The Allegory of the Cage: Foucault, Agamben, and the Enlightenment

  • Arne de Boever California Institute of the Arts


This article reconsiders the relations between Immanuel Kant and Michel Foucault’s essays on the Enlightenment and adds Giorgio Agamben’s essay “What is an Apparatus?” to this constellation. It explores, specifically, the relations between Foucault’s definition of enlightenment and the central notion of Agamben’s philosophy: potentiality. The relation between potentiality and enlightenment is then mobilized in the article in the context of a discussion of technology in Kant, Foucault, and Agamben. What might be the relevance of the relation between Foucault’s enlightenment and Agamben’s potentiality for our understanding of technological developments today? The article engages with this question through a discussion of Foucault’s writings on the care of the self, Agamben’s theory of art, and Bernard Stiegler’s work on technology. It closes with a discussion of an artwork that stages the dramatic relation between all of these texts.

Author Biography

Arne de Boever, California Institute of the Arts
Special Issue on Foucault and Agamben