From: "Stuart Elden" <Stuart.Elden@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 12:03:31 -0000
>On another level of description, I find Foucault
>mastering a method (structuralism) that proved inadequate to his style
>and approach to important philosophical issues: F was drawn to
>problems of history; wary of human 'science'; robustily progressive
>politically & seemed more than a little disgusted with academia most of
>the time. I'm inclined to believe that he utilized a structuralist
>method and then made it his own. Perhaps the method melted into
>rhetorical device as he found his voice, his originality, in
This is eminently plausible, save that Histoire de la folie is much more
Nietzschean than structuralist, and is in my humble opinion Foucault's
greatest book, and shows elements of the work he would develop in his whole
career. The original French book has work on punishment, sex, medecine,
knowledge, biology, etc. etc. Sound familiar? I don't know why Foucault
embraced structuralism so much for Naissance de la clinique, though I guess
it had something to do with being back in France, and going with the trend.
>For example, in _Arch of Knowl_ I have noticed his voice of
>negative description ("my point is NOT this or this or this or thisÉ"
>and on and on). I think this is a practice that could come from
>structualist approaches to investigations. Ceaselessly diagnosing
I tend to read AK as using the Heideggerian notion of historical ontology on
epistemology, i.e. reversing what Heidegger did to Kant. I think F's 'not
this, not this' is part to do with his fear of being misunderstood, but also
because he is resistant of systematising.
>I would be interested in hearing your impressions of his style, voice
>and method, particularly since you read him in the original (nez pah?).
Well, as mentioned before, and many others have said, Foucault is a great
writer. This comes across more (I think) in his French than in the
translations, good though most of them are. I enjoy the earlier works more
than the latter ones in terms of style (Histoire de la folie and Order of
>I haven't seriously studied the texts in sometime but I have a feeling
>that i am about to get back in.
Having just finished my PhD I'm taking a bit of a break from Foucault (and
working on Henri Lefebvre - anyone else out there interested in him?), but
will return to him in a couple of months for a conference paper and book
chapter. I'm sure I'll find more in his work when I return.