Sociala fenomens existens

foucaultMichel Foucault använde sig med yttersta tvekan av begreppet existens, särskilt när han analyserade sociala fenomen. Jag finner detta fascinerande: Vad finns egentligen? Hur vet vi att något finns? Är det mer fruktbart för att förstå ett socialt fenomen, att använda något annat begrepp?

John Protavi beskriver i ”What Does Foucault Think Is New about Neoliberalism?” hur Foucault istället använde sig av begreppet marked out in reality (vilket kanske kan översättas med ha tagit plats i verkligheten):

Let us conclude this section with a look at two fascinating passages that display Foucault’s nuance regarding his ontological commitments. The first concerns the claim that posing the question of the regime of truth of liberalism amounts to the ”same problem” Foucault dealt with concerning madness, disease, delinquency, and sexuality. Foucault’s investigation of the historical constitution of these objects is not a matter of showing them to be ”wicked illusions or ideological products to be dispelled in the light of reason.” However, although they are not illusions, Foucault will not want to say that they ”exist,” although he will claim that they are ”something” which is ”marked out in reality.” Foucault writes regarding his previous investigations, ”it was a matter of showing by what conjunctions [interférences] a whole set of practices—from the moment they became coordinated with a regime of truth—was able to make what does not exist (madness, disease, delinquency, sexuality, etcetera), nonetheless become something [devienne cependant quelque chose], something however that continues not to exist”. The question of the constitution of such objects as established by the relation of objectifying practices and a regime of truth necessitates that we distinguish between ”existence” and being ”marked out in reality.” Studying the constitution of such an object is not the demonstration of an ”error” or an ”illusion” but entails asking ourselves ”how a particular regime of truth, and therefore not an error, makes something that does not exist able to become something. It is not an illusion since it is precisely a set of practices, real practices, which established it and thus imperiously marks it out in reality [le marque ainsi impérieusement dans le réel]”.

Kan det här synsättet också informera nationalekonomisk analys? För metaforer som ”den osynliga handen” och begrepp som ”alternativkostnad” och ”jämvikt” är frågan: Vilken är deras egentliga ontologiska karaktär? Finns de eller har de tagit plats i verkligheten?

I denna anda, se Daniel Kleins ”Unfolding the Allegory behind Market Communication and Social Error and Correction”.