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1. The History of Sexuality, Vol.
2. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège
3. Madness and Civilization: A History
4. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews
5. The Government of Self and Others:
6. Discipline & Punish: The Birth
7. The Foucault Reader
8. Order of Things: An Archaeology
9. Power (The Essential Works of
10. The History of Sexuality, Vol.
11. History of Madness
12. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology
13. The Archaeology of Knowledge &
14. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures
15. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth
16. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism
17. The Hermeneutics of the Subject:
18. The History of Sexuality, Vol.
19. Manet and the Object of Painting
20. Feminist Interpretations of Michel

1. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 168 Pages (1990-04-14)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
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Asin: 0679724699
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The author turns his attention to sex and the reasons why we are driven constantly to analyze and discuss it. An iconoclastic explanation of modern sexual history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

5-0 out of 5 stars the confessions
i saw a pretty woman in a nun's habit once and i had an overwhelming desire to have sexual relations with her, and i felt guilty thereafter for my desire in the same way i would feel guilty for desiring to have sexual relations with my mother.understandably, these were desires i wanted to keep secret, until I read freud and learned about the incest taboo put in place to control normal incestuous desires prevalent in most societies and cultures.

foucault credits freud for `placing sex at one of thecritical points marked out for it since the eighteenth century by the strategies of knowledge and power, how wonderfully effective he was ... in giving a new impetus to the secular injunction to study sex and transform it into discourse.'

a discourse foucault charts historically for a sexuality that functioned since the seventeenth century paradoxically as secret and a disclosure.even in the twenty first century when many people speak of sexuality they speak of repression and of the authorities in power in social institutions who do the repressing. foucault writes of a sexuality of obsession and how that obsession became discourse, first in the confessional booth of the catholic church where the confessor was urged to tell everything sexual and how later sexual confession was picked up by confessional writers, in particular the marquis de sade and the anonymous author of `my secret life'; and following was `a multiplication of discourses concerning sex in the field of exercise of power itself: an institutional incitement to speak about it, and to do so more and more ... toward the beginning of the eighteenth century, there emerged a political, economic, and technical incitement to talk about sex ... .sex was not something one simply judged; it was a thing one administered ... .'

it was administeredin discussions for population control, the architecture of school space and sex education, and, within the family, as normative sexual relations--and the sexual relations, outside the norm, were heard and discussed as perverse by mental institutional workers, andsexual transgressions were relegated to discourses of civil law.those in power had sexual knowledge, and the powerless had silence about sex, secrets about which they were incited to talk.once the secrets were revealed they could be corrected, regulated and proscribed.

something else about my own confession: a few days later I saw the woman in the nun's habit again, on stage as part of a theatre production.

3-0 out of 5 stars The History of Sexuality an Introduction by Michael Foucault
"The History of Sexuality" by Michael Foucault was a very good book. It is a very confusing book. I was assigned this book for my LGBT studies book in college and it was even difficult to understand for most of my class. Michael definitely crosses the line into some topics that some authors would not even consider to go into. The chapter about The Repressive Hypothesis was very interesting to me since I am a psychology major; it was neat to correlate both of my classes to this book by Michael Foucault. I would definitely recommend this book, if you would like to be challenged but are definitely ready for a good read!

3-0 out of 5 stars Foucault - the smart kid who doesn't do homework
More like a 3.5 if that was an option. Part of me hates rating this book so low, but I really have to. Here's why.

I love and hate Foucault more than just about any other philosopher. He is probably the pre-eminent French philosopher of his generation. The problem is that he is probably also the worst French historian of all time.

Foucault certainly has his moments and he's consistently entertaining (he's a very good writer and judging from his lectures, a great lecturer), but underneath it all, he's fundamentally lazy - he never does research studies or clinical work, he never looks outside France, he uses translations and secondary sources when he should be using original texts, he cites literature as if it is representative of the masses in the society in which it was written.Yet his writing is so confident, and his ideas so interesting and self-assured people believe him without checking his sources or his historical assertions.

