Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth

By Alan Sheridan | Go to book overview

Introduction

In an ideal world a book such as this would be unnecessary, indeed inconceivable; it would belong to the world of pale reflections. In the perfect world of Borges the only possible commentary would be the recopying by hand of the subject's collected works, but the conventions of our publishing industry forbid such an enterprise: an author is an altogether nobler thing than a scribe. And yet my aim is modest enough: to provide a guidebook, perhaps, profusely illustrated. Not so much, for guidebooks gain in usefulness. As the landscapes and monuments of which they speak alter and disappear, they attain by subtraction the additional status of fiction. Even the photographs say more with time. Like everything else, Foucault's books will no doubt change and finally disappear, but mine will not outlast them. Meanwhile, it must not take their place: rather it should create readers. I come not to bury beneath commentary, but to praise, as Erasmus praised Folly, by making room. In this, at least, my book will be original: few of his commentators allow him that. Even the favourably disposed seek the meaning beneath his gleaming words. But style is not an ornament: it cuts, to shape and to wound; it is a tool and a weapon-a stylus. So I make no apology for the length and frequency of my quotations and much of the rest is précis or disguised quotation. Even précis is a dangerous art: without quotation, it can be as lethal as commentary. It is not the letter that kills.

'Who is Foucault?' The question crops up less often than it used to. But people are still asking, with some justification, 'What is he?' If a thinker confines himself to a single, accepted discipline-as does a Lévi-Strauss to anthropology, a Lacan to psychoanalysis, an

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Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Author's Note viii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Archaeology of Knowledge 9
  • 1 - Madness, Death, and the Birth of Reason 11
  • 2 - The World, Representation, Man 46
  • 3 - The Archaeological Theory of Knowledge 89
  • Part II - The Genealogy of Power 111
  • 1 - Discourse, Power, and Knowledge 113
  • 2 - Society, Power, and Knowledge 135
  • 3 - Sexuality, Power, and Knowledge 164
  • Conclusion 195
  • Bibliography 227
  • Index 235
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