Michel Foucault (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984), generally
Michel Foucault (French: [miʃɛl fuko]), was a French
philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic.
Foucault's theories primarily address the relationship between power
and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control
through societal institutions. Though often cited as a
post-structuralist and postmodernist, Foucault rejected these labels,
preferring to present his thought as a critical history of modernity.
His thought has influenced academics, especially those working in
communication studies, sociology, cultural studies, literary theory,
feminism, and critical theory. Activist groups have also found his
Born in Poitiers, France, into an upper-middle-class family, Foucault
was educated at the Lycée Henri-IV, at the École Normale
Supérieure, where he developed an interest in philosophy and came
under the influence of his tutors
Jean Hyppolite and Louis Althusser,
and at the University of
Paris (Sorbonne), where he earned degrees in
philosophy and psychology. After several years as a cultural diplomat
abroad, he returned to France and published his first major book, The
History of Madness (1961). After obtaining work between 1960 and 1966
at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, he produced The Birth of the
Clinic (1963) and
The Order of Things
The Order of Things (1966), publications which
displayed his increasing involvement with structuralism, from which he
later distanced himself. These first three histories exemplified a
historiographical technique Foucault was developing called
From 1966 to 1968, Foucault lectured at the
University of Tunis
University of Tunis before
returning to France, where he became head of the philosophy department
at the new experimental university of
Paris VIII. Foucault
subsequently published The Archaeology of
Knowledge (1969). In 1970,
Foucault was admitted to the Collège de France, a membership he
retained until his death. He also became active in a number of
left-wing groups involved in campaigns against racism and human rights
abuses and for penal reform. Foucault later published Discipline and
Punish (1975) and
The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality (1976), in which he
developed archaeological and genealogical methods which emphasized the
role that power plays in society.
Foucault died in
Paris of neurological problems compounded by
HIV/AIDS; he became the first public figure in France to die from the
disease. His partner
Daniel Defert founded the
AIDES charity in his
1 Early life
1.1 Youth: 1926–46
1.2 École Normale Supérieure: 1946–51
1.3 Early career: 1951–55
1.4 Sweden, Poland, and West Germany: 1955–60
2 Growing career
2.1 Madness and Civilization: 1960
2.2 University of Clermont-Ferrand, The Birth of the Clinic, and The
Order of Things: 1960–66
University of Tunis
University of Tunis and Vincennes: 1966–70
3 Later life
Collège de France
Collège de France and Discipline and Punish: 1970–75
The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality and Iranian Revolution: 1976–79
3.3 Final years: 1980–84
4 Personal life
6.1 Critiques and engagements
6.1.2 Genealogy as historical method
6.1.3 Feminist critiques
6.1.4 Queer theory
Social constructionism and human nature
6.1.6 Education and authority
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
Michel Foucault was born on 15 October 1926 in the city of
Poitiers, west-central France, as the second of three children in a
prosperous and socially conservative upper-middle-class family.
Family tradition prescribed naming him after his father, Dr. Paul
Foucault, but his mother insisted on the addition of "Michel";
referred to as "Paul" at school, he expressed a preference for
"Michel" throughout his life.
His father (1893–1959), a successful local surgeon born in
Fontainebleau, moved to Poitiers, where he set up his own practice and
married local woman Anne Malapert. She was the daughter of
prosperous surgeon Dr. Prosper Malapert, who owned a private practice
and taught anatomy at the University of Poitiers' School of
Medicine. Paul Foucault eventually took over his father-in-law's
medical practice, while his wife took charge of their large
mid-19th-century house, Le Piroir, in the village of
Vendeuvre-du-Poitou. Together the couple had three children – a
girl named Francine and two boys, Paul-Michel and Denys – who all
shared the same fair hair and bright blue eyes. The children were
raised to be nominal Roman Catholics, attending mass at the Church of
Saint-Porchair, and while Michel briefly became an altar boy, none of
the family were devout.
I wasn't always smart, I was actually very stupid in school ...
[T]here was a boy who was very attractive who was even stupider than I
was. And in order to ingratiate myself with this boy who was very
beautiful, I began to do his homework for him—and that's how I
became smart, I had to do all this work to just keep ahead of him a
little bit, in order to help him. In a sense, all the rest of my life
I've been trying to do intellectual things that would attract
— Michel Foucault, 1983
In later life, Foucault would reveal very little about his
childhood. Describing himself as a "juvenile delinquent", he
claimed his father was a "bully" who would sternly punish him. In
1930 Foucault began his schooling, two years early, at the local
Lycée Henry-IV. Here he undertook two years of elementary education
before entering the main lycée, where he stayed until 1936. He then
undertook his first four years of secondary education at the same
establishment, excelling in French, Greek, Latin and history but doing
poorly at arithmetic and mathematics. In 1939 the Second World War
broke out and in 1940
Nazi Germany occupied France; Foucault's parents
opposed the occupation and the Vichy regime, but did not join the
Resistance. In 1940 Foucault's mother enrolled him in the Collège
Saint-Stanislas, a strict Roman Catholic institution run by the
Jesuits. Lonely, he described his years there as an "ordeal", but he
excelled academically, particularly in philosophy, history and
literature. In 1942 he entered his final year, the terminale,
where he focused on the study of philosophy, earning his baccalauréat
Returning to the local Lycée Henry-IV, he studied history and
philosophy for a year, aided by a personal tutor, the philosopher
Louis Girard. Rejecting his father's wishes that he become a
surgeon, in 1945 Foucault went to Paris, where he enrolled in one of
the country's most prestigious secondary schools, which was also known
as the Lycée Henri-IV. Here he studied under the philosopher Jean
Hyppolite, an existentialist and expert on the work of 19th-century
German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hyppolite had
devoted himself to uniting existentialist theories with the
dialectical theories of Hegel and Karl Marx. These ideas influenced
Foucault, who adopted Hyppolite's conviction that philosophy must
develop through a study of history.
École Normale Supérieure: 1946–51
Attaining excellent results, in autumn 1946 Foucault was admitted to
École Normale Supérieure
École Normale Supérieure (ENS); to gain entry, he
undertook exams and an oral interrogation by
Georges Canguilhem and
Pierre-Maxime Schuhl. Of the hundred students entering the ENS,
Foucault was ranked fourth based on his entry results, and encountered
the highly competitive nature of the institution. Like most of his
classmates, he was housed in the school's communal dormitories on the
Parisian Rue d'Ulm. He remained largely unpopular, spending much
time alone, reading voraciously. His fellow students noted his love of
violence and the macabre; he decorated his bedroom with images of
torture and war drawn during the
Napoleonic Wars by Spanish artist
Francisco Goya, and on one occasion chased a classmate with a
dagger. Prone to self-harm, in 1948 Foucault allegedly undertook a
failed suicide attempt, for which his father sent him to see the
Jean Delay at the Sainte-Anne Hospital Center. Obsessed
with the idea of self-mutilation and suicide, Foucault attempted the
latter several times in ensuing years, praising suicide in later
writings. The ENS's doctor examined Foucault's state of mind,
suggesting that his suicidal tendencies emerged from the distress
surrounding his homosexuality, because same-sex sexual activity was
socially taboo in France. At the time, Foucault engaged in
homosexual activity with men whom he encountered in the underground
Parisian gay scene, also indulging in drug use; according to
biographer James Miller, he enjoyed the thrill and sense of danger
that these activities offered him.
