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t's a pipe, a palpable pipe: not a painterly pipe, not an abstract pipe.Lord knows, it's not an Expressionist pipe; it isn't even a Freudian pipe.
This is Not a Pipe also throws a new, piquantly dancing light on Foucault himself.
Michel Foucault was born on October 15, 1926, in Poitiers, France, and was educated at the Sorbonne, in Paris.
Doing a double take, one realizes that, of course, this is not a pipe; it's a picture of a pipe.
Our philosophe is able to detect some significance in this precious banality, for does not Magritte's statement that the painting is not a pipe disturb the very illusion of presence that ''realistic'' representation pretends to effect?
What does it mean to write "This is not a pipe" across a bluntly literal painting of a pipe?
Ren Magritte's famous canvas provides the starting point for a delightful homage by the French philosopher-historian Michel Foucault.Perhaps the statement also curls in on itself to say, ''This sentence is not a pipe.'' Anyone familiar with Mr. Foucault has been engaged in ''excavating'' the shifting notions of representation in the history of Western culture.Foucault's influential work, especially ''Les Mots et les Choses'' (the English translation was called ''The Order of Things''), will immediately see that Magritte's work has everything to recommend it to a writer of Mr. The very distinction between representation and world (a distinction that supplants the one between self and world for Mr. To the Neoplatonists of the Renaissance, the world was an ensemble of signs pointing to a world of heavenly Ideas beyond the limits of sense.His work proposes a critique not simply of depiction but of all ''texts'' that aim at the truth. Foucault takes Magritte to recommend a free play of the imagination. Foucault can recommend this esthetic stance is a mystery to me.Although he may have a taste for the playful as against the authoritarian, what reason can he give to persuade others to accept his preference?This situation Hegel and the Romantics in the 19th century found intolerable, and perhaps we can here detect that great divide of sensibility that yawns between scientific or Positivist philosophy and those philosophies that have been circulating in Europe since Hegel and that have tried to put man, nature and reality back together again. Foucault is that he has reopened the radically sceptical case, but his Idealism says not that we know only appearances but that we know only the projections of our language. Foucault, no such thing as absolute knowledge; such knowledge would have to transcend its own representational resources, whether those resources are verbal or pictorial.Moreover, like the American philosophers of science Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend, Mr.Descartes, however, radically changed that picture by claiming that the physical world is devoid of significance and that God communicates directly with rational creatures by inscribing various ideas (innate ideas) in the soul.After Descartes the Idealists sought to subtract the absurdly meaningless material world.Another of his pipe dreams contains a depiction of a pipe on a blackboard under which ''This is not a pipe'' is inscribed in a schoolmasterly hand.Floating above the blackboard Magritte depicts a kind of Platonic pipe.