as Kuhn did, stop at a sociology of the scientific community. Rather, it targeted the very act of knowing.

A certain number of these heterodox players worked in the university, but they were increasingly marginal and increasingly lost among the marginalists.


A Middle Path: The Habitus

In 1975, at the very moment when structuralism seemed to have dissolved in the air of a new era, Pierre Bourdieu began a new review of which he was editor in chief, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, which continued to present work consonant with the scientific aspirations of the structuralist program. "Scientific discourse can only appear disenchanting to those who have an enchanted vision of the social world."! Bourdieu had adopted the structuralist legacy and his work until that point had been largely inspired by it. But he also began to shift his approach and move away from the paradigm. He bitterly criticized Althusserian structural-Marxism by attacking its philosophical elitism and its total negation of the role of social players, who were reduced to the application of systems of rules. "I wanted to reintroduce agents in a certain way; Levi-Strauss and the structuralists, and particularly Althusser, tended to abolish them by making them simple epiphenomena of structure."2

In 1975, Bourdieu's target in Actes was Etienne Balibar, and he was clearly settling accounts with the entire Althusserian current. Bourdieu remained true to Durkheimian positions and concerns for unifying the social sciences in a sociology freed from philosophical tutelage. He violently attacked Balibar's intention to establish himself as "the guardian of the authenticity of the [Marxist] message."! Beyond that, he attacked the philosopher's claim to speak in the name of science by calling his theoretical practice scientific and by eliminating,


by annexation or exclusion, the social sciences from the competition. For Bourdieu, this was a purely corporatist defense of the privileges linked to the old legitimation of philosophical discourse, which let it continue to make its claim to be the judge of the criteria of scientificity and the guardian of the temple, denouncing all forms of deviation or relapse: "The priesthood establishes catalogs of sins.":' Bourdieu denounced the Althusserians' quasi-metaphysical a priori, and their claim to deduce the event from the essence as an ontologized vision of the social world leading to the construction of a "theodicy of the theologian.'^ Fifteen years later, Etienne Balibar viewed this acerbic polemic as, more than anything else, an illustration of the logic of the academic world that Bourdieu himself would study in detail in Homo academicus. "Does he realize to what degree this applies to him?"6 Bourdieu's Durkheimian ambition was not new, in fact, but dated back to the sixties.

Structuralism, or a Way Out

The structuralist paradigm was worn out. This was apparent in the critical inflection of Bourdieu's theses on structural reproduction and his determination to make a place for the subject within the narrow limits of what conditioned it. He rejected Althusser's hierarchy of infra- and superstructural institutions of the mode of production. He also differed from Levi-Strauss, his essential source of inspiration. Thus he developed a whole analytical apparatus around the notions of the habitus, practical sense, and strategy, hoping to demonstrate that action was not the simple and automatic enforcement of a rule. Thanks to these changes, Bourdieu hoped to open up some of the dead ends of the structuralist tradition. "Levi-Strauss, forever enclosed in the alternative of subjectivity and objectivity, cannot see the attempts to surpass this alternative as anything but a regression toward subjectivity."? Bourdieu used the changes in linguistics since the late sixties to support his arguments.

He had always kept on top of everything going on outside his own field, and in that he was faithful to structuralism's interdisciplinarity and totalization. The Chomskyan rupture as it was understood in France essentially confused generative grammar and genetic ideas that indicated a process of transformation, a genesis. Bourdieu adopted this rupture and could therefore define his approach or express his determination "to work out a genetic structuralism,"8 or establish a "new" orientation, not on the basis of the work of men like Jean Piaget or Lucien Goldmann going back to the early days of structuralism, but by using Chomsky's more recent contribution. In 1972, Bourdieu had opened his Sketch of a Theory of Practice' by quoting Chomsky, Pierre Encreve, a Chomskyan sociolinguist, played a fundamental role for Bourdieu. Their collaboration led to a common and complementary paradigm. Encreve developed Chomsky's orientation using the Bourdieusian ideas of field and of habitus. Bourdieu hoped to avoid the gaps of early Saussurean structuralism by differentiating Chomsky's equation between models of competence and performance with his idea of habitus, by which he meant a system of acquired, socially inculcated attitudes, a "matrix of perceptions, evaluations, and actions. "io With the habitus, competence and performance could be set in a dialectic by making it possible to externalize the interior, to restore the mechanisms of reproduction, but also to imagine strategies borne by players in the system that varied according to time and place. Like the model of competence and practice, the habitus therefore generated a system of performances. "I wanted to react against Saussurean structuralism's mechanistic orientation. In that, I was sympathetic to Chomsky, in whom I found the same concern for paying careful and imaginative attention to practice." 11

As a sociologist, Bourdieu attributed competence to attitudes acquired by social experience rather than to ontological or biological in-nateness. Structure remained fundamentally sociological, a here and now incarnated and incorporated within a practice of social representations. In this sense, Bourdieu's appropriation of Chornsky was based on a reading that shared little with Chomsky's orientation, which was more asociological.P

Analytical philosophy also helped Bourdieu to escape the objectivity of early structuralism. He could give a place to a subject that was something other than the subject of traditional metaphysics, by reflecting on speech acts, and not only on the rules of language governing them. "If you really read Austin, doubtless one of the philosophers I admire the most, you would understand that the core of what I tried to reintroduce into the debate on performatives had already been said or suggested by him."13 By analyzing speech acts, Bourdieu could reintroduce the referent, the concrete social situation that Saussure had marginalized, as well as speech, which had been eliminated in favor of a concern for language-specific rules.

Bourdieu's paradigm was also influenced by Wittgenstein and his concern for the realm of necessity and the institutionalized world of rules. Wittgenstein's response, according to which necessity was not based on the adequation between established rules and a natural reality, but corresponded to all human practices and was therefore rooted in the human institution itself, allowed Bourdieu to construct his theory of the habitus, with which he hoped to respond to the dual need to conceptualize the subject's practice as such, and as having an origin that lay outside it. We also find Wittgenstein's concerns for the pragmatic dimension of human activities, of knowing what happens when an individual follows a rule. The notion of habitus was his answer to this fundamental question.

This was an ancient idea taken from Aristotle, revived by Saint Thomas Aquinas, and later by the sociological current of Weber and Durkheim. But Bourdieu gave it another twist. Where the Aristotelian tradition assigned the habitus to consciousness, making it a variable notion depending on human ambition, Bourdieu redefined it as a paradigm that avoided the opposition between conscious and unconscious. It made it possible to speak of strategies, but in the sense of intentionless intentionalities. Bourdieu thus examined the conditions of possibility of practices more than the study of practices themselves, without taking a historical approach: "Without falling back onto the anecdotal history of events with neither beginning nor end."14 He was loyal in this to early structuralist synchronism and the priority of structuring entities over practices, and to its nomethetic vocation. Contrary to Levi-Strauss's criticism that Bourdieu brought back subjectivity and irrationality, and in so doing abandoned the structuralist scientific program, Bourdieu's subject was not free to choose its strategy, and shared little with the Cartesian subject. This subject was at the crossroads of different causal series that played with it and through it. "The subject is not the instant ego of a singular cogito, but the individual trace of an entire collective history."15 Objective structures, even if they were internalized, were therefore totally independent of conscious individual minds. However, externalizing them gave them their full efficacity.

Contrary to Levi-Strauss's criticism of subjectivism, Raymond Boudon criticized the culmination of Bourdieu's purely functionalist and organicist representation of social reproduction in an autono-mous subject as purely illusory. "So, it is not an autonomy at all, since the individual has only the autonomy of creating illusions for itself." 16 Bourdieu postulated constraints; Boudon considered that "we are falling back into a vicious circle type of reasoning. The constraints are exaggerated, and there is also the absurd idea that they come from the social whole and the desires this totality has to reproduce itself. All of this is completely phantasmagoric. "17

By trying to escape objectivity and subjectivity, Bourdieu was locked into a permanent tension between these two dangers and vulnerable to structuralists like Levi-Strauss and supporters of methodological individualism like Boudon. He had very little room to maneuver in order to reconcile the structuralist legacy and individual practices. "Between the system of objective regularities and the system of directly observable behavior there is always a necessary mediation, which is only the habitus, the geometric space of determinisms and of a determination of the probabilities and experienced hopes of individuals, of an objective future, and of the project of the subject. "18 Bour-dieu did not forsake methodological determinism; it was the principle of The Sociologist's ProfessionJ" and required that he look beyond human practices. But he reinjected the experience of perceptions and strategies into an analytical model that had eliminated them: "This is the role that fell to the concept of habitus, bringing an answer to the problem of the status of the subject. "20

In 1982, Bourdieu joined the brotherhood of supreme legitimation, the College de France, quite clearly the sanctuary for structural innovators such as Benveniste, Dumezil, Levi-Strauss, Barthes, Foucault, Duby, and Vernant.

We should not give our inaugural Lesson without asking ourselves, "by what right?" The institution is there to eliminate these questions and the anxiety linked to the arbitrariness of beginnings. A ritual of the agrégation and of investiture, the inaugural Lesson symbolically enacts the denial at the end of which the new master is authorized to pronounce a legitimate discourse for whomever."

Bourdieu took the opportunity to pose the question of the scholar's position, committed by a logic he does not master and that fully belongs to an institutional logic. He was reiterating Foucault's concern for the link between knowledge and power and the necessity of situating discursive sites.

A Sociologist of Aesthetics

Three years after entering the College de France, Bourdieu published a vast work on the social criticism of judgment, DistinctionJ- Starting with a detailed study of tastes and cultural representation, he confirmed the turn his work was taking since the mid-seventies in illustrating the concrete habitus. He argued for a more active notion of the role of social agents than he had in Reproduction.u But although the interplay of pluralized strategies was more complex in this work, Bourdieu also attacked an even stricter taboo than that of educational institutions, by moving into an essentially private realm, that "of tastes and colors," which are not subject to discussion, and of cultural creation, considered to be beyond sociological determination. "Here, sociology is entering an area that is the denial of the social realm par excellence."24 Yet Bourdieu tried to demonstrate how cultural tastes were part of the way in which the ruling class imposed its vision and legitimated its tastes through a scholarly arrangement of distinctions. All of culture, in the broadest, ethnological sense of the word, including every individual's uses and habits, therefore became a class issue, a means of establishing a power relationship and dominating others, particularly when considered in terms of social contiguity. Bourdieu took up the key Marxist notion of capital, but this time applied it to the cultural and symbolic realms rather than limiting it to economic activities. Class struggle became a classification struggle in which the operator was the distinction of cultural judgment among different social agents, all competing to win scarce goods.

Bourdieu undertook a detailed and revelatory classification of social hierarchies and cultural goods, conceived from the point of view of their ability to be "classifying." His sweeping study on the diversity of taste and distaste brought to light the processes of class legitimation and domination, thereby providing an answer to and a criticism of Kant's position on aesthetics in his Critique of Judgment. Bourdieu explicitly continued to pit sociology against philosophy, since he considered his position to be better founded by its use of scientific, statistical materials. The sociologist-king, to use Jacques Ranciere's expression, believed that he could go beyond the traditional approach to the work of art as a purely and specifically aesthetic invention. Bourdieu considered that an analysis based on the essence of the aesthetic position "refused to restore its only reason for being, in other words the historical reason establishing the arbitrary necessity of the institution. "25 The work of art was considered strictly in terms of its classifying function. All notions of beauty were banished to "the natural expression of the professional ideology of those who like to call themselves 'creators."'26 He considered all aesthetic characterization of artistic values to be simply a form of denial of the social relationship incorporated within the established mode for classifying tastes.

