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Michel Foucualt

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Brian Lain

on 27 May 2014

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Transcript of Michel Foucualt

1. Archaeology cannot comment on the reasons why a shift in discursive formations occurs- why does a transition happen?
2. Although MF points in a few places to the non-discursive, it is unclear what he means by this and it is a source of confusion. What is outside of discourse remains a question for his followers.
3. Foucault relies quite a bit on the historical record of events, treatises, etc. However, he has been criticized for being innacurate by many historians.
Early Life
Poitiers France (father surgeon, mother, daughter of a surgeon
École Normale Supérieure (1946)

MF's professors
Jean Hyppolite
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Louie Althusser
George Canguilheim
Foucault's odd jobs: taught at a psychiatric hospital, taught French for 3 years,
Failed professors exam first time
Left a good job for a romantic partner
Jobs and Life
Foucault's Students: Jacques Derrida, Alain Baidou, Jacques Rancierre
1926: Born, Poitiers, France
1936-40: Lycée Henri-IV, Poitiers
1940-45: College St Stanislas, Poitiers
1945: Lycée Henri IV, Paris1946: Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris
1948: licence de philosophie (can teach secondary school)
1949: licence de psychologie
1951: agrégation de philosophie (can be university lecturer)
1952: Diplôme de psycho-pathologie, Institut de psychologie, Paris
1952-55: teaches pyschology at University of Lille (commutes from Paris)
1955-58: teaches French culture and language at University of Uppsala, Sweden
1958: Director of French Center at University of Warsaw, Poland
1959: Director of French Institute in Hamburg, Germany
1960-66: teaches philosophy and psychology at Clermont-Ferrand (commutes from Paris)
1961: publication of Madness and Civilization
1961: Doctorat ès lettres (can be university professor)
1962: promotion to Professor of Philosophy at Clermont-Ferrand
1962-66: "literary period": writes on Blanchot, Bataille, Klossowski, Artaud, Roussel
1963: publication of Birth of the Clinic and Death and the Labyrinth
1965: trip to Brazil
1965-66: works on the Fouchet educational reforms (MF as "Gaullist technocrat")
1966-68: Visiting Professor of Philosophy, University of Tunis
1966: publication of The Order of Things; reaches best-seller lists (!)
1968-73: ultra-left political activism; many street protests and petitions
1968: Chairman of Philosophy Dept, Paris VIII (Vincennes)
1969: Elected to College de France
1969: publication of The Archaeology of Knowledge
1970: Dec 2, Inaugural lecture at College de France (="The Discourse on Language")
"I wasn't always smart, I was actually very stupid in school... [T]here was a boy who was very attractive who was even stupider than I was. And in order to ingratiate myself with this boy who was very beautiful, I began to do his homework for him—and that's how I became smart, I had to do all this work to just keep ahead of him a little bit, in order to help him. In a sense, all the rest of my life I've been trying to do intellectual things that would attract beautiful boys."
Michel Foucault, 1983. Eribon, Didier. Insult and the Making of the Gay Self (Duke University Press, 2004)
The Archaeology of Knowledge
Author's personal context

Social Context
Academic context
Ferdinand de Saussure
(26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913)
Exegesis AK
systems of thought and knowledge (epistemes or discursive formations, in Foucault's terminology) are governed by rules, beyond those of grammar and logic, that operate beneath the consciousness of individual subjects and define a system of conceptual possibilities that determines the boundaries of thought in a given domain and period. (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
1. AK is an explication of what he did in The order of things and Madness and Civilization
2. Uses Frederich Nietsche, although not yet comfortable using the term "geneaology"
3. Response to the dominant History of Ideas approach
4. Seeks discontinuity and rupture in moments across discourses
5. Concepts tht must be abandoned (ch1) Tradition, Influence, Development, Evolution, Spirit (Hegel)
6. Must focus on rules that make possible to construct a statement. "How is it that one particular statement appeared rather than another?" (27)
Based on his work, MF calls himself a "historian of systems of thought," not a philosopher
According to the European Graduate School, he is "the most influential social theorist of the second half of the twentieth century."
Works Cited

7. this is a move away from Meaning.
The rules of discourses
8. to understand the rules of discourse, must understand relations between statements.

New vocabulary
Discursive formation- "A discursive formation is any group of
in which a system of dispersion can be described between objects, subjects, concepts, and strategies, whenever one can find a regularity (an order, correlations, positions and functionings, transformations. Rules of formation are the conditions of existence of all the elements of a given discursive formation (AK 38)

How is it formed?
are arranged
are set upon a grid (ch. 3), but the relations between institutions, economic and social processes are not present in the object itself. The relations are themselves discursive and they are practices which systematically form the objects
3. discourses are spoken by
enunciative modalities
, "positions of the subject defined by the situation" Discourse is not the unfolding manifestation of a thinking subject but a totality, “a space of exteriority in which a network of sites is deployed” (55). Neither words nor things regulate the objects proper to a discursive formation. It is neither a trancendental subject not a psychological subjectivity that regulates enunciative modalities.
are "describe(d) (by) the organization of the field of statements where they appeared and circulated.” (56) The "procedures of intervention" form the rules for relations between concepts
are formed by diffraction and must also be studies by attending to the economy of the discursive constellation.

so what? (ch 7)
These systems reside in discourse itself; or rather, on its frontier, at that limit at which the specific rules that enable it to exist as such are defined. By System of formation, then, I mean a complex group of relations that function as a rule: it lays down what must be related, in a particular discursive pratice, for such and such an enunciation to be made, for such and such a concept to be used, for such and such a strategy to be organized. To define a system of formulation in its specific individuality is therefore to characterize a discourse or a group of statements by the regularity of a practice” (74).
Where do we find it?
A. statement- Not a bunch of things. He settles on a statement as a function of signs, as opposed to some structure.
B. Enunciative function- not a person, a position
C. What is an archive? The archive causes statements to appear as regular events. "It is the general system of the formation and transformation of statements" (AK 130).
Archaeology can now be defined as that which "describes discourses as practices specified in the element of the archive" (AK 131).

Rogers- History of Communication
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