Michel Foucault: Les mots et les chosesUne archéologie des sciences humaines



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I hadn t expected this book to be nearly as interesting as it turned out to be Unfortunately I ve only just finished it and I suspect I m going to need to think about it for a while yet before I eally understand some of the arguments here but this is a stunningly interesting book I ve a feeling that if you looked up erudite in the dictionary This book was written on the basis of a joke by Borges where in a short story Borges gives a definition of animals from a supposed Chinese encyclopaedia The definition divides animals into a dozen or so categories animals belonging to the Emperor animals that look like ants when seen from a distance being but two of my favourite non mutually exclusive categories But while Foucault was laughing at this joke he How Philosophy Works realised that how we categorise the world saysemarkable things about usThe other work of art described in this book also ight at the start is Velasuez s Las Meninas I ll wait while you search for this on google images if you like His interpretation of this art work is stunning but it takes most of the book to eally understand his point in including itThis is a book that tracks three general areas of human enuiry natural history on its path to biology value and exchange on their way to economics and general grammar on its way to linguistics We start with each in the Renaissance and make our way to the present The main turning points come about a century apart from Renaissance to Classical from Classical to Romantic and from Romantic to ModernHis point is that the The Little Book of Comfort revolutions that each of these subjects experienced wereemarkably consistent over all three even though these subject seek to explain uite different subject matters the way people have gone about structuring these subjects displays an order that says fascinating things about the underlying categories we use to structure our knowledge in particular epochs In the Renaissance for example one of the underlying ideas structuring the way we approached the world was a Dancing on the Ceiling rather literal interpretation of the Bible Inelation to animals that means two stories from the Bible are of particular interest Noah s Ark and the Tower of Babel Why Babel Well prior to Babel we all spoke the original language God gave us presumably somewhat similar to Hebrew and that was the language used by Adam to name the animals In this sense animals were marked by this original categorisation and so if we could only e create these marks these essentially linguistic features we would know something worth knowing of the mind of God of the mind of the creator and therefore something very important about how to order the animal kingdomWith the Classical period there was a fundamental shift away from seeking this kind of epresentational identity between words and animals now the task of natural history was pretty much to create a huge grid and for that grid to be filled with animals according to some or other organising principle For example you might classify plants by the number of petals their flowers have or the shapes of their leaves You wouldn t classify them according to how bitter they taste taste isn t a highly uantifiable sense or the colour of the plants colours change so you end up with a very limited number of criteria that you can classify plants a point that has Foucault commenting on how we classified as if the only sense we had was colour blind sight and using these you end up with a huge table with Kidnapped rows and columns and if you have done your job properly one day you might even be able to mathematically determine which plants are missing from this great grid of life because you will have the mathematical underpinning of the table of life before youThe shift to the Romantic period is generally assumed to be an understanding however naive of evolution One of my favourite little things to say is that Darwin s grandfather had already understood evolution was a fact all Darwin did was show how it worked Now while this is or less true there was a much interestingevolution going on in Natural History one that would finally transform it into Biology And that is to move away from categorising animals and plants as things as collections of features and to finally see them as living creatures in a dynamic All Quiet on the Western Front relationship with their environmentelationships always being interesting than things that is the features they have are only interesting on the basis of what they have to say about the objective life tasks that the animal confronts These História do Rei Transparente reduce down to seven I would need to look this up but basically digestioneproduction locomotion bugger not even half how hopeless is thatbut you get the idea Now the interesting thing here is that these processes are all essential to life but they are abstract you don t see digestion or Best Mechanic Ever reproduction directly two dogs shagging is noteproduction and so we have moved one level up from the kind of concrete Dinosaur Dinners reality the previous organising systems employed counting stuff Also how animals achieve these general and essential processes differs from animal and species to species even if the endesult is abstractly the same The insect that breathes through its skin the fish that breathes through its gills the human that breathes with its lungs all breathe We now have biology because we now have life there was a eal sense in which all of the plants and animals previously could have been dead and God s plan could still have been manifest to us now that life is central to our way of building our system to classify life that is no longer the caseWhat is fascinating here is that Darwin is not the fulcrum on which the evolution turns but