Michel Foucault

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Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault (born 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, also speaking out against Mass surveillance, although he was more concerned with America having mass surveillance than other countries.[1] 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. In regards to this, in Discipline and Punish, he said "Is it surprising, that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?" Foucault was an atheist.[2] See also: Atheism and postmodernism

He also praised Ayatollah Khomeini despite the latter's anti-gay persecutions in Iran.[1]

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.[3]

In the 1970s, Foucault, in a similar manner to Norman Mailer petitioning for the release of the killer Jack Abbott, proceeded to petition for the release of French bank robber Roger Knobelspiess from jail, arguing that the method used to imprison him torture and an abuse of the law. Also like Abbot, shortly after Knobelspiess was released in 1981, he ended up in jail again in 1983 for the same charge that landed him in jail in the first place. Foucault, when confronted with this, denied that Knobelspiess was guilty of the first charge simply because of the recent arrest, and said that "You are a danger to yourselves and a danger to us, if, that is…you do not wish to find yourself in the hand of a legal system that has been put to sleep by arbitrariness. You are also a historical danger. For, like a society, a justice which has to question itself can exist only if it works on itself and its institutions."[4][5]

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.[1][3] One of his last words was, in a dismissal of safe sex, "to die for the love of boys, what could be more beautiful."[6]

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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "America: Exceptionally good or exceptionally evil?". WND.
  2. Religion and Culture Por Michel Foucault,Jeremy Carrette, page 15.[1]
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The perversions of M. Foucault by Roger Kimball - The New Criterion". newcriterion.com.
  4. http://www.newcriterion.com/articles.cfm/Foucault-s-gay-science-4491
  5. http://library.law.harvard.edu/justicequotes/explore-the-room/south-2/
  6. Quoted in Mark Mark Lilla, The Reckless Mind: Intellectuals in Politics New York: New York Review of Books, 2001, 157.

See also