The Archaeology of Knowledge

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Jul 11, 2012 - Philosophy - 256 pages
Madness, sexuality, power, knowledge—are these facts of life or simply parts of speech? In a series of works of astonishing brilliance, historian Michel Foucault excavated the hidden assumptions that govern the way we live and the way we think. The Archaeology of Knowledge begins at the level of "things aid" and moves quickly to illuminate the connections between knowledge, language, and action in a style at once profound and personal. A summing up of Foucault's own methadological assumptions, this book is also a first step toward a genealogy of the way we live now. Challenging, at times infuriating, it is an absolutey indispensable guide to one of hte most innovative thinkers of our time.

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This is (perhaps) the hardest book I have ever read; not because Foucault's style tends to preface any declaration with multiple negations, not because his sentences wander through these negation lists with commas that should be semi-colons, not because semi-colons aren't any more useful than commas anyway, nor because some sentences are so long they occupy two paragraphs, nor is it even possible to discern a declarative sentence within the voluminous verbiage (sometimes interrupted by parenthetical remarks), the incidences of which are there but hidden within a discourse that underlies an epistemic relationship with other propositions, declarations, thoughts, "objects of discourse", that are, along the way, defined not once or twice, (or even thrice), but because the reward of finding such declarative propositions, even when intertextually linked with other propositions, is considerable.
Having said that, this is an important book if you wish to understand what Foucault means when he and other authors (especially those that have read this) say "discursive formation." It's a difficult concept, one often used inappropriately (although that never stopped anyone). But the notion that discourses can maintain relations with each other implies that words have agency and that human beings are simply a means for words to get things done.
So read this. Bring a highlighter and use it when you find a declarative sentence (which might not all be in one place). I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


PART IIThe Discursive Regularities
CHAPTER 1The Unities of Discourse
CHAPTER 2Discursive Formations
CHAPTER 3The Formation of Objects
CHAPTER 4The Formation of Enunciative Modalities
CHAPTER 5The Formation of Concepts
CHAPTER 6The Formation of Strategies
CHAPTER 5The Historical a priori and the Archive
PART IVArchaeological Description
CHAPTER 1Archaeology and the History of Ideas
CHAPTER 2The Original and the Regular
CHAPTER 3Contradictions
CHAPTER 4The Comparative Facts
CHAPTER 5Change and Transformations
CHAPTER 6Science and Knowledge

CHAPTER 7Remarks and Consequences
PART IIIThe Statement and the Archive
CHAPTER 1Defining the Statement
CHAPTER 2The Enunciative Function
CHAPTER 3The Description of Statements
CHAPTER 4Rarity Exteriority Accumulation
PART VConclusion
APPENDIXThe Discourse on Language
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About the author (2012)

Michel Foucault, one of the leading philosophical thinkers of the 20th century, was born in Poitiers, France, in 1926. He lectured in universities throughout the world; served as director at the Institut Français in Hamburg, Germany and at the Institut de Philosophie at the Faculté des Lettres in the University of Clermont-Ferrand, France; and wrote frequently for French newspapers and reviews. His influence on generations of thinkers in the areas of sociology, queer theory, cultural studies, and critical thinking are not to be underestimated. Among his many books were the Foucault Reader, Society Must Be Defended, and Great Ideas.

At the time of his death in June 1984, he held a chair at France's most prestigious institutions, the Collège de France. Foucault was the first public figure in France to die from HIV/AIDS.

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