Desert Kings (Deathlands, rather this move to the new science is about fifty years prior to Darwin and not even on the basis of evolution I think there is much to this it is a fascinating idea even if it doesn t prove to beight The book presents eually interesting histories of economics and linguistics the point being to show that the fundamental organising schemes in each of these eras and each of these subjects is much the same With economics for example the process moves from a fascination with exchange as the organising principle and creator of value as defined as simple barter and therefore demand and supply as being the origin of value through to Smith s understanding that value is essentially a uantification of the labour contained in goods through to abstract notions of production Yet again the process is from seemingly concrete exchanges to an abstract understanding of the underlying organising principleAnd then things get An Officer and a Spy really interesting There is a bit where he talks about modern understandings that I pretty much didn t understand he mentions Nietzsche a lot here and just about every time he mentioned Nietzsche I stopped being able to follow him But what he does say that I finally could follow again was that theeason he has picked biology economics and linguistics is because these are uintessentially the most basic of the Human Sciences If you talk about psychology sociology or any of the human sciences basically you are talking about either humanity as an animal humanity as an economically engaged member of society or humanity as linguistically aware Draw those three circles on your Venn Diagram and the overlapping sections allow you to or less define all of the other human sciencesThis makes a very interesting Exposed (Annika Bengtzon, response to Marx where Marx sees economics as the basis for human progress and as the underpinning ofevolutions in thought Foucault is saying that our understanding of these big three economics linguistics and biology are the key defining and interrelated modes of progress in our understanding of the world The move towards abstract organising criteria with the dawn of Romanticism in all three of these subjects he links or less to Kant s critical philosophy or Kant s transcendental philosophy Ooko ratherI can teally Naked review this book without saying something about Nietzsche Foucault sees the death of God and therefore the simultaneous or thereabouts death of man the myth of the last man and of the superman being the same as the death of man and of the myth of the eternaleturn of the same as being the key projects facing modern humanity The emoval of all absolute criteria for organising the world present. Librarian note an alternate cover for this edition can be found hereWith vast erudition Foucault cuts across disciplines and eaches back into seventeenth century to show how classical systems of knowledge which linked all of nature within a great chain of being and analogies bet.

S us with a Claim The Crown remarkable task how do we go about grounding our science our world view without such an absolute perspective Foucault s view is that our human sciences will move towards psychoanalysis ethnography and linguistics how people understand their personal identity how they understand their cultural identity and how they use language to make these transparent to themselves therefore are the central projects of human sciences He ends by discussing literature and how literature has moved so far from the Renaissance view of language as being about attempting to parallel the notion of language from the start of John s gospel God as the word that issues forth and creates the universe Now literature seeks to press language to its limits and to create emotionalesponses we are incapable of achieving elsewhere A kind of Nerds return in the Nietzscean sense Like I said a fascinating book and one I will need to spend time thinking about Between language and the theory of nature there exists therefore aelation that is of a critical type to know nature is in fact to build upon the basis of language a true language one that will In the Shadow of the Crown (Queens of England, reveal the conditions in which all language is possible and the limits within which it can have a domain of validity p 161There s no need to beat around the bush The Order of Things is bar none the densestead on my shelf to date Philosophy tyros steer clear an entry level text this is not To say that this was as difficult to Bark read as it was to understand would be a heavy understatement Snippets patterned after the one above would freuently invite two and three peateadings to absorb before moving on to the next eually demanding line of Foucaultian esoterica Michel Foucault writing in the French philosophy tradition is touted as a librarian of ideas and his works demonstrate such canonical breadth that they are surely not intended to be consumed in isolation Indeed you had better have a working understanding of the systems of knowledge throughout Western history if you stand any chance of deconstructing this significant opusFoucault s acumen and seemingly bottomless knack for depth are on full display in this his most ambitious and the one that propelled him to stardom work However even with a solid grasp of philosophy and the pivotal shifts in Western thought you must then also place these insights within the tramlines of the baroue prose Foucault has prepared Similitudes On Such a Full Sea resemblancesepresentation significations character the analytic of finitude empirico transcendental familiarity with this Hello, Hippo! Goodbye, Bird! repetition of terminology will be critical if one is to grok the landscape Foucault has delicately painted The Order of Things An Archaeology of the Human Sciences 1966 is nothing less than a genealogy of ideas an intellectual ancestry of the Western mind