Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Full name Michel Foucault
Born 15 October 1926
Poitiers, France
Died 25 June 1984(1984-06-25) (aged 57)
Paris, France
Era 20th century philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Continental philosophy, post-structuralism, discourse analysis
Main interests History of ideas, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy
Notable ideas "Archaeology", "genealogy", "episteme", "dispositif", "biopower", "governmentality", "disciplinary institution", panopticism

Michel Foucault (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl fuko]), born Paul-Michel Foucault (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984), was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and lectured at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His writings on power, knowledge, and discourse have been widely influential in academic circles. In the 1960s Foucault was associated with structuralism, a movement from which he distanced himself. Foucault also rejected the poststructuralist and postmodernist labels later attributed to him, preferring to classify his thought as a critical history of modernity rooted in Kant. Foucault's project was particularly influenced by Nietzsche, his "genealogy of knowledge" being a direct allusion to Nietzsche's "genealogy of morality". In a late interview he definitively stated: "I am a Nietzschean."[1]

Foucault was listed as the most cited scholar in the humanities in 2007 by the ISI Web of Science.[2]



Early life

Paul-Michel Foucault was born on 15 October 1926 in Poitiers, France, to a notable provincial family. His father, Paul Foucault, was an eminent surgeon and hoped his son would join him in the profession.[3] His early education was a mix of success and mediocrity until he attended the Jesuit Collège Saint-Stanislas, where he excelled.[4][5] During this period, Poitiers was part of Vichy France and later came under German occupation. Foucault learned philosophy with Louis Girard.[6]

After World War II, Foucault was admitted to the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (rue d'Ulm), the traditional gateway to an academic career in the humanities in France.

The École Normale Supérieure

Foucault's personal life during the École Normale was difficult—he suffered from acute depression.[7] As a result, he was taken to see a psychiatrist. During this time, Foucault became fascinated with psychology. He earned a licence (degree equivalent to BA) in psychology, a very new qualification in France at the time, in addition to a degree in philosophy, in 1952. He was involved in clinical psychology, which exposed him to thinkers such as Ludwig Binswanger.

Foucault was a member of the French Communist Party from 1950 to 1953. He was inducted into the party by his mentor Louis Althusser, but soon became disillusioned with both the politics and the philosophy of the party.[8] Historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie reported that Foucault never actively participated in his cell, unlike many of his fellow party members.[citation needed]

Early career

Foucault failed at the agrégation in 1950 but took it again and succeeded the following year. After a brief period lecturing at the École Normale, he took up a position at the Université Lille Nord de France, where from 1953 to 1954 he taught psychology. In 1954 Foucault published his first book, Maladie mentale et personnalité, a work he later disavowed. At this point, Foucault was not interested in a teaching career, and undertook a lengthy exile from France. In 1954 he served France as a cultural delegate to the University of Uppsala in Sweden (a position arranged for him by Georges Dumézil, who was to become a friend and mentor). He submitted his doctoral thesis in Uppsala, but it was rejected there. In 1958 Foucault left Uppsala and briefly held positions at Warsaw University and at the University of Hamburg.

Foucault returned to France in 1960 to complete his doctorate and take up a post in philosophy at the University of Clermont-Ferrand. There he met philosopher Daniel Defert, who would become his partner of twenty years.[9] In 1961 he earned his doctorate by submitting two theses (as is customary in France): a "major" thesis entitled Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique (Madness and Insanity: History of Madness in the Classical Age) and a "secondary" thesis that involved a translation of, and commentary on Kant's Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View. Folie et déraison (Madness and Insanity – published in an abridged edition in English as Madness and Civilization and finally published unabridged as "History of Madness" by Routledge in 2006) was extremely well received. Foucault continued a vigorous publishing schedule. In 1963 he published Naissance de la Clinique (Birth of the Clinic), Raymond Roussel, and a reissue of his 1954 volume (now entitled Maladie mentale et psychologie or, in English, "Mental Illness and Psychology"), which again, he later disavowed.

After Defert was posted to Tunisia for his military service, Foucault moved to a position at the University of Tunis in 1965. He published Les Mots et les choses (The Order of Things) during the height of interest in structuralism in 1966, and Foucault was quickly grouped with scholars such as Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Roland Barthes as the newest, latest wave of thinkers set to topple the existentialism popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre. Foucault made a number of skeptical comments about Marxism, which outraged a number of left wing critics, but later firmly rejected the "structuralist" label.[10] He was still in Tunis during the May 1968 student riots, where he was profoundly affected by a local student revolt earlier in the same year. In the Autumn of 1968 he returned to France, where he published L'archéologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge) – a methodological treatise that included a response to his critics – in 1969.

Post-1968: as activist

In the aftermath of 1968, the French government created a new experimental university, Paris VIII, at Vincennes and appointed Foucault the first head of its philosophy department in December of that year.[11] Foucault appointed mostly young leftist academics (such as Judith Miller) whose radicalism provoked the Ministry of Education, who objected to the fact that many of the course titles contained the phrase "Marxist-Leninist," and who decreed that students from Vincennes would not be eligible to become secondary school teachers.[12] Foucault notoriously also joined students in occupying administration buildings and fighting with police.