Although studying various subjects, Foucault's particular interest was
soon drawn to philosophy, reading not only Hegel and Marx but also
Edmund Husserl and most significantly, Martin
Heidegger. He began reading the publications of philosopher Gaston
Bachelard, taking a particular interest in his work exploring the
history of science. He graduated from the ENS with a DES (diplôme
d'études supérieures (fr), roughly equivalent to an MA) in
Philosophy in 1949. His DES thesis under the direction of Hyppolite
was titled La Constitution d'un transcendental dans La
Phénoménologie de l'esprit de Hegel (The Constitution of a
Historical Transcendental in Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit).
In 1948, the philosopher
Louis Althusser became a tutor at the ENS. A
Marxist, he proved to be an influence both on Foucault and a number of
other students, encouraging them to join the French Communist Party
(Parti communiste français, PCF). Foucault did so in 1950, but never
became particularly active in its activities, and never adopted an
orthodox Marxist viewpoint, refuting core Marxist tenets such as class
struggle. He soon became dissatisfied with the bigotry that he
experienced within the party's ranks; he personally faced homophobia
and was appalled by the anti-semitism exhibited during the Doctors'
plot in the Soviet Union. He left the Communist Party in 1953, but
remained Althusser's friend and defender for the rest of his life.
Although failing at the first attempt in 1950, he passed his
agrégation in philosophy on the second try, in 1951. Excused from
national service on medical grounds, he decided to start a doctorate
at the Fondation Thiers in 1951, focusing on the philosophy of
psychology, but he relinquished it after only one year in
Foucault was also interested in psychology and he attended Daniel
Lagache's lectures at the University of Paris, where he obtained a BA
(licence) in Psychology in 1949 and a Diploma in Psychopathology
(Diplôme de psychopathologie) from the University's Institute of
Psychology (now Institut de psychologie de l'université Paris
Descartes (fr)) in June 1952.
Early career: 1951–55
In the early 1950s, Foucault came under the influence of German
philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who remained a core influence on his
work throughout his life.
Over the following few years, Foucault embarked on a variety of
research and teaching jobs. From 1951 to 1955, he worked as a
psychology instructor at the ENS at Althusser's invitation. In
Paris, he shared a flat with his brother, who was training to become a
surgeon, but for three days in the week commuted to the northern town
of Lille, teaching psychology at the Université de
Lille from 1953 to
1954. Many of his students liked his lecturing style.
Meanwhile, he continued working on his thesis, visiting the
Bibliothèque Nationale every day to read the work of psychologists
like Ivan Pavlov,
Jean Piaget and Karl Jaspers. Undertaking
research at the psychiatric institute of the Sainte-Anne Hospital, he
became an unofficial intern, studying the relationship between doctor
and patient and aiding experiments in the electroencephalographic
laboratory. Foucault adopted many of the theories of the
psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, undertaking psychoanalytical
interpretation of his dreams and making friends undergo Rorschach
Embracing the Parisian avant-garde, Foucault entered into a romantic
relationship with the serialist composer Jean Barraqué. Together,
they tried to produce their greatest work, heavily used recreational
drugs and engaged in sado-masochistic sexual activity. In August
1953, Foucault and Barraqué holidayed in Italy, where the philosopher
immersed himself in
Untimely Meditations (1873–76), a set of four
essays by philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Later describing
Nietzsche's work as "a revelation", he felt that reading the book
deeply affected him, being a watershed moment in his life.
Foucault subsequently experienced another groundbreaking
self-revelation when watching a Parisian performance of Samuel
Beckett's new play, Waiting for Godot, in 1953.
Interested in literature, Foucault was an avid reader of the
philosopher Maurice Blanchot's book reviews published in Nouvelle
Revue Française. Enamoured of Blanchot's literary style and critical
theories, in later works he adopted Blanchot's technique of
"interviewing" himself. Foucault also came across Hermann Broch's
1945 novel The Death of Virgil, a work that obsessed both him and
Barraqué. While the latter attempted to convert the work into an epic
opera, Foucault admired Broch's text for its portrayal of death as an
affirmation of life. The couple took a mutual interest in the work
of such authors as the Marquis de Sade, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Franz
Kafka and Jean Genet, all of whose works explored the themes of sex
I belong to that generation who, as students, had before their eyes,
and were limited by, a horizon consisting of Marxism, phenomenology
and existentialism. For me the break was first Beckett's Waiting for
Godot, a breathtaking performance.
— Michel Foucault, 1983
Interested in the work of Swiss psychologist Ludwig Binswanger,
Foucault aided family friend Jacqueline Verdeaux in translating his
works into French. Foucault was particularly interested in
Binswanger's studies of
Ellen West who, like himself, had a deep
obsession with suicide, eventually killing herself. In 1954,
Foucault authored an introduction to Binswanger's paper "Dream and
Existence", in which he argued that dreams constituted "the birth of
the world" or "the heart laid bare", expressing the mind's deepest
desires. That same year, Foucault published his first book, Mental
Illness and Personality (Maladie mentale et personalité), in which he
exhibited his influence from both Marxist and Heideggerian thought,
covering a wide range of subject matter from the reflex psychology of
Pavlov to the classic psychoanalysis of Freud. Referencing the work of
sociologists and anthropologists such as
Émile Durkheim and Margaret
Mead, he presented his theory that illness was culturally
relative. Biographer James Miller noted that while the book
exhibited "erudition and evident intelligence", it lacked the "kind of
fire and flair" which Foucault exhibited in subsequent works. It
was largely critically ignored, receiving only one review at the
time. Foucault grew to despise it, unsuccessfully attempting to
prevent its republication and translation into English.
Sweden, Poland, and West Germany: 1955–60
Foucault spent the next five years abroad, first in Sweden, working as
cultural diplomat at the University of Uppsala, a job obtained through
his acquaintance with historian of religion Georges Dumézil. At
Uppsala he was appointed a Reader in French language and literature,
while simultaneously working as director of the Maison de France, thus
opening the possibility of a cultural-diplomatic career. Although
finding it difficult to adjust to the "Nordic gloom" and long winters,
he developed close friendships with two Frenchmen, biochemist
Jean-François Miquel and physicist Jacques Papet-Lépine, and entered
into romantic and sexual relationships with various men. In Uppsala,
he became known for his heavy alcohol consumption and reckless driving
in his new Jaguar car. In spring 1956, Barraqué broke from his
relationship with Foucault, announcing that he wanted to leave the
"vertigo of madness". In Uppsala, Foucault spent much of his spare
time in the university's
Carolina Rediviva library, making use of
their Bibliotheca Walleriana collection of texts on the history of
medicine for his ongoing research. Finishing his doctoral thesis,
Foucault hoped it would be accepted by
Uppsala University, but Sten
Lindroth, a positivistic historian of science there, was unimpressed,
asserting that it was full of speculative generalisations and was a
poor work of history; he refused to allow Foucault to be awarded a
doctorate at Uppsala. In part because of this rejection, Foucault left
Sweden. Later, Foucault admitted that the work was a first draft
with certain lack of quality.
