On Reproaches

In the face of reproaches, in the spirit of firmly refusing the polemical demand that we justify ourselves (, and as an aid to practice:

“What meaning is this enterprise to be given? There are above all its immediately apparent ‘negative,’ negativist aspects. A historicizing negativism, since it involves replacing a theory of knowledge, power, or the subject with the analysis of historically determinate practices. A nominalist negativism, since it involves the replacing of universals like madness, crime, and sexuality with the analysis of experiences which constitute singular historical forms. A negativism with a nihilistic tendency, if by this we understand a form of reflection which, instead of indexing practices to systems of values which allow them to be assessed, inserts these systems of values in the interplay of arbitrary but intelligible practices.

Faced with these objections, or to tell the truth, ‘reproaches,’ we should adopt a very firm attitude. For there are ‘reproaches,’ that is to say objections, such that in defending oneself from them one inevitably subscribes to what they maintain. Under these different objections/reproaches, a sort of implicit contract of theoretical decision is assumed or imposed, a contract whose terms disqualify historicism, nominalism, and nihilism from the start: no one dares to declare themselves such and the trap consists in not being able to do anything by accept a challenge, that is to say, subscribe.”

-- The Government of the Self and Others, Palgrave translation, page 5