Proposal (1985/86)

For over twenty years (as each of his writings became available) I have been using the radical analytics of M. Foucault to assist my students in examining the 'truth status' of psychological claims about: 'human nature'/'self-individuality'/'abnormality'/'sexuality'; and to assist them in obtaining a perspective about the: "psychological examination" of human beings.

Foucault's unexpected death at the age of 57 (on 6/7/84) rekindled my desire to put into book form a view of Foucault I have found useful in my teaching.

I propose to collect these ideas of Foucault under the title: "Three Horsemen of Liberty: Foucault/Szasz/Wittgenstein."

Recent (1984) interviews and the coming release of two more volumes (of a formerly projected five volume work) of his "History of Sexuality" will be integrated with material from his previously published books, articles and interviews.

I will draw on techniques of presentation I have developed and found successful in teaching: rework them and add to them other examples from our current society to assist students to come to the analytics of Foucault. I have been using 'Affirmative action' as a note on 'silence/freedom' and have found it useful in helping students understand the 'silence/freedom' of Foucault. I plan to re-work the current paradigms of liberation movements (Female/Gay) so that the new paradigms can become vehicles of the understanding of 'silence/freedom' as used by Foucault.

My publications (both national and international) on Foucault/Wittgenstein and on the inherent antagonism to diversity in nomothesis/if nomothesis is to guide (as it does guide) psychological prescription will be re-examined.

A bevy of books have recently appeared on/about Foucault. A leave would allow me to bring back to my students/university the thinking of various scholars along with my (re) considered views on the major critic (since L. Wittgenstein) of psychological claims: M. Foucault.

The traditional charge to the University to 'examine' is even more urgent when the State empowers Psychology to speak about human beings. Our students (to a degree) live in the 'Age of Psychology,' they must be able to examine their age. The aim of my work is to assist them in this examination.


Harry Aron and Paula P. Aron

Wittgenstein (W), the apolitical, leaves to the speaker a power over/in language denied the speaker uncritically taught to use normative discourse of the nation state/daily life. W not only allowed one to 'see the world aright,' but also anew, be it in the 'shown' or in 'grammar.' Rorty (2) sees W as being able to umbrella the 'abnormal' (in language) as well as the normative, as W's strictures of forms of life/language games (fl/lg) deny dominance of any one fl/lg is the 'conversations of mankind.' Rorty holds up W (along with Dewey/Heidegger) as philosophers without mirrors.

W warned Freud not to confuse his claims as hypothesis(3) and by extension warns about all that is of Freud in contemporary discourses on person. The power over words/sentences given by W are taken away by Freud in Freud becoming the litmus to truth. No hierarchy of truths is suggested by W either in the earlier or the later work. Metaphysics is not scorned, only clarified/credited.

The wisdom of W that 'everything is as it is' would be one studied reply to those who alarm: suppose we allowed.... The 'we allowed' of course immediately gives away the disenfranchisement of each and every speaker speaking outside of a preferred fl/lg. W'ian notions of incommensurateness of fl/lg are (here) not heeded. Further, so called 'clear and present dangers' are seen as conditions of a particular fl/lg and not as incendiary to human communities. As stated, W's gift to freedom of speech/belief did not come from a political doctrine he held, but are embedded in his efforts to clarify words/sentences. Fealty to any one normative discourse is not a W'ian demand-it is police power. Freud thought otherwise and inadvertently served the nation state/daily life in controlling the speaker/the mute.

Freud allowed (though he was hardly needed for this) for the person living in the modern nation state to be termed 'troublesome'; allowed for an examination of that person; an examination which is but metaphoric to the examination in the sciences, while said to be interchangeable with it. For Freud the unconscious behind words/feelings became the 'experimental ground' to comprehend language. Freud ignored the W'ian caveat to 'look and see' and thus failed to become clear about the limits of any one fl/lg. Freud by locating the well of trouble in the person was blinded thereby from seeing it to be in language-Freud remained impervious to W's warning.

Freud developed a rationale by which the modern state can label a person as with; hidden forces/antagonistic to the weal of the nation state; unwilling to heed the truth about themselves/willing to subvert that truth. W gave no such permit to the nation state. Instead the work of W speaks of diversity in among fl/lg; gives to no one fl/lg dominance/preferred access to 'truths;' provides clarity about the limits of fl/lg/varying grammars-and thus (I am arguing) sets a freedom seldom offered.

Michel Foucault (F) considered the major problem of the 19th and 20th centuries to be POWER, power over language. Clearly, F belongs in the pages of Rorty's work in a presence much larger than Rorty allowed, since a central effort of F was to note the impossibility of 'mirror'----all the while systematically examining the reflections positioned in language-images which reduce the power to speak. The quest for 'human nature' (the most mirror of all mirrors in the study of man) is thought to 'dissolve man'; using here the concern expressed by Levi-Strauss when the latter spoke of 'ethnology', F holds:

...thus we see the destiny of man being spun before our very eyes, but being spun backwards; it is being led back, by those strange bobbins to the forms of its birth, to the homeland that made it possible. And is that not one way of bringing about its end? For linguistics no more speaks of man himself than do psychoanalysis and ethnology.(4)

F took W's warning to Freud seriously.

F speaks of his work on the Prison(5) as the first of five projected volumes studying power over person through a truth form local only to the 10th/20th centuries: a bio/power/knowledge (b/p/k). This form of knowledge is nation state endorsed/norm generating/cast in the grammar of biological sciences/part of the speech of daily life and flirtatious about its curative and discovery power. Daily life is the concern of b/p/k, as pseudo mirror is its lens.