Again at Dumézil's recognition, in October 1958 Foucault arrived in
the Polish capital - Warsaw, placed in charge of the University of
Warsaw's Centre Français. Foucault found life in
due to the lack of material goods and services following the
destruction of the Second World War. Witnessing the aftermath of the
Polish October in which students had protested against the governing
communist Polish United Workers' Party, he felt that most Poles
despised their government as a puppet regime of the Soviet Union, and
thought that the system ran "badly". Considering the university a
liberal enclave, he traveled the country giving lectures; proving
popular, he adopted the position of de facto cultural attaché. As
in France and Sweden, homosexual activity was legal but socially
frowned upon in Poland, and he undertook relationships with a number
of men; one was a Polish security agent who hoped to trap Foucault in
an embarrassing situation, which would therefore reflect badly on the
French embassy. Wracked in diplomatic scandal, he was ordered to leave
Poland for a new destination. Various positions were available in
West Germany, and so Foucault relocated to the Institut français
Hamburg (de) (where he was director in 1958–60), teaching the
same courses he had given in
Uppsala and Warsaw. Spending much
time in the
Reeperbahn red light district, he entered into a
relationship with a transvestite.
Madness and Civilization: 1960
Histoire de la folie is not an easy text to read, and it defies
attempts to summarise its contents. Foucault refers to a bewildering
variety of sources, ranging from well-known authors such as Erasmus
Molière to archival documents and forgotten figures in the
history of medicine and psychiatry. His erudition derives from years
pondering, to cite Poe, 'over many a quaint and curious volume of
forgotten lore', and his learning is not always worn lightly.
— Foucault biographer David Macey, 1993
In West Germany, Foucault completed in 1960 his primary thesis (thèse
principale) for his State doctorate, entitled Folie et déraison:
Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique (Madness and Insanity:
History of Madness in the Classical Age), a philosophical work based
upon his studies into the history of medicine. The book discussed how
West European society had dealt with madness, arguing that it was a
social construct distinct from mental illness. Foucault traces the
evolution of the concept of madness through three phases: the
Renaissance, the later 17th and 18th centuries, and the modern
experience. The work alludes to the work of French poet and playwright
Antonin Artaud, who exerted a strong influence over Foucault's thought
at the time.
Histoire de la folie was an expansive work, consisting of 943 pages of
text, followed by appendices and a bibliography. Foucault
submitted it at the University of Paris, although the university's
regulations for awarding a
State doctorate required the submission of
both his main thesis and a shorter complementary thesis. Obtaining
a doctorate in France at the period was a multi-step process. The
first step was to obtain a rapporteur, or "sponsor" for the work:
Foucault chose Georges Canguilhem. The second was to find a
publisher, and as a result Folie et déraison would be published in
French in May 1961 by the company Plon, whom Foucault chose over
Presses Universitaires de France after being rejected by
Gallimard. In 1964, a heavily abridged version was published as a
mass market paperback, then translated into English for publication
the following year as Madness and Civilization.
Folie et déraison received a mixed reception in France and in foreign
journals focusing on French affairs. Although it was critically
acclaimed by Maurice Blanchot, Michel Serres, Roland Barthes, Gaston
Bachelard, and Fernand Braudel, it was largely ignored by the leftist
press, much to Foucault's disappointment. It was notably
criticised for advocating metaphysics by young philosopher Jacques
Derrida in a March 1963 lecture at the University of Paris. Responding
with a vicious retort, Foucault criticised Derrida's interpretation of
René Descartes. The two remained bitter rivals until reconciling in
1981. In the English-speaking world, the work became a significant
influence on the anti-psychiatry movement during the 1960s; Foucault
took a mixed approach to this, associating with a number of
anti-psychiatrists but arguing that most of them misunderstood his
Foucault's secondary thesis (his thèse complémentaire written in
Hamburg between 1959 and 1960) was a translation and commentary on
German philosopher Immanuel Kant's 1798 work Anthropology from a
Pragmatic Point of View (the title of his thesis was "Introduction à
l'Anthropologie", "Introduction to Kant's Anthropology").
Largely consisting of Foucault's discussion of textual dating—an
"archaeology of the Kantian text"—he rounded off the thesis with an
evocation of Nietzsche, his biggest philosophical influence. This
work's rapporteur was his old tutor and then director of the ENS,
Hyppolite, who was well acquainted with German philosophy. After
both theses were championed and reviewed, he underwent his public
defense, the soutenance de thèse, on 20 May 1961. The academics
responsible for reviewing his work were concerned about the
unconventional nature of his major thesis; reviewer Henri Gouhier
noted that it was not a conventional work of history, making sweeping
generalisations without sufficient particular argument, and that
Foucault clearly "thinks in allegories". They all agreed however
that the overall project was of merit, awarding Foucault his doctorate
University of Clermont-Ferrand, The Birth of the Clinic, and The Order
of Things: 1960–66
In October 1960, Foucault took a tenured post in philosophy at the
University of Clermont-Ferrand, commuting to the city every week from
Paris, where he lived in a high-rise block on the rue du Dr
Finlay. Responsible for teaching psychology, which was subsumed
within the philosophy department, he was considered a "fascinating"
but "rather traditional" teacher at Clermont. The department was
run by Jules Vuillemin, who soon developed a friendship with
Foucault. Foucault then took Vuillemin's job when the latter was
elected to the
Collège de France
Collège de France in 1962. In this position,
Foucault took a dislike to another staff member whom he considered
stupid: Roger Garaudy, a senior figure in the Communist Party.
Foucault made life at the university difficult for Garaudy, leading
the latter to transfer to Poitiers. Foucault also caused
controversy by securing a university job for his lover, the
philosopher Daniel Defert, with whom he retained a non-monogamous
relationship for the rest of his life.
Foucault adored the work of
Raymond Roussel and authored a literary
study of it.
Foucault maintained a keen interest in literature, publishing reviews
in amongst others the literary journals
Tel Quel and Nouvelle Revue
Française, and sitting on the editorial board of Critique. In May
1963, he published a book devoted to poet, novelist, and playwright
Raymond Roussel. It was written in under two months, published by
Gallimard, and would be described by biographer
David Macey as "a very
personal book" that resulted from a "love affair" with Roussel's work.
It would be published in English in 1983 as Death and the Labyrinth:
The World of Raymond Roussel. Receiving few reviews, it was
largely ignored. That same year he published a sequel to Folie et
déraison, entitled Naissance de la Clinique, subsequently translated
as The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception.