For Bourdieu, Petula Clark's songs thus had no more value than Stravinsky's works, Hamlet had no greater aesthetic quality than a boulevard comedy, Bach's Goldberg Variations no more importance than popular songs. The only distinctive criterion was that which divided the class habitus and let some assign value to a socially legitimated and therefore superior cultural capital unsupported by aesthetic criteria.

Bourdieu enlarged the notion of class, which he considered to extend beyond the question of ownership of the means of production to include the symbolic universe where the violence of domination was every bit as present. But because it was entirely invisible and operated by negating the conditioning processes, this violence facilitated their domination.

His notion of habitus as the generating principle of objectively classifiable practices let Bourdieu help a tired structural-Marxism venture onto unexplored cultural ground: "a structuring structure that organizes practices and the perception of practices. "27 He saw two principles of hierarchization within the dominant class, depending on whether the capital was economic or cultural, and argued that this principle organized capital into two mirror structures "according to a structural chiasmus."28 The richest were divided into cultural capital owners and owners of essentially economic capital-intellectuals at one end of the spectrum and business leaders at the other. A different relationship evolved toward culture therefore as two habitus inversely proportional in terms of cultural and economic capital. Bourdieu used a detailed statistical apparatus, but also altogether pertinent ethnological descriptions of the material culture of French society. For example, he contrasted popular eating habits with bourgeois eating habits, the asceticism of professors with the luxurious tastes of the liberal professions, the use of Kleenex in urban areas, where a certain delicacy is required, with the use of cloth handkerchiefs into which the rural user snorts loudly.

Bourdieu's critical sense of perception was accompanied by a literary sensibility, an almost Proustian sense of minutiae, a lucid causticity, as, for example, when he considered "the petit bourgeois is a proletarian who wants to go unnoticed in order to become bourgeois.'^ But this study of the social conditions of judgment was reductive; he completely eliminated the way in which artistic creations break with absolutely everything around them, since for him they did little more than serve a social function of distinction.

Functionally reducing culture left Bourdieu open to serious criticisms. "It would seem that behind his refinement is the gesticulating ghost of a new look Zhdanovism."3o Broadening the definition of the social class as a being in itself to a perceived being meant reifying the work of art, reducing it to a simple question of ideological dimensions. This revealed the limits of Bourdieu's attempt to get beyond the structuralist paradigm, since his critical analysis relied on negating the basis of aesthetic autonomy in order to establish its classifying systems and bringing a coherent hierarchization to light. Once again, this syn-chronic game of determining the positions of each of the categories in social space negated the referent-art in this case-in its specificity and its principles, a very structuralist move.

Stylistically, Distinction shared some of the literary concerns of the New Novel: linear storytelling gave way to multiple voices. Bourdieu fundamentally changed the traditional, sociological form of storytelling with the specialist-teller at a good remove from his object. He juxtaposed theoretical commentaries in direct or indirect discourse with the raw material of interviews, photographs, and statistical tables. All this material, which was heterogeneous in form and located on different registers, was interwoven and organized in a carefully worked out polyphony by Bourdieu: "For me, the most interesting thing in Distinction was the formal innovation.... This was a stylistically avant-garde book, meaning that it combined five or six normally incompatible languages."31 Interweaving experience and ideas made it possible to write a literary sociological work and once again demonstrated Bourdieu's difficult semimourning of literature, along with that of the entire structuralist generation, as well as a shared desire to write a literary work via the social sciences.

Bourdieu constantly referred to Gustave Flaubert or Marcel Proust and clouded generic distinctions by illustrating one of the major contributions of structural criticism-the equation between form and content. Stylistically, writing was the essential tool for thinking a constructed reality.

When Distinction came out in 1979, Le Monde reviewed it in a two-page spread. Thomas Ferenczi saw in Bourdieu's analysis a "decisive break"; Pierre Encreve wrote that it had a "liberating effect" comparable to that of jean-jacques Rousseau, with whom he saw a parallel and similar objectives, a militant philosophy concerned with freeing humanity of its chains: "Rousseau wrote that philosophers of all ages have a common mania of denying what is and explaining what is not. Distinction is constructed on this enterprise of negating reality." 32 The general thrust of all the articles was particularly laudatory, except for two that were critical: jacques Laurent's "A Society Cut Off from Its History" and Francois Chatelet's, which asked the question "Where Is It a Matter of Art?" Chatelet made the pertinent observation that after such an enormous sociological work, something was missing: "It is going uphill, in terms of sociological and historical understanding, and not downhill, in terms of sociological classifications, that we can reformulate the questions raised about art."33

Despite the limits of his approach to aesthetics, Bourdieu continued to work on complexification in order to avoid a mechanistic or teleological philosophy. His notion of habitus differed from the AI-thusserians' notion of apparatus, which referred to a vertical conception of infra- and superstructures. Bourdieu's idea led to a richer reality, woven of habits, needs, practices, and inclinations, and yet articulated within a three-dimensional space: the vertical axis was the evaluation of economic, educational, and cultural capital; the structural axis was the examination of what opposed economic and cultural capital in the same field; and finally, the dimension of the trajectory made it possible to reintroduce movement into the structure and to translate seniority in the possession of this economic/cultural capital. The coalescing of these three dimensions defined the habitus.

Practice and Its Meaning

Just after this empirical study, Bourdieu published Practical Sense, which became its theoretical framework. He theoretically reiterated his criticism of the structuralist paradigm, and especially its disregard for the context of utterances, along with its banishment or reduction of speech to a simple execution of the rules of language. "We will have no trouble demonstrating that all the presuppositions-and all ensuing difficulties-of all the structuralisms flow from this sort of origi-nary division between language and its realization in speech, which is to say, in practice."34 Consequently, the scholar was strictly outside his object, whereas for Bourdieu, the analyst-subject of science is an organic part of its object. The classifier can be classified; it is illusory to deny his position in the name of a model in which he would occupy "the position of a Leibnizian god possessing in act an objective sense of practice. "35

Bourdieu criticized those who had drifted from the initial structural model by importing new elements and opening it to the context in order to account for the observable variations and exceptions to the rule, as he himself had done in Kabylia, Algeria, but who had, in so doing, "avoided calling into question objectivist thinking."36

So he proposed a radical critique of this view in order to avoid beginning with a pure, ethereal, rootless subject disconnected from any conditioning system. The concept of practical sense, in this respect, was opposed to structuralist panlogism as much as to intuitionism based solely on the world of representations: "This theory of practice, or better yet, of practical sense, is defined above all against the philosophy of the subject and of the world as representation."37 Instead of rules, Bourdieu used practical sense; Levi-Strauss's kinship rules became matrimonial strategies and social uses of kinship. He clearly wanted to introduce a more active role for social actors, but kept the structuralist postulate of cultural arbitrariness and of a symbolic universe, which allowed him to reduce this dimension to its social level alone. His idea of aesthetics here retained the structural perspective of transposing tastes, indefinitely reversed and inverted according to the diverse modes of regulation of the different schemas.

The metaphor of play served as the instrument that allowed Bourdieu to escape the subjective/objective alternative and to concentrate on practice. "The habitus as the meaning of the game is the incorporated social game become nature."38 Making a virtue of necessity, the habitus made it possible to make the necessary adequate to the desirable, and to mourn collective history and the dream of great revolutionary dawns. It was "really the equivalent of Freud's Oedipus complex." 39

According to Alain Caille, Bourdieu's subject, the product of the habitus, implicitly supposed a work of mourning perfectly proportional to the incompleteness of social recognition. It donned the form of a double economic and cultural capital; therefore, "the subject would be nothing other than the sum of its renunciations. "40 In other words, this subject was entirely reduced to the external constraints playing on him-a reversal of Sartre's subject. Moreover, Jacques Ranciere was disappointed by the results of the fieldwork done for Distinction since they only confirmed "what the sociologist already knew. "41 The aesthetic universe became a problem of distance, meaning to judgment in terms of tastes in order to distinguish itself from popular ethos. The sociologist kept a simple logic of places by reducing the content of aesthetics like the content of intellectual debates in Homo academicus.t- This work, devoted to the sociological study of university professors, is strictly circumscribed by ruptures with its history, subjects taught, and the political and social environment, permitting the distinction between different habitus, which were both con-flictual and imbricated.

The inner logics of the field itself determined the system of disciplinary constraints that, according to Bourdieu, elucidated university careers and the work of professors who were thus objectified. Bour-dieu worked on his own objectification insofar as he was part of this academic universe. On this terrain, he could certainly work toward a better understanding of himself and the constraints on him, and problematize his own path. But when he published his enormous, six hundred-page The Nobility ofthe State in 1989,43 giving a scholarly demonstration of how the Grandes Ecoles reproduced the nation's elites, there was a sense that a paradigm that had had the merit of seeking, albeit unsuccessfully, a middle ground between objectivity and subjectivity was exhausted. Indeed, Bourdieu did not avoid lapsing into a reproductive schema within which actors circulated like so many ghosts haunting the healthy operation of the structures they served.



A Latecomer Discovers Epistemology

In the great debates of the sixties concerning the structuralist paradigm, one particularly well-established social science was noticeably absent. Geography had even had its hour of glory at the beginning of the century, however, and its absence was all the more striking given the structuralist priority of spatial relations at the expense of historical analysis. Synchrony replaced diachrony; after the search for origins, the cartographic effort came to prevail. Attention shifted and the visual transformation of objects came into focus. So it was all the more surprising not to find geography at the center of this thinking during the sixties.

The Long Sleep of an Objectless Discipline Geography was slumbering in a deep sleep, deaf to the questions that should have awakened it from its mute and dumb torpor during a particularly talkative period. Several reasons explained this long absence. First, geography in the sixties had continued to be defined as a science of the relationship between nature and culture, between the elements of geomorphology and climatology and those belonging to the human valorization of natural conditions. Consequently, the structuralist ambition of basing the sciences of man solely on culture, modeled by linguistic rules, appeared somewhat foreign to the geographer's concerns for basing disciplinary unity on the correlationship between levels of nature and culture. "Geographers therefore experienced it as something that did not concern them."!

We might even suggest that geographers mistrusted a paradigm that threatened to upset their discipline. While geography was not the only social science to be torn between nature and culture (the same was true for psychology and anthropology), it was the only one during the period to reject a possible partition between the two fields in its domain.

The other reason for geography's absence had to do with the history of the discipline, which had a tendency to ride along through the sixties so confidently on the achievements of its past glory that it was increasingly out of sync. To be sure, geography had its hour of glory, and it was particularly brilliant, following the defeat of 1870, when it answered the national need to reconquer Alsace-Lorraine. Ernest Lavisse's history of national battles was written to legitimate the rights of the French nation; geography became a partner in this history. The Geographical Tableau of France by Paul Vidal de La Blache opened Ernest Lavisse's great History ofFrance.s

Once the war was over and Alsace-Lorraine had been reannexed to France, Vidalian geography became the model, less its patriotic perspective and state oversight. This geography quit politics and took to the fields, rediscovering a gleaming France of welcoming and greatly diverse regions. In the 1920S and 1930S, Vidalian geography devoted itself to regional monographs; it became a historian, and the historian became a geographer. During this golden age of the French school of geography, its influence was felt by all of the social sciences and extended to a community of geographers the world over.

During the International Geographical Congress held in Paris in 1931, triumph was in the air for this French school of geography. Geographers from all corners of the globe acclaimed it. During the opening ceremonies, the Italian delegate, General Vacchelli, declared: "Limiting myself to the work accomplished during the last fifty or sixty years, I would say that the French geographers in particular have made modern ideas penetrate and progress in Europe in terms of morphology; above all, it is in France that human geography has received new directives."3 The leaders of the school at the time were Albert Demangeon and Emmanuel de Martonne.

But geographers were to see their success eo-opted by historians. Lucien Febvre immediately understood how powerfully these monographs affected readers and ardently defended Vidal de La Blache against the German geopolitical school of Ratzel and against the challenge of Durkheimian sociologists in 1922.4 When, with Marc Bloch, Febvre founded the review Annales d'histoire économique et sociale in 1929, he asked Albert Demangeon to join the editorial board. The new French school of history essentially adopted the Vidalian para-digm.r Having linked their future with that of the new historians, geographers looked on as their dynamism was appropriated for the sole benefit of historians.

Following the war and during the sixties, the great regional monographs were written by historians, among them Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Pierre Goubert, and Georges Duby. Even if geography had gained some institutional ground in the fifties and sixties, it remained structurally tied to history and devitalized, doing little more than managing the Vidalian legacy with its naturalism, its emphasis on unchanging qualities, its monographic and contingent aspects, as well as a concern for a literary writing style. The two major angles of French geographical studies remained the regional framework and the study of landscapes. Having failed to fully assess the consequences of the wane of determinism, geographers' practices were essentially a "drawers within drawers" juxtaposition, in the name of an ideal synthesis of the elements of landscape, climate, population, and urban networks. All of this was laid out in monographs that aimed to be exhaustive rather than to raise questions. This traditional geography later reconciled itself with a Marxist approach that made a breakthrough after the war thanks to the influence of a certain number of Communist geographers: Pierre George, Jean Dresch, both elected to the Sorbonne, and Jean Tricart at the University of Strasbourg. These geographers were influenced by traditional geography, however, and were prisoners of its empiricism; as a result, they did not manage to profoundly change their discipline or to promote either an epistemological reconsideration of its foundations or any interdisciplinary, theoretical dialogues. Moreover, the Cold War and Stalinism were not conducive to breaking the isolation of these Communist geographers shut up in the ivory tower of their dual certainty: that of historical materialism on the one hand, and an empirical knowledge based on the great works of the past on the other, not to mention such Zhdanovian traditions as the one Jean Tricart succumbed to when he opposed Marxist geo-morphology to the bourgeois geomorphology of his predecessors.s

Some hesitant and quickly scuttled attempts at dialogue did occur, such as the colloquium held by Communist geographers at Ivry on June 28-29, 195 3-7 But the epistemological revolution they had hoped to bring about never happened. The generation trained by Pierre George, Bernard Kayser, and Raymond Dugrand was no more successful at moving mountains or bringing geographical know-how out of its regional and peripheral isolation, disdained by university professors and other intellectuals in the sixties.

This discipline ran out of steam. As rural France was modernized, it lost its privileged object. Some geographers, in search of a solution, seized upon the possibility of working abroad to renew their own discipline. "Until 1968, most colleagues were sincerely persuaded that there was no geography outside of France worthy of the name."8 But finally some contacts were established between French geography and Anglo-Saxon geography, thanks in particular to Swiss, Canadian, and Belgian francophone geographers. In what became known as the new geography, Paul Claval played an important role.?

No longer descriptive like the geography of the preceding generation, this new geography no longer imagined itself to be a literary genre, in order to be legitimated as a science. Geographers turned toward economics and the social sciences, which had gone further in terms of spatial conceptualization. They were just as concerned for their discipline's scientificity and wanted to modernize it, using quantitative material and solid statistical sources drawn from quantitative techniques. "Thus the current neopositivism replaced the positivism of the early twentieth century." 10 Vidalian geography, which focused essentially on rural, agricultural areas, became useless as society evolved. Younger geographers adapted its methods to a quickly changing urban world. Instead of concretely describing visible reality, they insisted on looking at what was implicit, hidden, and unspoken. "No geographer limits himself any longer to the visible dimension of reality."!'

This new geography, located squarely within the social sciences, progressively renewed the entire discipline in the seventies. To be sure, since 1960, Pierre Gourou had been part of the structural anthropology enterprise as the tropical geographer on the editorial board of Levi-Strauss's review L'Homme. But he was an exception among geographers, who had generally remained aloof from the social sciences, and whose object, eo-opted by the new history, had disappeared. All that remained was an even more nervous, disoriented discipline, fearful that the slightest challenge could sink the ship.

A Tardy Awakening

Geography awoke progressively, from the beginning of the decade on. Interest in mathematics slowly raised certain epistemological questions. In 1971, for example, some young geographers from southeastern France decided to pool their knowledge, given their inadequate training in mathematics and computers, and form a working group known as Dupont. Although this group never became as well known as the Bourbaki group, its work on quantification quickly produced theoretical thinking using mathematical formalization. Later, "it slowly became a question of epistemology."12 The group was rebaptized the Dupont of Avignon, the city where they met, and in 1972, in addition to the first colloquium on mathematics applied to geography, held in Besancon, and the publication of a collective work on geography,13 a new geographical review came out: EEspace Geo-grapbique.r' Its title clearly indicated its intention to situate geography among the social sciences thanks to its conception of space.

One sign of this entirely new choice ending the period of uncertainty during which geography was being torn between the natural sciences and the social sciences was Francois Chatelet's 1973 publication of the last volume of his History of Philosophy, devoted to The Philosophy of the Social Sciences. He had asked Yves Lacoste to work with him, and had thus made a place for geography alongside psychology, sociology, ethnology, history, and linguistics. "The end of isolation began with Lacoste's excellent article in Chatelet's encyclopedia." 15

Yves Lacoste did not minimize the crisis affecting traditional geography, its inability to think theoretically, and its stubbornly proud and willfully untheoretical, down-to-earth approach. Lacoste observed that geographical practice no longer corresponded to a common project; some geographers specialized in physical geography while others were involved in human geography, without being concerned about this contradiction that revealed "the fallacious nature of the common geographical project."16 He humorously and quite pointedly ridiculed the pathetic enumerations resembling mail order catalogs of geographical wisdom, presented as a synthetic view of the issues. Geography was at the crossroads of many disciplines and used their data without questioning its validity. Lacoste's simple investigation revealed such a complete absence of theoretical thinking that it was even possible to imagine that this discipline that had lost its object and lacked any specific method might disappear altogether. "Geography has entered a period of fracture." 17

Adding mathematical formalization to geographical knowledge was not enough to change things for Lacoste, who believed that geographers needed to construct their ideas along Bachelard's epistemological model: "We have to think in order to measure, not measure in order to think."18 He thought that geography could be saved by re-contextualizing the methodical study of space within the functions of the state, and reminded his readers that nineteenth-century German geographers had helped establish a geopolitics that Hitler raised to paroxysmal levels and that had contributed to its postwar discredit. Lacoste preferred to define the different scales of conceptualization first, before articulating them, to distinguish space as a real object and as an object of knowledge. Here, as well as on the necessary link between theory and political practice, Althusser served as Lacoste's fundamental and explicit epistemological reference.!? and was to be the epistemological model for rethinking or thinking space. Geography would thus become the last area to come under the influence of Althusserianism.

Those who wanted to modernize geography continued to work collectively. Rebaptized the Geopoint (and no longer Dupont), the group held its first colloquium at the University of Geneva in 1976 on the topic "Theories and Geography."20 Some geographers were starting to become active in the seventies, jacques Lévy recalls being criticized during his agrégation exam for not having used his map enough or lyrically enough. He only heard mention of the term "structure" within the university for the first time a year later in a seminar reserved for advanced students, taught by marginal professors at Paris VII. For geographers, Paris VII-Jussieu was a second-string university. "The title of the seminar was 'Structures, Systems, and Processes,' and we called it 'Structures and Things' to convey the fact that the questions were abstract and uncontrollable. The course was given by Francois Durand-Dastes and Roger Brunet, "21 Even more than the currently moribund structuralism, the issue was systemic thinking, popular then among geographers, especially after Systems Theory22 had been translated into French from the German.

The structuralist principle of immanence and the idea of interdependent elements, as well as the necessity of seeing them from an encompassing logic, were all here. By contrast, however, the model had come from the natural sciences rather than the social sciences, and began with the premise of a complex reality and the impossibility of isolating a limited number of variables. All mechanisms had to be considered in relation to each other, using a model of laws resembling that of thermodynamics. Such systemism offered the advantage of making it possible to find interrelationships, actions, and retroactions, and to do more than give the kind of general description that traditional geographers tended to give. It also made it possible to preserve the unity of geography by assuming that everything held together. Among other things, systemism created a certain receptivity to concerns about the ecosystem and ecology. "Geographers were entirely comfortable with that, at least those who thought that nature had something to do with their discipline."23 But because the model was based on cybernetics, it did not lead to a dynamic analysis any more than structuralism had.


This was the receptive climate in which Yves Lacoste made an important breakthrough in 1976 by dynamiting the weakened edifice of academic geography. During the same year, he published Geography Is Used First of All to Wage War,24 and, at Maspero, he started Herodote.o a new review significantly subtitled "Strategies, Geographies, and Ideologies." Lacoste attacked the descriptive enumeration of academic geography, and compared it to the effective social and political-military use of space, and the manipulation of those caught in and subjected to strategies without knowing where they led. He wanted essentially to reveal these hidden spatial strategies and to show how a number of different spaces were woven together according to certain logics that were not obvious.

Lacoste observed that the army had been the first to want to understand how to use space, with its headquarters maps. He used this to rehabilitate geopolitics, which had been discredited until then. He was fundamentally critical and began to demystify what later gave rise to a real strategic know-how reappropriated by those who were subjected to different kinds of social domination. Vidalian geography had traditionally ignored this political dimension, which Lacoste considered essential for geographers if they wanted to understand and analyze critical areas. In this regard, Lacoste contrasted Vidal's concern for permanent features of geography in a nonpolitical landscape with the need to understand the problems introduced by modernization and its acceleration of spatial transformation. In a word, Lacoste was interested in a geography of crisis that looked at the degradation of the biosphere, the degrading of the possibilities for sustaining life, the geography of demographic explosion, of urban density, of growing inequalities, and of the confrontation between powers.

Analyzing these phenomena implied changing the way of looking at local and planetary relationships. It led to a territorial macro-geography that went further than the traditional French regional monographs. Fundamentally political, Herodote was no less open to the question of the various articulations of social space. Lacoste wanted to map the networks of multinationals and to analyze the relationship between their production sites and subcontracting zones in order to explain the logic underlying economic exploitation.