He reminds me of the student I always have in my class who comes up with the best ideas but is unwilling to follow them through. The B student that should be an A+ student. He doesn't do homework, he doesn't show his work. I have to give them split grades. I'd give Foucault a split grade if I could - Ideas 5/5. Reasoning and Research 2/5.

In Foucault's case, he didn't do research outside France, he didn't reference or respond to contemporary History of Ideas works on Sexuality (e.g. Otto Kiefer's Sexuality in Rome and Greece, Van Gulick's Sexuality in Ancient China), he failed to develop a basic understanding of medicine, he cherrypicked texts that suited his arguments and failed to consider opposing arguments, and his Greek and Latin leave something to be desired.

His concept of the "repressive hypothesis" in this book is extremely interesting and well-reasoned (apart from the historical examples). His notion of biopower is also fairly intriguing, though not fleshed out in sufficient detail here (Psychiatric Power has more on it), and seems to be a kind of extension of the Hegelian for-itself (which is conceived in terms of relationships). He also very briefly, mentions third sex/intersexed individuals, which became a jumping off point for a lot of queer theory. Buyer beware - if you're looking for queer theory, it's only about a page or two, so you'll probably be disappointed.

Here's the real problem with this book - the examples, the historical scholarship. Foucault, determined as he is to prove (like Nietzsche did quite a bit more convinvingly in Beyond Good and Evil) the lack of foundation of contemporary morality bends the truth and fails to see things that are very obvious to medical professionals and more objective historians.

Case in point:

In a passage (31) and elsewhere in references to Ancient Greece, Foucault more or less writes an apologia for pedophilia. There is a problem though with all this - the unstated biological injunction. As someone who was an EMT - I can tell you something that should be obvious to someone as smart as Foucault, but wasn't - apart from normative moral concerns (which wouldn't concern an anti-foundationalist) - sexual intercourse with children physically and biologically injures them. I won't go into the gory details. If they're young enough, it could kill them. There's also the way young people respond to STD's. Sometimes, that's different, too.

Even if you completely dispense with normative morality and enact purely utilitarian laws based upon simply minimizing biological damage or instead engage in a minarchical system with protective services, this would still be largely prohibited either by law or contracted mutual assent.

In addition, Foucault does not understand biology very well and often uses outdated medical references like Pinel to represent current medical practice. The thing is Foucault is clever about it. It's a straw man, but it's a clever straw man, because he cites Pinel in a historical context and later as a means of (falsely) explaining the contemporary. Either that, or he just doesn't get medicine all that well.

Then there's Christianity. Oh, God, is Foucault ever wrong on this frontier. He even claims (117) the first treatise on sin was written in the 15th century. Off the top of my head, there are writings on sin as early as Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century (and perhaps earlier). You're ten centuries off, Foucault! That kind of oversight borders on ridiculous.How no one else has picked up on that baffles me.

I'd definitely read this book, but read it critically. It's not as inept in the scholastic sense as Madness and Civilization (which famously contains references to the non-existent Ship of Fools) but some of the scholarship is abysmal.

The French/Greco-Roman focus is a tad trying too, especially considering the wealth of available laws of quite a number of other major civilizations, which Foucault overlooks, presumably because they have male to male sodomy prohibitions which problematize his central arguments, or because of his obvious ignorance of other languages.

If this sounds overly negative, bear in mind - I like this book, and wholeheartedly recommend purchasing it. Just take it with a grain of salt. It has some extraordinarily interesting ideas, but alas, when I see it, I see what could have been if the author was more disciplined in his approach. If there wasn't so much there that was good, I wouldn't be nearly as upset by Foucault's sloppy scholarship.

