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Archaeology of Knowledge Paperback – 12 Dec 1974


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; New edition edition (12 Dec. 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415045371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415045377
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 5.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Next to Sartre's Search for a Method and in direct opposition to it, Foucault's work is the most noteworthy effort at a theory of history in the last 50 years.' - Library Journal --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Michel Foucault (1926-84). Celebrated French thinker and activist who challenged people's assumptions about care of the mentally ill, gay rights, prisons, the police and welfare.

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First Sentence
For many years now historians have preferred to turn their attention to long periods, as if, beneath the shifts and changes of political events, they were trying to reveal the stable, almost indestructible system of checks and balances, the irreversible processes, the constant readjustments, the underlying tendencies that gather force, and are then suddenly reversed after centuries of continuity, the movements of accumulation and slow saturation, the great silent, motionless bases that traditional history has covered with a thick layer of events. Read the first page
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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
The Archaeology of Knowledge is a very heavy going but very stimulating read. As ever Foucault's analysis is groundbreaking, as it is a completely new way of deciphering the subject of discourse.
Instead of embarking on a history of ideas he dismisses this concept and instead gives an archaeological account of knowledge, which he believes breaks up the teleological version of progressive knowledge put forward by (Whig) historians. He suggests that there is no ideal discourse and thus treats all discourses as products of their own time without trying to pass moral or intellectual judgement on their nature or content.
Foucault postulates that because all discourses are products of their own epochs 'our' discourse, the liberal discourse of Man (as the focal point of the universe), will one day die too. Reinforcing the conclusion he made at the end of probably his greatest work 'The Order of things'.
One thing is for sure, as with all his works, Foucault will make you, stop, think, and reanalyse the way you look at things. He is truly the master at doing that.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By HJ on 20 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
Foucault was always rather different to other 1960s French intellectual big guns - while the others tended to build a rarefied abstract conceptual edifice (often inclined to collapse like a house of cards), Foucault wrote descriptive accounts of society and reality - or at least the way reality is socially constructed.
For his major books, his four or five 'greatest hits', he selected real issues like madness, illness, criminality and sexuality and then presented his amassed research via illuminating events or motifs (panoptican, great confinement etc), in order to tell an interesting story - some might say fable - and make provocative arguments about how power and institutions work.
Whatever you think of his methods, Foucault's big ideas like the surveillance society, the disciplinary society, the delinquent society and so on seem to become more and more relevant to our contemporary world.

Foucault's success may have been down to a combination of talent, fearsome learning and intuition, but back in mid 60s Paris he came under enormous pressure to justify himself, to explain his methodology. Archaeology of Knowledge was the result - Foucault's attempt to outline his method in rigorous theoretical terms. Although the book was published in France in 1969 it is definitely pre-May 68 in its remit and tone - engaging with the then dominant theories of structuralism and Saussurian linguistics (signs and signifiers)
The main argument is fairly straightforward - Foucault is against the idea that history is a grand linear narrative driven by great men and great events, instead he sees history as a network of documents in an archive and the historian's task is to trace how these documents function as 'objects of discourse'.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David T. Lesser on 17 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
In spite of its relatively modest size and the neglect it has suffered, 'The Archeology of Knowledge' is one of Foucault's most rewarding texts. Not only is it a brilliant exploration of the our current understanding of the concept of knowledge and its relationship to power, but it also captures a unique moment in modern intellectual history, when Foucault broke with the traditions of Structuralism, to begin the researches which were to lead to his 'late' period works. A must!!!
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By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 17 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
To be taken in snips rather than digested as a hearty meal, this offering when fully imbibed is academic LSD. It will alter your perception on how reality has been defined, promulgated and rendered. Foucault looks at how life has been made from academic hallucinations or guided fictions, an idea originally devised by Hans Vaihinger in his book "As if."

Whilst the desire for structure and meaning is the backbone for the mainframe academic discipline, this is lauded as a social pretence to fend off the meaningless of the universe. Foucault prods his stick into the structural facade in the same way as Stirner and Nietzsche, then watches it wobble. It not only wobbles but melts as he shows how academic reality is built on a brick by brick, handbuilt mirage, an academic Ponzi Scheme. Since publication, like Stirner it has gently been placed to one side as the eternal nativity play, of imbibing facts is enacted to lure the susceptible of £9k per annum whilst offering snake oil in return.

This however brings the Wizards of Oz back down with a bump and exposes the behind the scenes construction of the grand narrative. It introduces the discourse as a way of shaping the meaninglessness of life; birth death and the bit in between where we cling to causes and beliefs that all evapourate when we die.

Existential without the baggage, Nietzschean without the blond beast standing in the way, Stirneresque in its destruction of falsity. Foucault joins the duo to create a trio.

The back bone to any hand built and palm thrown philosophic dynamite.
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By Alexandru G M on 15 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very good
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