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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous insight into the nature of discourse
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...
Published on 29 Nov. 2001

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Foucault's method
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...
Published 20 months ago by HJ


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69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tremendous insight into the nature of discourse, 29 Nov. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Archaeology of Knowledge (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
3.0 out of 5 stars Foucault's method, 20 Aug. 2013
By 
HJ (London UK) - See all my reviews
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'. Foucault spends most of the book performing the obligatory 'defining of terms': object, discourse, archive, statement, description etc. But many of these definitions, even that of 'archaeology', remain decidedly sketchy.
The book almost takes it for granted that conventional `bourgeois history' is bunk, but the real targets are closer to home - against existentialism / phenomenology (history as authenticity of lived experience and individual agency) and against Hegel / Marx (history as teleology driven by progress and primary processes like class struggle, class consciousness). Foucault also seems to be fighting a rear-guard action against psychoanalysis (universality of Freudian complexes and drives, repression) and even against the new rival on the block - Derrida / deconstruction (documents as a purely `textual' reality).
Archaeology of Knowledge is, therefore, Foucault's tortuous attempt to both engage with and yet distance himself from all these competing theories.
Yet did Foucault actually write any of his books in line with the method outlined here? Having got this book out of his system he went back to his usual idiosyncratic style and approach with Discipline & Punish (archaeology giving way to Nietzschean genealogy) - rendering a lot of the discussion in Archaeology irrelevant.

As should be evident from the preceding comments, this is by far Foucault's most dense and challenging book to read. Anyone interested should read his other major books before tackling this. If you are studying Foucault, maybe read the (well known) introduction and conclusion. On the other hand, if you are really into Foucault and / or 1960s post-structuralist theory then you will want to get around to reading the whole book at some point.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!, 17 Aug. 2007
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Dynamite, 17 Sept. 2011
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Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles "FIST" (London) - See all my reviews
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 15 Feb. 2015
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Very good
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 7 Mar. 2015
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Excelent
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 30 Jun. 2014
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This bookis is another classic in intellectual terms.
I am very pleased with the timely dispatch of the book and with the careful packaging by the sender to prevent any book damage.
VPF
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3 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Limits of being and the infinite in writing, 8 Jan. 2011
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When writing that we cannot write about a total grasp of history, Foucault limits the being in the outer surface of a problem of language, stating language itself as an outside for our comprehension. Language can never be given in its totality, and when writing about what cannot be described, Foucault limits his own capacity of explanation and ours as spectators. His historical necessity is driven then, by a wider understanding of knowledge , dislocating the subject as the main character of temporalities. By temporalities I am referring to what he calls the phenomena of ruptures or discontinuities, which go against the historicization of `periods' or `centuries'. This separation with tradition (precisely this mode of historicization) is what opens the possibility of a new structure made up of statements, disrupting to man its own self conception: "In the very hard of empiricity, there is indicated the obligation to work backwards--or downwards--to an analytic of finitude, in which man's being will be able to provide a foundation in their own positivity for all those forms that indicate to him that he is not infinite."

Foucault establishes alternative modes of criteria to interpret a new conception of history of knowledge and to leave behind the traditional one, by a discursive analysis. Then, he involves the incorporeal discourse, or the `non-discursive practices' with the model of statements; these statements are related to the subject: where is it located. To talk about history is to talk about the subject (how the subjectivity has been constituted through time) and to talk about the subject is also to talk about history (how the space of history cannot be framed). And as a model (method) proposed to dissipate the historiorization through the subject, the notion of the author is called into question. Foucault recognizes himself as an author and denying that condition he leads the space of writing open, leading his own being and the reader, to an outside. The outer layer of writing is that mute surface that faces the author to a finite experience, the experience of death.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars really good!!!, 12 Nov. 2011
thank you so much , I love my book !!
I received it quickly and the quality is really good!
Definitely high recommended.
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Archaeology of Knowledge
Archaeology of Knowledge by Michel Foucault (Paperback - 12 Dec. 1974)
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