The projected volumes of Sex (three completed before his death) are used by F to demonstrate that the b/p/k form, while pretending to anatomy/biology/endocrinology/psychological trauma is not an example of these disciplines (of their grammar); but are a hidden call to similarity dressed in the smirky promise of/true enjoyment/true knowledge/true sex-as 'doctor knows best.'

F is careful to avoid conspiracy notions; reminds us that we speak in a language not of our doing/into which we were born; however, he insists that "...we can be freer than we think'(6) thus fitting into Rorty's 'edifying discourse.' While Rorty suggests a needed privileged status to move to abnormal speech, F holds it open to anyone/at any time.

In a lecture at California State University, Sacramento(7) F puzzled the expression 'self' pointing out that alien to its radical the term self is situated in the normative nation state discourse/daily life assertions, suggesting a move away from abnormality; thus hardly the radical of individuality.

Unconnected moments is another signal feature of F'ian analytics. F, too, holds that ...a rose, is a rose, is a rose. The moment of speaking (sex is another moment for F) is a signal truth for F, but if used by the speaker to characterize the speaker/then that moment of speaking falls to 'essence'/no longer moment/no longer a discontinuity, but (now) history (continuous). Given that context the spoken 'resembles' in the sense in which W'ian games resemble-the closer look (and see) demanded by W was carried out by F: 'self'/'sex' become chimera.

F'ian freedom is to be found in/via language; not through constitutions/institutions/political forms. Unlike Hamlet, the election lights on the speaker.

"I don't talk about myself that way," T. S. Szasz (S) told one of his questioners after a formal address at California State University, Sacramento(8). The question (the student thought it was a question) posed to S was; "Aren't you Jewish?" The student was dumbfounded by S's retort, shook his head and drifted away. S turned to me and smiled asking: "Do you think he got what I was trying to show him?"

Over more than three decades in well over 385 publications(9) S has allowed the lay and professional communities to examine the word 'insane' and allied related terms. In S's examination of the use/place of psychiatric power he clarifies the similarities within the Soviet and Western psychiatry by noting that in both instances the power to speak and to maintain the sense of claims is given by the nation state to psychiatrists-and taken away from the individual, in a ritual termed psychiatric examination. Following Sartre S asks: Who defines/who is defined?

S who ties his views to the social contract notions of J. S. Mill, the clarifications of Ryle, Sartre and W lets it be known that to misuse language is a kind of murder-a murder of reason/equality/clarity. Speaking within a social contract convention S uses the notion 'will' and in that differs sharply from both W and from F. Responsibility is an important term for S and along with his minute examination of the word 'insanity' has led him to ask for the abolition of the insanity plea. S holds up schizophrenia(10) as but the sacred symbol of psychiatry, which (knowingly) to the formulators of that term involved the taking away of freedom of speech and of movement. He notes that the genetic and biological formulations of 'psychiatric ills' are but a pseudo-biology.

S is not against contractual psychiatric treatment as he is a free market economist, but the imprimatur of the nation state would be denied the 'mental health worker' and the tie to medicine would be ended, leaving the 'psychiatrist' to compete freely with: bartenders, taxi drivers and other advise mongers.

S sees human relations to be at base adversarial/contractual. Psychotherapy is reformulated by S as essentially: rhetoric, repression and religion. The two people who contract to explore along these lines are viewed as co-equal, with the professional leading in reflecting the claims about living raised by the contractor against the ancient wisdoms recorded in the annals of tragedy/comedy. Careful attention is paid to the use/misuse of words/sentences. For S the freedom to speak/think is a torch constantly endangered by the winds of the misuse of language (see S's agreement with K. Kraus(11)).

S forces attention to the 'if' in the claims made about the conditions of living. S holds that: 'if' liberty, 'if' freedom, 'if' justice for all, 'if' the power to speak without veto be returned to the speaker then the corruption of language/morals/commitment inherent in (S maintains) psychiatric falsification of language must end. Other 'ifs' would, of course lead into other directions of living. In his book Ceremonial Chemistry(12), which includes a five thousand year history of drug usage, S captures the lies about drugs/addiction. He concludes that the addictive quality of the drug is in the language not in the chemical and by drawing a careful distinction between physiological learning and addiction, and by turning the question of addiction into the right of ingestion; he puts into question all the laws regulating 'recreational drugs.'

The three horsemen ride through words/sentences offering a shield against some of 20th century truth forms/ancient divisions of homo sapiens; as well as against transparency/reduction, be it from science or from pseudo science. In their reigns 'who speaks' gallops us to language/speaker. The election lights on you; to speak/be silent-a gift without strings.


1. Aron, H. and Aron P. P. (1986, August). Three horsemen of liberty: Wittgenstein/Foucault/Szasz. Presented at the 11th International Wittgenstein Symposium, Kirchberg/Wechsel, Austria.

2. Rorty, R. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature ((Princeton 1979) p. 357 ff.

3. Barrett, C. (Ed.) Wittgenstein: Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press 1967) p. 44.

4. Foucault, M. The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences (Paris/London 1966, New York 1970) p. 381.

5. Foucault, M. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Paris 1975, New York 1979) p. 308.

6. Foucault, M. Distinguished Visiting Scholar lecture, California State University, Sacramento, 19 October, 1979.

7. Foucault, M. Ibid.

8. Szasz, T. Visiting Scholar Address, California State University, Sacramento, September 1982.

9. Szasz, T. Primary Values and Major Contentions R. Vatz and L. Weinberg (eds.) (New York 1983) pp. 251-253.

10. Szasz, T. Schizophrenia: The Sacred Symbol of Psychiatry (New York 1950)

11. Szasz, T. Karl Kraus and the Soul Doctors (Baton Rouge 1976)

12. Szasz, T. Ceremonial Chemistry: The Ritual Persecution of Drugs, Addicts, and Pushers ((Holmes Beach Florida 1985).