Foucault, Michel
(1926–1984)
French historian and philosopher. Born in Poitiers, Foucault was educated at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, taught in Germany, Sweden, and Algiers, and held chairs at Clermont-Ferrand and Vincennes, before being appointed professor of the history of systems of thought at the Collège de France. His work ranged widely across history, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and linguistics, and was extremely influential in raising new questions about the historical character of the categories of social experience. Foucault had a special interest in the use of science and reason as instruments of power, in domains such as medicine and criminology. His earliest work, Folie et déraison (1961, trs. as Madness and Civilization, 1965) charted western attitudes to the insane, and had an enormous influence in diagnosing what might seem to be progressive and humane improvements in treatment as one aspect of increasing social and political control. Indeed, his perception of all social relations as fundamentally relationships of power, and usually infused with a generous amount of sadism, has led to it being said that he replaced the distinction between subject and object with that between subject and abject. Foucault's own life sometimes luridly reflected this enthusiasm, contributing to his death as an early victim of AIDS. Subsequent works included Les Mots et les choses (1966, trs. as The Order of Things, 1970), L’Archéologie du savoir (1969, trs. as The Archaeology of Knowledge, 1972), Surveiller et punir (1975, trs. as Discipline and Punish, 1977), and the three-volume Histoire de la sexualité (1976–88, trs. as History of Sexuality, 1979–88), whose final volumes were completed just before his death.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Foucault,Michel — Foucault, Michel. 1926 1984. French philosopher and historian who explored the role played by power in shaping knowledge. His works include Madness and Civilization (1961) and the multi volume History of Sexuality (1976 1986). * * * …   Universalium

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  • Foucault, Michel — (1926 84)    by John Marks   Michel Foucault and Deleuze enjoyed an intense philosophical friendship, and much of Deleuze s writing on Foucault might be located within the tradition of the laudatory essay that characterised a certain strand of… …   The Deleuze dictionary

  • Foucault, Michel — (1926 1984)    philosopher    As a philosopher, Michel Foucault attempted to show that the basic ideas usually taken to be permanent truths about human nature and society change in the course of history. His studies challenged the influence of… …   France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present

  • Foucault, Michel — (1926 84) A controversial French post structuralist philosopher, professor of ‘the history of systems of thought’, who had a pronounced (some say unfortunate) impact on sociology from the mid 1970s onwards. His work defies easy description and… …   Dictionary of sociology

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  • Foucault, Michel — ► (1926 84) Filósofo francés. Su proyecto teórico constituye un esfuerzo por repensar la tradición cultural posrenacentista desde una perspectiva que podría denominarse etnológica. Obras: Histoire de la folie à l´âge classique (1961), Les mots et …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • FOUCAULT, Michel — (1926 1988)    very influential French philosopher who promoted a highly RELATIVISTIC conception of the prevailing assumptions about what is to count as knowledge and as acceptable discourse. His views are expounded in The Order of Things (1970) …   Concise dictionary of Religion

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