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The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  4,706 Ratings  ·  114 Reviews
Madness, sexuality, power, knowledge - are these facts of life or simply parts of speech? In a series of works, historian Michel Foucault excavated the hidden assumptions that govern the way we live & think. The Archaeology of Knowledge begins at the level of 'things said' & moves quickly to illuminate the connections between knowledge, language & action in a s ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published September 12th 1982 by Vintage Books (first published January 1st 1969)
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Aug 24, 2010 David marked it as maybe-later
Recommended to David by: Peter Mendelsund
Shelves: france
I might as well admit it up front. The reason I bought this book last week was that the cover was hot. Hot as in attractive. It wooed me. (No, it's not this 1980s green-and-purple nightmare you see on your computer monitor now. As usual, most of the Goodreads librarians are too busy playing hall monitor and tossing Otis's salad in the Goodreads Feedback group to attend to cover design updates. So we're left with this cover. An unusually competent librarian has since added the cover and it appear ...more
Rachel Smalter Hall
Feb 19, 2010 Rachel Smalter Hall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, french
One of my dear friends told me that she believed Foucault had made feminism possible for women. He also made me want to put a stick in my eye, while I was reading this book. Really, Foucault? Do you really have to be so damned inscrutable??

The rewards for making it to the end of Archaeology of Knowledge are so worth it, though. In his own way, Foucault pokes and prods until he completely convinces you that disciplines are little more than arbitrary, fragile, man-made constructions--artificial bo
Nov 03, 2009 Lily rated it it was amazing
I mean, it's amazing, but it is also kind of boring.
Luís Blue Coltrane
More than explaining a horizon of intelligibility, Foucault is simply describing a logical open space in which there is a certain discourse. To open this logical space, Foucault restores exegesis of significant monuments left by mankind, who had been the concern of traditional humanism, by quasi-structuralist development sets of insignificant elements.The notion of rarity, by Foucault, allows precisely identify what is rigorous and meaningful for a time, without thereby archaeologist shall have ...more
Dec 21, 2011 Lance rated it it was amazing
This is no doubt one of the most important methodological texts written for the humanities. The applications are endless. Foucault's apparatus is somewhat bulky and almost unusable in places. I do not think that the entire book could be applied to one specific project. I see this as more a tool bag from which a scholar might take out particular tools to help see histories and discourses in different ways. In this way, The Archeology of Knowledge is not so much a work of theory, as it is a method ...more
Mar 19, 2008 Ellen marked it as to-read
Recommended to Ellen by: lily, sorta.
i am to-read this book because i like to be simultaneously amazed and kind of bored.
Dec 31, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it
Dense. Dense. Dense. Also pretty brilliant. I had to slog through this one just to make sure the main ideas I'm building off of for my thesis aren't being misrepresented (a recurring nightmare of mine...[at my thesis defense] 'So, did you actually read Foucault?'). This man's mind works so differently from others', and because he's so crazy smart, he spends most of his time justifying the possibility of his ideas. I have a hunch that an abridged version of this one would be all of 50-odd pages, ...more
يوسف زهدى
كتاب فلسفي مرهق, فكرته الأساسية في تحليل مباديء العلوم والمعرفة عن طريق تكسير العلوم المتدارسة وتأريخها والعودة لأصولها عن طريق محاولة مستنيرة لحذف التأثر باللغة المحيطة والمجتمع (او ده خلاصة اللي أنا فهمته من الكتاب و في الأرجح لم استفد من كل او بالكاد نصف ما فيه)
اعتقد وبشدة إن موضوع الكتاب متميز ويستحق الدراسة أكتر, لكن لغة الكتاب فعلا مرهقة وصعبة على القاريء المتوسط اللي زي حالاتي, اعتقد برضه إن ممكن مؤلفين تانيين يكتبوا في نفس الموضوع باستخدام لغة ابسط ومفردات وامثلة أسهل عشان ناس أكتر تستفي
Seth Pierce
Aug 31, 2016 Seth Pierce rated it liked it
My three stars has nothing to do with Foucault's brilliant deconstruction of language, but rather the achievement of maximum verbosity. I think this book represents a lifetime of commas and semicolons which make the text difficult to follow at times. While the level of critique is impressive, I can't help but think an appendix or twelve may have done this work a service in ensuring the reader tracked with all the micro-arguments and not just the macro-argument.

