Foucault's strategy of genealogy aims to uncover the construction of subjectivity, knowledge, and power in modern societies through attempting to question the claims of agency on the part of self-reflective subjects. Foucault's early writings exhibit an affinity with structuralist themes in their focus on discourse and rule-governed systems. The subversion of meaning and the subject, along with the rejection of teleological history which he shares with structuralism, forms part of his response to the dominance of phenomenology in French intellectual debates in the 1950s. 1
Foucault acknowledges his twin indebtedness to Heidegger and Nietzsche and endorses Heidegger's hermeneutic approach insofar as it shares his own hostility to a phenomenological view of the subject as meaning-giving, whether in its Kantian or Husserlian forms. 2 However, Foucault wishes to move beyond Heidegger's hermeneutics of suspicion, which still retains an appeal to truth and authority within a narrative of liberation. Nietzsche supplies the methodological resources for Foucault's shifting strategies in positioning his work beyond structuralism, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. 3
Foucault's research postulates a watershed located at the end of the eighteenth century in the study of human beings. 4 The growth of the human sciences was accompanied by an understanding of human beings as both knowing subjects and objects of their own knowledge. This Kantian view of "man" entailed human beings' ability to confer meaning
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Marx and the Postmodernism Debates:An Agenda for Critical Theory. Contributors: Lorraine Y. Landry - Author. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 67.