RE: Discourse

The following is from Foucault's _The Archaeology Of Knowledge_:

"Discursive relations are not, as we can see, internal to discourse:
they do not connect concepts or words with one another; they do not
establish a deductive or rhetorical structure between propositions or
sentences. Yet they are not relations exterior to discourse, relations
that might limit it, or impose certain forms upon it, or force it, in
certain circumstances, to state certain things. They are, in a sense, at
the limit of discourse: they offer it objects of which it can speak, or
rather (for this image of offering presupooses that objects are formed
independently of discourse), they determine the group of relations that
discourse must establish in order to speak of this or that object, in
order to deal with them, name them, analyse them, classify them, explain
them, etc. These relations characterize not the language (_langue_) used
by discourse, nor the circumstances in which it is deployed, but
discourse itself as a practice." (p. 46)


"This sagacity of the commentators is not mistaken: from the kind of
analysis that I have undertaken, _words_ are as deliberately absent as
_things_ themselves; any description of a vocabulary is as lacking as any
reference to the living plenitude of experience. We shall not return to
the state anterior to discourse - in which nothing has yet been said, and
in which things are only just beginning to emerge out of the grey light;
and we shall not pass beyond discourse in order to rediscover the forms
that it has created and left behind it; we shall remain, or try to
remain, at the level of discourse itself. Since it is sometimes
necessary to dot the `i's of even the most obvious absences, I will say
that in all these searches, in which I have still progressed so little, I
would like to show that `discourses', in the form in which they can be
heard or read, are not, as one might expect, a mere intersection of
things and words: an obscure web of things, and a manifest, visible,
coloured chain of words; I would like to show that discourse is not a
slender surface of contact, or confrontation, between a reality and a
language (_langue_), the intrication of a lexicon and an experience; I
would like to show with precise examples that in analysing discourses
themselves, one sees the loosening of the embrace, apparently so tight,
of words and things, and the emergence of a group of rules proper to
discursive practice. These rules define not the dumb existence of a
reality, nor the canonical use of a vocabulary, but the ordering of
objects. `Words and things' is the entirely serious title of a problem;
it is the ironic title of a work that modifies its own form, displaces
its own data, and reveals, at the end of the day, a quite different
task. A task that consists of not - of no longer - treating discourses
as groups of signs (signifying elements referring to contents or
representations) but as practices that systematically form the objects of
which they speak. Of course, discourses are composed of signs; but what
they do is more than use these signs to designate things. It is this
_more_ that renders them irreducible to the language (_langue_) and to
speech. It is this `more' that we must reveal and describe." (p. 48-49)

Does that help?

Yours in discourse,

Steven Meinking
The University Of Utah

Partial thread listing: