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Philosophy of Foucault

Philosophy of Foucault

Todd May
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 184
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  • Book Info
    Philosophy of Foucault
    Book Description:

    Michel Foucault's historical and philosophical investigations have gone through many phases, the archaeological, the genealogical, and the ethical among them. What remains constant is that Foucault never stops asking the question of who we are and how we came to be that way. Following Foucault's itinerary from his early history of madness to his recently published Collège de France lectures, Todd May shows that the question of who we are, while changing, remains always at or just below the surface of Foucault's writings. In so doing he offers students an immediately engaging and perceptive way to understand Foucault. The Philosophy of Foucault is an accessible and stimulating introduction that will be welcomed by students studying Foucault as part of politics, sociology, and history courses as well as within philosophy.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8602-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Introduction: who are we?
    (pp. 1-23)

    Why study a philosopher, a philosophically oriented historian, a thinker? Why grapple with a body of thought that is difficult, often elusive? Why forsake the pleasures of sport, the company of friends, a novel or a videogame for the slow, patient activity of coming to understand a set of texts that, far from inviting one in, seem often designed to keep one at bay?

    These are not idle questions. One might be told, in response to them, that the rigours of thought are good for the mind, that grappling with difficult concepts is bracing, or strengthening, or a sign of...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Archaeological histories of who we are
    (pp. 24-60)

    How might we embark on a historical approach, or a set of historical approaches, to address the question of who we are? Because of the complexity of our historical inheritance there are many avenues of entry. No single one among of them is preferred or exhaustive. There is no Archimedean point. Foucault himself, at different times in his life, offers different interpretations of his own approach. Usually, those interpretations depend on what is motivating him at the time; he tends to see his previous writings in light of current interests. There is, however, a traditional classification of his published writings...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Genealogical histories of who we are
    (pp. 61-95)

    In May and June of 1968, events in Paris and elsewhere – events that have both discursive and non-discursive aspects – alter the character of French life. They also alter the character of French thought. To recount these events in anything like the complexity they deserve is beyond the scope of this book. Moreover, any approach to the “events of May” or “May ’68” invites controversy. No period in French history since the Second World War has generated as much discussion as these two months in the late 1960s. Are the events revolutionary, or are they just the indulgence of middle-class students?...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Who we are and who we might be
    (pp. 96-125)

    The Archaeology of Knowledgeis published in 1969. Between 1961 and 1969 Foucault publishes six books. He does not publish another one until the first genealogy appears in 1975, followed by the first volume of the history of sexuality a year later. By then there are new themes, such as power, and a new methodology, that of genealogy. The first volume on sex promises several more to follow:

    [T]he domain we must analyze in the different studies that will follow the present volume is that deployment of sexuality: its formation on the basis of the Christian notion of the flesh,...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Coda: Foucault’s own straying afield
    (pp. 126-131)

    How is one to say something about Foucault’s life in the wake of this request? Can one say anything at all without betraying him? Or are we to dwell within the irony that this thinker who told us so much about who we are now and opened doors to our asking who we might be is someone about whom we are barred from asking who he was?

    We cannot do biography. This much is clear. We cannot say, Foucault isthis;he is notthat.Or better, if we want to say who Foucault is, we need look no further...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Are we still who Foucoult says we are?
    (pp. 132-159)

    As I write this, it is twenty-one years since Foucault’s death. His last published book that does not deal with ancient practices is twenty-nine years old. Since his death, we have seen the rise of the internet, DVDs, cell phones, gated communities, Tivo, sport utility vehicles, email and instant messaging. The United States has started three wars: two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Terrorism, not communism, is the chosen enemy of what would charitably be called Western democracies. Neoliberalism has come to replace welfare liberalism in many quarters as the reigning economic philosophy of the state. Europe has made...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 160-163)
  12. Further reading
    (pp. 164-164)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 165-168)
  14. Index
    (pp. 169-170)