Spatial thinking and critical morality
Flynn (2005: 33) embraces Veyne’s reading of Foucault as an ‘historical nominalist’ or ‘historical positivist’. For Veyne (1997: 147-153), Foucault’s geography helps to formulate attempts to describe objectively historical practices with an unyielding Rousselian concentration on particular events and ‘without presupposing anything else at all, without presupposing the existence of any goal, object, material cause’. From the start, Foucault sticks to the relationships between what is said and done, both counting as equal events, with multiple effects.
Veyne (1984: 170) emphasises this thoroughly relational dimension throughout Foucault’s work: ‘nothing exists in history, since in history everything depends on everything else’. Echoing Wittgenstein somewhat, Foucault 2002: 362)famously declared: ‘what is interesting is always interconnection, not the primacy of this over that’.
To recap what I have tried to outline in recent blogs, spatial techniques, approaches or styles of thinking are used in order to avoid any sense of the ‘primary’, to embrace wholeheartedly ‘interconnection’ and to destroy various ingrained methods and conceptualisations within, for example, the history of ideas, or the analysis of governmentality, or the history of subjectivity. It is an endeavour to test the possibility of thinking about these problems differently and to capture something that is missed by ‘readymade syntheses’.
Spatial thinking helps to formulate a different ‘point of view’, a method of analysis that for Foucault concerns the on-going quest for a ‘critical morality’, the avoidance of various ‘critical commonplace’ positions that postulate an essential, universal, autonomous or interior cause (2008: 186-87).
Flynn, T. (2005) ‘Foucault’s Mapping of History’ in G. Gutting (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Foucault, 2nd edition, New York: Cambridge University Press pp 29-73
Foucault, M. (2008)  The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978-1979, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Veyne, P. (1984) Writing History: Essay on Epistemology, Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Veyne, P. (1997) ‘Foucault Revolutionizes History’ in A. I. Davidson (ed.), Foucault and His Interlocutors, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 146-182.