Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth

By Alan Sheridan | Go to book overview

Conclusion

This is no time for conclusions. It is curious enough to write about an author who could well produce more books than he has already done, without drawing conclusions about his oeuvre. Perhaps this book should be published in instalments, a new chapter despatched to subscribers as each new Foucault appears. In this way it could pursue its own provisional, parallel, parasitic existence. But Foucault is resistant to conclusions for another reason: his unpredictability. With each book he never fails to astonish. A conclusion, then, only because this book must end here; and, if end it must have, it cannot but be open-ended.

Foucault begins where all truly original minds begin, in the present. Such minds are not ahead of their times; it is the rest of us who are dragging our feet. His passion is to seek out the new, that which is coming to birth in the present-a present that most of us are unable to see because we see it through the eyes of the past, or through the eyes of a 'future' that is a projection of the past, which amounts to the same thing. Foucault's interest in the past is guided by that passion: there is nothing of the antiquarian about it. 'Why am I writing this history of the prison?', he asks in Surveiller et punir. 'Simply because I am interested in the past? No, if one means by that writing a history of the past in terms of the present. Yes, if one means writing the history of the present' (SP, 35; DP, 31). This is the key to the coherence of all Foucault's work since 1961-Maladie mentale et personnalité of 1954 being a false start, in approach if not in area. It also explains Foucault's early rejection of an academic career in philosophy, his exile and his silence. When Histoire de la folie was published in 1961, Foucault was

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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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