Foucault's tenure at Vincennes was short-lived, as in 1970 he was elected to France's most prestigious academic body, the Collège de France, as Professor of the History of Systems of Thought. His political involvement increased, and his partner Defert joined the ultra-Maoist Gauche Proletarienne (GP). Foucault helped found the Prison Information Group (French: Groupe d'Information sur les Prisons or GIP) to provide a way for prisoners to voice their concerns. This coincided with Foucault's turn to the study of disciplinary institutions, with a book, Surveiller et Punir (Discipline and Punish), which "narrates" the micro-power structures that developed in Western societies since the 18th century, with a special focus on prisons and schools.

Later life

In the late 1970s, political activism in France trailed off with the disillusionment of many left wing intellectuals.[13] A number of young Maoists abandoned their beliefs to become the so-called New Philosophers, often citing Foucault as their major influence, a status Foucault had mixed feelings about.[14] Foucault in this period embarked on a six-volume project The History of Sexuality, which he never completed. Its first volume was published in French as La Volonté de Savoir (1976), then in English as The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1978). The second and third volumes did not appear for another eight years, and they surprised readers by their subject matter (classical Greek and Latin texts), approach and style, particularly Foucault's focus on the human subject, a concept that some mistakenly believed he had previously neglected.

Foucault began to spend more time in the United States, at the University at Buffalo (where he had lectured on his first ever visit to the United States in 1970) and especially at UC Berkeley. In 1975 he took LSD at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, later calling it the best experience of his life.[15]

Iranian Revolution

In 1979 Foucault made two tours of Iran, undertaking extensive interviews with political protagonists in support of the new interim government established soon after the Iranian Revolution. In the tradition of Nietzsche and Georges Bataille, Foucault had embraced the artist who pushed the limits of rationality, and he wrote with great passion in defense of irrationalities that broke boundaries. In 1978, Foucault found such transgressive powers in the revolutionary figures Ayatollah Khomeini, Ali Shariati and the millions who risked death as they followed them in the course of the revolution. Both Foucault and the revolutionaries were highly critical of modernity and sought a new form of politics, they both also looked up to those who risked their lives for ideals; and both looked to the past for inspiration.[16] Later on when Foucault went to Iran “to be there at the birth of a new form of ideas,”[17] he wrote that the new “Muslim” style of politics could signal the beginning of a new form of “political spirituality,” not just for the Middle East, but also for Europe, which had adopted a secular politics ever since the French Revolution[18]. Foucault recognized the enormous power of the new discourse of militant Islam, not just for Iran, but for the world. He wrote:

As an Islamic movement, it can set the entire region afire, overturn the most unstable regimes, and disturb the most solid. Islam which is not simply a religion, but an entire way of life, an adherence to a history and a civilization, has a good chance to become a gigantic powder keg, at the level of hundreds of millions of men. . . Indeed, it is also important to recognize that the demand for the 'legitimate rights of the Palestinian people' hardly stirred the Arab peoples. What it be if this cause encompassed the dynamism of an Islamic movement, something much stronger than those with a Marxist, Leninist, or Maoist character? (“A Powder Keg Called Islam”)[19]

During his two trips to Iran, Foucault was commissioned as a special correspondent of a leading Italian newspaper and his articles appeared on the front page of that paper. His many essays on Iran, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, only appeared in French in 1994 and then in English in 2005. These essays caused some controversy, with some commentators arguing that Foucault was insufficiently critical of the new regime. The more common attempts to bracket out Foucault's writings on Iran as "miscalculations," reminds some authors of what Foucault himself had criticized in his well known 1969 essay, "What is an Author?" Foucault believed that when we include certain works in an author's career and exclude others that were written in a "different style," or were "inferior" (Foucault 1969, 111), we create a stylistic unity and a theoretical coherence. This is done by privileging certain writings as authentic and excluding others that do not fit our view of what the author ought to be: "The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning" (Foucault 1969, 110). This controversy is frequently discussed in the Foucault literature.[20]

Final years and death

In the philosopher's later years, interpreters of Foucault's work attempted to engage with the problems presented by the fact that the late Foucault seemed in tension with the philosopher's earlier work. When this issue was raised in a 1982 interview, Foucault remarked "When people say, 'Well, you thought this a few years ago and now you say something else,' my answer is… [laughs] 'Well, do you think I have worked hard all those years to say the same thing and not to be changed?'"[21] He refused to identify himself as a philosopher, historian, structuralist, or Marxist, maintaining that "The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning."[21] In a similar vein, he preferred not to claim that he was presenting a coherent and timeless block of knowledge; he rather desired his books "to be a kind of tool-box others can rummage through to find a tool they can use however they wish in their own area… I don't write for an audience, I write for users, not readers."[22]