Shorter than its predecessor, it focused on the changes that the
medical establishment underwent in the late 18th and early 19th
centuries. Like his preceding work, Naissance de la Clinique was
largely critically ignored, but later gained a cult following. It
was of interest within the field of medical ethics, as it considered
the ways in which the history of medicine and hospitals, and the
training that those working within them receive, bring about a
particular way of looking at the body - the 'medical gaze'.
Foucault was also selected to be among the "Eighteen Man Commission"
that assembled between November 1963 and March 1964 to discuss
university reforms that were to be implemented by Christian Fouchet,
the Gaullist Minister of National Education. Implemented in 1967, they
brought staff strikes and student protests.
In April 1966,
Gallimard published Foucault's Les Mots et les choses
("Words and Things"), later translated as The Order of Things: An
Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Exploring how man came to be an
object of knowledge, it argued that all periods of history have
possessed certain underlying conditions of truth that constituted what
was acceptable as scientific discourse. Foucault argues that these
conditions of discourse have changed over time, from one period's
episteme to another. Although designed for a specialist audience,
the work gained media attention, becoming a surprise bestseller in
France. Appearing at the height of interest in structuralism,
Foucault was quickly grouped with scholars Jacques Lacan, Claude
Lévi-Strauss, and Roland Barthes, as the latest wave of thinkers set
to topple the existentialism popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre. Although
initially accepting this description, Foucault soon vehemently
rejected it. Foucault and Sartre regularly criticised one another
in the press. Both Sartre and
Simone de Beauvoir
Simone de Beauvoir attacked Foucault's
ideas as "bourgeois", while Foucault retaliated against their Marxist
beliefs by proclaiming that "
Marxism exists in nineteenth-century
thought as a fish exists in water; that is, it ceases to breathe
University of Tunis
University of Tunis and Vincennes: 1966–70
I lived [in Tunisia] for two and a half years. It made a real
impression. I was present for large, violent student riots that
preceded by several weeks what happened in May in France. This was
March 1968. The unrest lasted a whole year: strikes, courses
suspended, arrests. And in March, a general strike by the students.
The police came into the university, beat up the students, wounded
several of them seriously, and started making arrests ... I have to
say that I was tremendously impressed by those young men and women who
took terrible risks by writing or distributing tracts or calling for
strikes, the ones who really risked losing their freedom! It was a
political experience for me.
— Michel Foucault, 1983
In September 1966, Foucault took a position teaching psychology at the
University of Tunis
University of Tunis in Tunisia. His decision to do so was largely
because his lover, Defert, had been posted to the country as part of
his national service. Foucault moved a few kilometres from Tunis, to
the village of Sidi Bou Saïd, where fellow academic Gérard Deledalle
lived with his wife. Soon after his arrival, Foucault announced that
Tunisia was "blessed by history", a nation which "deserves to live
forever because it was where
St. Augustine lived."
His lectures at the university proved very popular, and were well
attended. Although many young students were enthusiastic about his
teaching, they were critical of what they believed to be his
right-wing political views, viewing him as a "representative of
Gaullist technocracy", even though he considered himself a
Foucault was in
Tunis during the anti-government and pro-Palestinian
riots that rocked the city in June 1967, and which continued for a
year. Although highly critical of the violent, ultra-nationalistic and
anti-semitic nature of many protesters, he used his status to try to
prevent some of his militant leftist students from being arrested and
tortured for their role in the agitation. He hid their printing press
in his garden, and tried to testify on their behalf at their trials,
but was prevented when the trials became closed-door events.
While in Tunis, Foucault continued to write. Inspired by a
correspondence with the surrealist artist René Magritte, Foucault
started to write a book about the impressionist artist Édouard Manet,
but never completed it.
In 1968, Foucault returned to Paris, moving into an apartment on the
Rue de Vaugirard. After the May 1968 student protests, Minister
Edgar Faure responded by founding new universities with
greater autonomy. Most prominent of these was the Centre Expérimental
Vincennes on the outskirts of Paris. A group of
prominent academics were asked to select teachers to run the Centre's
departments, and Canguilheim recommended Foucault as head of the
Philosophy Department. Becoming a tenured professor of Vincennes,
Foucault's desire was to obtain "the best in
French philosophy today"
for his department, employing Michel Serres, Judith Miller, Alain
Badiou, Jacques Rancière, François Regnault, Henri Weber, Étienne
Balibar, and François Châtelet; most of them were Marxists or
Lectures began at the university in January 1969, and straight away
its students and staff, including Foucault, were involved in
occupations and clashes with police, resulting in arrests. In
February, Foucault gave a speech denouncing police provocation to
protesters at the Latin Quarter of the Mutualité. Such actions
marked Foucault's embrace of the ultra-left, undoubtedly
influenced by Defert, who had gained a job at Vincennes' sociology
department and who had become a Maoist. Most of the courses at
Foucault's philosophy department were Marxist-Leninist oriented,
although Foucault himself gave courses on Nietzsche, "The end of
Metaphysics", and "The Discourse of Sexuality", which were highly
popular and over-subscribed. While the right-wing press was
heavily critical of this new institution, new Minister of Education
Olivier Guichard was angered by its ideological bent and the lack of
exams, with students being awarded degrees in a haphazard manner. He
refused national accreditation of the department's degrees, resulting
in a public rebuttal from Foucault.
Collège de France
Collège de France and Discipline and Punish: 1970–75
Foucault desired to leave
Vincennes and become a fellow of the
prestigious Collège de France. He requested to join, taking up a
chair in what he called the "history of systems of thought," and his
request was championed by members Dumézil, Hyppolite, and Vuillemin.
In November 1969, when an opening became available, Foucault was
elected to the Collège, though with opposition by a large
minority. He gave his inaugural lecture in December 1970, which
was subsequently published as L'Ordre du discours (The Discourse of
Language). He was obliged to give 12 weekly lectures a year—and
did so for the rest of his life—covering the topics that he was
researching at the time; these became "one of the events of Parisian
intellectual life" and were repeatedly packed out events. On
Mondays, he also gave seminars to a group of students; many of them
became a "Foulcauldian tribe" who worked with him on his research. He
enjoyed this teamwork and collective research, and together they would
publish a number of short books. Working at the Collège allowed
him to travel widely, giving lectures in Brazil, Japan, Canada, and
the United States over the next 14 years. In 1970 and 1972,
Foucault served as a professor in the French Department of the
University at Buffalo
University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.
