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Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #122)

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  676 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Foucault is one of those rare philosophers who has become a cult figure. Born in 1926 in France, over the course of his life he dabbled in drugs, politics, and the Paris SM scene, all whilst striving to understand the deep concepts of identity, knowledge, and power.

From aesthetics to the penal system; from madness and civilisation to avant-garde literature, Foucault was ha
Paperback, Very Short Introductions, 144 pages
Published March 24th 2005 by Oxford University Press
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Riku Sayuj

The Epistemology of Suspicion

Always resisting categories, obfuscating himself - decoding the writings of Foucault is obviously a tough challenge. This VSI makes an admirable attempt and in the end at least provides us with a glimpse at the intricacy and elegance of the many arguments and the fine ways in which they tie in with each other.

Such wide subjects as modern medicine, the prison system, schooling, madness and asylums, attitudes towards sex, and many others, all coming together into a
Ahmad Sharabiani
Foucault: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #122), Gary Gutting
عنوان: فوکو : درآمدی بسیار کوتاه؛ نویسنده: گری گاتینگ؛ مترجم: مهدی یوسفی؛ تهران، افق، 1389، در 160 ص، مصور، شابک: 9789643697037؛ چاپ دیگر: 1392، در 144 ص؛ شابک: 9789643697686؛ موضوع: میشل فوکو 1926 تا 1984 قرن 21 م
Oct 25, 2012 AC rated it it was amazing
I don't know much about Foucault. I 'read' (in a fashion), The Order of Things -- or at least some of it -- when I was a dumb kid, but didn't understand any of it. As in 'zilch'. But reading this 'dummies' book reminds me of a different experience I once had.

When I first read Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, I was overwhelmed by it. It changed my life. The sheer intricacy of his mind, and the effort it took to read this book - remarkable in its intelligence and clarity -- simply bowled me over. It
Jan 21, 2017 Kamil rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2017
Not the easiest introduction but Foucault is not easy.
Later chapters regarding his works on sexuality and prison were more accessible then earlier ones. Nonetheless it definitely was a good gymnastic of my mind.
David Corvine
Apr 02, 2014 David Corvine rated it it was amazing
Excellent understandable introduction to Foucault, who is becoming more relevant as the panopticon tightens its insidious grip.
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
Short it may be but this was one of the more enjoyable Introductions that I've read. Concise and straightforward in a way that one can only wish all these kind of things were.
Odi Shonga
Jun 22, 2014 Odi Shonga rated it it was amazing
This, to me, seems like an excellent introduction to Foucault, especially for somebody who knows nothing about him except for that he can be described as a 'continental philosopher'. I'm currently a student in what might be called the analytic tradition and so, beyond overhearing a few things from friends in other humanities classes, I knew near-zilch about him and kind of harboured a pre-emptive suspicion about anything he might have to say.

The great thing about this VSI is that it offers a sys
Oct 31, 2010 Blake rated it really liked it
Reading previously another title in this series, written by Simon Blackburn, I was less than impressed by the glib exclusion of key details and ideas, which practice seemed politically motivated and keen to promote his own views at the expense of intellectual honesty. Perhaps understandably, I was reluctant to pick up another title, but reading that Gutting's is one of the best in the series and desiring a decent understanding of Foucault, I gave them another try.

Gutting has given here a clear,
Apr 23, 2015 Ayeshah rated it really liked it
Shelves: phd
God, I'm sooo tired of Marxist & Foucauldian drivel :) but this book is fine & Foucault is rather interesting!
Jean Paul Govè
Oct 15, 2016 Jean Paul Govè rated it really liked it
To a certain extent, Foucault as a person in terror of being caught in one fixed identity, universalises himself in his philosophy when he "assumes" that the aim should be to fight against strong identities, or fight for the marginalised simply by weakening core identities. Foucault is obviously conscious of this, and does not attempt to justify his position, since it would be incoherent for him to say that his method is intrinsically or obviously good. He simply claims that if you don't have th ...more
عِماد  عبابنة
Sep 14, 2015 عِماد عبابنة rated it really liked it
a great series

And this volume of it about Foucault is very good in the sense that it's been able to approach a complex thinker and "philosopher" as Foucault and highlighted the main entrances to his thoughts and works smoothly and in a good way that appealed even to non familiar readers of Foucault like myself.

I won't deny that on certain occasion on the book I was confused with some ideas of Foucault and its critique so that I need further looking into it.

In general Foucault work is amazing in
i don't see how this book would be helpful to people just starting out with foucault. i wouldn't really recommend it. it was interesting, but not illuminating. and i think that the author kind of unnecessarily focuses on 'limit-experiences'--when that isn't really a theme in foucault's work. i think a more useful introduction to foucault would offer a conceptual account of foucault (i.e., a chapter on discourse, a chapter on subjectivity, a chapter on power/knowledge, etc.), rather than methodol ...more
Mengsen Zhang
Jan 01, 2014 Mengsen Zhang rated it really liked it
I got this book as a Christmas present from my dear friends. It's a nice primer before reading Foucault's text. I did not feel a strong colored value from the author in his description of Foucault's work. The introduction is in a personal and developmental fasion. It gave me the impression of Foucault as a evolving organism of thoughts rather than a label of some systematic philosophical construction. In some arguments, I read a bit of expectation of political usefulness of some philosophical id ...more
Apr 19, 2014 Jamille rated it really liked it
I bought this book as my lecturer began introducing us/the class to Foucault and I found him very interesting.
I didn't expect this book to be as readable as I actually is. The author does outstanding to engage with the reader. Prior to reading this some of the other reviewers said it was a "complex", "difficult" read, this was false.
The book itself, not only introduces some of Foucault's interesting theories but it also tell's you about why he is like he is, and why his personal life made him
Feb 13, 2013 Nathan rated it it was ok
Struggled a little with this one. I'm aware that Foucault's work isn't the most approachable, hence why I chose a very short introduction to ease me in. Regardless, perhaps it's something in the way Gary Gutting writes, but I found it difficult to keep concentration. I'd read a paragraph and have to go back and reread it 2/3x times. And even then a lot didn't really sink in. It really defies the point of this series.

