Recently I watched a debate of Chomsky vs Foucault on youtube, these two philosophers are huge figures in contemporary leftist philosophy and I found a particular part where Chomsky speaks about optimism and the future very enlightening for this week's discussion in class. Foucault's main ideology pushes away the idea of an understandable human nature that can be defined through sociology and psychology. This idea is built around the fact that sociological and psychological tools are built through systems of oppression, colonialism, and class oppression. Using these defined tools of academia and institutionality approaches a place where we try to attempt to solve sociological and psychological societal problems with a toolkit that may not help us. Chomsky disagrees with this and proposes that we should at least try making the world a better place rather than just observing systems of oppression and waiting for a class war to start. Chomsky argues that we are able to scrutinize our tools effectively to understand the real effects of our goals. Of course, I am simplifying the main message a lot, but this tension between Chomsky and Foucault's ideas really resonated with me.
Thinking about this dialogue in the context of this class, there is the Foucaultian ideology of sensitivity and analysis of the world without engaging in fear of the consequences. There is also the choice to be optimistic about the future and make change for the better, which is the idea Chomsky presents. The still and frozen analysis of society and culture must be balanced with the actionable future that we want to make. I think Foucault and Chomsky's ideas can coexist to create a future where we are always self-scrutinizing our motivations for making the world a better place and the effects of our goals as well.
I think in Chomsky's argument, there is a very valid lesson to take away for environmental action, critique must be matched with action. It is not enough to wait for chaos to consume everything and rebuild. We must refine the academic tools we have and assert reality over fiction. My vision for the future respects this. I want to start a change within academia to present itself as more actionable, equitable, and understandable to the public. I think obviously, I wouldn't be starting this change, but I feel as if scientists often try to pull away from more integrative social methods for contextualizing work. One really cool example of anti-colonial science in action is the CLEAR lab in Newfoundland!
Hey Maia! Really appreciate you bringing in some Foucault and Chomsky into this discussion! What you said about trying to make the world a better place, despite the flaws of our current system, reminds me of discussion I often have with one of my friends.
He argues that since many countries seem unmotivated to hit climate goals or reduce emissions, and since an individual country's reduction of emissions won't solve the larger problem, Canada should not take significant action in addressing climate change. I understand his thought process. If only Canada tried to address climate change and most other states did not, Canada's efforts would be futile. My response is always...but we have to do something! We can't just let the problem get worse!