Along the way Foucault somehow manages toetrace the entire development of science Cannibal restricting his analysis to a specific slice of spacetime European culture since the 16th century It is a work so daunting in scope and so winged in its execution that it seems toelish in keeping the mind in a perpetual state of entanglement sputtering caroming as you eagerly await for a Mastered (The Enforcers, resting point to collect your wits and proceed further into the well He blinds you with brilliance and insists that you see Foucaulticochets between the intellectual giants of the Western world in Man, Son of Man rapid fire fashion traipsing from Spinoza to Descartes to Kant to Marx Freud and Adam Smith to Nietzsche seemingly all while assuming on the part of theeader a dissertation level of intimacy with each Come preparedAs I understand it and I am most emphatically not claiming that I do Foucault is demonstrating that there do exist traceable patterns in the great developments of Western thought in terms of limits possibilities and approaches to new and old knowledge but also discontinuities and breaks from old ways of thinking How clean these breaks were is of course a matter of debate He focuses in on three domains linguistics and philology language biology life and economics labor emphasizing how the intellectual boundaries present in each historical era shaped how man thought about these venues and how they approached and Alter Ego reflected on new developments and discoveries that pervaded our consciousness Whether we were categorizing or taxonomizing articulating or deconstructing we operated in the epistemes confined to our period of history but also turned toward new modes of discourse as ideas emerged out of the Western world s interminable civilizational marchThere is also the niggling uestion of man and how and where she figures into the whole grandiose state of affairs Foucault seems to be arguing that man like everything else is a historical construct and itselation to the order of nature pivots according to developments in each area of inuiry including but not limited to the human sciences That is man s interpretation of man is a product of the historical development of the spaces that have most dominated the human intellect viz the human sciences of proto biology anthropology and psychoanalysis the social sciences of economics and labor and most intricately the all enveloping force of language which is coextensive with every sphere with which we make contact Certainly man s shifting coordinates within the grid of knowledge and human inuiry is of special emphasis here in Foucault s sweeping manifestoIn the closing sections Foucault hints toward a new episteme something that is ill defined turbid hazy but which carries all the signs of a break from what came before He doesn t specify with any precision what this branching episteme consists of or which domains has largely catalyzed its brachiation but he seems to think it is imminent as a eflection of the mid 20th century egion Foucault occupiedClosing ThoughtsA work like this is one which eludes classification much like how the centerpiece of the book itself man Uncommon Wisdom resists arrangement within itselation to human knowledge The Order of Things is simply and not so simply sui generis transcending the common boundaries of empirical disciplines and even philosophy Foucault s writing is ornate painstakingly precise in places yet frustratingly ambiguous in others so much so that like me you might desire the opportunity to stop every now and again and ask uestions I wish I could say that I grasped the book in its overarching messages as well as its subtle analyses but this will Unseen City reuire subseuenteadings likely several If you ve previously been introduced to Foucault or his French antecedents you may be in a better position to follow along But if you Art re like me this will be a humblingead an intellectual tour de force that incessantly God Is in the Crowd reminds you how much there is yet to learnFor a informed and capable post book analysis Iecommend this page for a good starting point History shows that everything that has been thought will be thought again by a thought that does not yet exist p 372 It is uite possible that there was a lot to this book than I got out of it and that Foucault s thinking might have been extremely exciting if only I could have decoded it I am not annoyed at the use of so many long and unfamiliar words because sometimes long words do say something that shorter words can t I am not irritated that I had to look up lots of words nor that I had to struggle with the definitions to try to get my head around unfamiliar ways of thinkingI would expect all that from a post structuralist I did not expect that he would use his words in such an absolute way not defining what he means by words even when he is using them in a slightly off centre way I am not sure whether my criticisms apply to FOUCAULT MICHEL himself or his translatorI did not appreciate how many of the sentences Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard ran on for over ten lines ten dense and adeuately wide lines and that one had several colons and semicolons to give the wrong impression of a breakan on for EIGHTEEN LINES of densely written wordy hard to grasp academic show offyness I accept that a smarter person than me might find the words easier but the sentence structure I think would put anyone offWhat it is is a history of thinking and classifying thoughtconcepts So it takes in evolutions in science history linguistics and The Matriarchs (The Family recently psychology Ween the stars in the heavens and the features in a human face gave way to the modern sciences of biology philology and political economy Theesult is nothing less than an archaeology of the sciences that unearths old patterns of meaning and eveals the shocking arbitrariness of.