In 1992 James Miller published a biography of Foucault that was greeted with controversy in part due to his claim that Foucault's experiences in the gay sadomasochism community during the time he taught at Berkeley directly influenced his political and philosophical works.[23] Miller's book has been rebuked by certain Foucault scholars as being either simply misdirected,[24] a sordid reading of his life and works,[25][26] or as a politically motivated, intentional misreading.[27][28]

Foucault died of an AIDS-related illness in Paris on 25 June 1984. He was the first high-profile French personality who was reported to have AIDS. Little was known about the disease at the time[29] and there has been some controversy since.[30] In the front-page article of Le Monde announcing his death, there was no mention of AIDS, although it was implied that he died from a massive infection. Prior to his death, Foucault had destroyed most of his manuscripts, and in his will had prohibited the publication of what he might have overlooked.[23]


Madness and Civilization

The English edition of Madness and Civilization is an abridged version of Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique, originally published in 1961. A full English translation titled The History of Madness has since been published by Routledge in 2006.[31] "Folie et deraison" originated as Foucault's doctoral dissertation;[32] this was Foucault's first major book, mostly written while he was the Director of the Maison de France in Sweden. It examines ideas, practices, institutions, art and literature relating to madness in Western history.[33]

Foucault begins his history in the Middle Ages, noting the social and physical exclusion of lepers.[33] He argues that with the gradual disappearance of leprosy, madness came to occupy this excluded position. The ship of fools in the 15th century is a literary version of one such exclusionary practice, namely that of sending mad people away in ships. In 17th century Europe, in a movement Foucault famously calls the "Great Confinement," "unreasonable" members of the population were institutionalised.[34] In the 18th century, madness came to be seen as the reverse of Reason, and, finally, in the 19th century as mental illness.

Foucault also argues that madness was silenced by Reason, losing its power to signify the limits of social order and to point to the truth. He examines the rise of scientific and "humanitarian" treatments of the insane, notably at the hands of Philippe Pinel and Samuel Tuke who he suggests started the conceptualization of madness as 'mental illness'. He claims that these new treatments were in fact no less controlling than previous methods. Pinel's treatment of the mad amounted to an extended aversion therapy, including such treatments as freezing showers and use of a straitjacket. In Foucault's view, this treatment amounted to repeated brutality until the pattern of judgment and punishment was internalized by the patient.

The Birth of the Clinic

Foucault's second major book, The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception (Naissance de la clinique: une archéologie du regard médical) was published in 1963 in France, and translated to English in 1973. Picking up from Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic traces the development of the medical profession, and specifically the institution of the clinique (translated as "clinic", but here largely referring to teaching hospitals). Its motif is the concept of the medical regard (translated by Alan Sheridan as "medical gaze"), traditionally limited to small, specialized institutions such as hospitals and prisons, but which Foucault examines as subjecting wider social spaces, governing the population en masse.[35]

Death and The Labyrinth

Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel was published in 1963, and translated into English in 1986. It is unique, being Foucault's only book-length work on literature. For Foucault this was "by far the book I wrote most easily and with the greatest pleasure." Here, Foucault explores theory, criticism and psychology through the texts of Raymond Roussel, one of the fathers of experimental writing, whose work has been celebrated by the likes of Cocteau, Duchamp, Breton, Robbe-Grillet, Gide and Giacometti.

The Order of Things

Foucault's Les Mots et les choses. Une archéologie des sciences humaines was published in 1966. It was translated into English and published by Pantheon Books in 1970 under the title The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Foucault had preferred L'Ordre des Choses for the original French title, but changed it as there was already another book by that name. The work broadly aims to provide an anti-humanist excavation of the human sciences, such as sociology and psychology. It opens with an extended discussion of Diego Velázquez's painting Las Meninas and the painting's complex arrangement of sight-lines, hiddenness and appearance.[36] It then develops its central thesis: all periods of history have possessed specific underlying conditions of truth that constituted what could be expressed as discourse (for example art, science, culture, etc.). Foucault argues that these conditions of discourse have changed over time, in major and relatively sudden shifts, from one period's episteme to another.[37] Foucault's Nietzschean critique of Enlightenment values in Les mots et les choses has been very influential in cultural studies and social work scholarship.[38] It is in this book that Foucault claims that "man is only a recent invention" and that the "end of man" is at hand.[39] The book made Foucault a prominent intellectual figure in France.[40]

The Archaeology of Knowledge

Published in 1969, this volume was Foucault's main excursion into methodology, written as an outcome of discussions with the French Circle of Epistemology. Taking its point of departure in the French epistemological tradition, it makes few references to Anglo-American analytical philosophy except as to speech act theory, from which Foucault distances himself.