So unfortunately I've finished the book, and looking back on it a few weeks late
Brandon Harwood
Aug 20, 2008 Brandon Harwood rated it it was amazing
I don't know how an easy to understand version of an author can be more boring than the original author, but this book is. This makes me fear that Foucault ideas aren't as interesting as I think while reading him. . . . Nah.

Gutting, though dry, is very clear and makes a very good introduction to Foucault. But, please God read the master, if you are interested in his ideas, so you can get his beautiful prose with the philosophy.
Mar 30, 2014 Joshua rated it really liked it
Though it's a very good book, this is one of the more convoluted of the very short introduction serious. Though, in all fairness, maybe that's a difficult task with thought like Foucault's. That being said, this book covers Foucault's writings clearly and succinctly. It also offers an overall trajectory and holistic sense of his writing. All-in-all a rather good book--even for the reader who's read a few of Foucault's books.
Jun 13, 2015 Elen rated it liked it
Figured getting some background and context on Foucault would be helpful, considering I don't really get his references to philosophers. Pros is its easy to read and is in fact short. But I almost stopped reading when the author cited John Rawls as someone who offered "solutions" to the problems Foucault was expounding on.
Nick Hylands-white
A good intro to the major works of Foucault. Briefly summarises Foucault's approaches and themes, pulls out a few illustrative points and relates them to some modern day examples. One criticism is that the author was a bit presumptive when it came to using the specific terminology of the subject. Nothing that wikipedia can't help you out on though
Nov 11, 2015 Sagely rated it liked it
This is a helpful intro to Foucault's thought. The Very Short Introduction offers just that: a great starting point/orientation to Foucault.

Well worth reading.
Pooya Kiani
همهچیز، از توضبحات تا نقد، از بایوگرافی تا انتخاب سرفصلها، از انتخاب ارجاعات تا ترجمه، متوسط بود. ...more
Hunter Tidwell
Feb 22, 2017 Hunter Tidwell rated it liked it
A decent introduction to Foucault. The work is uneven, with Mr. Gutting giving lucid insight into Foucault's "Discipline and Punish" in particular, and the similarities and differences between Foucault's archaeological and genealogical methods, but offering only vague explanations of such core concepts as biopower and biopolitics.
Useful enough.
Lou Gillies
Dec 29, 2016 Lou Gillies rated it it was ok
Compared to some of the other reviewers, I must be completely thick! Whilst the text isn't exactly hard-going, I can't say that I learnt an awful lot from it either. There are probably more comprehensible introductions to Foucault for non-philosophers.
David Roberts
Sep 03, 2013 David Roberts rated it really liked it
The book I read to research this post was Foucault A Very Short Introduction by Gary Gutting which is a very good book which I bought from kindle. This book which is only around a 110 pages is an introduction to this french philosopher who was a bit of a genius but as with a lot of geniuses didn't achieve his full potential but achieved a lot nonetheless. His father was a prominent doctor & his son travelled around Europe getting the best schooling available. He achieved a university degree ...more
Farhan Khalid
Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same

Let us leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that papers are in order

The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning

This book is about space, about language, and about death

Madness is precisely the absence of work of art

My point is not that everything is bad but that everything is dangerous

The impulse by which a single individual, a group, a minority, or an entire people say:

Oct 12, 2011 Diego rated it really liked it
Gary Gutting hace un gran trabajo en presentar una introducción facil y comprensible del trabajo de Michel Foucault dentro de la filosofía y las ciencias sociales.

Foucault uno de los intelectuales franceses más importantes del siglo XX junto con Sartre, su influencia sobre la espistemología, la fenomenología y el estudio del lenguaje lo pone entre los más destacados pensadores del tiempo reciente a la par con Chomsky.

Durante esta pequeña introducción al igual que en toda la serie de " a very sho
Alfred Yun
Sep 18, 2016 Alfred Yun rated it really liked it
Gary Gutting's intimate and deep understanding of Foucault's philosophy made the read enjoyable. The systemic nature of Foucault's philosophy caught me off guard. Surely, I was enticed by his archaeology and genealogy.

The former was more abstract as it dealt with epistemology. It was especially fascinating to read his thoughts from "What is an author?" The latter was all about power as it analyzed madness, discipline, and sexuality through the lens of power relations. Sometimes much of it sound
Tim C
Nov 18, 2014 Tim C rated it liked it
I seem to come across references to Foucault fairly frequently, so I decided it was high time I give the great man's works a go - consequently, reading this little book was my way of dipping my toe in the water before I take the plunge. I'd got the general vibe that Foucault is dense and difficult reading, but reading this book I was quite pleased by the clarity this short intro seems to offer. I feel like I'm ready now to try the 'Foucault Reader', before tackling 'The Archaeology of Knowledge' ...more
Candy Wood
It really is "very short," and provides an overview of Foucault's works and ideas. While there's a chapter on literature, more of the discussion in it is about theories of language than about any approaches to literary works. And I'm still thinking about the chapters on archaeology and genealogy. To find out more about how Foucault applies to literary study, I'll have to follow up on some of the suggested readings included at the end. Useful introduction, anyway.
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