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Nd sociology I appreciate the idea that man did not exist as something to be considered until comparatively ecently I had not thought of that but it makes sense once you have When I Moan (Vassi and Seri 1: Russian Stepbrother Romance) read through the whole book I enjoyed the illustration of the painting with the differentoles and points of view the argument was still difficult to follow but there was a focus in that and I liked that the author No Biggy! returned to this to illustrate the newness of the centrality of man though I had some waspish feminist thoughts about gender here and also added my own thoughts about theace and class of this narcissistic god Crush It! replacing man I didn t enjoy Foucault s androcentric language but on the other handeading critically the whole history of thought and thinking Attracting Birds to Your Backyard rationality can be then portrayed with Foucault s lovely long sentences that take forever to wade through as a male self indulgent wank fest while women wereelegated ordinary things like conversations and connections and meals and care of the young and old This nasty interpretation of why Foucault talks about man men and he consistently may not be the whole truth but it is not wholly untrue eitherThe guy does not put Deep Listening references in properly except occasionally when he feels like footnoting probably because being so much greater and smarter than theest of us he does not need to back up his thinking and we should take what he says on faith At times I wanted to know where a thought supposing I even understood it was coming from In this way I would have liked him to write pedagogically to write to inform or teach me Bird-by-Bird Gardening rather than just to showcase his admittedly great knowledge of ancient texts and ability to name drop a whole heap of important writers that I never heard ofI also got confused that he writes in each age in the present tense so he says we think this and such and such is true in the sixteenth century for example Once I got used to this I sort of enjoyed it but it means he is dangerous to use in a literatureeview as you could easily take him The Works of Saint Augustine right out of context I was disappointed actually considering that anybody who is anybody these days uoted Foucault especially if they are evenemotely post structuralist and many critical writers do too The disappointment was that this was not useful for my thesis or even I think for my thinking It was interesting and clever but I am not sure it meaningfully expanded my mind or knowledge maybe because some of it was over my head I must be honestI am not sure who I would Unbuttoning the CEO (The Suits Undone recommend this book to apart from people who think they are smarter than everyone else and need the challenge or at least will stop acting superior for a few days while they wrestle with the LENGTHY overwording Sort of fun I suppose in a masochistic way but if it was condensed to half the length I would mean the fun a lot sincerely In this impressive book Foucault takes on the basic organizational episteme of our current epoch He highlights the contemporary modality of our post modern world by tracing the development of our episteme from the 16th century to the present dayWhile this may seem to be a simple tale of historical causation Foucault says explicitly on several occasions that he cannot account for the break between the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century What he iseferring to has several possible angles to it which strongly emphasizes that in our current era we have not processed this break fully that we are still within this logic and therefore unable to account for itOne way to speak of this break is to note that in the Classical era knowledge was mediated through a My Teacher Is a Robot reference to the infinite This had the happy conseuence of making language transparent If there was a limit to our knowledge it lay in the fact that human beings were finite and unable to extend to the fullesteaches of knowing which would otherwise be available When one contrasts this with the current epoch we have the condition of knowing being mediated by man As Zizek might say a subject hood is self Supper Club realized selfhood that all conditions of knowing pass through the selfWhile it may be tempting to digress into philosophical contemplation with this idealist twist Foucault is uick to add that this subjectivity is only made possible because the inherent formalization of various fields have fragmented into their own logic for him biology economics and philology are the ones he looks at but by no means are these positions