Foucault directs his analysis toward the "statement" (énoncé), which is the rules that render an expression (that is, a phrase, a proposition or a speech act ) discursively meaningful. This concept of meaning differs from the concept of signification [41]: Though an expression is signifying, for instance "The gold mountain is in California" [42]), it may nevertheless be discursively meaningless and therefore have no existence within a certain discourse. For this reason, the "statement" is an existence function for discursive meaning [43]. Being rules, the "statement" has a very special meaning in the Archaeology: it is not the expression itself, but the rules which make an expression discursively meaningful. These rules are not the syntax and semantics [44] that makes an expression signifying. It is additional rules. In contrast to structuralists, Foucault demonstrates that the semantic and syntactic structures do not suffice to determine the discursive meaning of an expression [45]. Depending on whether or not it complies with these rules of discursive meaning, a grammatically correct phrase may lack discursive meaning or, inversely, a grammatically incorrect sentence may be discursively meaningful - even meaningless letters, e.g. "QWERT" [46] may have discursive meaning. Thus, the meaning of expressions depends on the conditions in which they emerge and exist within a field of discourse; the discursive meaning of an expression is reliant on the succession of statements that precede and follow it.[47] In short, the "statements" Foucault analysed are not propositions, phrases, or speech acts. Rather, "statements" constitute a network of rules establishing which expressions are discursively meaningful, and these rules are the preconditions for signifying propositions, utterances, or speech acts to have discursive meaning. However, "statements" are also 'events', because, like other rules, they appear (or disappear) at some time.

Foucault aims his analysis towards a huge organised dispersion of statements, called discursive formations. Foucault reiterates that the analysis he is outlining is only one possible procedure, and that he is not seeking to displace other ways of analysing discourse or render them as invalid.

According to Dreyfus and Rabinow, Foucault not only brackets out issues of truth (cf. Husserl), he also brackets out issues of meaning.[48] However, Foucault does not bracket out discursive meaning. But, focusing on discursive meaning, Foucault did not look for a deeper meaning underneath discourse or for the source of meaning in some transcendental subject. Instead, Foucault analyzes the discursive and practical conditions for the existence of truth and discursive meaning. To show the principles of production of truth and discursive meaning in various discursive formations, he details how truth claims emerge during various epochs on the basis of what was actually said and written during these periods. He particularly describes the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, and the 20th century. He strives to avoid all interpretation and to depart from the goals of hermeneutics. This does not mean that Foucault denounces truth and discursive meaning, but just that truth and discursive meaning depend on the historical discursive and practical means of truth and meaning production. For instance, although they were radically different during Enlightenment as opposed to Modernity, there were indeed discursive meaning, truth and correct treatment of madness during both epochs (Madness and Civilization). This posture allows Foucault to denounce a priori concepts of the nature of the human subject and focus on the role of discursive practices in constituting subjectivity.

Foucault's relation to structuralism seems somewhat ambiguous. However, in the preface to the English translation of Les Mots et les Choses (1970), he clearly disavowed structuralism:

In France certain half-witted 'commentators' persist in labelling me a 'structuralist'. I have been unable to get it into their tiny minds that I have used none of the methods, concepts, or key terms that characterize structural analysis.

Whereas structuralists search for homogeneity in a discursive entity, Foucault focuses on differences.[49] Instead of asking what constitutes the specificity of European thought he asks what constitutes the differences developed within it and over time. Therefore, as a historical method, he refuses to examine statements outside of their historical context: the discursive formation. The meaning of a statement depends on the general rules that characterise the discursive formation to which it belongs. A discursive formation continually generates new statements, and some of these usher in changes in the discursive formation that may or may not be adopted. Therefore, to describe a discursive formation, Foucault also focuses on expelled and forgotten discourses that never happened to change the discursive formation (the genealogical analysis). Their differences from the dominant discourse also describe it. In this way one can describe specific systems that determine which types of statements emerge. In his Foucault (1986), Deleuze describes The Archaeology of Knowledge as "the most decisive step yet taken in the theory-practice of multiplicities."[50]

Discipline and Punish

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison was translated into English in 1977, from the French Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison, published in 1975. The book opens with a graphic description of the brutal public execution in 1757 of Robert-François Damiens, who attempted to kill Louis XV. Against this it juxtaposes a colourless prison timetable from just over 80 years later. Foucault then inquires how such a change in French society's punishment of convicts could have developed in such a short time. These are snapshots of two contrasting types of Foucault's "Technologies of Punishment." The first type, "Monarchical Punishment," involves the repression of the populace through brutal public displays of executions and torture. The second, "Disciplinary Punishment," is what Foucault says is practiced in the modern era. Disciplinary punishment gives "professionals" (psychologists, programme facilitators, parole officers, etc.) power over the prisoner, most notably in that the prisoner's length of stay depends on the professionals' judgment. Foucault goes on to argue that Disciplinary punishment leads to self-policing by the populace as opposed to brutal displays of authority from the Monarchical period.

