Foucault's View of History

Topics: Michel Foucault, Sociology, Panopticon Pages: 5 (1454 words) Published: May 28, 2012
Foucault's works are based on a vision of history derived from Nietzsche. He expressed his indebtedness to Nietzsche for having outlined a conception of history called genealogy. The method of genealogy involves a painstaking rediscovery of struggles, an attack on the tyranny of what he calls ¡¦totalizing discourses¡¦ and a rediscovery of fragmented, subjugated, local and specific knowledge. It is directed against great truths and grand theories.¡]p.80¡^ (¡° vs. Lyotard's grand narrative/small narrative)

¡P Foucault rejects the Hegelian teleological model, in favour of Nietzschean tactic of critique through the presentation of difference. The gap between the past and the present underlines the principle of difference at the heart of Foucault's historiography.

Foucault often uses the term Genealogy to refer to the union of erudite knowledge and local memories which allow us to establish a historical knowledge of struggles and to make use of this knowledge tactically today. Genealogy focus on local, discontinuous, disqualifies, illegitimate knowledges against the claims of a unitary body of theory.

B. Foucault's Work in Different Stages:
Reason and unreason :
Madness and Civilization
Foucault's early work is mainly concerned with the growth of those disciplines which are collectively known as the social or human sciences. As an answer to the question of how the human sciences are historically possible and what the consequences of their existence are. In his first book, Madness and Civilization, Foucault describes how madness comes in the 17th.c to be perceived as a social problem. The 'madship' was replaced by the 'madhouse'; instead of embarkation there was confinement. Madness during the 19th c. began to be categorized as social failure. The asylum of the age of positivism was not a free realm of observation, diagnosis and therapeutics, it became a juridical space where one was accused, judged and condemned¡Xan instrument of moral uniformity. The birth of the asylum can be seen as an allegory in the constitution of subjectivity.

The Birth of the Clinic
Is subtitled ¡¥An Archaeology of Medical Perception¡¦; this perception of ;gaze; is formed by the new, untrammelled type of observation, condense a general historical argument into a tracing of the emergence of specific institutions. The Order of Things & The Archaeology of Knowledge

Deal largely with the structure of scientific discourses. There is a whole new 'regime'¦ of discourse which makes possible the separation of what may be characterized as scientific from what may bot be characterized as scientific.

Looking back on his early work, Foucault conceded that what was missing was a consideration of the effects of power.

In his later work, where Foucault is concerned with power and knowledge, and talk about 'apparatus' which is a structure of heterogeneous elements such as discourses, laws, institutions. The apparatus contains strategies of relations of forces supporting, and supported by, types of knowledge. A struggle over meaning

I, Pierre Riviere¡K A Case of Parricide in the 19th Century One of the main themes of this dossier is the problematic division between the innocence of unreason and the guilt of crime. This work is truly interdisciplinary in that one can approach it from the point of view of history, politics, literature, psychiatry, or the law. This book gives us an idea of how a particular kind of knowledge such as medicine or psychiatry is formed. It also exemplifies one of Foucault¡¦s main preoccupations: the attempt to rediscover the interaction of discourses as weapons of attack and defence in the relations of power and knowledge. Disciplinary Power

Foucault argues that knowledge is a power over others, the power to define others. In his view knowledge ceases to be a liberation and becomes a mode of surveillance, regulation, discipline.

Discipline and Punish
Focuses on the moment when it become...
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