In May 1971, Foucault co-founded the Group d'Information sur les
Prisons (GIP) along with historian
Pierre Vidal-Naquet and journalist
Jean-Marie Domenach. The GIP aimed to investigate and expose poor
conditions in prisons and give prisoners and ex-prisoners a voice in
French society. It was highly critical of the penal system, believing
that it converted petty criminals into hardened delinquents. The
GIP gave press conferences and staged protests surrounding the events
of the Toul prison riot in December 1971, alongside other prison riots
that it sparked off; in doing so it faced police crack down and
repeated arrest. The group became active across France, with
2,000 to 3,000, members, but disbanded before 1974. Also
campaigning against the death penalty, Foucault co-authored a short
book on the case of the executed murderer Pierre Rivière. After
his research into the penal system, Foucault published Surveiller et
punir: Naissance de la prison (Discipline and Punish) in 1975,
offering a history of the system in western Europe. In it, Foucault
examines the penal evolution away from corporal and capital punishment
to the penitentiary system that began in Europe and the United States
around the end of the 18th century. Biographer Didier Eribon
described it as "perhaps the finest" of Foucault's works, and it was
Foucault was also active in anti-racist campaigns; in November 1971,
he was a leading figure in protests following the perceived racist
killing of Arab migrant Dejellali Ben Ali. In this he
worked alongside his old rival Sartre, the journalist Claude Mauriac,
and one of his literary heroes, Jean Genet. This campaign was
formalised as the Committee for the Defence of the
Immigrants, but there was tension at their meetings as Foucault
opposed the anti-Israeli sentiment of many Arab workers and Maoist
activists. At a December 1972 protest against the police killing
of Algerian worker Mohammad Diab, both Foucault and Genet were
arrested, resulting in widespread publicity. Foucault was also
involved in founding the Agence de Press-
Libération (APL), a group of
leftist journalists who intended to cover news stories neglected by
the mainstream press. In 1973, they established the daily newspaper
Libération, and Foucault suggested that they establish committees
across France to collect news and distribute the paper, and advocated
a column known as the "Chronicle of the Workers' Memory" to allow
workers' to express their opinions. Foucault wanted an active
journalistic role in the paper, but this proved untenable, and he soon
became disillusioned with Libération, believing that it distorted the
facts; he would not publish in it until 1980.
The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality and Iranian Revolution: 1976–79
Gallimard published Foucault's Histoire de la sexualité: la
volonté de savoir (The History of Sexuality: The Will to Knowledge),
a short book exploring what Foucault called the "repressive
hypothesis". It revolved largely around the concept of power,
rejecting both Marxist and Freudian theory. Foucault intended it as
the first in a seven-volume exploration of the subject. Histoire
de la sexualité was a best-seller in France and gained positive
press, but lukewarm intellectual interest, something that upset
Foucault, who felt that many misunderstood his hypothesis. He
soon became dissatisfied with
Gallimard after being offended by senior
staff member Pierre Nora. Along with
Paul Veyne and François
Wahl, Foucault launched a new series of academic books, known as Des
travaux (Some Works), through the company Seuil, which he hoped would
improve the state of academic research in France. He also
produced introductions for the memoirs of
Herculine Barbin and My
There exists an international citizenry that has its rights, and has
its duties, and that is committed to rise up against every abuse of
power, no matter who the author, no matter who the victims. After all,
we are all ruled, and as such, we are in solidarity.
— Michel Foucault, 1981
Foucault remained a political activist, focusing on protesting
government abuses of human rights around the world. He was a key
player in the 1975 protests against the Spanish government to execute
11 militants sentenced to death without fair trial. It was his idea to
Madrid with 6 others to give their press conference there;
they were subsequently arrested and deported back to Paris. In
1977, he protested the extradition of
Klaus Croissant to West Germany,
and his rib was fractured during clashes with riot police. In
July that year, he organised an assembly of
Eastern Bloc dissidents to
mark the visit of Soviet Premier
Leonid Brezhnev to Paris. In
1979, he campaigned for Vietnamese political dissidents to be granted
asylum in France.
In 1977, Italian newspaper
Corriere della sera
Corriere della sera asked Foucault to write
a column for them. In doing so, in 1978 he travelled to
Iran, days after the Black Friday massacre. Documenting the developing
Iranian Revolution, he met with opposition leaders such as Mohammad
Kazem Shariatmadari and Mehdi Bazargan, and discovered the popular
support for Islamism. Returning to France, he was one of the
journalists who visited the Ayatollah Khomeini, before visiting
Tehran. His articles expressed awe of Khomeini's Islamist movement,
for which he was widely criticised in the French press, including by
Iranian expatriates. Foucault's response was that
Islamism was to
become a major political force in the region, and that the West must
treat it with respect rather than hostility. In April 1978,
Foucault traveled to Japan, where he studied
Zen Buddhism under Omori
Sogen at the Seionji temple in Uenohara.
Final years: 1980–84
Although remaining critical of power relations, Foucault expressed
cautious support for the Socialist Party government of François
Mitterrand following its electoral victory in 1981. But his
support soon deteriorated when that party refused to condemn the
Polish government's crackdown on the 1982 demonstrations in Poland
orchestrated by the Solidarity trade union. He and sociologist Pierre
Bourdieu authored a document condemning Mitterrand's inaction that was
published in Libération, and they also took part in large public
protests on the issue. Foucault continued to support Solidarity,
and with his friend
Simone Signoret traveled to
Poland as part of a
Médecins du Monde expedition, taking time out to visit the Auschwitz
concentration camp. He continued his academic research, and in
Gallimard published the second and third volumes of Histoire
de la sexualité. Volume two, L'Usage des plaisirs, dealt with the
"techniques of self" prescribed by ancient Greek pagan morality in
relation to sexual ethics, while volume three, Le Souci de soi,
explored the same theme in the Greek and Latin texts of the first two
centuries CE. A fourth volume, Les Aveux de la chair, was to examine
sexuality in early Christianity, but it was not finished.
In October 1980, Foucault became a visiting professor at the
University of California, Berkeley, giving the Howison Lectures on
Truth and Subjectivity", while in November he lectured at the
Humanities Institute at New York University. His growing popularity in
American intellectual circles was noted by Time magazine, while
Foucault went on to lecture at
UCLA in 1981, the University of Vermont
in 1982, and Berkeley again in 1983, where his lectures drew huge
crowds. Foucault spent many evenings in the San Francisco gay
scene, frequenting sado-masochistic bathhouses, engaging in
unprotected sex. He would praise sado-masochistic activity in
interviews with the gay press, describing it as "the real creation of
new possibilities of pleasure, which people had no idea about
previously." Foucault contracted HIV, which eventually developed
into AIDS. Little was known of the virus at the time; the first cases
had only been identified in 1980. In summer 1983, he developed a
persistent dry cough, which concerned friends in Paris, but Foucault
insisted it was just a pulmonary infection. Only when
hospitalized was Foucault correctly diagnosed; treated with
antibiotics, he delivered a final set of lectures at the Collège de
France. Foucault entered Paris' Hôpital de la
Salpêtrière—the same institution that he had studied in Madness
and Civilisation—on 10 June 1984, with neurological symptoms
complicated by septicemia. He died in the hospital on 25 June.
On 26 June,
Libération announced his death, mentioning the rumour
that it had been brought on by AIDS. The following day, Le Monde
issued a medical bulletin cleared by his family which made no
reference to HIV/AIDS. On 29 June, Foucault's la levée du corps
ceremony was held, in which the coffin was carried from the hospital
morgue. Hundreds attended, including activist and academic friends,
Gilles Deleuze gave a speech using excerpts from The History of
Sexuality. His body was then buried at
Vendeuvre in a small
ceremony. Soon after his death, Foucault's partner Daniel Defert
founded the first national
HIV/AIDS organisation in France, AIDES; a
pun on the French language word for "help" (aide) and the English
language acronym for the disease. On the second anniversary of
Foucault's death, Defert publicly revealed that Foucault's death was
AIDS-related in The Advocate.
