• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Class 16 Notes

Page history last edited by Alan Liu 1 year, 11 months ago

Preliminary Class Business




 Big Bang of Literary Theory, Early to Mid 20th Century


Michel Foucault



Selected Works

  • Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1961)
  • The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception (1963)
  • The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (1966)
  • Archaeology of Knowledge (1969)
  • Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975)
  • The History of Sexuality (1976-84):
    • Vol I: The Will to Knowledge
    • Vol II: The Use of Pleasure
    • Vol III: The Care of the Self



Foucault's Voice


René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: In Which the Existence of God and the Immortality of the Soul Are Demonstrated (1641)

Beginning of Third Meditation:

I will now close my eyes, I will stop my ears, I will turn away my senses
from their objects, I will even efface from my consciousness all the images
of corporeal things; or at least, because this can hardly be accomplished, I
will consider them as empty and false; and thus, holding converse only with
myself, and closely examining my nature, I will endeavor to obtain by
degrees a more intimate and familiar knowledge of myself. I am a thinking
(conscious) thing, that is, a being who doubts, affirms, denies, knows a few
objects, and is ignorant of many,-- [who loves, hates], wills, refuses, who
imagines likewise, and perceives; for, as I before remarked, although the
things which I perceive or imagine are perhaps Nothing at all apart from me
[and in themselves], I am nevertheless assured that those modes of
consciousness which I call perceptions and imaginations, in as far only as
they are modes of consciousness, exist in me.

And in the little I have said I think I have summed up all that I really
know, or at least all that up to this time I was aware I knew.


Foucault, Madness and Civilization (1961)

Beginning of the Preface (p. ix):

Pascal: "Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would
amount to another form of madness." And Dostoievsky, in his
Diary of a Writer: "It is not by confining one's neighbor that one is
convinced of one's own sanity."

We have yet to write the history of that other form of
madness, by which men, in an act of sovereign reason, confine
their neighbors, and communicate and recognize each
other through the merciless language of non-madness; to
define the moment of this conspiracy before it was permanently
established in the realm of truth, before it was revived
by the lyricism of protest.  We must try to return, in history, to
that zero point in the course of madness at which madness is
an undifferentiated experience, a not yet divided experience
of division itself.  We must describe, from the start of its
trajectory, that "other form" which relegates Reason and
Madness to one side or the other of its action as things
henceforth external, deaf to all exchange, and as though
dead to one another.

Beginning of Chapter IX, "The Birth of the Asylum" (p. 241):

We know the images.  They are familiar in all histories of
psychiatry, where their function is to illustrate that happy age when
madness was finally recognized and treated according to a truth to
which we had too long remained blind.

"The worthy Society of Friends . . . sought to assure those of its
members who might have the misfortune to lose their reason without
a sufficient fortune to resort to expensive establishments all the
resources of medicine and all the comforts of life compatible with
their state; a voluntary subscription furnished the funds, and for the
last two years, an establishment that seems to unite many advantages
with all possible economy has been founded near the city of York. . . . "

From Chapter II, "The Great Confinement" (p. 40)

From the very start, one thing is clear: the Hopital General is not
a medical establishment.  It is rather a sort of semijudicial structure,
an administrative entity which, along with the already constituted
powers, and outside of the courts, decides, judges, and executes.
"The directors having for these purposes stakes, irons, prisons, and
dungeons in the said Hopital General and the places thereto
appertaining so much as they deem necessary, no appeal will be
accepted from the regulations they establish within the said hospital;
and as for such regulations as intervene from without, they will be
executed according to their form and tenor, notwithstanding
opposition or whatsoever appeal made or to be made, and without
prejudice to these, and for which, notwithstanding all defense or
suits for justice, no distinction will be made."  A quasi-absolute
sovereignty, jurisdiction without appeal, a writ of execution against
which nothing can prevail—the Hopital General is a strange power
that the King establishes between the police and the courts, at the
limits of the law: a third order of repression.  The insane whom Pinel
would find at Bicetre and at La Salpetriere belonged to this world.


Exodus 3:13
     I Am That I Am


Descartes's logical formulation of the tautology:
     I Am That I Am (Cogito ergo sum)  - - - - - - - -     God



Foucault's logical formulation of the tautology:


       We Are That We Are - - - - - - - - Other





Foucault's Foundational Assumptions


1. Man is collective "we"


  • Annales historiography in France
    • Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II (1976) Table of Contents [PDF] -- "longue durée"
    • (See Appendix for primary and secondary readings in Annales school of historiography)


  • Historical longue durée epochs in Foucault's work:


Middle Ages /
Renaissance  "Classic" Age  Modernity

                                               (17th-18th centuries)           (19th-century on)




2. Man is an epistemic discourse


Madness and Civilization, from end of Chapter II, "The Great Confinement" (p. 64):

A sensibility was born which had drawn a line and laid a,
cornerstone, and which chose—only to banish. The concrete space
of classical society reserved a neutral region, a blank page where the
real life of the city was suspended; here, order no longer freely
confronted disorder, reason no longer
tried to make its own way among all that might evade or seek to
deny it. Here reason reigned in the pure state, in a triumph arranged
for it in advance over a frenzied unreason.

