Unregulated Powers: The Politics of Metaphysics in French Post-Kantianism

Edward Thornton* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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For thinkers such as Foucault and Deleuze, it is not possible to engage with metaphysical questions without simultaneously considering other, more political problems concerning the power relations that are internal to thought. In this article I argue that, despite certain important ways in which this trend follows in the wake of Nietzsche’s polemic against the tyranny of Truth, to understand the political nature of metaphysics in late twentieth-century French philosophy we must see these thinkers as dealing with an explicitly Kantian problem. After some introductory material in the first section, I lay out the problem of legitimacy in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason and assess his own solution to this problem. In the third section I explain Nietzsche’s critique of Kant’s solution, while in the fourth section I explain how Foucault and Deleuze each return and respond to the political foundation of Kant’s metaphysics in their own way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-124
Number of pages19
JournalThe European Legacy: Towards New Paradigms
Issue number2
Early online date10 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

open access via T&F agreement


  • metaphysics
  • politics
  • French philosophy
  • Kant
  • Nietzsche
  • Foucault
  • Deleuze


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