foundational What I mean by immanent logic is that the formalization which is expressed as the adoptation of mathesis as a neutral symbology by which to express immanent logic forces each of these fields to define the conditions of their knowledge by an appeal to a central agency that is both immanent to the field and conditioned beyond it What ends up happening is that we chase our own shadow Human beings created these fields of knowledge to solve specific taskselating to how we valuate our situation We want to know certain things and value knowing those things in the way that we do thus these fields come to Moanas New Friend (Disney Moana) reflect our basis premises as to who we are and how we are To say this in another way these different fragmented sciences are created from and simultaneously inform the cultural biases which outlines these various fields of study In these areas biology economics language and so on ultimatelyeflect back how we create knowing so that when we attempt to know these fields completely we end up chasing our own Professional Capital reflection Foucault uses the Diego s painting Las Meninas as the metaphor for this knowing The various figures in the field become stabilized in our attempt to see what is going on and in that moment we catch a faint glimpse of our owneflection in the distance For this Seven Dwarfs Find a House (Disney Classic) reason man and subjecthood as Foucault notes are in factecent authorizations which did not exist previous to this breakYou can find many ideas that he skims here as echoing positions by other thinkers Deleuze Derrida Lyotard Meillasoux Baudrillard they all arrange our situation differently but their arrangement of our situation isn t a genuine stepping out of it In much the same way writers like Kafka and Beckett are only made possible because of the epoch they are already expressing the confusion of the order which Berlioz, Vol. 2 refers back to us they are not creating the order nor are theyecording its transitionOne of the most telling features that Foucault writes about telling in the sense that this is an Event is how he The Middle Sin (Cleo North recasts time as a matter of epistemological entrapment Our inability to decide for ourselves an origin for consciousness is a sign that consciousness exists outside our ability to know because it is the condition of how we know This strongly matches Badious writing on the Event signaling that our criteria for knowingemains invisible to us Consciousness like the figure of Man The Mediterranean Millionaires Mistress remains the limit to our knowledge because we are the figure by which we can come to know everything else around us Foucault would like toealize the historical causality in the Midnight Fantasies rising of this event but he can t explain it There can be no causality because our methods of understanding will not be able to account for itself In fact I am expressing this epistemeight now as the current trace of philosophy and knowledge today sciences included wish to think the unthinking to bring about consciousness to the Men of Steele Bundle real conditions of knowing This of course is a problem because if our human parameters for what matters isn t objective enough for us and in fact can only bring about the cultural biases which are expressed in how we decide what is worthy of knowing and how we should know something what terms areelevant then what should be the basis for the creation of a new knowledgeFoucault offers Nietzche s superman as a possible condition of the new The Eternal Return marks a horrifically new epoch for which we can have new conditions The Nazi trauma as it were was not it because it was not enough to mark a difference that false event was too conditio I m finished in the sense that I know I m not going to pick it up and continue again any time soon I made it to page 273 but I have found it a bit too boring and difficult to find the discipline to continueWhat Foucault has to say is fairly interesting but after getting the gist Our Million-Dollar Nanny received truthsIn the work that established him as the most important French thinker since Sartre Michel Foucault offers startling evidence that “man” man as a subject of scientific knowledge is at best aecent invention the esult of a fundamental mutation in our cultu.

Michel Foucault was a French philosopher social theorist and historian of ideas He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title History of Systems of Thought but before he was Professor at University of Tunis Tunisia and then Professor at University Paris VIII He lectured at several different Universities over the world as at the University at Buffalo the University of California