Madness and Civilization, from beginning of Chapter III, "The Insane" (pp. 65-66):

But in each of these cities, we find an entire population of
madness as well. One-tenth of all the arrests made in Paris for the
Hopital General concern "the insane," "demented" men, individuals
of "wandering mind," and "persons who have become completely
mad." Between these and the others, no sign of a differentiation.
Judging from the registries, the same sensibility appears to collect
them, the same gestures to set them apart. We leave it to medical
archaeology to determine whether or not a man was sick, criminal, or
insane who was admitted to the hospital for "derangement of morals,"
or because he had "mistreated his wife" and tried several times to kill himself.

Yet it must not be forgotten that the "insane" had as such a
particular place in the world of confinement. Their status was not
merely that of prisoners. In the general sensibility to unreason, there
appeared to be a special modulation which concerned madness
proper, and was addressed to those called, without exact semantic
distinction, insane, alienated, deranged, demented, extravagant.

This particular form of sensibility traces the features proper to
madness in the world of unreason. It is primarily concerned with


From Preface to The Order of Things (p. xxii):

I am not concerned, therefore, to describe the progress of knowledge
towards an objectivity in which today’s science can finally be recognized;
what I am attempting to bring to light is the epistemological field,
the episteme in which knowledge, envisaged apart from all criteria having
reference to its rational value or to its objective forms, grounds its
positivity and thereby manifests a history which is not that of its growing
perfection, but rather that of its conditions of possibility; in this account,
what should appear are those configurations within the space of knowledge
which have given rise to the diverse forms of empirical science.
Such an enterprise is not so much a history, in the traditional meaning of
that word, as an ‘archaeology’.

Now, this archaeological inquiry has revealed two great discontinuities
in the episteme of Western culture: the first inaugurates the Classical age
(roughly half-way through the seventeenth century) and the second, at
the beginning of the nineteenth century, marks the beginning of the
modern age.



3. Man is the epistemic discourse of the "other"


Madness and Civilization, from Chapter IV, "Passion and Delirium" (p. 107):

Joining vision and blindness, image and judgment, hallucination
and language, sleep and waking, day and night, madness is
ultimately nothing, for it unites in them all that is negative. But the
paradox of this nothing is to manifest itself, to explode in signs, in
words, in gestures. Inextricable unity of order and disorder, of the
reasonable being of things and this nothingness of madness! For
madness, if it is nothing, can manifest itself only by departing from
itself, by assuming an appearance in the order of reason and thus
becoming the contrary of itself. Which illuminates the paradoxes of
the classical experience: madness is always absent, in a perpetual
retreat where it is inaccessible, without phenomenal or positive
character; and yet it is present and perfectly visible in the singular
evidence of the madman. Meaningless disorder as madness is, it
reveals, when we examine it, only ordered classifications, rigorous
mechanisms in soul and body, language articulated according to a
visible logic. All that madness can say of itself is merely reason,
though it is itself the negation of reason. In short, a rational hold
over madness is always possible and necessary, to the very degree
that madness is non-reason.

There is only one word which summarizes this experience,
Unreason: all that, for reason, is closest and most remote, emptiest
and most complete; all that presents itself to reason in familiar
structures—authorizing a knowledge, and then a science, which
seeks to be positive—and all that is constantly in retreat from reason,
in the inaccessible domain of nothingness.


From Preface to The Order of Things (p. xxiv):

                                                         . . . The history of madness would be
the history of the Other -- of that which, for a given culture, is at once
interior and foreign, therefore to be excluded (so as to exorcize the
interior danger) but by being shut away (in order to reduce its otherness);
whereas the history of the order imposed on things would be the history
of the Same -- of that which, for a given culture, is both dispersed and
related, therefore to be distinguished by kinds and to be collected together
into identities.


  • Cf., Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (1966)



1. Heading


  • Etc.



Appendix: Annales Historiography (and History of Mentalities) -- Selected Readings


Primary Works


  • Lucien Febvre
    • "Psychologie et histoire," in Encyclopédie Française, 8 (1938)
    • "La Sensibilité et l'Histoire: Comment reconstituer la vie affective d'autrefois," Annales d'histoire sociale 3 (1941): 5-20
  • Marc Bloch, Les Rois thaumaturges (1924)
  • Fernand Braudel
    • On History, trans. Sarah Matthews (1980)
    • The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, 2nd rev. ed., 2 vols., trans. Siân Reynolds (1976)
    • The Identity of France, vol. 1: History and Environment, trans. Siân Reynolds (1988)
  • Philippe Ariés  
    • Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life, trans. Robert Baldick (1962)
    • Western Attitudes Toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present, trans. Patricia M. Ranum (1974)
    • The Hour of Our Death, trans. Helen Weaver (1981)
  • Norbert Elias
    • The Civilizing Process, vol. 1: The History of Manners, trans. Edmund Jephcott (1982)
    • The Civilizing Process, vol. 2: Power and Civility, trans. Edmund Jephcott (1982)


Secondary Works


  • Patrick H. Hutton, "The History of Mentalities: The New Map of Cultural History," History and Theory 20 (1981): 237-59
  • Lynn Hunt, "French History in the Last Twenty Years: The Rise and Fall of the Annales Paradigm," Journal of Contemporary History 21 (1986): 209-24
  • Traian Stoianovich, French Historical Method: The Annales Paradigm (1976)
  • George G. Iggers, New Directions in European Historiography, rev. ed. (1984)
  • Roger Chartier, Cultural History: Between Practices and Representations, trans. Lydia G. Cochrane (1988)




Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.