Foucault argues between the 17th and 18th centuries a new, more subtle form of power was being exercised transnationally. He calls this form of power discipline. Soldiers could be made and formed rather than just being chosen because of their natural characteristics. Knowledge and power are central to Foucault's analysis. He questions common concepts like justice or equality and asks where these concepts originated and who they benefit. The process of observing and evaluating individuals leads to more and more knowledge about peoples.

Foucault also compares modern society with Jeremy Bentham's "Panopticon" design for prisons (which was unrealized in its original form, but nonetheless influential): in the Panopticon, a single guard can watch over many prisoners while the guard remains unseen. Ancient prisons have been replaced by clear and visible ones, but Foucault cautions that "visibility is a trap." It is through this visibility, Foucault writes, that modern society exercises its controlling systems of power and knowledge (terms Foucault believed to be so fundamentally connected that he often combined them in a single hyphenated concept, "power-knowledge"). Increasing visibility leads to power located on an increasingly individualized level, shown by the possibility for institutions to track individuals throughout their lives. Foucault suggests that a "carceral continuum" runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police, and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. All are connected by the (witting or unwitting) supervision (surveillance, application of norms of acceptable behaviour) of some humans by others.

The History of Sexuality

Three volumes of The History of Sexuality were published before Foucault's death in 1984. The first and most referenced volume, The Will to Knowledge (previously known as An Introduction in English – Histoire de la sexualité, 1: la volonté de savoir in French) was published in France in 1976, and translated in 1977, focusing primarily on the last two centuries, and the functioning of sexuality as an analytics of power related to the emergence of a science of sexuality (scientia sexualis) and the emergence of biopower in the West.[51] In this volume he attacks the "repressive hypothesis", the widespread belief that we have "repressed" our natural sexual drives, particularly since the 19th century.[52] He proposes that what is thought of as "repression" of sexuality actually constituted sexuality as a core feature of human identities, and produced a proliferation of discourse on the subject.

The second two volumes, The Use of Pleasure (Histoire de la sexualite, II: l'usage des plaisirs) and The Care of the Self (Histoire de la sexualité, III: le souci de soi) dealt with the role of sex in Greek and Roman antiquity. Both were published in 1984, the year of Foucault's death, with the second volume being translated in 1985, and the third in 1986. In his lecture series from 1979 to 1980 Foucault extended his analysis of government to its 'wider sense of techniques and procedures designed to direct the behaviour of men', which involved a new consideration of the 'examination of conscience' and confession in early Christian literature. These themes of early Christian literature seemed to dominate Foucault's work, alongside his study of Greek and Roman literature, until the end of his life. However, Foucault's death left the work incomplete, and the planned fourth volume of his History of Sexuality on Christianity was never published. The fourth volume was to be entitled Confessions of the Flesh (Les aveux de la chair). The volume was almost complete before Foucault's death and a copy of it is privately held in the Foucault archive. It cannot be published under the restrictions of Foucault's estate.[53]


From 1970 until his death in 1984, from January to March of each year except 1977, Foucault gave a course of public lectures and seminars weekly at the Collège de France as the condition of his tenure as professor there. All these lectures were tape-recorded, and Foucault's transcripts also survive. In 1997 these lectures began to be published in French; nine volumes have appeared so far. So far, eight sets of lectures have been published in English translation: Psychiatric Power 1973–1974, Abnormal 1974–1975, Society Must Be Defended 1975–1976, Security, Territory, Population 1977–1978, The Birth of Biopolitics 1978-1979, The Hermeneutics of the Subject 1981–1982, The Government of Self and Others 1982–1983, and The Courage of Truth 1983-1984. Society Must Be Defended and Security, Territory, Population pursued an analysis of the broader relationship between security and biopolitics,[54] explicitly politicizing the question of the birth of humankind raised in The Order of Things.[55] In Security, Territory, Population, Foucault outlines his theory of governmentality, and demonstrates the distinction between sovereignty, discipline, and governmentality as distinct modalities of state power. He argues that governmental state power can be genealogically linked to the 17th century state philosophy of raison d'etat and, ultimately, to the medieval Christian 'pastoral' concept of power.[56] Notes of some of Foucault's lectures from University of California, Berkeley in 1983 have also appeared as Fearless Speech.

Key dialogues

Scholars have criticized Foucault's work on several grounds.

Certain theorists have questioned the extent to which Foucault may be regarded as an ethical 'neo-anarchist', the self-appointed architect of a "new politics of truth", or, to the contrary, a nihilistic and disobligating 'neo-functionalist'. Jean-Paul Sartre, in a review of The Order of Things, described the non-Marxist Foucault as "the last rampart of the bourgeoisie."[57]

Jürgen Habermas has described Foucault as a "crypto-normativist", covertly reliant on the very Enlightenment principles he attempts to deconstruct. Central to this problem is the way Foucault seemingly attempts to remain both Kantian and Nietzschean in his approach:

Foucault discovers in Kant, as the first philosopher, an archer who aims his arrow at the heart of the most actual features of the present and so opens the discourse of modernity ... but Kant's philosophy of history, the speculation about a state of freedom, about world-citizenship and eternal peace, the interpretation of revolutionary enthusiasm as a sign of historical 'progress toward betterment' – must not each line provoke the scorn of Foucault, the theoretician of power? Has not history, under the stoic gaze of the archaeologist Foucault, frozen into an iceberg covered with the crystals of arbitrary formulations of discourse?

