The archaeology of knowledge

Summary[ edit ] Foucault argues that the contemporary study of the history of ideas, although it targets moments of transition between historical worldviews, ultimately depends on continuities that break down under close inspection. The history of ideas marks points of discontinuity between broadly defined modes of knowledge, but the assumption that those modes exist as wholes fails to do justice to the complexities of discourse. Foucault argues that "discourses" emerge and transform not according to a developing series of unarticulated, common worldviews, but according to a vast and complex set of discursive and institutional relationships, which are defined as much by breaks and ruptures as by unified themes.

The archaeology of knowledge

Chapter 1 The Unities of Discourse Source: The Archaeology of Knowledgepubl. The First 3 Chapters of main body of work are reproduced here. The use of concepts of discontinuity, rupture, threshold, limit, series, and transformation present all historical analysis not only with questions of procedure, but with theoretical problems.

It is these problems that will be studied here the questions of procedure will be examined in later empirical studies - if the opportunity, the desire, and the courage to undertake them do not desert me. These theoretical problems too will be examined only in a particular field: But there is a negative work to be carried out first: They may not have a very rigorous conceptual structure, but they have a very precise function.

Take the notion of tradition: There are the notions of development and evolution: There is the notion of 'spirit', which enables us to establish between the simultaneous or successive phenomena of a given period a community of meanings, symbolic links, an interplay of resemblance and reflexion, or which allows the sovereignty of collective consciousness to emerge as the principle of unity and explanation.

We must question those ready-made syntheses, those groupings that we normally accept before any examination, those links whose validity is recognised from the outset; we must oust those forms and obscure forces by which we usually link the discourse of one man with that of another; they must be driven out from the darkness in which they reign.

And instead of according them unqualified, spontaneous value, we must accept, in the name of methodological rigour, that, in the first instance, they concern only a population of dispersed events. We must also question those divisions or groupings with which we have become so familiar.

Can one accept, as such, the distinction between the major types of discourse, or that between such forms or genres as science, literature, philosophy, religion, history, fiction, etc.

We are not even sure of ourselves when we use these distinctions in our own world of discourse, let alone when we are analysing groups of statements which, when first formulated, were distributed, divided, and characterised in a quite different way: In any case, these divisions - whether our own, or those contemporary with the discourse under examination - are always themselves reflexive categories, principles of classification, normative rules, institutionalised types: But the unities that must be suspended above all are those that emerge in the most immediate way: At first sight, it would seem that one could not abandon these unities without extreme artificiality.

Are they not given in the most definite way? There is the material individualisation of the book, which occupies a determined space which has an economic value, and which itself indicates, by a number of signs, the limits of its beginning and its end; and there is the establishment of an oeuvre, which we recognise and delimit by attributing a certain number of texts to an author.

And yet as soon as one looks at the matter a little more closely the difficulties begin.

The Archaeology of Knowledge - Wikipedia

The material unity of the book? In other words, is not the material unity of the volume a weak, accessory unity in relation to the discursive unity of which it is the support? But is this discursive unity itself homogeneous and uniformly applicable? The frontiers of a book are never clear-cut: And this network of references is not the same in the case of a mathematical treatise, a textual commentary, a historical account, and an episode in a novel cycle; the unity of the book, even in the sense of a group of relations, cannot be regarded as identical in each case.

The book is not simply the object that one holds in one's hands; and it cannot remain within the little parallelepiped that contains it: As soon as one questions that unity, it lows its self-evidence; it indicates itself, constructs itself, only on the basis Of a complex field of discourse.Foucault’s book The Archaeology of Knowledge is about the conditions, rules and systems of dispersion of discourse.

Ultimately, this book is an analysis of the relation between the formation of knowledge and power. The use of concepts of discontinuity, rupture, threshold, limit, series, and transformation present all historical analysis not only with questions of .

The Archaeology of Knowledge begins at the level of “things a. Madness, sexuality, power, knowledge—are these facts of life or simply parts of speech? In a series of works of astonishing brilliance, historian Michel Foucault excavated the hidden assumptions that govern the way we live and the way we think/5.

The archaeology of knowledge

The Archaeology of Knowledge Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for The Archaeology of Knowledge is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. The archaeology of knowledge.

[Michel Foucault; Alan Sheridan] -- In France, a country that awards its intellectuals the status other countries give their rock stars, Michel Foucault was part of a glittering generation of thinkers, one which also included Sartre. From a general summary to chapter summaries to explanations of famous quotes, the SparkNotes The Archaeology of Knowledge Study Guide has everything you need to ace quizzes, tests, and essays.

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