Foucault's first biographer, Didier Eribon, described the philosopher
as "a complex, many-sided character", and that "under one mask there
is always another". He also noted that he exhibited an "enormous
capacity for work". At the ENS, Foucault's classmates unanimously
summed him up as a figure who was both "disconcerting and strange" and
"a passionate worker". As he aged, his personality changed:
Eribon noted that while he was a "tortured adolescent", post-1960, he
had become "a radiant man, relaxed and cheerful", even being described
by those who worked with him as a dandy. He noted that in 1969,
Foucault embodied the idea of "the militant intellectual".
Foucault was an atheist. He was also a fan of classical
music, particularly enjoying the work of
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach and
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and became known for wearing turtleneck
jumpers. After his death, Foucault's friend Georges Dumézil
described him as having possessed "a profound kindness and goodness",
also exhibiting an "intelligence [that] literally knew no
bounds." His life-partner
Daniel Defert inherited his
Michel Foucault bibliography
Pierre Bourdieu summarised the philosopher's
thought as "a long exploration of transgression, of going beyond
social limits, always inseparably linked to knowledge and power."
The theme that underlies all Foucault's work is the relationship
between power and knowledge, and how the former is used to control and
define the latter. What authorities claim as 'scientific knowledge'
are really just means of social control. Foucault shows how, for
instance, in the eighteenth century 'madness' was used to categorise
and stigmatise not just the mentally ill but the poor, the sick, the
homeless and, indeed, anyone whose expressions of individuality were
— Philip Stokes, Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers (2004)
Philosopher Philip Stokes of the
University of Reading
University of Reading noted that
overall, Foucault's work was "dark and pessimistic", but that it did
leave some room for optimism, in that it illustrates how the
discipline of philosophy can be used to highlight areas of domination.
In doing so, Stokes claimed, we are able to understand how we are
being dominated and strive to build social structures that minimise
this risk of domination. In all of this development there had to
be close attention to detail; it is the detail which eventually
Later in his life, Foucault explained that his work was less about
analysing power as a phenomenon than about trying to characterise the
different ways in which contemporary society has expressed the use of
power to "objectivise subjects." These have taken three broad forms:
one involving scientific authority to classify and 'order' knowledge
about human populations. A second, and related form, has been to
categorise and 'normalise' human subjects (by identifying madness,
illness, physical features, and so on). The third relates to the
manner in which the impulse to fashion sexual identities and train
one's own body to engage in routines and practices ends up reproducing
certain patterns within a given society.
Politically, Foucault was a leftist through much of his life, but his
particular stance within the left often changed. Towards the end, as
he suffered from AIDS, he adopted classical liberalism and had a
strong interest in Stoic philosophy. In the early 1950s he had
been a member of the French Communist Party, although he never adopted
an orthodox Marxist viewpoint and left the party after three years,
disgusted by the prejudice against Jews and homosexuals within its
ranks. After spending some time working in Poland, then governed as a
socialist state by the Polish United Workers' Party, he became further
disillusioned with communist ideology. As a result, in the early 1960s
he was considered to be "violently anticommunist" by some of his
detractors, even though he was involved in leftist campaigns
along with most of his students and colleagues.
In addition to his philosophical work, Foucault also wrote on
literature. Death and the Labyrinth: The World of
Raymond Roussel was
published in 1963, and translated into English in 1986. It is
Foucault's only book-length work on literature. Foucault described it
as "by far the book I wrote most easily, with the greatest pleasure,
and most rapidly." Foucault explores theory, criticism, and
psychology with reference to the texts of Raymond Roussel, one of the
first notable experimental writers.
Foucault's discussions on power and discourse have inspired many
critical theorists, who believe that Foucault's analysis of power
structures could aid the struggle against inequality. They claim that
through discourse analysis, hierarchies may be uncovered and
questioned by way of analyzing the corresponding fields of knowledge
through which they are legitimated. This is one of the ways that
Foucault's work is linked to critical theory.
In 2007, Foucault was listed as the most cited scholar in the
humanities by the
ISI Web of Science
ISI Web of Science among a large quantity of French
philosophers, the compilation's author commenting that "What this says
of modern scholarship is for the reader to decide—and it is imagined
that judgments will vary from admiration to despair, depending on
Critiques and engagements
Main article: Foucault–Habermas debate
A prominent critique of Foucault's thought concerns his refusal to
propose positive solutions to the social and political issues that he
critiques. Since no human relation is devoid of power, freedom becomes
elusive—even as an ideal. This stance which critiques normativity as
socially constructed and contingent, but which relies on an implicit
norm in order to mount the critique led philosopher Jürgen Habermas
to describe Foucault's thinking as "crypto-normativist", covertly
reliant on the very Enlightenment principles he attempts to argue
against. A similar critique has been advanced by Diana Taylor,
Nancy Fraser who argues that "Foucault's critique encompasses
traditional moral systems, he denies himself recourse to concepts such
as 'freedom' and 'justice', and therefore lacks the ability to
generate positive alternatives." Likewise, scholar Nancy Pearcey
points out Foucault's paradoxical stance: "[when someone] states that
it is impossible to attain objectivity, is that an objective
statement? The theory undercuts its own claims."
Genealogy as historical method
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. Rather, Foucault
simply provides a few valuable maxims regarding the reading of
history. Rorty writes:
As far as I can see, all he has to offer are brilliant redescriptions
of the past, supplemented by helpful hints on how to avoid being
trapped by old historiographical assumptions. These hints consist
largely of saying: "do not look for progress or meaning in history; do
not see the history of a given activity, of any segment of culture, as
the development of rationality or of freedom; do not use any
philosophical vocabulary to characterize the essence of such activity
or the goal it serves; do not assume that the way this activity is
presently conducted gives any clue to the goals it served in the
Foucault has frequently been criticized by historians for what they
consider to be a lack of rigor in his analyses. For example,
Hans-Ulrich Wehler harshly criticized Foucault in 1998. Wehler
regards Foucault as a bad philosopher who wrongfully received a good
response by the humanities and by social sciences. According to
Wehler, Foucault's works are not only insufficient in their empiric
historical aspects, but also often contradictory and lacking in
clarity. For example, Foucault's concept of power is "desperatingly
undifferentiated", and Foucault's thesis of a "disciplinary society"
is, according to Wehler, only possible because Foucault does not
properly differentiate between authority, force, power, violence and
legitimacy. In addition, his thesis is based on a one-sided
choice of sources (prisons and psychiatric institutions) and neglects
other types of organizations as e.g. factories. Also, Wehler
criticizes Foucault's "francocentrism" because he did not take into
consideration major German-speaking theorists of social sciences like
Max Weber and Norbert Elias. In all, Wehler concludes that Foucault is
"because of the endless series of flaws in his so-called empirical
studies ... an intellectually dishonest, empirically absolutely
unreliable, crypto-normativist seducer of Postmodernism".
