By Alec McHoul, Wendy Grace
Who're we at the present time? That deceptively basic query persisted to be requested by way of the French historian and thinker, Michel Foucault, who for the final 3 a long time has had a profound effect on English-speaking students within the humanities and social sciences.; this article is designed for undergraduates and others who consider short of a few counsel whilst coming to grips with Foucault's voluminous and complicated writings. rather than facing them chronologically, besides the fact that, this e-book concentrates on a few of their imperative techniques, 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 old examine used to be regularly geared in the direction of exhibiting how issues might have been and nonetheless might be differently. this can be specifically the case with recognize to the construction of human subjects.
“A constantly transparent, entire and obtainable advent which rigorously sifts Foucault’s paintings for either its strengths and weaknesses. McHoul and charm express 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 out of doors Literature
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Additional resources for A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power and the Subject
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. And if it did exist, to what extent could its existence ‘excuse’ a multiple murderer by making a culprit of the ‘disease’ rather than the individual? In so far as Pierre Rivière is caught between these two moments of official dispute on the proper course of punishment, his own account—the lengthy ‘confessional’ narrative which he composed in prison—is continually kept at arm’s length.
I will be doing the same thing with sexuality, only going back much further: how does the subject speak truthfully about itself, inasmuch as it is the subject of sexual pleasure? And at what price? ’, it is obvious that he does not mean that it is he who wants to tell truths. On the contrary, the stress is on the word ‘how’: by what techniques, according to what regularities and conditions, is it possible for something to count as the truth about sickness, life, labour, language, crime and sexuality?
Yet this is not its only—or its main—goal, for it is primarily concerned with the commonsense knowledges which ultimately inform conversational rules and procedures. In this respect, empirical approaches to discourse can be seen to share Foucault’s concern with discourse in terms of knowledge. But, from the outset, it is equally clear that, by ‘knowledge’, these analysts mean something different from Foucault. In this tradition, ‘knowledge’ refers to technical knowledge or know-how. For Foucault, ‘knowledge’ is much more a matter of the social, historical and political conditions under which, for example, statements come to count as true or false.