Habermas Taking Aim at the Heart of the Present 1984, [58]

Philosopher Richard Rorty has argued that Foucault's 'archaeology of knowledge' is fundamentally negative, and thus fails to adequately establish any 'new' theory of knowledge per se. Rather, Foucault simply provides a few valuable maxims regarding the reading of history:

As far as I can see, all he has to offer are brilliant redescriptions of the past, supplemented by helpful hints on how to avoid being trapped by old historiographical assumptions. These hints consist largely of saying: "do not look for progress or meaning in history; do not see the history of a given activity, of any segment of culture, as the development of rationality or of freedom; do not use any philosophical vocabulary to characterize the essence of such activity or the goal it serves; do not assume that the way this activity is presently conducted gives any clue to the goals it served in the past."

Rorty Foucault and Epistemology, 1986, [59]

Links to critical theory

Foucault's discussions on power and discourse are often drawn upon by critical theorists. The critical theorist seeks to uncover power structures in order to strive for equality. By using discourse analysis, power structures may be uncovered and analyzed for their truth claims. This is one of the ways that Foucault's work is linked to critical theory.[60]


See also


  1. ^ Nik Farrell Fox, The New Sartre: Explorations in Postmodernism, Continuum, via Google Books, pg 169.
  2. ^ "The most cited authors of books in the humanities". timeshighereducation.co.uk. 26 March 2009. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=405956&sectioncode=26. Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  3. ^ Adams, Bert (2002). Contemporary Sociological Theory. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press. p. 237. ISBN 0761987819. 
  4. ^ Smart, Barry (1994). Michel Foucault. New York: Routledge. p. 19. ISBN 0415088879. 
  5. ^ Dosse, François (1997). History of Structuralism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 148. ISBN 0816622418. 
  6. ^ Louis Girard, author of L'argument ontologique chez Saint Anselme et chez Hegel, in Bodream ou rêve de Bodrum, Jean-Pierre Thiollet, Anagramme ed., Paris, 2010, p. 111. ISBN 978-2-35035-279-4
  7. ^ Foucault, Michel (2006). History of Madness. New York: Routledge. p. V. ISBN 0415277019. 
  8. ^ Morris, Brian (1991). Western Conceptions of the Individual. Oxford: Berg. p. 428. ISBN 0854968016. 
  9. ^ Halperin, David (1997). Saint Foucault. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 214. ISBN 0195111273. 
  10. ^ Dosse, François (1997). History of Structuralism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 79. ISBN 0816623708. 
  11. ^ Hitchcock, Louise (2008). Theory for Classics. New York: Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 0415454972. 
  12. ^ Mills, Sara (2003). Michel Foucault. New York: Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 0415245699. 
  13. ^ Hazareesingh, Sudhir (1991). Intellectuals and the French Communist Party. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 166. ISBN 0198278705. 
  14. ^ Peter Dews, "The Nouvelle Philosophie and Foucault," Economy and Society 8(2) (May 1979), pp. 127–71.
  15. ^ David Macey (1995). The Lives of Michel Foucault: A Biography. Vintage. ISBN 0679757929. 
  16. ^ Janet, Afary & Kevin, Anderson ((2005). Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago University Press, pp. 13. 
  17. ^ Eribon, Dider (1991). Michel Foucault. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. pp. 282. ISBN 0-647-57287-4. 
  18. ^ Janet, Afary & Kevin, Anderson ((2005). Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago University Press, pp. 209. 
  19. ^ Janet, Afary & Kevin, Anderson ((2005). Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago University Press, pp. 241. 
  20. ^ See e.g. Janet, Afary & Kevin, Anderson ((2005). Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism. Chicago University Press.  Eribon, Didier ((1989)1991). Michel Foucault. Harvard University Press.  Paul Veyne (2008). Foucault. Sa pensée, sa personne. Albin Michel. 
  21. ^ a b David Gauntlett. Media, Gender and Identity',' London: Routledge, 2002.
