Michel Foucault's work is one of the most influential sources of ideas in the humanities and social sciences today. Clare O'Farrell offers a comprehensive and accessible introduction to Foucault's enormous, diverse and challenging output. Her book provides a range of practical tools and a reference work for readers who wish to understand and apply his ideas at both introductory and advanced levels. This volume includes: a discussion of Foucault's situation in the contemporary context exploring his role as an iconic thinker, with clear explanations as to why his work is so difficult to come to grips with, and also importantly, why it is of interest to so many people; the location of Foucault's work within its own historical, social and political setting; brief summaries in chronological order of all of Foucault's major works, including the more recently published volumes of lectures; the organization of Foucault's work around five distinct but interrelated series of assumptions which underpin his world view: namely order, history, truth, power and ethics. Ideas for which he is well-known, such as archaeology, genealogy, discourse, discipline, governmentality, the subject and others are defined and discussed within the framework of these five assumptions. - a chronology of Foucault's life, work and times; a very extensive list of key concepts in Foucault's work with detailed references pointing to where the relevant material can be found in his writings; a wide-ranging list of resources and a bibliography of Foucault's work for easy consultation.
One a Cultural Icon
Five the Unconscious of History and Culture
Principle 2: History
For Foucault, ‘history’ is the tool par excellence for challenging and analysing existing orders and also for suggesting the possibility of new orders. History is about beginnings and ends and about change and freedom. As he remarks towards the end of his career:
It is one of my targets to show people that a lot of things that are a part of their landscape – that people think are universal – are the result of some very precise historical changes. All my analyses are against the idea of universal necessities in human existence. They show the arbitrariness of institutions and show which space of freedom we still enjoy, and how many ...