That being said, this work reveals
Jan 19, 2013 Dusty rated it liked it
I think it's helpful to think of this book, which I admit I struggled through, as something of the introduction to the methodology that would later result in relative page-turners like Discipline and Punish and the three volumes of The History of Sexuality. Of course, Foucault himself would hate this: One of his arguments is that scholars remain committed to the antiquated notion that authors repeat themselves across their texts. Ultimately, the point is that in excavating history we should seek ...more
Avie Flanagan Vaughan
Aug 28, 2007 Avie Flanagan Vaughan rated it it was amazing
Another author whose entire oeuvre, essentially, changed the course of my life as a critical thinker. When I read this, I had been in a sort of Jane Austen / the Romantic poets phase for quite some time, and I was utterly bored with literature, with studying literature, with repeatedly canvassing the same tired books. Then I found Garcia Marquez and Foucault, I discovered the genuine critical theory of literature, and I embarked upon an infatuation with semiotics, (post)structuralist, and postmo ...more
Jul 25, 2011 Karen rated it did not like it
I hate to say that the Emperor has no clothes and perhaps this wasn't the best book to begin my Foucalt journey with; however... I found it to be completely rediculous, meticulous, superfluous, and unnecessary. Certainly there are nuggets of lucid and intriguing points buried in his winding and verbose prose. The reality is that no one should have to take the time currently required to make sense of what he is attempting to say (language and words have power). Even for a frenchman in translation ...more
Jonathan Lyons
Jun 30, 2012 Jonathan Lyons rated it it was amazing
The Ur text, especially the appended text of Foucault's inaugural lecture at the College de France. Essential for understanding the divide between our discursive selves and the non-discursive reality that silently surrounds us.
Sayeed Mohd
May 31, 2011 Sayeed Mohd rated it it was amazing
Among other things I like the book for the way it traverses meanings to reveal newer sense in words, and that in almost every sentence.
Raúl Vázquez
Mar 17, 2015 Raúl Vázquez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El importante compositor francés, Olivier Messiaen, escribió una obra teórica sobre los diversos aspectos rítmicos, melódicos y conceptuales desarrollados por él mismo y vertidos en su basta obra. Si hay un texto en las ciencias humanas que se equipare al elaborado por Messiaen en la música, es definitivamente La Arqueología del Saber. Foucault, en una línea heredera de Althusser y conocedor de lo "exótico" de su análisis, elabora en esta obra una síntesis de su propuesta meta-epistemológica par ...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 30, 2014 Mark Bowles rated it really liked it
A Theory of Discourse
1. The archaeological analysis of the human sciences was meant to reveal the rules of formation, and modes of organization of thought which eluded the consciousness of the scientist yet were fundamental to scientific discourse
2. Archaeology then permitted Foucault to discuss the transformations in the field of historical knowledge
3. Two ways to construct a history of thought
a) To preserve the sovereignty of the subject. To see an uninterrupted continuity
b) Foucault’s way. De
Dec 18, 2012 Jessica rated it it was amazing
This book is great. Someone called it boring. Fool! It's the clearest thing Foucault has ever written, while still dipping into the occasional grammatically-challenged (albeit poetic) run-on sentences and drama I have always known and loved. It's best read as the closing of a series of books in which Foucault is analyzing (while trying to formulate a way of analyzing) institutions. It works well on its own but if you really want to see where Foucault is coming from read, in order: Madness and Ci ...more
Apr 19, 2016 Manuel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
En el capitulo 3 de este libro, a mi entender, se configura toda la razón de la obra. Dice Foucaul, "quisiera mostrar que los discursos tales como pueden oirse, tales como pueden leerse en su forma de textos, no son, como podria esperarse, un puro y simple entrecruzamiento de cosas y de palabras: trama oscura de las cosas cadena manifiesta y visible y coloreada de las cosas; yo quisiera demostrar que el discurso no es una delgada superficie de contacto, o de enfrentamiento entre una realidad y u ...more
Jun 18, 2015 Essie rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-history
I couldn't tell if it was a translation issue or the writing style of the book was just that incoherent, but I felt like I was reading in another language for most of the book. Oddly, the appended lecture transcript was incredibly readable. Part of this was word use, but a big part was also punctuation and using complete sentences. This made a dense topic pretty indecipherable, and considering it's a translation and thus went through English-language editing, there really isn't an excuse for the ...more
Dec 31, 2015 Domhnall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
There are practical and concise explanations of discourse and discourse analysis, including good summaries of Foucault’s approach. This is not one of them. If asked to recommend a book by Foucault, I would suggest a different one which I reviewed earlier this year: I, Pierre Rivière, having slaughtered my mother, my sister, and my brother...: A Case of Parricide in the 19th Century by Michel Foucault (Editor), Frank Jellinek, (Translator). It is more fun and more effective as a guide to start th ...more
ryan bears
Dec 21, 2008 ryan bears rated it really liked it
i swear, once your done reading foucault you feel as if you've taken in something deep. but the whole time im reading im like get to the point - sometimes he does. discourse, yup. this book has his famous remarks in the intro: "don't ask me who i am, don't ask me to stay the same blah blah... i hate that line. sounds like some hippie on a mundane acid trip. no wonder he moved to san francisco.
Muhammad Avenzoor
Apr 05, 2016 Muhammad Avenzoor rated it it was amazing
1. akhirnya selesai baca buku biang kerok kenapa diskursus selalu dikaitkan dengan kekuasan, ternyata kalau dibaca dengan saksama definisi kekuasaannya nggak sesempit kekuasaan kepemerintahan atau militer. tapi tetap, dosa Foucault adalah menjadikan kata discourses terlalu asosiatif dengan power. padahal dalam konteks linguistik dan antro, definisi discourses bukan itu sama sekali, lebih ke cara penuturan.