  22. ^ Michel Foucault (1974). 'Prisons et asiles dans le mécanisme du pouvoir' in Dits et Ecrits, t. II. Paris: Gallimard, 1994, pp. 523–4).
  23. ^ a b James Miller (1993). The Passion of Michel Foucault. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-255267-1. 
  24. ^ Scialabba, George. Review: "The Passion of Michel Foucault by James Miller." Boston Globe, 30 January 1993.
  25. ^ Rubenstein, Diane 1995 Modern Fiction Studies 41.3–4 681–698
  26. ^ Williams, James S. The French Review March 1997, Vol. 70, No. 4 pp. 604–605
  27. ^ Carrette, Jeremy R. Religion and culture By Michel Foucault
  28. ^ Halperin, David M. Saint Foucault: towards a gay hagiography
  29. ^ "So Little Time: A year-by-year history of the AIDS epidemic". AIDS Education Global Information System. Retrieved on 4 February 2008.
  30. ^ O'Farrell, Claire. "Letter to The Times Literary Supplement (unpublished)". Letter written in 2002 in the context of a controversy over Foucault's death from AIDS. Retrieved on 4 February 2008.
  31. ^ Foucault, M., Khalfa, J., & Murphy, J. (2006). The History of Madness. New York: Routledge.
  32. ^ "Report from Mr. Canguilhem on the Manuscript Filed by Mr. Michel Foucault, Director of the Institut Francais of Hamburg, in Order to Obtain Permission to Print His Principal Thesis for the Doctor of Letters." In Arnold I. Davidson, ed., Foucault and his Interlocutors. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press, 1997, 23–7.
  33. ^ a b Torrey, E. (2001). The Invisible Plague. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. p. 303. ISBN 0813530032. 
  34. ^ Still, Arthur (1992). Rewriting the History of Madness. New York: Routledge. p. 119. ISBN 0415066549. 
  35. ^ Hardy, Anne (2006). The Western Medical Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 81. ISBN 0521475244. 
  36. ^ Gresle, Yvette. "Foucault's 'Las Meninas' and art-historical methods". Journal of Literary Studies, retrieved 1 December 2008.
  37. ^ Holub, Robert (1992). Crossing Borders. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 57. ISBN 0299132749. 
  38. ^ Chambon, Adrienne (1999). Reading Foucault for Social Work. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 36–37. ISBN 023110717X. 
  39. ^ Hutcheon, Linda (1995). Irony's Edge. New York: Routledge. p. 123. ISBN 0415054532. 
  40. ^ Booker, Keith (1996). A Practical Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism. New York: Longman. p. 122. ISBN 0801317657. 
  41. ^ French version p. 117
  42. ^ ibid. 12
  43. ^ ibid. 115
  44. ^ the construction rules, Dits et Ecrits I, p. 728
  45. ^ French version: p. 108, 113-14, 118-19, 134
  46. ^ ibid. 114
  47. ^ Gutting, Gary (1994). The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 231. ISBN 0521408873. 
  48. ^ Caputo, John. "Foucault and the Critique of Institutions". Pennsylvania State University Press, March, 2006. pp. 249–253. ISBN 0-271-02966-8
  49. ^ Jones, Colin (1994). Reassessing Foucault. New York: Routledge. p. 155. ISBN 0415075424. 
  50. ^ Deleuze, Gilles (1986). Foucault. London: Althone. p. 14. ISBN 0826457800. 
  51. ^ Butler, Judith (1999). Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge. p. 120. ISBN 0415924995. 
  52. ^ Edmond, Rod (1988). Affairs of the Hearth. New York: Routledge. p. 11. ISBN 0415006562. 
  53. ^ Michel Foucault, edited by Jeremy R. Carrette (1999). Religion and culture: Michel Foucault. ISBN 0-415-92362-X. 
  54. ^ Larner, Wendy (2004). Global Governmentality. New York: Routledge. p. 77. ISBN 0415311381. 
  55. ^ Crampton, Jeremy (2007). Space, Knowledge and Power. Ashgate Pub Co. p. 75. ISBN 0754646556. 
  56. ^ Hansen, Thomas (2001). States of Imagination. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 43. ISBN 0822327988. 
  57. ^ Sartre, Jean-Paul, in L'Arc no. 30, Oct. 1966, pp. 87–88.
  58. ^ Jürgen Habermas. Taking Aim at the Heart of the Present in Hoy, D (eds) 'Foucault: A critical reader' Basil Blackwell. Oxford, 1986.
  59. ^ Richard Rorty. Foucault and Epistemology in Hoy, D (eds) 'Foucault: A critical reader' Basil Blackwell. Oxford, 1986.
  60. ^ Van Loon, Borin (2001). Introducing Critical Theory. Thriplow: Icon Books Ltd.. 

