On Human Nature: the Chomsky-Foucault debate

The is the complete video of the 1971 debate between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault. (via Aphelis.net)

In an article published in 1999 in the journal Social Theory and Practice, Peter Wilkin introduces the debate in the following way:

In 1971, Dutch television held a series of interviews and discussions with noted intellectuals of the day to discuss a wide range of issues regarding contemporary social and philosophical affairs. Perhaps the most significant of these encounters was the meeting between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault. It brought together arguably the two most prominent Western intellectual-activists of the day in a debate that illustrates clearly the lineage of thought within which each writer is situated. Nominally the discussion was in two parts: the first an examination of the origins or production of knowledge, with particular concern for the natural sciences, the second explicitly focused on the role and practice of oppositional politics within Western capitalist
democracies—in part a response to the unfolding Vietnam War. (“Chomsky and Foucault on human nature : an essential difference?”Social Theory & Practice, 25 (2), pp. 177-210)

Online the complete English transcript is available at Chomsky.info under the original English title “Human Nature: Justice versus Power”. A copy of the transcript that was published in 1974 is also available at CriminyJicket.

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

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