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The Order of Things: Archaeology of the Human Sciences (Routledge Classics) [Paperback]

Michel Foucault
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Oct 2001 0415267374 978-0415267373 2
When one defines "order" as a sorting of priorities, it becomes beautifully clear as to what Foucault is doing here. With virtuoso showmanship, he weaves an intensely complex history of thought. He dips into literature, art, economics and even biology in The Order of Things, possibly one of the most significant, yet most overlooked, works of the twentieth century. Eclipsed by his later work on power and discourse, nonetheless it was The Order of Things that established Foucault's reputation as an intellectual giant. Pirouetting around the outer edge of language, Foucault unsettles the surface of literary writing. In describing the limitations of our usual taxonomies, he opens the door onto a whole new system of thought, one ripe with what he calls "exotic charm". Intellectual pyrotechnics from the master of critical thinking, this book is crucial reading for those who wish to gain insight into that odd beast called Postmodernism, and a must for any fan of Foucault.

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The Order of Things: Archaeology of the Human Sciences (Routledge Classics) + Archaeology of Knowledge (Routledge Classics) + Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Penguin Social Sciences)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (11 Oct 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415267374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415267373
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the Back Cover

'Foucault's most important work.' - Hayden V. White

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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex but spectacular 11 Jan 2002
By A Customer
The order of things is complex, and Foucault's writing style fluctuates between the need for re-reading a paragraph at least twice to understand it to whole chapters virtually reading themselves. The central plank of the book is how language, work, and life are preceived through his three epistemes or ages - of before the sixteenth century, c1650-1800 (the classical period), and post-late eighteenth-century. Foucault's 'episteme' sees him set out to find and articulate the 'perimeter', the outerlimits of the ways people can perceive things at a given time. It is a hard read, as should be expected for a book on the order of all things, but a work of complete genius.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enlightenment Excavated 30 Aug 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Though a difficult text to manage and ridden with complexity, points of internal anxiety, and even requiring some knowledge derived from elsewhere, Foucault's text is an excavation on the order of symbols and the categories of thought which the Classical era brought, especially to Western Europe. Rather than a direct, localised understanding of human history, Foucault's text serves to abstract and dissolve certain concrete concepts which are established within social convention and structure. By looking at several means of symbolism including the meaning implied by Miguel de Cervantes' "Don Quixote", Foucault gives his archaeology of thought a certain cultural relevance, and a certain sense of humanity trying to reach beyond itself, into new symbols which defy the physical restrictions before it. His impetus, a certain undisclosed work by Jorge Luis Borges, is also very curious. A Spanish poet and novelist inspired by latent depth and complexity, and the work of the earliest and most pivotal philosopher of the enlightenment, Benedict de Spinoza, the intention running beneath the challenging text is quite clear: Foucault seeks like one of his several inspirations, Friedrich Nietzsche (the champion of freethinking in the nineteenth century), to uncover certain latent potentials underlying the rigid organisation of human thought.

The text does not represent hypothesis as much as it does represent discovery, and Foucault keeps a consistent academic tone within his writing. His purpose is clear: to create a set of instruments and precise tools of criticism and thought for certain modes of thinking about knowledge as containment, knowledge as something quite distinct from actual human thought and understanding.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing filosofy for the minds that wonders 21 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone whos mind wonders about how their mind wonders. it is not an easy read, but it is worth the effort.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars !!! 11 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The order came earlier in perfect condition. I am very happy with the purchase. 10 from 10. And the book is definitely 'must have' for people interested in International Relations and Politics !!!
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2 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Look inside for the Preface. 28 Dec 2009
The book is very clearly framed at the outset in a very clear Preface. As a fairly canonical text, it hardly needs describing or reviewing.
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