chapter  3
17 Pages

Regimes of Truth

Regimes of Truth No discourse is inherently liberating or oppressive. The liberatory status of any theoretical discourse is a matter of historical inquiry, not theoretical pronouncement. (lana Sawicki, 1988a, p. 166)

In order to understand "regime of truth," I turn to Foucault's use of power and knowledge <pouvoir and savoir). It is helpful to begin by clarifying what power and knowledge, in Foucault's idiom, are not. First, although many readers and critics of Foucault's work use the expression "power/knowledge," it should be clarified that Foucault used "powerknowledge." What is in the stroke or the dash? Tom Keenan (1987) argues that the dash holds the words together and apart, showing both their presupposition of each other and their difference from each other. Foucault (l983a) emphatically insisted that power and knowledge are different:

When I read-and I know it has been attributed to me-the thesis "knowledge is power" or "power is knowledge," I begin to laugh, since studying their relation is precisely my problem. If they were identical, I would not have to study them and I would be spared a lot of fatigue as a result. The very fact that I pose the question of their relation proves clearly that I do not identify them. (p. 210)

pedagogy discourse, whereby, through consciousness-raising and education (generally), dominant powers can be unmasked to reveal "truth," and, in so doing, the potential to overthrow the capitalist and/or patriarchal system increases (Fay, 1987). I recall the "will to knowledge" introduced in Chapter 1. Interestingly the French phrase vouloir-savoir means both the will to knowledge and knowledge as revenge. Instead of conceiving of knowledge as revenge, Foucault's notion of power-knowledge "challenges assumptions that ideology can be demystified and, hence, that undistorted truth can be attained" (Diamond and Quinby, 1988, p. xi); it "delimits the intellectuals' dreams of truth's control of power" (Bove, 1988, p. xviii).