Above all, he wanted to infuse new life into what seemed to be a moribund discipline. This project was part of a larger, active collaboration with the other social sciences that would help to develop this new consideration of space. The old discussion group for Herodote therefore included geographers, ethnologists, urbanists, philosophers, and journalists. Herodote adopted the critical project of the declining structuralist paradigm, and structuralist strategies were revisited so as to decode the third term of the review's subtitle: ideologies.

Althusser's influence was diffuse, but present in this transition toward an epistemological consideration of the foundations of geography. The first issue of the review even included a passionate article on the concept of landscape, full of references to semiotics and to Christian Metz and Algirdas Julien Greimas.w Structuralism's other effect on geography had to do with Foucault's influence on the Herodote team. Having understood the importance of Foucault's work for observation and for discerning the logic of spatial organization, they invited Foucault to answer the geographers' questions, in the first issue of the review: "Your work and ours share certain things concerning how ideology and spatial strategies work. By examining geography, we have encountered a certain number of ideas: knowledge, power, science, discursive formation, observation, episteme, and your archaeology has helped to orient our thinking. "27

Lacoste, who belonged to this generation of geographers trained by Pierre George, was able to disengage from the Marxist economism of an essentially descriptive geography thanks to the collective context at the post-'68 University of Vincennes with its general structural-Marxism, which made it possible to open up geography to a dialogue with Francois Chatelet, Michel Foucault, and Althusserians from various departments: geography changed.


The other symptom of the changes taking place in geography was a joust against traditional geography undertaken by a handful of young geographers in the history-geography section of the ENSET.28 In a narrower and more peripheral way, they reproduced the battle their elders had waged in 1966-68 at the Sorbonne against the humanities in the name of science. Geographers were once more latecomers to the protests of young researchers who, like their elders in the sixties, wanted greater rigor in their intellectually unsatisfying discipline. Nothing predestined the ENSET at Cachan to become a site of agitation or innovation, but a number of unforeseeable reasons converged to make it the birthplace for EspacesTemps, a review that would try to define another kind of geography.

EspacesTemps was initially just the history-geography section's bulletin and reflected the general conviviality of geographers who enjoyed working together. But it evolved rather quickly and came to express the dissatisfaction with the way geography was being taught. "Taking the agregation with Christian Grataloup, we were disgusted by geography and tried to demonstrate this in one way or another."29

The first bulletin came out in October 1975, entitled Espaces-Temps.t? It had a greater impact than its initial modest proposal; Maurice Le Lannou wrote a provocatively entitled article in Le Monde, "Geographers against Geography. "31 Not that he was glorifying the position of these young iconoclasts; on the contrary, he was outraged by their "outrage," even though he admitted that there was "some truth" in what they said.

This commotion made Albert Plet, who was in charge of the peaceful history-geography section at ENSET, somewhat nervous. He reacted quite harshly to the proposals for the second issue of EspacesTemps, and particularly against the virulent criticism of the Dictionary of Geography, which had been published under Pierre George.

Jacques Levy's article, "The Dictionary of a Geography," considered Pierre George's work as characteristic of traditional geography: a learned mixture of anecdotes, erudition, empiricism, and theoretical vacuum:

The abundance of technical or foreign terms in the Dictionary is supposed to compensate for its scientific indigence. We cannot decently resent a book or a discipline that will at least have taught you what a 'Miombo' or an 'Igniambrite' are. The general bric a brac characteristic of such a work should be considered an obstacle and a mask.... Just as crowds hide many lonely people, this abundant material hides its inner emptiness.V

Afraid of a reaction on the part of institutional geographers, Plet informed the ENSET administration and the issue, which had already been printed, was not allowed to come out. Since the ENSET had blocked it, the only solution was to change the nature of the publication as a house organ. The editorial team collected numerous signatures on a protest petition and received important support from people such as Milton Santos. A compromise was reached and Espaces'Temps finally came out, no longer as the bulletin of the ENSET section but as an independent review of another type.

A certain line was defined and produced a manifesto in issue 4: "Reconsidering geography, reflecting history, changing teaching, and examining the social sciences."33 Geography was to participate in the adventure of the social sciences by deepening its notion of social space, which had become the linchpin of the enterprise. "We want the study of social time and space to have its legitimate place in the contemporary movement of the social sciences.">' The authors intended to bring geographical understanding out of its isolation and open it up to the advances made in the proximate social sciences, to set it at the intersection between different disciplines. Doing so required a detour toward epistemological and theoretical considerations: "Since we are interested in philosophy, which has been so removed until now from geography, we want to know what a science is."35

This necessary detour helps us better understand the impact of the epistemological questions of the sixties, and, in particular, Althusser-ian ideas. Espaces'Temps explicitly used Marxism as "a guide for scientific practice,"36 which was supposed to free geography from its ideological underpinnings and solidly anchor it as a science. This clearly shows how Althusserians' influence in the sixties helped shift disciplinary boundaries so that science and theory could emerge, after having made the epistemological break discerned in Marx's work, and which the EspacesTemps geographers also hoped to understand within geography. Althusser was important even if he was criticized for his high theorizing. "For me, Althusser was the intermediary for French epistemology: Bachelard, Canguilhem, and even Durkheim."37 This sense of needing to take a detour with respect to an object to be rigorously constructed inspired these young geographers who later championed interdisciplinarity in which their own discipline was to gain its footing no longer as a mushy interdisciplinarity-a bucket genre, as Lacan called it-with something for every taste. "We used jaures's formula with regard to patriotism and internationalism. A little bit of interdisciplinarity pushes disciplines away, while a lot brings them back. What's interesting about this is its conflictual nature. "38 Despite Althusser's influence, EspacesTemps wanted to do more than "reconsider geography"; it wanted to attempt fieldwork, whereas Althusser had remained a critical philosopher, above it all, who did not truly grant the social sciences a place since he thought they were incapable of realizing any sort of epistemological break within their own disciplines. References to Althusser-whether his own texts or those of Etienne Balibar, Michel Pecheux, Michel Fichant, or Pierre Raymondv-c-abounded in the early theoretical articles as Espaces-Temps searched for the appropriate geographical object, defined as a social space that was supposed to become the melting pot for any study in a fundamentally "scientific" perspective, unlike Herodote which preferred the category of "knowing how to conceive of space" to that of science.

Chorematics: Geographical Formalization The use and practice of graphics in geography also renewed geographic knowledge, and was a more immediate product of the structuralist energies of the sixties. jacques Bertin, director of the graphics laboratory at the EHESS, spearheaded this essential area of cartography and of the representation of different forms of reality. In the sixties, Bertin had been completely immersed in the social sciences in a sanctuary of structural reflection on different forms of writing; in I967, he published Graphic Semiology.40 This manifesto viewed graphic representation as the transcription of signs, from which Bertin deduced that "graphic representation is part of semiology, a science that deals with all sign systems. "41

Bertin had tried to get geography to play a role in semiological thinking since 1967, but his remarks fell on deaf ears at the time because geography was isolated. He was used above all by historians like Pierre Chaunu and Fernand Braudel. Bertin favored formalized graphic discourse, which meant a strict separation of contents (information) and container (the means of the graphic system). Like literary semioticians, Bertin-as Christian Metz had done for the grand syn-tagmaric of narrative film-defined eight pertinent variables along two distinct axes; he thought of graphics as a language, and used struc-rural linguistics as a model.

The image was conceived and constructed like a structure. From this reflection emerged a more analytical and less descriptive cartography that operated at the EHESS like the production of services to the social sciences, but that was no longer truly a place where ideas were being generated. Technical processes had gained the upper hand over theory and creation.

Bertin had gone largely unheard in the sixties, but Roger Brunet took up and systematized his positions. In 1980, he developed the notion of choreme, the geographical equivalent of a linguistic phoneme, the smallest distinctive unit for describing graphic language around elementary spatial structures.f- "What we have here is doubtless the culmination of a long period of change in geography which can now link its idiographic side (described social spaces) and its nomethetic side (produce general principles of social, spatial organization). "43 The range of chorematic maps was as undefined as the grammar of the same name, which lets us take the measure of the vital, albeit tardy, structural formalization adopted by geographers.


The Subject; or,

The Return of the Repressed

Dialogics and Pragmatics

The subject had disappeared from social science concerns, eliminated, among other things, by the ambition to better establish linguistics as a science. But in the seventies, linguistics moved toward the return of the repressed and the discipline's prestige hastened the process of bringing the subject back into focus. We already described Kristeva's 1966 presentation on intertextuality, on dialogics, during her talk on Bakhtin's work in Barthes's seminar.

Another Bulgarian semiologist, Tzvetan Todorov, systematically examined Bakhtin's work at the end of the seventies and his own positions were radically transformed as a result. He had been preparing the publication of Bakhtin's collected work, which was no small task since it was dispersed in disparate translations, which gave an impression of imprecision in French. Todorov's book came out in 1981,1 and it profoundly changed the sense of reading Bakhtin. Regarding M. Bakhtin, the Dialogic Principle, Todorov commented: "I had the very humble ambition of producing an auxiliary text, a sort of introduction to Bakhtin's thinking. But as things went along and I got to understand his work better, I was increasingly influenced by it."? Interestingly enough, Todorov, in reading Bakhtin, repeated Bakhtin's own description of how reading Dostoyevsky implicated and transformed the reader. The interaction between object studied and subject studying-a striking departure from the structuralist distantiation and normalization of the linguistic object-produced the dialogic. Henceforth, the reader-author dialogue became the maker of meaning; literary and ideological study became much more than simply decoding internal textual coherence. With Bakhtin, Todorov refocused on the content of what was said, and on its reception by the reader. The different ways of making meaning took a back seat.

Only dialogics could elucidate the stakes of meaning. In this, Todorov veered away from his early formalism, largely because he had matured politically, which also encouraged him to reintroduce a reflection on the subject and meaning. In the sixties, his fascination with formalism was basically a rejection of what was going on in his native Bulgaria, where literary history was purely event-oriented and completely external to texts. "In that situation, I felt the need to complete what was most obviously missing and to insist on the blind spot of literary studies."3 In addition, given the implacable ideological dogmatism of Stalinism that was the obligatory reading grid applied to every piece of literature, Todorov had wanted to free himself by taking refuge within the text itself, its grammatical categories, and its rhythm, and to keep as far as possible from the leaden ideology that was suffocating literary studies.

His desire to escape politics and ideology changed, however, when he arrived in France: he quickly assimilated, adopted French nationality, and adapted to a more democratic context. "Around 1978-80, I began to realize that we could influence the course of events; discovering this new relationship to politics led me to feel that a change of perspective was called for."4 Although Todorov did not abandon any of the important positions that had allowed him to better read a text and understand how it was constructed, he did put some space between himself and structuralism, which he considered a simple instrument for getting to contents and meaning.

