Un Ecart Infime (Part III): The blind spot in Foucault

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This article is the third part of a trilogy investigating the relation between Merleau-Ponty and Foucault. All three essays are inspired by Foucault's diagnosis of our epoch in terms of biopower. They therefore aim at the creation of a new concept of life. In ‘Un Ecart Infime (Part III)’, I lay out Foucault's analysis, from the first chapter of The Order of Things, of Velázquez's painting, Las Meninas. By stressing what Foucault says about the ‘sagittal lines’ exiting the painting, one can show that that there are three major phases in Foucault's analysis: locating the blind spot; multiplying the invisibility; and the diffraction of the multiplicity into singularities. More generally, we can see that Foucault's analysis of the painting concerns the informal space in auto-affection; in other words, it concerns the ‘blind spot’ in the mirror relation, in the ‘psyché’. The blind spot in the ‘soul’ - and the ambiguity in the French word psyché between mirror and soul - is why we can say that Foucault's analysis concerns life: being blind, life must be conceived as informal and unmappable. I show in the conclusion that the inability of mapping and of seeing this space in fact allows for the increase of power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-685
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophy & Social Criticism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science


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