Though American feminists have built on Foucault's critiques of the
historical construction of gender roles and sexuality, some feminists
note the limitations of the masculinist subjectivity and ethical
orientation that he describes.[page needed]
Foucault's approach to sexuality, which he sees as socially
constructed, has become influential. Foucault's resistance to identity
politics, and his rejection of the psychoanalytic concept of object
choice, stands at odds with some theories of queer identity.
Social constructionism and human nature
Foucault is sometimes criticized for his prominent formulation of
principles of social constructionism, which some see as an affront to
the concept of truth. In Foucault's 1971 televised debate with Noam
Chomsky, Foucault argued against the possibility of any fixed human
nature, as posited by Chomsky's concept of innate human faculties.
Chomsky argued that concepts of justice were rooted in human reason,
whereas Foucault rejected the universal basis for a concept of
justice. Following the debate, Chomsky was stricken with
Foucault's total rejection of the possibility of a universal morality,
stating "He struck me as completely amoral, I’d never met anyone who
was so totally amoral [...] I mean, I liked him personally, it's just
that I couldn't make sense of him. It's as if he was from a different
species, or something."
Education and authority
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, while acknowledging that Foucault
contributed to give a right of citizenship in cultural life to certain
marginal and eccentric experiences (of sexuality, of cultural
repression, of madness), asserts that his radical critique of
authority was detrimental to education. Foucault's notion of
observation, and its power to change individuals' behavior as a
subtle type of authority, influences many fields of education.
^ a b c d Alan D. Schrift (2006), Twentieth-Century French Philosophy:
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Jacques Derrida points out Foucault's debt to Artaud in his essay
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Bass (Chicago, 1978), p. 326 n. 26.
Michel Foucault (1963). "Préface à la transgression," Critique:
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^ Eribon 1991, pp. 298–302.
^ Eribon 1991, pp. 303–03.
^ Eribon 1991, pp. 317–23.
^ Eribon 1991, pp. 313–14.
^ Eribon 1991, pp. 314–16; Miller 1993, pp. 26–27.
^ Miller 1993, pp. 21–22.
^ Eribon 1991, pp. 324–25; Miller 1993, p. 26.
^ Miller 1993, p. 23.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 357; Miller 1993, pp. 21, 24.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 327; Miller 1993, p. 21.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 329; Miller 1993, pp. 34–36.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 330.
^ Miller 1993, pp. 23–24.
^ Miller 1993, pp. 24–25.
^ Eribon 1991, p. xi.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 64.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 30.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 138.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 210.
^ "If I were not a total atheist, I would be a monk...a good monk."
David Macey (2004). Michel Foucault. Reaktion Books, p. 130.
^ "(...) the writings of such atheistic post-modernists as Jean
Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, Michel Foucault, Jacques
Roland Barthes and Jean-François Lyotard." Michael D. Waggoner
(2011). Sacred and Secular Tensions in Higher Education: Connecting
Parallel Universities. Taylor & Francis, p. 88.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 83.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 311.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 329.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 328.
^ a b Stokes 2004, p. 187.
^ J.D. Marshall (30 June 1996). Michel Foucault: Personal Autonomy and
Education. Springer. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-7923-4016-4.
Retrieved 6 December 2012.
^ Foucault, Michel (1982). The Subject and Power. University of
Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226163123. Retrieved 25 November
^ Kuznicki, Jason (2008). "Foucault, Michel (1926–1984)". In Hamowy,
Ronald. The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. The Encyclopedia of
Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute.
pp. 189–81. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n110.
ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151.
^ Eribon 1991, p. 136.
^ Foucault, Michel (2004). "An Interview with
Michel Foucault by
Charles Ruas". Death and the labyrinth : the world of Raymond
Roussel. London New York: Continuum. p. 186.
^ Van Loon, Borin (2001). Introducing Critical Theory. Thriplow: Icon
^ "The most cited authors of books in the humanities".
timeshighereducation.co.uk. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 16 November
^ Ashenden, S., & Owen, D. (Eds.). (1999). Foucault contra
Habermas: Recasting the dialogue between genealogy and critical
^ Taylor, D. (2010). Michel Foucault: key concepts. Acumen. pp. 2–3
^ Pearcey, Nancy (2015). Finding Truth. p. 208.
^ Richard Rorty. Foucault and
Epistemology in Hoy, D (eds) 'Foucault:
A critical reader' Basil Blackwell. Oxford, 1986.
^ Mills, S. (2003). Michel Foucault: Routledge Critical Thinkers.
Chicago p. 23
^ Wehler, Hans-Ulrich (1998): Die Herausforderung der
Kulturgeschichte, pp. 45–95. ISBN 3-406-42076-1
^ Wehler, Hans-Ulrich (1998): Die Herausforderung der
Kulturgeschichte, p. 81. ISBN 3-406-42076-1
^ Wehler, Hans-Ulrich (1998): Die Herausforderung der
Kulturgeschichte, p. 91. ISBN 3-406-42076-1
^ a b Downing, Lisa. "The Cambridge Introduction to Michel Foucault."
(2008). Cambridge University Press. pp.
^ Wilkin, P. (1999). Chomsky and Foucault on human nature and
politics: an essential difference?. Social Theory and Practice, pp.
^ James Miller, Jim Miller. 1993. The Passion of Michel Foucault.
Harvard University Press, pp. 201–03
^ Vargas Llosa, Mario (2010). Breve discurso sobre la cultura [Short
Discourse on Culture]. Letras libres 139: 48–55 .
^ Bentham, Jeremy (1791).
^ Kislev, Elyakim (2015). The Use of Participant-Observers in Group
Therapy: A Critical Exploration in Light of Foucauldian Theory .
Eribon, Didier (1991) . Michel Foucault. Betsy Wing
(translator). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Halperin, David M. (1997). Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography.
Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
Macey, David (1993). The Lives of Michel Foucault. London: Hutchinson.
Miller, James (1993). The Passion of Michel Foucault. New York City:
Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-674-00157-2.
Smart, Barry (2002). Michel Foucault. London: Routledge.
Stokes, Philip (2004). Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers. Kettering:
Index Books. ISBN 978-0-572-02935-7.
2018, Cinco entrevistas a
Noam Chomsky (
Le Monde Diplomatique /
Editorial Aun Creemos en los Sueños) by Michel Foucault, Ignacio
Ramonet, Daniel Mermet,
Jorge Majfud y Federico Kukso.
Artières, Philippe; Bert, Jean-François; Gros, Frédéric and Revel,
Judith (ed.). Cahier Foucault. (L'Herne, 2011).
Braver, Lee. A Thing of This World: a History of Continental
Anti-Realism. Northwestern University Press: 2007. This study covers
Foucault and his contribution to the history of Continental
Carrette, Jeremy R. (ed.). Religion and culture: Michel Foucault.
Cusset, Francois. (trans. by Jeff Fort) French Theory: How Foucault,
Derrida, Deleuze, & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the
United States. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008)
Derrida, Jacques. "Cogito and the History of Madness". In Alan Bass
(tr.), Writing and Difference, pp. 31–63. (Chicago University
Dillon, M. Foucault on Politics, Security and War, (Palgrave
Dreyfus, Herbert L. and Paul Rabinow. Michel Foucault: Beyond
Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 2nd edition. (University of Chicago
Elden, Stuart. "Power, Nietzsche and the Greeks: Foucault's Leçons
sur la volonté de savoir", Berfrois, July 2011.
Eribon, Didier. Insult and the Making of the Gay Self (Duke University
Press, 2004). The third part—about 150 pages of this book—is
devoted to Foucault and a reinterpretation of his life and work.
Fontana-Giusti, Gordana. "Foucault for Architects". (Routledge, 2013)
Foucault, Michel. "Sexual Morality and the Law" (originally published
as "La loi de la pudeur"), is the Chapter 16 of Politics, Philosophy,
Culture (see "Notes"), pp. 271–85.
Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz. Foucault in Iran. Islamic
Enlightenment (University of Minnesota Press, 2016).
Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus. (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1983).
Deleuze, Gilles. Foucault. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Güven, Ferit. Madness and Death in Philosophy, (Albany: SUNY Press,
Hoy, David (ed.). Foucault. (Oxford, Blackwell, 1986).
Hicks, Stephen R. C. Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and
Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy Publishing, 2004).
Isenberg, Bo. "Habermas on Foucault. Critical remarks" (Acta
Sociologica, Vol. 34 (1991), No. 4:299–308). (SAGE Acta Sociologica)
Lawlor Leonard, Nale John (eds.), The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon,
Cambridge University Press, 2014.
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Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition. Notre Dame, IN: University of
Notre Dame Press.
Merquior, J. G. Foucault, University of California Press, 1987 (A
critical view of Foucault's work)
Milchman, Alan (ed.). "Foucault and Heidegger." Contradictions Vol. 16
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003).
Mills, Sara (2003). Michel Foucault. London: Routledge.
O'Farrell, Clare. Michel Foucault. (London: Sage, 2005). Includes a
chronology of Foucault's life and times and an extensive list of key
terms in Foucault's work, which includes references to where these
terms appear in his work.
Olssen, M. Toward a Global Thin Community: Nietzsche, Foucault and the
cosmopolitan commitment, Paradigm Press, Boulder, Colorado, October
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Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida, Columbia University
Press, New York, 2008.
Sim, Stuart, and Van Loon, Borin. Introducing Critical Theory.
Thriplow: Icon Books Ltd., 2001
Veyne, Paul. Foucault. Sa pensée, sa personne. (Paris: Albin Michel,
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Cahiers Philosophiques, 130 (2012): 39–50.
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Telos Press Ltd., Spring 1987.
Zamora, Daniel, Behrent Michael, Foucault and Neoliberalism, Polity,
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Michel Foucault
Wikibooks has a book on the topic of: Student's Guide to Michel
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michel Foucault.
General sites (updated regularly):
Foucault.info – Repository of texts, news
Website and bibliography of Michel Foucault's writings
Michel Foucault Archives by IMEC[permanent dead link]
La Bibliothèque Foucaldienne – Digital archive of the philosopher's
notes for Les Mots et les choses, with a detailed description
Works by or about
Michel Foucault at Internet Archive
Michel Foucault and
Noam Chomsky on YouTube
Progressive Geographies: Foucault Resources – bibliographies of
collaborative projects, list of audio and video recordings, textual
analysis, short translations, etc.
Said, Edward W. (Autumn 1972). "
Michel Foucault as an Intellectual
Imagination". boundary 2. Duke University Press. 1 (1): 1–36.
doi:10.2307/302044. JSTOR 302044.
Michel Foucault at Find a Grave
Michel Foucault at Goodreads
"Michel Foucault". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). "Michel Foucault". Stanford Encyclopedia of
Retrospective article, written by Michel Foucault
French and English bibliographies
Lynch's bibliography at the
Wayback Machine (archived 8 August 2007)
Foucault Studies – an electronic, refereed, international journal
Materiali Foucaultiani – an electronic, refereed, international
journal in English, French and Italian.
Mental Illness and Psychology
Mental Illness and Psychology (1954)
Madness and Civilization (1961)
The Birth of the Clinic (1963)
Death and the Labyrinth (1963)
The Order of Things
The Order of Things (1966)
This is Not a Pipe (1968)
The Archaeology of
Discipline and Punish (1975)
The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality (1976–2018)
dialogues and anthologies
Introduction to Kant's Anthropology (1964)
"What Is an Author?" (1969)
Foucault's lectures at the Collège de France
I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered my Mother, my Sister and my
Language, Counter-Memory, Practice (1977)
Sexual Morality and the Law (1978)
Herculine Barbin (1978)
Remarks on Marx (1980)
Le Désordre des familles (1982)
The Foucault Reader (1984)
Politics, Philosophy, Culture (1988)
Foucault Live (1996)
The Politics of
Society Must Be Defended (1997)
Ethics: Subjectivity and
Truth (Essential Works Volume 1) (1997)
Epistemology (Essential Works Volume 2) (1998)
Power (Essential Works Volume 3) (2000)
Fearless Speech (2001)
The Hermeneutics of the Subject (2001)
The Essential Foucault (2003)
Psychiatric Power (2003)
Security, Territory, Population (2004)
The Birth of
The Government of Self and Others (2008)
The Courage of
Lectures on the Will to Know (2011)
On the Government of the Living (2012)
Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling (2013)
On the Punitive
Power (social and political)
Cogito and the History of Madness (Derrida)
Foucauldian discourse analysis
The Passion of Michel Foucault
The Passion of Michel Foucault (Miller)
Theodor W. Adorno
Simone de Beauvoir
Hubert L. Dreyfus
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
José Ortega y Gasset
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling
Being in itself
Social and political philosophy
Feminist political theory
Mandate of Heaven
Philosophy and economics
Philosophy of education
Philosophy of history
Philosophy of love
Philosophy of sex
Philosophy of social science
Controversy surrounding psychiatry
Hearing Voices Movement
History of mental disorders
Martha Mitchell effect
Outline of the psychiatric survivors movement
Political abuse of psychiatry
Psychiatric survivors movement
Psychiatry: An Industry of Death
Rhetoric of therapy
Self-help groups for mental health
American Association for the Abolition of Involuntary Mental
Aspies For Freedom
Autism Network International
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Citizens Commission on Human Rights
Hearing Voices Network
International Disability Alliance
Learning Disability Coalition
National Empowerment Center
Radical Psychology Network
Royal Association for Disability Rights
World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry
Leonard Roy Frank
R. D. Laing
Anatomy of an Epidemic
Doctoring the Mind
Interpretation of Schizophrenia
Liberation by Oppression
Mad in America
Madness and Civilization
The Gene Illusion
The Myth of Mental Illness
The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise
The Protest Psychosis
The Radical Therapist
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy – And the World's Getting
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