Since the social science researcher is fundamentally implicated by his subject, Todorov from now on considered this implication to be the starting point. His work changed as of the late seventies. Under the influence of Bakhtin's dialogic, he began to study cultural diversity, human unity, and alterity. He published Conquering America in 1982 and Us and the Others in 1989,5 in which he began to dialogue with the traditional French literary perception of alterity. In Conquering America, he relived the conquest of America. "I want to talk about my discovery of the other."6 The meaning of this conquest could only be perceived as an intersubjective reality made evident by the Western world's inability to discover native Americans when America was discovered. This had to do both with the revelation and the refusal of otherness. American Indians considered their relationship to the world as the end point of a whole sign system and were more attentive to natural communication than to the interhuman dimension. Their mode of communication "is responsible for the distorted image the Indians had of the Spanish."? Todorov argued that the Spanish triumphed above all because they favored interhuman communication, which ensured their superiority. This was a bitter and costly victory, however, in which Western civilization sacrificed its relationship to the world: "By winning, on the one hand, the European lost on the other; by imposing himself around the world with what amounted to his superiority, he destroyed his ability to integrate himself into the world."8

Todorov carefully read Cortes's conquest and argued that it had less to do with taking something from someone than it did with understanding the other in order to better dominate and destroy what he represented. By managing to understand Aztec society and its sign systems, Cortes ultimately took control of the greatest empire of Central America with only a handful of conquistadores.

Todorov was not rewriting traditional history; he gave an orthodox reading of signs and semiotics-set, however, within a dialogic and contextual framework. "Semiotics can only be imagined in relationship to the other,"? His concern was ethical, for he hoped to help put an end to age-old conflicts among men that would make it possible to go beyond the conflictual antagonism between the same and the other, a conflict that was as old as humanity, and to hasten a new era of human communication on the bases of a new harmony. "I am searching-even if it seems pretentious and comical-for a sort of wis-dom."lo And to do so, Todorov, as an individual, henceforth insisted on considering the dimension of the "I" in order to better immerse himself in traditional literary and ideological history, in hopes of creating a dialogue that might produce the harmony he desired. Interestingly enough, his radical shift away from his early formalism largely echoed the positions that Paul Ricoeur had adopted in the sixties, and for which he was labeled an opponent of structuralism.

Literature Regains Ground over Linguistics

Coming from literary criticism, the concept of dialogics gained ground

in linguistics and became an operational instrument. A real reversal was at hand because until then new ideas in literary criticism had come from linguistics. Thus, Oswald Ducrot, a linguist, used dialogics for his pragmatic approach to speech acts: "We can even see a kind of symbiosis between linguistics and literature."!' In his Words ofDis-courser? he had already analyzed the role of connectors, small language units leading to a number of argumentative positions that pressure the interlocutor. Similarly, and this time influenced by dialogics, he wrote Saying and Said,13 in which he used Bakhtin's polyphony in a specifically linguistic way.!" Unlike Todorov, however, Ducrot did not consider that his pragmatics broke in any way with his Saussurean or structuralist positions: "I have the impression of being completely structuralist in what I am doing____When I am doing integrated pragmatics, I want it to be as structural as the syntax or phonology of the fifties."15 In this case, pragmatics led to a new realm of research, ignored until then, but still, in principle, a formal abstraction within linguistic conventions.

Enunciation theory, in the Benveniste tradition, took off in the eighties. With it, the subject again became central to linguistic thinking. Michelle Perrot, a historian at Paris VII, who was on Marina Yaguello's linguistics thesis committee on women's language.P was surprised and intrigued by the changes in linguistics, and particularly by the way it looked at speech and raised questions of gender and a range of linguistic practices: "I suddenly realized that there was a whole other linguistics that was not at all the one I had known."!"

Research that had gone quite far in terms of its formalization, such as Maurice Gross's work, showed that, by systematically observing the properties of French verbs and the probability of their occurrence in a given context, one could conclude from only a hundred possible constructions that none of the eight thousand verbs under consideration was comparable to any of the others. "It was dizzying to realize that our brain can make thousands ofverbs in the same syntactic class work even though each of them is unique."18 Gross's observation shook up the very idea of structure with its notions of class and paradigmatic substitution. Starting with comparative properties led to such heterogeneity that the notion of generalization was called into question.

In their work on syntax, even partisans of Chomskyan genera-tivism such as Nicolas Ruwet agreed that the subject and meaning had to be given their due: "What has bothered me in Chomsky's work for the last ten years is the articulation between formal syntax and the problems of meaning." 19 For Ruwet, the innate processes of the mind's structures could no longer be called upon to solve syntax problems. "We are faced with much more subtle things that oblige us to consider meaning; these are pragmatic questions. "20

Thus Ruwet addressed problems where the question of the subject was primordial, as with distinguishing the subject ofconsciousness and the different subjects implied in a proposition, such as the speaking subject and the subject spoken to. For example, the pronoun "with him/it," in the proposition: "Pierre thinks that Mary is in love with him/it," which in this case could not mean that Marie is in love with Pierre:

It has to do with the fact that elements such as "with him/it" cannot refer to the conscious subject, to the subject of the proposition in which we find the pronoun and that express the contents of consciousness.... We can't write a grammar for this pronoun without taking this into account. That's been one of the big problems for generative grammar for the last ten years or so.21

Work on enunciation was so successful that it also penetrated to the hard core of Greimassian semiotics. Although Greimas himself remained unconvinced, enunciation created some fireworks when Jean-Claude Coquet, one of Greimas's loyal disciples, who had been with him since the first days of the Paris school, committed the unpardonable crime of publishing an issue of Actes semiotiques in which, while acknowledging Greimas's role in creating an "object" semiology, he praised another semiotics, "in Benveniste's line," which he categorized as "subject" serniology .P As editor in chief of the review, Greimas preferred to cut the issue rather than authorize research that belonged to metaphysics, as far as he was concerned. As a result, the Greimassian group was reduced.

Coquet recalled Greimas and Joseph Courtes's 1979 definition of object semiotics embodied by its emblematic "itlhe."23 According to Greimas, "after the horse, [semiotics is] one of man's greatest victories. "24 In his semiotics, the subject simply operated transformations, whereas "in a 'subject' semiology, every discourse is centered. "25 Ben-veniste's work thus led to a reconsideration of the actantial layout of object semiotics, if one assumed that every discourse is centered.P Coquet completely revisited Benveniste's contributions, especially his very precocious postwar work addressing the diversification and definitions of the different discursive possibilities and his thinking on the

subject, linked with an action.27 For Coquet, Benveniste's work was absolutely fundamental for semiotics, and also heralded an important turning point, when he concluded by saying: "Hjelmslev and Greimas worked out sketches of what might be a general semiotic theory. The importance of their work has sidelined all efforts to create a semiotics of discourse. With Benveniste and the slow consideration of his work by researchers, as of 1970, this 'subject' semiotics could-or rather, has been able to-establish itself."28


The dimension of intersubjectivity, of dialogics, made it possible to understand the limits of Martial Gueroult's structural approach in the field of the history of philosophy. Gueroult had constructed a method for reading philosophical texts considered self-sufficient and cut off from their context and all outside interference in order to better lay out their internal architecture and coherence. But Gueroult's approach was reductive, and could lead to serious interpretative errors. Alexis Philonenko, for example, in his analysis of Fichte's The Doctrine of Science, accused him of continuing the Hegelian interpretation of Fichte and supporting the inconsistency of his idealism.s? Gueroult, who looked at this work by Fichte as a closed entity, saw a contradiction between the ontological idealism that Fichte claimed in the first theoretical part of the book, in which he reduced the world to the ego, to thought, to all-powerful consciousness, and, in the second, practical part of the book, his understanding of the world as the limits of action, which implied an idea of the world's reality, and therefore of a consciousness based on its exteriority. Gueroult concluded that Fichte was structurally unable to establish the action of practical idealism on its theoretical bases.

Philonenko shifted Gueroult's analysis by showing that the exposition of truth, was not, according to Fichte, the first principle in The Doctrine ofScience, but rather truth steeped in error. This was the first transcendental illusion that philosophy was to deconstruct in order to reach truth. Different states of consciousness did not, therefore, derive from any illusorily powerful ego, according to Fichte, but, on the contrary, from its deconstruction. Philonenko could have such a different view of Fichte because he rejected Gueroult's principle of textual closure and could therefore read The Doctrine ofSci-ence through other of Fichte's works and thus discover a general eo-herence that no longer corresponded to Gueroult's strictly systematic composition.

Textual closure was the issue in both interpretations. Cueroult argued for independent philosophical objects, whereas, in order to understand Fichte's text, a dialogic relationship had to exist with the rest of his writing. In fact, Fichte had argued for this as the basis for his approach:

In his preface to the The Doctrine of Science, Fichte wrote that the free exercise of internal intuition was necessary in order to understand this book. We can interpret this in different ways, but it means first of all that reading is neither wholly passive nor purely aesthetic, and that we won't be able to trace the process of validating, deconstructing, and finally reconstructing truth without being changed ourselves at the same time.t?

The reader and the historian of philosophy were to reappropriate the truth slowly disclosed on this philosophical path. It is an ever-renewable victory leading to infinite interpretation and to a relationship of community and intersubjectivity.

Joëlle Proust agreed that the structural method had been fruitful, and emphasized its rigor, literarity, and textuality. She considered that the shifts in the philosophy of the history of science thanks to Gueroult, Goldschmidt, Bachelard, and Canguilhem were pertinent and fruitful, but limited with respect to the articulation of the systems among themselves: "When we want to understand what interests a

philosopher in another philosophy, we must get somewhat outside of

the fact that each system is a hermetic entity with internal meaning."31 Proust asked about the links in the history of logic slightly differently, suggesting that there are other ways of structuring texts than those that come to light through their structural analysis. This level of articulation revealed questions and transsystematic structurations suggesting that systems communicate among themselves.

When analyzing texts, Proust considered their history and that, for the most part, they referred to the same cognitive reality, the basis for a sort of transtextual reality: "If it makes sense to compare the Beautiful in Plato and the Beautiful in a contemporary philosopher, it's because there is a sort of common underlying structure to these two concepts."32 In order to reach it, she argued for going beyond Gueroult's idea of closure and of the discontinuity of the epistemology of science to introduce the idea of comparative topics. The first stage of understanding the formal organization of a philosophical work would lead to a second, interpretative stage, which "involves dealing with the topical conditions of interrextuality," 33 In such a perspective, texts and systems dialogue with each other in order to set off the particularities and structural commonalities of each, as well as the structural variants that they convey. This also gives rise to a dialogic regarding the search for philosophical truth. "The comparative topic aims ultimately at helping to remind us that the history of philosophy is not a mausoleum. "34

Roland Barthes: The Pleasures of the Self The return of the subject let Roland Barthes shed the theoretical carapace that prevented him from giving free rein to his writing pleasure. He decided to go to the core of the unresolved tension between the writer and the man of science, and clearly elected the man of letters this time. Having defended the pleasure of the text in 1973, he went one step further toward subjectifying his own mode of writing by writing an unorthodox, nonlinear autobiography composed of partial and disparate information. He invented "biographernes" for his new genre, but, while remaining formally faithful to a certain kind of de-construction, this return to himself with its description of his feelings, his memories, and images of those close to him showed how spectacular the return of the repressed really was. Indeed, it touched one of the most ardent theorizers of the nonpertinence of this level of analysis.

