Political Theory

A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power and the Subject by Alec McHoul, Wendy Grace

By Alec McHoul, Wendy Grace

Who're we at the present time? That deceptively basic query endured to be requested through the French historian and thinker, Michel Foucault, who for the final 3 many years has had a profound effect on English-speaking students within the humanities and social sciences.; this article is designed for undergraduates and others who suppose short of a few information whilst coming to grips with Foucault's voluminous and complicated writings. rather than facing them chronologically, although, this booklet concentrates on a few of their principal options, essentially Foucault's rethinking of the kinds of "discourse", "power", and " the subject".; Foucault's writings give a contribution jointly to what he himself calls "an ontology of the present". His ancient examine was once consistently geared in the direction of exhibiting how issues might have been and nonetheless may be differently. this can be particularly the case with admire to the construction of human subjects.

Reviews:

“A regularly transparent, finished and obtainable creation which rigorously sifts Foucault’s paintings for either its strengths and weaknesses. McHoul and beauty convey an intimate familiarity with Foucault's writings and a full of life, yet severe engagement with the relevance of his paintings. A version primer.”
-Tony Bennett,author of outdoor Literature

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Additional resources for A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power and the Subject

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The courts could not easily decide whether to ‘make an example’ of him (after the manner of the moral techniques of the eighteenth century) or whether to be ‘humane’ and condemn him to a life of continual observation. There was an effective dilemma, at the time, over what was to count as the official and proper discourse on the treatment of murderers. The emergent scientific discourses of medicine and proto-psychiatry had the same problems. For example, they wanted to know whether ‘monomania’—a ‘disease’ in which sufferers become mad for a short period and then completely recover their rationality—actually existed.

1991). But this by no means excludes the possibility that Foucault’s close historical descriptions can be used as assembled 18 1 Foucault’s Counter-history of Ideas reminders and resources for critical action and interventional practice (O’Regan, 1992). Foucault, then, is more than dubious about notions of absolute truth, or indeed of definitive philosophical answers to political questions. And he is far from believing that it is the task of intellectuals to provide such things. But this does not mean that ‘there is no truth’.

Thus most CA work begins with a corpus of materials, rather than theoreticist arguments about the mind, cognition or human nature. Here we can discern a crucial difference between CA and Foucault, whose concept of ‘archive’ is quite distinct from the idea of an empirical data corpus. Foucault’s archive is not just a collection of texts or materials (historical documents or transcribed conversations) but the form of organisation of the parts of a discourse (its statements): . By the word [‘archive’], I do not mean the mass of texts which have been collected at a given period, or chanced to have survived oblivion from this period.

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