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Does Foucault Need To "Grow Up"?

678 words - 3 pages

Every system has its flaws, some of are harmless to the integral part of the system, leaving no mark on the product, while other flaws can be fatal and cause the entire system to come crashing down. In The archeology of knowledge (1972) Michel Foucault outlines an argument for a new methodology to understanding knowledge. In chapter 2 of part five he begins to explain the difference between his own methods and that of the preceding methods of understanding history, but in doing so he makes one argument in particular that contradicts the very process he is undertaking. In short, he does not follow his own formula, which leads me to question the possible product of that formula. The question that I am left with (one that cannot be answered here, but rather through experience) is that of the severity of this flaw; is it harmless or fatal?
The entirety of the book is a claim toward a new method of considering knowledge; in order to make this claim, Foucault begins separating his arguments out from past methods. The first difference that he explains is that in the old system (The history of ideas) that statement are compared upon the basis of the originality that the statement contains, rather than on the relations of the statement’s regularities to those of another statement (p.143). Foucault explains “One must not therefore oppose the regularity of a statement with the irregularity of another…but to other regularities that characterize other statements” (1997, p. 144). This leads to the logical conclusion that statements and ideas should not be judged by the statement’s originality, nor valued based upon the same basis.
It is at this point where Foucault is fundamentally contradicting himself. The entire basis for the fourth part of the book is to prove that his concept is new. Foucault spends five out of the six chapters explaining that his method is different (or, as Foucault would call it “irregular”) than the methods of his predecessors. While the differences are real, the...

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