Michel Foucault (b. June 15, 1926, Poitiers, France; d. June 25, 1984, Paris) was a French philosopher and historian associated with post-structuralism whose work in the study of the cultural bases of sexuality, psychology and criminology was broadly influential within and beyond the academy. Foucault was primarily interested in how power was continually reinforced through the daily routines of modern life, in settings such as school, the workplace, the medical system and sexual behavior.
He also praised Ayatollah Khomeini despite the latter's anti-gay persecutions in Iran.
He also was largely responsible for the philosophy department of the then-recently created University of Vincennes being infamously radicalized, and he participated with 500 students in a takeover of the school, hurling projectiles at cops to "resist", as part of a solidarity movement for the Sorbonne student takeover that same day in January 1969.
He died of AIDS due to his libertine lifestyle, in particular homosexuality, after discovering the presence of a subculture in Sacramento Bay, California, and knowingly infected several others in bath houses. One of his last words was, in a dismissal of safe sex, "to die for the love of boys, what could be more beautiful."
His major works include
- Folie et déraison, Paris: Gallimard, 1966 (Madness and Civilization, translated by Richard Howard, New York: Pantheon, 1965)
- Naissance de la clinique, Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1963 (The Birth of the Clinic, translated by A. Sheridan Smith, New York: Pantheon, 1973)
- Les mots et les choses, Paris: Gallimard, 1966 (The Order of Things, New York: Vintage, 1973)
- L'archéologie du savoir, Paris: Gallimard, 1969 (The Archaeology of Knowledge, translated by A. Sheridan Smith, New York: Harper and Row, 1972)
- Surveiller et punir, Paris: Gallimard, 1975 (Discipline and Punish, translated by Alan Sheridan, New York: Pantheon, 1977)
- Histoire de la sexualité, 3 volumes: La volonté de savoir, L'usage des plaisirs, and Le souici de soi, Paris: Gallimard, 1976 (History of Sexuality, 3 volumes: Introduction, The Uses of Pleasure, and Care of the Self, translated by Robert Hurley, New York: Vintage Books, 1988-90).
"Michel Foucault", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Quoted in Mark Mark Lilla, The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics New York: New York Review of Books, 2001), 157.