Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault (; born Paul-Michel Foucault) (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984) was a French philosopher, social theorist, historian of ideas, and literary critic. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought", and lectured at both the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley. His philosophical theories addressed what power is and how it works, the manner in which it controls knowledge and vice versa, and how it is used as a form of social control.

Born into a middle class family in Poitiers, Foucault was educated at the Lycée Henri-IV and then the École Normale Supérieure, where he developed a keen interest in philosophy and came under the influence of his tutors Jean Hyppolite and Louis Althusser. After several years as a cultural diplomat abroad, he returned to France and published his first major book, Madness and Civilization (1961), which explored the history of the mental institution in Europe. After obtaining work between 1960 and 1966 at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, he produced two more significant publications, The Birth of the Clinic (1963) and The Order of Things (1966), which displayed his increasing involvement with structuralism, a theoretical movement in social anthropology from which he later distanced himself.

From 1966 to 1968 he lectured at the University of Tunis, Tunisia before returning to France, where he involved himself in several protest movements and associated with far left groups. He then proceeded to publish on the history of prison systems. His final work was the three-volume The History of Sexuality. Foucault died in Paris of neurological problems compounded by the HIV/AIDS virus; he was the first famous figure in France to have died from the virus, with his partner Daniel Defert founding the AIDES charity in his memory.

He also rejected the poststructuralist and postmodernist labels later attributed to him, preferring to classify his thought as a critical history of modernity. Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, social anthropology of medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His writings on power, knowledge, and discourse have been widely influential in academic circles. His project was particularly influenced by Nietzsche, his "genealogy of knowledge" being a direct allusion to Nietzsche's "genealogy of morality". In an interview he stated: "I am a Nietzschean."

Read more about Michel FoucaultPersonal Life, Thought, Influence, Criticisms

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Pantheon Books - Select Bibliography - Literature and Criticism
... Civilization A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason by Michel Foucault (1965) Division Street America by Studs Terkel (1967) American Power and the New Mandarins by Noam Chomsky (19 ...
Nikolas Rose - Life and Work
... for his interpretation of the work of the French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault and the revival of the literature on governmentality in the Anglo-American world ... for a description of Rose’s interpretations of Foucault’s writings) ... whose work was influenced by the writings of Michel Foucault ...
Michel Foucault - Criticisms
... Philosopher Jürgen Habermas has described Foucault as a "crypto-normativist", covertly reliant on the very Enlightenment principles he attempts to deconstruct (see ... Central to this problem, Habermas argues, is the way Foucault seemingly attempts to remain both Kantian and Nietzschean in his approach ... Philosopher Richard Rorty has argued that Foucault's 'archaeology of knowledge' is fundamentally negative, and thus fails to adequately establish any 'new' theory of knowledge per se ...
Sylvère Lotringer - Cultural Synthesis
... by Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, and Michel Foucault. 2,000 attendees witnessed "show-downs" between Michel Foucault, conspiracy theorist Lyndon LaRouche, Félix Guattari, feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson, Ronald D ... format in favor of collaged images and texts by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Guy Hocquenghem, Jacques Derrida, Heiner Müller and their (as ...
Sexual Repression - Michel Foucault
... Michel Foucault, in his The History of Sexuality, neither refutes nor confirms what he calls the "repressive hypothesis." Instead, he says sexuality has become ... Foucault argues that religious confession as well as psychiatric procedure codify confession within as a means of extracting truth ...

Famous quotes containing the word foucault:

    Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only by means of the work it does on itself and on its institutions.
    —Michel Foucault (1926–1984)