Further reading

  • Artières, Philippe; Bert, Jean-François; Gros, Frédéric and Revel, Judith (ed.). Cahier Foucault. (L'Herne, 2011).
  • Braver, Lee. A Thing of This World: a History of Continental Anti-Realism. Northwestern University Press: 2007. This study covers Foucault and his contribution to the history of Continental Anti-Realism.
  • Carrette, Jeremy R. (ed.). Religion and culture: Michel Foucault. (Routledge, 1999).
  • Cusset, Francois. (Translated by Jeff Fort) French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008)
  • Derrida, Jacques. Cogito and the History of Madness. In Alan Bass (tr.), Writing and Difference, pp. 31–63. (Chicago University Press, 1978).
  • Dillon, M. Foucault on Politics, Security and War, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).
  • Dreyfus, Herbert L. and Paul Rabinow. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 2nd edition. (University of Chicago Press, 1983).
  • Elden, Stuart. ""Power, Nietzsche and the Greeks: Foucault’s Leçons sur la volonté de savoir", Berfrois, July 2011.
  • Eribon, Didier. Insult and the Making of the Gay Self (Duke University Press, 2004). The third part—about 150 pages of this book—is devoted to Foucault and a reinterpretation of his life and work.
  • Eribon, Didier. Michel Foucault (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1991). Considered in France, according to Le Monde, as the best biography of Foucault.
  • Flyvbjerg, Bent. ""Habermas and Foucault: Thinkers for Civil Society?", British Journal of Sociology, vol. 49, no. 2, June 1998, pp. 210–233.
  • Foucault, Michel. Sexual Morality and the Law (originally published as La loi de la pudeur), is the Chapter 16 of Politics, Philosophy, Culture (see “Notes”), pp. 271–285.
  • Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983).
  • Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988).
  • Halperin, David M. Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography (Oxford University Press, 1995).
  • Hoy, D. (Ed.). Foucault. (Oxford, Blackwell, 1986).
  • Hicks, Stephen R. C. Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy Publishing, 2004).
  • Isenberg, Bo. ”Habermas on Foucault. Critical remarks” (Acta Sociologica, Vol. 34 (1991), No. 4:299–308). (SAGE Acta Sociologica)
  • Macey, David. The Lives of Michel Foucault (London: Hutchison, 1993)—This is the most detailed biography of Foucault.
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair (1990). Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.
  • Merquior, J. G. Foucault, University of California Press, 1987 (A critical view of Foucault's work)
  • Milchman, Alan (Ed.). "Foucault and Heidegger." Contradictions Vol. 16 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).
  • Miller, James, The Passion of Michel Foucault (London: HarperCollins, 1993)—A number of scholars have expressed reservations in relation to some of the sensational claims made in this biography.
  • O'Farrell, Clare. Michel Foucault. (London: Sage, 2005). Includes a chronology of Foucault's life and times and an extensive list of key terms in Foucault's work, which includes references to where these terms appear in his work.
  • Olssen, M. Toward a Global Thin Community: Nietzsche, Foucault and the cosmopolitan commitment, Paradigm Press, Boulder, Colorado, USA, October 2009
  • Elisabeth Roudinesco, Philosophy in Turbulent Times: Canguilhem, Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida, Columbia University Press, New York, 2008.
  • Smart, B. Foucault. (Chichester, Ellis Horwood, 1985).
  • Sim, Stuart, & Van Loon, Borin. "Introducing Critical Theory". Thriplow: Icon Books Ltd., 2001
  • Veyne, Paul. Foucault. Sa pensée, sa personne. (Paris: Albin Michel, 2008).
  • Wilson, Timothy H. "Foucault, Genealogy, History." Philosophy Today, 39.2 (1995): 157–70.
  • Wolin, Richard. Telos 67, Foucault's Aesthetic Decisionism. New York: Telos Press Ltd., Spring 1987. (Telos Press).

External links

General sites (updated regularly)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужен реферат?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michel Foucault — [miˈʃɛl fuˈko] (* 15. Oktober 1926 in Poitiers; † 25. Juni 1984 in Paris), Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für die Geschichte der Denksysteme am Collège de France in Paris, war ei …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Michel Foucault — Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Michel Foucault — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Foucault. Michel Foucault Philosophe occidental Époque contemporaine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Michel Foucault bibliography — Michel Foucault (1926–1984) was a prominent twentieth century French philosopher, who wrote prolifically. Many of his works were translated into English. Contents 1 Monographs 2 Collège de France Course Lectures 3 Collaborative works …   Wikipedia

  • Michel Foucault — Foucault, Michel (15 de octubre de 1926 26 de junio de 1984), filósofo francés y profesor de la cátedra Historia de los sistemas de pensamiento en el Collège de France de 1970 a 1984. El trabajo de Foucault ha influído a importantes… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bibliography of Michel Foucault — Michel Foucault (1926–1984) was a prominent twentieth century French philosopher, who wrote prolificly.MonographsOther booksAnthologiesIn French, almost all of Foucault s shorter writings, published interviews and miscellany have been published… …   Wikipedia

  • Michel Foucault — n. (1926 1984) French philosopher who had much influence on the humanities and social sciences …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Square Michel-Foucault — Géographie Pays France Ville Paris Quartier 5e arrondissement Caractéristiques Lieux remarquables La statue de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Foucault Michel — Michel Foucault Pour les articles homonymes, voir Foucault. Michel Foucault Philosophe occidental Philosophie contemporaine Naissance : 15 octobre&# …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Foucault und Recht — bezeichnet die Arbeiten des französischen Philosophen Michel Foucaults zum Recht sowie deren posthume Interpretation und Weiterentwicklung durch Philosophen, Rechtssoziologen und Rechtsphilosophen. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Recht in Foucaults Texten 2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”