Rabinow on Foucault on Weber on Rationality

It is illuminating to explore an interview Foucault had with a group of French historians in 1977. In the third section of the interview, “The Problem of Rationalities,” Foucault is asked about Weber…In response to a question about whether he shared Weber’s interpretation of the “meta-anthropological process of rationalization” as increasingly dominant, Foucault replied “If one calls ‘Weberians’ those who set out to take on board the Marxist analyses of the contradictions of capital, treating those contradiction as part and parcel of the irrational rationality of capitalist society, then I don’t think I am a Weberian, since my basic pre-occupation isn’t rationality considered as an anthropological variant.” Of course, this  “preoccupation” was not Weber’s either. Foucault went on to say that he preferred a view of rationality as a practice understood in an “instrumental and relative” manner. Further, he wanted to analyze how such a practice inflected forms of governmentality. One would have no problem translating this version of Foucault’s analytic project into a Weberian framework.

–Paul Rabinow, Anthropos Today. (2003) pp. 37-38