Michel Foucault, the well-known French philosopher who died in 1984 at the age of 57, has been accused of sexually abusing scores of minor boys while visiting Tunisia in the 1960s.
French-American professor Guy Sorman accused French philosopher Michel Foucault of being a “pedophile rapist” in an interview with The Sunday Times. Sorman, a friend of Foucault, said that the philosopher sexually abused Arab children while living in Tunisia in the late 1960s.
Stating that he learned of the situation when he visited Foucault, Sorman said: “The young children were running after Foucault to say what about me? Take me, take me. They were 8, 9, 10 years old. Foucault was throwing money at them and would say, ‘let’s meet at 10 p.m. at the usual place.’ He would make love there on the gravestones with young boys. The question of consent wasn’t even raised.”
Sorman also said that he “regrets” not reporting this “extremely morally ugly” behavior he witnessed to the police.
The allegations on the French philosopher are not new, however, they caused a debate on social media. Many users highlighted that Foucault who died in 1984 at the age of 57, signed a petition in 1977, which sought to legalize sexual relations with children aged 13 or above.
The Times interview in which these allegations are made must be interpreted by appreciating the scope and influence of Foucault as a philosopher. One commentator wrote the following, “Foucault is perhaps best characterized as a twentieth-century disciple of the influential German thinker Friedrich Nietzsche. Famously declaring that God is dead, Nietzsche denied the objectivity of epistemic or moral truth and saw human life as a ruthless power struggle. Decrying Christianity as a “slave morality,” the pathetic attempt of the weak to shame the strong, Nietzsche called for the Ubermensch (the over-man or the super-man) to assert his will to power. In a universe void of objective moral values, the Ubermensch is to embody his own values and to declare his dominance.
Foucault thoroughly embraced Nietzsche’s atheism and hence denied any objective grounding to moral values. Instead, he interpreted these, whether espoused by Church or secular society, as the means by which powerful people maintained themselves in positions of power. Like Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, Foucault was, accordingly, a master of suspicion, an unmasker of what he took to be pretentious claims to truth. He unfolded his Nietzschean project in a series of massively influential books from the sixties and seventies: Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic, The History of Sexuality, and Discipline and Punish. In all of these texts, he engaged in what he called an intellectual archeology, digging underneath the present consensus on matters such as the nature of madness, sexual morality, the legitimacy of incarceration, etc. in order to show that in previous ages, people entertained very different ideas in all of these arenas. The upshot of this move was to demonstrate that what appeared to be objective moral principles and high-sounding language were, in fact, the ever-shifting games played by the powerful.”
Ironically, the allegations made against Foucault involve the same kind of power differential against which Foucault railed against in his writings. According to the allegations, he was luring young Tunisian boys with money in exchange for sexual favors. Stating that Foucault could get away with it because of the racial element of his affairs, Sorman added: “Foucault would not have dared to do it in France … There is a colonial dimension there. White imperialism.” According to Sorman’s claims, the press had been aware of Foucault’s behavior but was reluctant to publish news on it because he had the status as France’s godlike “king of the philosophers.”
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