, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 113-122
Date: 25 Nov 2012

“Prelude to the School to Come…” Introduction to the Special Issue

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In several interviews, Michel Foucault expressed a dislike of any polemics that insists on making those who disagree into enemies, silencing other possibilities by invoking an authority that undercuts the authority and right to speak of others. A problematisation, for Foucault, is the opposite of a polemic (see Foucault 1985). A problematisation raises questions; it focuses on the problem at hand rather than insisting on a party line. It takes risks, questions rights and disrupts legitimacy. Polemics often leads to an impasse, as polemicists focus on the consolidation of established truth claims or on negating the argument of their opponent. Problematization, however, can open up the potential for a rethinking of the very terms and grounds of argument, knowledge and understanding. As Foucault says elsewhere:

The freeing of difference requires thought without contradiction, without dialectics, without negation; thought that accepts divergence; affirmative thought whose instrument is disj