Discourse Theory and Enlightenment

In: Aries

Narratives about esotericism, science, and social movements, which were originally inherently linked, overlapping, and closely interrelated, have been rigorously separated by historiographies since the 19th century. The example of the Wuerttembergian theologian Gustav Werner and the constellation of Swedenborg-Kant-Oetinger can demonstrate how allegedly superstitious or premodern doctrines and doctrinal elements have been excluded especially from those narratives that invoke the Enlightenment. “Enlightenment” is usually employed as a normatively charged perspective that determines the approach to the historical material, adjusts this material to a “modern” agenda, and sorts it according to a supposedly “scientifically” accepted worldview. The procedures of exclusion that underlay such a process can be explained by the discourse theory of Michel Foucault—with the surprising finding that Foucault’s approach is itself indebted to the Enlightenment impulse of Immanuel Kant. This discourse theoretical approach inspired by Foucault and Kant will be examined with regard to the constellation Swedenborg-Kant-Oetinger. It will be concluded that perspectives from postcolonial studies, especially by Homi K. Bhabha, can be advanced to provide even more precise insights into the discursive negotiatory procedures and receptional relationships between allegedly radically opposed doctrines and individuals. In this manner an Enlightened theory can be applied to the historical contexts of Enlightenment themselves.

  • 1

    KneileGustav Werner192.

  • 5

    Ibid.37 et seq. 44 64 143 196 208 229 passim.

  • 8

    KneileGustav Werner29.

  • 9

    KurtzJohann Friedrich Oberlin164–178.

  • 13

    Ibid.84–92108–110.

  • 14

    Ibid.46–59120–123.

  • 15

    WernerReich Gottes284; Göggelmann “Fall Gustav Werner” 138 143 156 242.

  • 16

    WernerReich Gottes214–301; Göggelmann “Fall Gustav Werner”.

  • 20

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte27–59.

  • 21

    See for instance LandwehrGeschichte des Sagbaren175–196.

  • 24

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’34.

  • 25

    Ibid.38.

  • 26

    Ibid.34 et seq.

  • 27

    Ibid.34.

  • 29

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte174.

  • 30

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’35.

  • 31

    Ibid.37.

  • 33

    Ibid.37 et seq.

  • 34

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte178.

  • 35

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’38.

  • 36

    Ibid.38.

  • 37

    Ibid.42.

  • 39

    Foucault‘Life: Experience and Science’ 470. This essay originally appeared in the Revue de metaphysique et de morale 90:1 (January–March 1985) 5–14. It is a modified version of Foucault’s introduction to the English translation of George Canguilhem’s The Nonnal and the Pathologica trans. Carolyn Fawcett and Robert Cohen New York: Zone 1989.

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  • 40

    Quoted from HemmingerKritik und Geschichte209.

  • 43

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte209. In his Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten [Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals] Kant derives from freedom not just the possibility but also the need for moral law. aa (see note 23) vol. 4 (1903) 447 et seq. In his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft [Critique of Practical Reason] he declares the a priori awareness of the moral law as the “fact of reason” that authorizes the acceptance of freedom and reason. aa (see note 23) vol. 5 (1908) 47 et seq.

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  • 45

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’49.

  • 47

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte16.

  • 48

    Ibid.68155.

  • 49

    Ibid.140 et seq. 147 154.

  • 50

    Ibid.114.

  • 51

    Ibid. 109 et seq. 204; Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’52 i.a.

  • 52

    Foucault‘Nietzsche Genealogy History’72.

  • 53

    Ibid.80.

  • 55

    Ibid.95. “The purpose of history guided by genealogy is not to discover the roots of our identity but to commit itself to its dissipation. It does not seek to define our unique threshold of emergence the homeland to which metaphysicians promise a return; it seeks to make visible all of those discontinuities that cross us.”

  • 56

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’46.

  • 58

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte88 105.

  • 59

    Ibid.142.

  • 61

    Ibid.143.

  • 62

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’50.

  • 65

    Ibid.42–45. Foucault inserts ‘blackmail’ in quotes.

  • 66

    Ibid.43.

  • 67

    Ibid.46 et seq. For more see Friedemann Stengel: ‘Was ist Humanismus?’ In: Pietismus und Neuzeit 41 (2015) 154–211.

  • 68

    Ibid.47.

  • 69

    Ibid.4549.

  • 72

    HemmingerKritik und Geschichte195.

  • 74

    RuoffFoucault-Lexikon146–157 236–239.

  • 75

    BrieferUnerbitlichkeit287–289.

  • 77

    Foucault‘What is Enlightenment?’47–50.

  • 78

    Ibid.50.

  • 79

    Foucault‘The Order of Discourse’ 52–56; Brieler Unerbittlichkeit 279–285.

  • 85

    Ibid.352.

  • 86

    Ibid.373.

  • 87

    Ibid.368 [emphasis removed].

  • 90

    Ibid.454–721; Stengel ‘Swedenborg in German Theology in the 1770s and 1780s.’

  • 92

    StengelAufklärung666–669.

  • 93

    Ibid.669–673.

  • 94

    Ibid.673–695.

  • 106

    Ibid.38–39.

  • 112

    Ibid.120–121.

  • 114

    Butler Introduction in: ButlerBodies that matter8.

  • 117

    StengelAufklärung683–685.

  • 118

    Hereinafter StengelAufklärung506–635.

  • 120

    BenzSwedenborg in Deutschland105.

  • 123

    StengelAufklärung594–596.

  • 125

    StengelAufklärung609–616 649–651.

  • 126

    StengelAufklärung622–629.

  • 128

    StengelAufklärung617–622; Stengel ‘Schrift Ereignis Kontingenz.’

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