2. cara Foucault menolak epistem strukturalisme dalam memandang semantik plus sintaks itu a
Cryn Johannsen
Jan 12, 2011 Cryn Johannsen rated it it was amazing
One of Foucault's more difficult works, but a must read for anyone who wishes to understand his thought. It is absolutely foundational in how Foucault conceives of history and change.
Josh Hatherley
Jul 26, 2015 Josh Hatherley rated it really liked it
Remarkable book. Very underrated in Foucault scholarship, where I find that it is all about his concrete historical studies, and his genealogical method. Very enigmatic at points, however: the rules of formation, for example, concerning objects, concepts, enunciative modalities, and strategies - despite their frequent appearance - are still quite unclear to me, along with the conditions for the performance of an enunciative function. However, the basic premise of the book is well defended: that ...more
Jenni Burgess
Jan 02, 2012 Jenni Burgess rated it it was amazing
An important bit of theory on the subjective nature of all history, and how we might best understand it by approaching it with an archeologist's mindset and methods.
Alex Lee
In many ways, this book serves as a pause for Foucault. It's a mostly incomplete work in the sense that he describes what he has done and what he is going to do. And that's all. So I guess I am saying this is very much a kind of aesthetics manifesto, or a discipline manifesto.

This book is also extremely influential for cultural criticism, as it highlights an approach to discourse, citing what discourse is and how discourse is to be understood as its own field.

What makes this book annoying, and
Feb 21, 2013 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
By far the sassiest Foucault book I've read.
Jan 01, 2009 Daniel is currently reading it
Chris Duval
I remember from art history courses the concept of 'negative space,' defining an interior complexity through the artist-rendered exteriorities and partitions.

This book begins with a number of explorations that are analogous to the sculptural concept. Concepts are defined in terms of what they aren't. This makes the book a difficult read, an effect that is worsened by embedded parentheticals: hedges meant to head off misunderstandings.

Eventually the concepts are labeled by existing words, which,
Nov 02, 2015 sologdin rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Pre-genealogical Foucault. Labor intensive, but very much worth it.

A professor recommended it to me in the early 90s, along with Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition and Jane Flax's Thinking Fragments as the essential texts to read for literary theory. (Another professor with a different theoretical background recommended concurrently therewith Eagleton's Ideology, Brantlinger's Crusoe's Footprints, and Belsey's Critical Practice; I dutifully read all that stuff, and be advised that the second set
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Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," and lectured at the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley.

Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences and the prison sys
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“You may have killed God beneath the weight of all that you have said; but don't imagine that, with all that you are saying, you will make a man that will live longer than he.” 32 likes
“Are you going to change yet again, shift your position according to the questions that are put to you, and say that the objections are not really directed at the place from which you are speaking? Are you going to declare yet again that you have never been what you have been reproached with being? Are you already preparing the way out that will enable you in your next book to spring up somewhere else and declare as you're now doing: no, no, I'm not where you are lying in wait for me, but over here, laughing at you?'
'What, do you imagine that I would take so much trouble and so much pleasure in writing, do you think that I would keep so persistently to my task, if I were not preparing – with a rather shaky hand – a labyrinth into which I can venture, into which I can move my discourse... in which I can lose myself and appear at last to eyes that I will never have to meet again. I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.”
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