Barthes's biographemes also suggested an as yet incompletely assumed romanesque writing style. He had, on another occasion, explained to his readers what a biographical undertaking meant for him: "Every biography is a novel that dare not speak its name."35 When Roland Barthes by Roland Bartbesr: came out, Barthes was in it, even if he wrote in the third person, and kept a certain distance between the writer and his object. But he disclosed essential bits of himself, entrusting himself to his readers and to intersubjective communication, a source of love more than of structure. Besides, "Structuralist, who's still a structuralist?"37 Barthes was not exhaustively confessional, but did talk about his illness, his cure, the sanatorium, and his school years. He wanted to present himself as essentially a language effect more than a reference to any extratextual nature. This subject was to produce a Barthes-effect, a polyphonic, mobile image of multiple compositions and recompositions in which only a few hints were given for a freely interpretable score. The subject Barthes became visible through photographs and descriptions of corporal experiences-migraines, for example. "Social division occurs via my body: my body itself is so-cial."38 The body played the role of a "mana-word," slippery, polymorphous, the signifier in the place of every signified. Thanks to the focus on its corporal manifestations, this return hailed a new phase in Barthes's evolution, which he himself described as the four stages of his workr-? social mythology, semiology, and textuality, which were all displaced in the years 1973-75 by a Nietzschean morality: "Always think of Nietzsche. "40

When Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes came out, Maurice Nadaud reinforced the effect ofsuperimposition in order to make the biographemes even less clear by asking Barthes to review his own book in La Quinzaine litteraire under the title "Barthes to the third degree. "41 Barthes's book was a real event because it revealed some important characteristics of this most adored and most private structuralist, but it was also, and above all, the symptom of a real turning point that, in 1975, led the intellectual world far from scientific shores and closer to the search for self. Le Monde devoted two pages to the book. Jacques Bersani asked, "Where is Barthes at?" and answered, appropriately enough, "He is tending to himself. "42

The switch to literature and to claims for subjectivity far from the scientific ambitions of the social sciences finally occurred in 1977 when Barthes published A Lover's Discourser> It is true that the book grew out of a seminar at the École des Hautes Etudes on the different forms of discursivity around the theme of love, taking Goethe's Young Werther as the archetypal love-passion text. But beyond this two-yearlong university exercise, it was above all Barthes's own projection of his subjectivity, and the retroactive effect of the object on itself, that interested him: "I even got to the point of confusing the people in my own life with the characters in Werther."44 This personal observation, together with a similar tendency among the seminar participants, led Barthes to abandon the idea of a treatise on amorous discourse in favor of his own book, which would assume the subjectivity of the remarks, a "discourse of an amorous subject. There was a reversal."45 The subject carried the day, and the issue was quite clearly that of a single subject, none other than Barthes himself. He wrote in the first person this time, even if it was clearly a montage of Barthes alone and clearly bore his mark, as in a novel, but this time Barthes claimed the voice: "The relationship between the author and the character is nov-elistic. "46 Barthes did keep to his penchant for fragmented writing and in no way claimed to resume a traditional, linear form of writing to tell a lover's tale.

This turning point was reiterated by his teaching plans. "As for courses, I am going to start teaching specifically literary material again. "47 With this new marriage of the writer and the semiologist came public success, the high point of the love story between Barthes and his readers that made up for his lack of university diplomas. Far beyond academe, Barthes's audience was quite broad, judging by the immediate sellout of the 15,000 initial copies. The book was reprinted seven times in 1977 alone, and sold 79,000 copies.v only to hit a record sale of 177,000 copies in 1989, a completely unusual figure in the human and social sciences for books that are not printed in paperback. Barthes had made his entry into literature.

In 1977, Barthes was hailed as a writer and was elected to the College de France. His inaugural speech on January 7 was given in a hall where all of fashionable Paris rubbed shoulders. It was from this sanctuary that, as if to remind himself of the critical thrust of his theoretical work, he reiterated his real disgust for the petit-bourgeois social universe, and his nonidentification with any institution, however prestigious. "Language, like the performance of any language, is neither reactionary nor progressive; it is quite simply fascistic, for fascism is not censorship, but rather it is the requirement that we speak. "49 It seemed that Barthes needed to invent this sort of shocking formulation in order to swallow his renunciation of the scientific ambitions of the sixties, as if he had to make his ideological positions more radical in order to compensate for this abandonment. But his public was quite moved, and even expressed a real collective joy for his triumph, the triumph of a marginal. "All his 'families' were present in the hall, several people were tearful, keenly aware that they were witnessing something extraordinary, and the emotion of his friends bore witness to Barthes's human qualities; his joy was being spontaneously shared. "50

Electing literature and a return to self came somewhat later for Julia Kristeva. In 1990, she published her first novel, The Samurai.n about the structuralist adventure in the sixties seen from the eyes of one of its principal players. In it, she recalled the existentialist generation and Simone de Beauvoir's 1954 roman à clef, The Mandarins, and Kristeva suggested a link between Les Temps modernes in postwar France and Tel Quel. But literate Chinese and Japanese warriors were very different. The drama had lost the euphoric glow of existentialist commitment and of intellectuals moved by a sense of combat to give meaning to life until death, a cold-eyed generation disillusioned beneath its passion and that no longer concerned itself with the hell of others but with the personal hell within each individual.

This biographical bent had begun in 1983 with Kristeva's "Mémoire," published in Philippe Sollers's review L'Infini, in which Kristeva looked back on herself from the time of her arrival in Paris in 1965, and paid homage to Simone de Beauvoir. But the subject had changed since then. Kristeva, Olga in her novel, lived in a passionate and difficult couple with Philippe Sollers, which could not help but recall the Beauvoir-Sartre duo. But she was also the psychoanalyst Joëlle Cabarus. The subject lost its existential clarity and was now divided, foreign to itself, thinking where it was not, and being where no thinking occurred, a subject transformed by psychoanalysis.

Affects and Bodily Humors

Psychoanalysis considered the body in its different manifestations. In the mid-seventies, Andre Green left his Lacanian positions even further behind and criticized them in the name of affects, which were, for him, an essential part of analysis. It was during this period that Green met Wilfred Bion, the British psychoanalyst, a heterodox Kleinian and a specialist in psychoses. What Green liked so much in Bion was that emotional experience, rather than the Signifier, came to the fore of the analysis. Of the structural period, Green had maintained his interest in multi disciplinary dialogues among anthropologists, philosophers, and linguists, but in a new perspective articulating body and text. "What interests me today are people like Francoise Heritier-Auge or Hellenists like Nicole Loraux and Marcel Detienne because the body is back in full force. Fluids like blood and sperm can't just be stuck on a graph. We can easily see all the semantic dimensions they carry along."52

A fruitful dialogue took place between anthropologists and psychoanalysts about representing corporal materiality and therefore toward a greater connection with the materiality of things. "This was a way of surpassing structuralism toward greater materialism."53 Whereas the structuralist paradigm had tended to desubstantialize and eliminate content and affect in favor of formal games, affects were back, and warranted consideration. Today, the issues of content offer many researchers the hope of renewal, a return of anthropological thinking, which can take alternative routes to cognitivism. "Returning the problems of content back to the heart of formal problems seems essential to me, and anthropology is well armed for that." 54

This entire dimension of the body's humors-eliminated in favor of a purified Symbolic-tended once again to become a fundamental concern for individual research about the self and for the human sciences in general. Having considered the implicit, hidden social logic to be uppermost, the shift today goes more in the direction of explicit, observed, ethnographic experience. This new angle did not imply a contradiction between formal models and content so much as it meant that structuralism had come up against a real limit: raw facts are never observed, they are always constructed. Yet, for Marc Auge, it was up to the ethnologist to make explicit the implicit anthropology of the societies being studied where the first symbolization is the body. "Everything starts with a representation of man, and of the human body. These societies have somewhat the same relationship with their anthropology as we have with our medicine, a similar impregnation."55 Thus the researcher was not supposed to use his observations to support a purely logical system, but to be attentive to specific symbolic propositions from each society. These hypotheses revealed something fundamental about the way the societies being observed found effective means of solving their own questions and implied another relationship between the informant and the analyst, who was to take what was said quite literally in order to restore the importance of transmission, heredity, and exchange observed in the symbolic systems being studied.

Foucault's work amply considers this subjectivity and the different treatments meted out to the human body.


Michel Foucault: From Biopower to an Aesthetics of the Self

Michel Foucault's view of the intellectual's role changed over the course of the seventies, adapting itself to the moment. For him, modernity emerged with the "specific intellectual" who abandoned universals as well as any claim to embodying a universal conscience on behalf of humanity, rights, or even the proletariat. This intellectual spoke about specific issues and all things marginal in his own name. The creation of the GIP in 1971 answered this definition.

Slowly, however, and under the influence of the profound changes of the day, Foucault once again began acting like the complete intellectual cum defender of democratic values. As his thinking and practice changed, he drew closer to Sartre, to whom he had been completely opposed until then. Although it is true that the events in Iran opposed the two, this was a fleeting moment in a general evolution.

The Battle for Human Rights

In the late seventies and early eighties, Foucault embraced the cause of human rights. The battleground was Eastern Europe and the intellectual resistance against Brezhnev. When the Soviet chief made an official visit to Paris in June 1977, Foucault organized a meeting of French intellectuals and Soviet dissidents at the Recarnier Theater. Invitations were signed by Sartre, among others, who came despite the fact that he was ailing. An appeal was made to international public opinion to react to the violation of human rights in the Soviet Union, the internment in psychiatric hospitals of political dissidents, some of whom attended the meeting: Leonid Plyushch, Andrei Sinyavsky, Andrei Amalrik, Vladirnir Bukovsky.

Foucault campaigned just as strenuously against human rights violations in France. In 1977, when the West German Red Army Faction sympathizer and lawyer Klaus Croissant was extradited, Foucault became completely involved and went immediately to the prison where Croissant was being held (the Sante), accompanied by a small group of protesters, including many celebrities, and called for a demonstration of prominent figures, including, once again, Jean-Paul Sartre. The Croissant affair was a turning point; Foucault demanded only that Croissant's human rights be respected, without in any way defending the terrorism of the Baader-Meinhof gang. His position denoted a critical distancing from his earlier positions. Now, he embraced democratic values and fought in their name, whereas until then he had derided these things as the very expression of mystification.

Foucault's longtime friend Gilles Deleuze understood the importance of this turning point: Foucault was waging new battles, and his commitment assumed a solidarity with the universal principles of human rights. Deleuze and Foucault never saw each other again; it was only at Foucault's burial in 1984 at the Salpetriere, an intensely emotional moment for Deleuze, that he paid his last respects to his friend.

In 1978, Foucault worked alongside Dr. Bernard Kouchner (Human Rights Minister under Francois Mitterrand) in support of the boat people, and once again ran into Sartre during a press conference at the Hotel Lutetia in Paris. When he went to Geneva for another press conference against piracy, he read a statement that made clear his radical conversion to the notion of the universals of human rights: "An international citizenship bears its rights and obligations and commits itself to rising up against every and any abuse of power, no matter who perpetrates them or who suffers from them."l Foucault's practical humanism led him to reconcile himself fundamentally with Sartre's conception of the committed intellectual. This was made quite tangible again in 1982 when he went to Poland with Simone Signoret and Bernard Kouchner to lend support to the clandestine battles of Solidarity at a time when the very word "solidarity" was banned.

