Michel Foucault in his seminal work, The Archaeology of Knowledge
(1969), argues that from Descartes up to Kant, representation was simply
identified with thought. In other words he suggests that thinking was at the center
in order to represent the object of thought. However, it does not mean that the ideas
were given prime importance as an object or instrument to produce knowledge.
This was not, first of all, any sort of relational resemblance: there were no features
(properties) of the idea which themselves constituted the representation of the
object. By contrast, during the Renaissance, knowledge was understood as a matter of resemblance
This intellectual churning provides a useful model of Classical representation which is regarded as the prototypes of the epistemological framework wherein, for example, a set of lines of varying widths, lengths, and colors, represents the roads in and around a city. This is not because the roads have the properties of the map (the widths, lengths, and colors of the lines) but because the abstract structure given in the map and the relations among the lines duplicates the abstract structure of the roads. At the heart of Classical thought is the principle that we know what the abstract structure represents. Of course, in contrast to the map, we do not need to know what the actual features of our ideas are in virtue of which they are able to represent. In Descartes’scholastic terminology, we do not need to know their “formal reality”. We need to know only the abstract structure that they share with the things they represent. We do, however, have direct (introspective) access to the abstract structures of our ideas: we can “see” what representational structure they have. Further, we can alter an idea’s structure to make it a better representation of an object, as we can alter a map to improve it.
How, on the Classical view, do we know that an idea is a representation of an object-and an adequate representation? Not, Foucault argues, by comparing the idea with the object as it is apart from its representation. This is impossible, since it would require knowing the object without a representation whereas, for Classical thought, to know is to represent. The only possibility is that the idea itself must make it apparent that it is a representation. The idea represents the very fact that it is a representation. As to the question of whether an idea is a representation, this “self-referential” feature is all there is to it. As to adequacy, it must be that some subset of ideas likewise bear witness to their own adequacy-as, for example, Descartes’ “clear and distinct perceptions” or Hume’s simple impressions. In this sense, early modern philosophy must always be based on “intuition” be intellectual or sensory. Note, however, that an “intuition” of an idea’s adequacy does not, of itself, establish the independent existence of the object represented by the idea. As far as the early modern view is concerned, there may be no such objects; or, if there are, this needs to be established by some other means. Thus, the core of epistemological shift has to be the progress of representational reality and the essence itself.
The Western world observes then after something which Foucault terms the key to Classical knowing i.e., mental representation. The Classical thinkers could disagree about the actual ontological status of ideas, but they all had to agree that as representations (epistemologically, if not ontologically) they were “non-physical” and “non-historical”; that is, precisely as representing their objects, they could not be conceived as having any role in the causal networks of the natural or the human worlds. From this it further followed that language-precisely as a physical and/or historical reality-could have no fundamental role in the discipline of knowledge. Language could be nothing more than a higherorder instrument of thought: a physical representation of ideas, having no meaning except in relation to them. Thus, what Foucault suggests is that the evolution of episteme is nothing but a constant co-existence of diversified ideas, more precisely, a progress of conflictual ideational representation. This does not provide any room for the critical inquiry into the realms which are outside the domain of ideas. For instant the discipline like Indian yogic practices are to bridle this whole play of ideas. But then in Foucaultian term, this practice cannot be given the standard of discipline since it lacks the standard of conflictive ideational representation. Hence, the recent study into the Indian devotional discourse is a path-breaking rupture which allows us to look at the realms of the non-ideational as an important zone of the meta-episteme.
To conclude, we feel happy to announce that this issue comprises of papers and reviews which challenge this modern shaping of episteme. The issue is an attempt to cross the border of ideas so that it becomes feasible to embrace and frame theoretically the zone of the Center into the alternative discourses of academia. It begins with an article authored by an American academician introducing an oral story-telling as a potential medium to teach the second language. It is followed by a paper that unravels the dark recesses of the post-colonial world and the problems of Australian aborigines. Moreover, there are more than five papers which are on the maverick approaches of and on the education. The issue concludes with one fine book review. Thus, in all, this issue will provide an amazing intellectual feast and novel insight to the mind of distinct taste.
Dharmanshu Vishnuprasad Vaidya,
Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Professor,