Foucault introduces the idea of temporal dispersion early on in The Archaeology of Knowledge, and although it is clearly intended to be the temporal structure of discourse, it is never clearly explained and remains somewhat obscure. But the expression is also used in Foucault's Introduction to Kant's Anthropology. This chapter sets out Foucault's approach to Kant's Anthropology, contrasting it with that of Heidegger. In Foucault's account of Kant, time ‘is not that in which, through which, and by which synthesis is achieved; it wears away the synthetic activity itself’ (IK 90). The implication is that time affects synthesis, if not from outside, then still as paired with it in some way, intimately there to undo its work. In this separation, however slight, the doubling of the transcendental and the empirical is repeated and the figure of man sustained. To avoid this, dispersion must not be a secondary process, but rather the operation of synthesis itself, as always incomplete. The condition of the formation of experience is at the same time the condition of its transformation. This interpretation of dispersion as the temporal character of discourse will be carried through the commentary on The Archaeology of Knowledge that follows.
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