The Philosopher Answers the Psychoanalyst Foucault had always been attentive to the way theory and practice came together in response to the demands of the present. His new pragmatic commitments and philosophical positions implied a change. In 1968, he had shifted from epistemes to discursive practices, but this time, current events led him to call the subject into question, a subject he had always circumscribed and considered so unimportant than he had simply eliminated it from his philosophical considerations. When we recall that, in the sixties, Foucault had assigned to linguistics, anthropology, and psychoanalysis the monumental task of bringing us out of a medieval age into the modern, structural age of the philosophy of the concept by dissolving the subject, we can take the measure of the situation. Not only did the subject return in his theoretical work, but Foucault also addressed a problem that concerned him particularly: sexuality. As of 1976, he took on this vast area, and published the first volume of what became The History ofSexuality? Not only was the subject back, but so was Foucault the individual, in the most profound way.

Foucault was drawn to historical issues once more and wanted to demonstrate that the subject could be untethered from its desire and its sexual identity, hoping thereby to demonstrate that we are not what we desire. "What characterizes homosexuality is precisely this separation between the subject and its desire, and the creation of a culture of friendship."3 Because he was working on sexuality, Foucault returned to psychoanalysis, which, although it had always fascinated him, had never really held his attention. Whereas in The Order ofThings psychoanalysis was one of the three disciplines that made it possible to claim a new episteme of modernity, it became central in The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. He made it a focal point, but no longer considered it a science. Derided, the psychoanalytic couch was linked with the Catholic confessional and Foucault mocked those who rent out their ears. With his History ofSexuality, he had two intentions: to react against what his disciple Robert Castel called "psychoanalysm," which had permeated every discipline in the seventies, and to which Foucault reacted as a philosopher; and to rid the Western world of its identification with a certain concern for sexuality, which psychoanalysis reinforced, and to replace it with a strategy that considered homosexuality appropriate for furthering a culture of friendship.

Given this, Foucault had to take on Lacan, who claimed to have triumphed in the battle for domination with his four discourses. "We cannot understand anything in the History of Sexuality if we do not see that Foucault is not explaining Lacan, but that he is taking him on."! So even if Lacan is never quoted, we recall that it was thanks to Foucault that the Lacanian department of psychoanalysis had been created at Vincennes in 1969. In studying sexuality, Foucault needed to layout the lines of a purely philosophical program demonstrating that psychoanalysis was not absolutely essential, even in its realm of predilection. Foucault's editor, Pierre Nora, confirmed that the issue was indeed to challenge Lacan:

I remember him tapping his foot in my office: "I don't have an idea, my dear Pierre, I have no ideas. After the battle, I come to sexuality, and I've said everything I have to say." One fine day he brought me a manuscript, saying, "You will see, the only idea that I had was to beat on Lacan by arguing the opposite of what he says."5

We have a recognizable Foucault here, characteristically self-deprecating, adopting surprising stances to test the loyalty of those around him, as well as the constancy of public affection. But something else was quite clearly involved in this confrontation, something far more profound.

Foucault's opposition to Lacan, essential for establishing a discourse on sexuality other than that of psychoanalysis, also responded to an existential, institutional dilemma. Francois Ewald did not consider Foucault to be hostile to Lacan, but that his remarks to Nora were just one of his many quips whereby he avoided answering a question: "Foucault's relationship to Lacan was less polemical than commonly believed. He was very sensitive to Lacan's asceticism, which he considered to be parallel to his own, rather than being an alternative."6 According to Ewald, Foucault was taking on not Lacan but the generalized sexualization of all things and the reductive obsession during the seventies of equating an individual with his or her sexuality. Foucault wanted to free himself from psychoanalysis and to confound the simple equation between identity and desire. "He even agreed with Lacan about ethical questions, which is to say that he would respect psychoanalysis insofar as it established an ethic. And that was what Lacan was looking for. They also shared the concern for demedicalizing psychoanalysis."?


Foucault rephrased the hypothesis about repression by using only the discursive realm, on which he now focused exclusively in order to discern its historical elements. As a result, he eliminated practice in order to concentrate on the profuse writings about sexuality. "The history of sexuality-that is, the history of what functioned in the nineteenth century as a specific field of truth-must first be written from the viewpoint of a history of discourses."8 He disagreed with arguments that claimed that society had become increasingly repressive since the classical age, and showed that we are in no way witness to a progressive rarefaction of discourses on sex, but on the contrary, to increasing verbosity on the subject: "since the end of the sixteenth century, the 'putting into discourse of sex,' far from undergoing a process of restriction, on the contrary has been subjected to a mechanism of increasing incitement."?

In Foucault's view, far from repressing sexuality, the West had placed it at the center of a truth-producing schema. This reversed the hypothesis of repression, and could only hold if it was placed "within a general economy of discourses on sex."lO Still arguing for ideas similar to those in Discipline and Punish, Foucault continued his analysis of how power over bodies became established, in an analytics of "biopower," but at the same time he undertook a history of subjectivity, which dissociated Law from Power, and announced another turning point. "Foucault compared the importance of this new form of political rationality with the Galilean revolution in the physical sciences."!! Biopower, as a coherent technology of power, appeared in the seventeenth century with two poles: political management of humans using new scientific rather than legal categories, and perfecting a corporal technology, through disciplinary practices in which sexuality would become the privileged object for rendering bodies docile. "Sex becomes the edifice through which power links the body's vitality to that of the species. Sexuality and the means with which it is invested then become the primary instrument for expanding biopower."12

Foucault's first target was therefore psychoanalysis since it perpetrated the confessional attitude, albeit by putting the sinner on the couch. This was a more refined version of a form of power that had adopted new functions. Under a monarchy, the sovereign could impose death (with sealed letters, a scepter, or torture) or grant subjects life, whereas bourgeois modernity established a new function for power, that of having the subject's life depend on it, or letting it die; its function was that of "administering life."i3 Far from masking sexuality, the bourgeoisie brandished it as the symbolic equivalent of a blue blood's assertion of his own legitimacy. A whole discourse on sex became the privileged object of a form of managerial power. This was management in the name of controlling numbers of births, the sexuality of children and adolescents, and the psychiatrization of perverse pleasures. Socializing procreative behavior furthered this control and mastery over a population.

A whole system of biopower was thus set up, which served to police society and which "escaped the legal representation of power and went forward under the cover of the law."14 Foucault looked for ways of getting out of structuralism through a program that, given his book's title, was, explicitly Nietzschean: La Yolonte de savoir. On the back cover, six volumes were announced as still to come. is

Resolutely nominalist, Foucault became less interested in the practices of power and an institutional approach to it. He had no intention of writing a historical sociology of what was forbidden, but rather "the political history of a production of 'truth.'"16 Power had already been pluralized in Discipline and Punish and was no longer viewed here as a confinement machine or as the site of a repressive strategy. It was the pole from which the production of truth issued and which expressed its limits through its prohibitions. Foucault no longer embraced an entirely negative view of power, and his turning point should be considered in terms of a new relationship to politics at a time when the chances of a successful revolution seemed dim. Not that he had reconciled himself with power, but he was avoiding it and trying to find a path beyond the law and this generalized confessional practice.

His book enjoyed tremendous success: in 1976 alone, 22,000 copies had to be printed in addition to the initial print run of zz,ooo;17 by 1989, 100,000 copies had been sold, roughly the equivalent of The Order ofThings. Reviews were generally favorable, but in the areas close to Foucault, the acclaim was more mitigated, curiously enough in a realm where the antirepressive battle was determinant.

Foucault wanted to surprise his readers, and he did. But he drew completely legitimate criticisms from women engaged in a battle for emancipation, from psychoanalysts defending the scientificity of a discipline that Foucault had relegated to the peripheral and circumstantial role of furthering the pastoral profession. Other historical works studying rnentalttes, attitudes, and behavior toward death, sex, and cleanliness expressed all the permanent aspects of the repressive regimes. In 1978, jean-Paul Aron and Roger Kempf countered with The Penis and the Demoralization ofthe West,18 and by contrast to Foucault, argued that the values in whose name the bourgeoisie had taken power were in fact imbued with the old aristocratic model of birth and honor, a line that established the bourgeois class's defense of a ferocious repression. "Its own honor will be morality and virtue. "19 The book presented the bourgeoisie as accumulating and preserving capital and sperm, whence the obsession with onanism and its negative effects, as well as the exaggerated medicalization of sexuality.

This divergence between the historian's approach and Foucault's thesis had to do with the underpinnings of the genealogical approach, which was limited to discursivity. In addition to a fundamentally impossible dialogue and to the hostile reactions, there was also Jean Baudrillard's little book, which claimed to go even farther in engaging the referent by claiming that sex, like men and society, has a single season, and that it was coming to a close. Foucault's depiction was certainly admirable, but it conjured a world on the wane. To Bau-drillard's provocative title, Forgetting Foucault,20 Foucault's acerbic answer was, "I'd see the problem as being rather one of remembering Baudrillard. "21 Observing the mounting criticism and uncomfortable reticences of his friends regarding his arguments about sexuality, Foucault was deeply hurt, so much so that he abandoned his entire project, which was already waiting on his desk. He published the second volume in 1984, after seven years of silence, and on an entirely new footing. "Foucault felt the bitterness of having been misread, misunderstood, and badly loved, perhaps. 'Do you know why we write?' he had asked Francine Pariente, his assistant at Clermont-Ferrand. 'To be loved.' "22

This profound personal crisis pushed Michel Foucault to what inhabited him most deeply and he devoted himself to a confrontation between sexuality and ethics, rather than between sexuality and power. He was forced once again to emphasize the turning point toward a historical ontology of the subject in its relationship with morality, and toward the answer that had awaited his historical investigation of the questions he asked himself: Michel Foucault with respect to himself.


Slowly forsaking his initial program, Foucault sketched a new vision. He gave up the perspective of biopower, that of the subjected subject, and took on the subject itself. Initially, from 1978 on, this took place in his work on governmentality, and then on self-government. Foucault emphasized this general return to the subject, as indicated by his fascination for Japan, similar to Barthes's which he visited in 1978 with Daniel Defert. He stayed in a Zen monastery and engaged in spiritual exercises, "with great intensity and tension. "23 Like Barthes, he was seduced by a culture and a religion that eliminated the signified and identification with contents in order to give free rein to the Signifier and to favor doing over being.

His course titles at the College de France also bespoke the radical-ness of his shift, even if nothing appeared in print before 1984: in 1980-81, "Subjectivity and Truth," the next year, "Hermeneutics of the Subject," and in 1982-83, "Governing the Self and Others." This return to himself had to do with his relationship to politics as well as to a personal need: he knew that he had AIDS. Paul Veyne was quite close to Foucault during his last years and helped him to explore the Greco-Roman world. Veyne remarked, "He knew quite early on what he had and that it was an absolutely fatal illness.... His last books on ethics were spiritual exercises in the Christian or Stoic sense of the term."24 But Foucault hid the fact that he had AIDS from his friends, and even from himself, writing in his diary in November 1983, according to Paul Veyne, that he knew he had AIDS but that his hysteria allowed him to forget it.

When the second volume of The History of Sexuality came out, Foucault was quite loquacious about having been silent, and at the same time responded to the criticism of the first volume. He only explained his approach in order to better veil his deeper motivation, which in no way reduced his intellectual pertinence. He only gave half an explanation when he linked his latest publications to what had always characterized his work-the search, albeit halting and unsteady, for a history of truth. So he considered that his demonstration, announced in The History of Sexuality: An Introduction as a study of biopower from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, to have run up against an aporia. "I realized that it didn't work; an important problem remained: why had we turned sexuality into a moral experi-ence?"25His question implied a detour in order to understand the pre-Christian roots of sexuality lived as a moral experience. The viewpoint had shifted. It was possible "to free oneself of oneself. "26

Raising the question of governing others led to the question of governing oneself. Foucault analyzed the ways in which the subject was constituted as a subject. We see the continuity between The History ofSexuality: An Introduction and his two prior books in this constant refusal to consider practices and historical representation, prescriptive codes and prohibitions. "I never meant to reconstitute a history of sexual behavior and practices. "27

Foucault therefore considered historians' criticisms once again to be baseless, for they missed the point of his project of constructing a hermeneutics of desire, "a history of thought, in contrast to the history of behavior or of representations."28 To those who had objected to the permanence and effectiveness of repressive codes, he answered that he had been led "to replace a history of moral systems, based on interdictions, with a history that looked at ethics starting from personal practices."29 This was how he defined the coherence of all of his work, from madness to ethics.

An Ethics of Self

What was new, however, was the subject's relationship to ethics. In this very classical area of philosophy, Foucault once again reversed the traditional perspective by dissociating morality and ethics. The question was no longer one of locating oneself in terms of prescriptive and externally imposed systems and opposing subject-desire with repressive codes, but of understanding the subject's modes of production in the way it made its very existence a problem through an ethics and aesthetics of the self. Foucault was not arguing for a substantial or universal subject; he was setting it in the specificity of its experience, which was "problematization itself. Based on the living material of needs and desire, it's the fact of creating forms through which this matter can be lived and conceived, albeit dominated, of course, but this no longer means oppressed."30

Foucault had already upset the traditional view of power as a locus of control and repression in order to show how it was in fact a site of production. Here, he was detaching the art of self from any sys-tern of moral legislation. Although he postulated a relative independence of the two, he no longer hoped to resolve all ethical questions by starting a revolution against moral codes and eliminating their prohibitions. There was therefore a definite continuity with his initial project, which he revealed in 1984 as "a history of the different modes of subjectivation of the human being in our culture. "31 Thus Foucault studied power in order to better understand the practices constituting the subject, and just as he wanted to be a philosopher of the present from which he chose his objects, he demanded in the 1980s, in a completely veiled manner, the right to an autobiographical relationship with philosophical questions. "Each time I tried to write a theoretical work, it was based on elements from my own experience." 32

The philosopher was to orient his intervention by his subjective perception of systematic crises or errors. The issue was never to withdraw into oneself, as Pierre Macherey has shown.V but to imagine the possible conditions for the exercise of freedom within a structure. Thinking therefore meant situating oneself at the edges of a system of thought in order to shift those edges. This leads back to the personal tragedy of Foucault, who was in the grip of the ravages of death's work on his own body. "In The Use of Pleasure, I tried to show that there was a growing tension between pleasure and health."34 The remarks quite clearly reflect the autobiographical turn that, by way of philosophical problematization, allowed Foucault to work on himself, to react to his illness, which also reinforced, to a practically unbearable degree, the marginality of homosexuality, by virtue of "a post-conventional morality."35 He was interested in the foundations of this morality beyond the pale of Christian imperatives to interiorize, and in the ethics of the ancient world understood as an aesthetics of existence and therefore as a lesson for "fashioning one's life into a work. "36


Foucault had essentially worked until then in archives and had willingly abandoned classical texts on the history of thought for manuscripts linked to social practices, such as jererny Bentham's Panopticon. But in his voyage to the heart of the ancient world, Foucault read the great authors whose writings became his archives. Once again he shifted the terms, and gave up working on the episteme of a period on the basis of a middle archive. This was almost certainly his expression of the desire for a dialogical relationship between himself and the best-known philosophers of antiquity.

Foucault replaced the vision of a lawless, faithless, tabooless pagan, Dionysian antiquity with a Greco-Roman antiquity in which sexual practice belonged to an often quite constrained ascetic, a forerunner of Christian ascetics. But it was hard to find the connection between the two, for the themes they addressed embodied few common values. The prescriptive Christian code claimed universality, whereas the morality of antiquity had no pretensions to being a generalizable code, even for its own culture. For the Greeks, the main opposition between the aphrodisia had to do with active/passive distinctions: women were passive, like boys and slaves. In this case, homosexuality was not punished so long as one was active with one's partner.

This distinction shaped ethics in a society based on virility. Free men had to be virtuous in pleasure, meaning mastering the body and its drives. The distinction was between moderation and incontinence, between hubris and diké, or between the absence of measure and equilibrium, much more than between one or another type of sexuality. In addition to the virile value of self-mastery, "temperance is in its fullest sense a man's virtue. "37 Dominating, or better yet, eliminating pleasure was a way of establishing oneself and remaining a free man, avoiding becoming its slave. Marriage in Greece did not limit the partners to sexual monogamy; reflections on marriage were linked to the household, or oikos. Xenophon dramatized the two complementary roles of the man who labors outside and the woman whose space is domestic, and the fidelity to which he invites the husband does not imply sexual fidelity. As for what is often taken as a sign of debauchery by the modern moral code, the love of boys, this ran counter to the central concern of the aphrodisia. Contrary to the most widely held view, Foucault argued that the Greeks "formulated the most austere, rigorous demands about aphrodisia."38 Sexual activity was therefore caught between a veritable aesthetics of existence, reserved of course for that privileged minority of Greeks-free adult males.

Pierre Hadot disagreed with this vision emphasizing the relationship with self. He reiterated Seneca, who discovered joy "in the best part of oneself," but linked it to a tension toward transcendence, toward moving beyond individual singularity, rather than in the limited harmony of a process of individuation.t? The sense of belonging to a Whole remained essential for Stoic and Platonic thinkers, and exercises of self-mastery made sense because they participated in the cosmic Whole. Hadot agreed with Foucault's description of practices of the self, and of ripping away everything foreign to the subject in order to ensure his self-mastery, but "this movement of interioriza-tion cannot be separated from another movement whereby one elevates oneself to a higher psychic level in which one finds another type of exteriorization. "40

For Maria Daraki, a historian of antiquity, Foucault confused two different models: the model citizen who was to acquire self-mastery because the isonomic society required him to participate as a foot soldier in defense of the City, and the figure of Ancient Greece, of the pure man who renounces and is "divine." "Keeping that which, by temperament, was the right to pleasure, he added the superiority in which only the Abstainer can delect."41

For Daraki, when Foucault applied the serial method that he himself had theorized in The Archaeology ofKnowledge, he tended to read the ancient Greek world too much through the single lens of sexual man, thereby exaggerating this dimension, which he transformed into the key for understanding the period. She saw the issues underlying sexual behavior as being fundamentally linked to religion and politics, which became particularly clear when Foucault argued that the concerns during the Greek age that eventually led to withdrawal into the self had to do with making sexuality pathological. Daraki argued the reverse: this would be one of the rare liberations that the collapse of the civic universe had made possible.

A Stylistics of Self

In the third volume of The History ofSexuality, The Concern for Self, Foucault saw, in the second century A.D., a new stage in this clear inflection of ethical thinking toward intensified codes, linked with a crisis of subjectivization in the Roman world, which was no longer circumscribed by civic needs as it had been in the fourth century B.C. As the title showed, self-mastery also became an end in itself. The subject fully constituted itself as such and a "more intense problematization of the aphrodisia"42 was obviously reflected by more sophisticated self-mastery against the backdrop of a growing mistrust of the dangers surrounding pleasures. Consequently, marriage was valorized, and conjugal obligations became more strict. This more austere ethics was not rooted in an intensification of the moral code, but in the growing concern for self. This did not lead to isolation, however, but turned, rather, toward socializing practices, to an ethics appealing to Rome's entire ruling class to conform to corporal and spiritual ascetic rituals. Strict dietary laws were observed, as were physical exercise, meditation, reading, and the remembrance of what had been gained. "Taking care of oneself was not a sinecure. "43 Foucault wanted to go beyond appearances, which might invite hasty comparisons with Christian practices, and was bent, therefore, on discovering the specificity of the Roman world. When he spoke about examining one's conscience, he was careful not to assimilate this practice to any desire to inculcate guilt, but as part of a quest for wisdom.

In The Concern for Self, the increasingly anxious problematiza-tion of the self was set more and more into relationship with social and political problems in the Roman Empire. The decline of the city-states, which were superseded by Greek monarchies and then by the Roman Empire, did not extinguish local political life. But power was exercised under increasingly complex conditions and administrations became omnipotent, throughout an empire that had become very extended. Although delegated responsibilities did confer a certain power, these were at the discretion of the Prince, and revocable. In this new political game, the ruling class had a more precarious grasp on its power and it became harder to discern the space between the real exercise of power and this role of transmitting a message from a distant central power through the administrative machine: "Constituting oneself as the ethical subject of one's own actions became more problematic.'^ Governing others, therefore, meant governing oneself, as Plutarch explained. The precariousness of positions of power led to a destabilized self requiring in turn that the ascetic code be reinforced.

The new stylistics of existence were above all manifest in the doctrine of monogamous marriage; sexual relations were to lead to procreation in the context of a purely conjugal ethics of existence. In this reversal, the love of boys continued in practice, but became secondary to marital relations. "In fact, pederastic attachment was considered illicit. "45

For Foucault, this ethical turning point was not a simple reflection of social and political changes, as had often been argued, but part of working out the concern for self, leading to new practices in a problematic context. "We should think rather of a crisis of the subject or of subjectivization: of a difficulty in the way in which an individual can constitute itself as the moral subject of its behavior and of the efforts for finding how the subject can subject itself to rules and give meaning to its existence, in applying these to itself."46Thus it was only within the subject that its relationship with itself and others could be grasped, a subject that was not a simple container of external changes. Using this autonomization, which had the merit of radically breaking with the impoverished theory of reflection, Foucault wanted above all to show how every system is arbitrary, whether Greek, Roman, or other. Describing them did not retrace their history, but was a pretext for the true goal of the enterprise, which was to free the subject from its desire and from all forms of guilt in this realm so that it could be reconciled with itself.

Making the body progressively pathological, together with a growing guilt culminating in Christian patristics, the fear creeping into sexual practices and nudging them toward monogamy-an entire context of crisis leads us back to Foucault's concerns from his discovery of his own homosexuality. The detour via Rome and Greece had largely to do with what went unspoken for Foucault the individual, and his desperately urgent quest for an ethics, for a compensatory spiritual asceticism for what would soon be a detachment from his body, a liberation from the mortifying guilt that inhabited him, and finally a reconciliation with himself. The subject was back.