2-0 out of 5 stars Foucault's Pendulum of Human Sexuality
In "the History of Sexuality", Foucault tried to use Nietzsche's genealogical approach that views concepts as changing constantly to fit the needs and provocations over time. Nietzsche used the genealogical approach gracefully in Beyond Good and Evil, and though I'm not completely convinced his ideas are correct; the gracefulness of his argument, and his personal experience with the chaotic political and moral nature of the European society he reacted to, form a compelling argument for his genealogical theory.
Foucault mocked Nietzsche's approach but prematurely formulated his "repressive hypothesis" of thinking by which concepts result from the inexorable avalanche of history, and that sexuality has been repressed throughout our political history, therefore the only way to political liberation is sexual liberation.

A side note: Foucault's "The History of Sexuality" is one of the basic justifications for the queer theory that proclaims the intersection between politics, sexuality, and gender. The whole normals vs. abnormal arguments are pointless and vague, as no one can tell what is normal or abnormal in the world. The arguments presented make no sense to me, are too relativist and do not rely on any scientific reason.It is a world devoid of absolutes where we must assume that anything and everything is permissible. This queer thinking recalls my college years, when I was irritated by new societies such as "The Society of Women Engineers" and the "The Society of Black Engineers". Next we will have" The Society of Queer Engineers" and "The Society of Tall Engineers'.What happened to treating humans as humans, who share life regardless of their gender, color or physical appearance? How can we ask for equality between genders when we defeat the whole purpose by being feminists or some other separate group?

Back to "The History of Sexuality", Foucault reviews history to find out why our sexuality became the key to unlocking the truth about us, and arrives at the relationship sex has with power and knowledge. Foucault traces the emergence of sexuality to the seventeenth century, when the Christian emphasis on sins of the flesh led to an increasing awareness of sexuality in family relations. His road to the genesis of human sexuality ends with the bourgeois of the nineteenth century, who effectively invented what we think of as "sexuality," and used it as a way of protecting and separating themselves from the other groups. Foucault acknowledges that sex is not our essence, but rather it is a social construct that makes it easier to control humans. Here Foucault didn't provide any definite prove to his theory. It even sounds more convincing that the opposite is the truth: Sex and all its biological drives are an essential part of our nature and, therefore,it makes us more susceptible to control.

The point Foucault tried to make in many lengthy ways is that how we understand certain concepts has a lot to do with what other concepts we link them to, and in this thought construct, sexuality is not a concept as much as means of linking concepts to each other. Foucault strong, initial argument that our sexual desires or behaviors themselves do not express profound truths about us, rather it is the discourse we have built up around those desires and behaviors that suggest the profound truth. These discourses are not fixed and changeable with time and needs.The growing importance of sexuality in our society reflects the fact that we have found more and more concepts that we can connect through sexuality, and in this way the "deployment of sexuality" is the way that we use sexuality to join different concepts. The history of sexuality is a history of class dominance, where sexuality is a social construct that can be used to link power and knowledge to sex in a variety of different ways.

Finally, Foucault arrives at the conclusion that human life (and its aspects including sexuality) throughout history came to fall under the control of politics, where "bio power" or the new power over life controls life through the discipline of the body and through the regulation of population. It's beyond me how Foucault arrived at this conclusion while discussing how wars got fiercer than ever, how the death penalty became a safeguard not an act of destruction, and how power seems now to control life and population.
I suspect that Foucault, through his arguments, wanted to weaken the concept of sexuality.By simply calling it a social construction, he will weaken the political powers themselves. I also suspect by the way that Foucault identified the four centers that have power and knowledge relatedto sex(hysterization of women's bodies, pedagogization of children's sex, socialization of procreative behavior, and psychiatrization of perverse pleasure) that he was trying to differentiate by what is socially considered anormal behavior and what is not. This is again a losing argument since it's purely a personal way of looking at things.

As a big fan of Nietzsche (his method of debate not his actual ideas), I don't think that Foucault even came close to Nietzsche's genealogical approach. Foucault took a very exciting topic and managed to destroy his argument with a lengthy complicated delivery, the biggest problem with some philosophers is that they are trying so hard to be original that they overlook the obvious or they wrap it up in such a complex knot you can't possibly untie it. .

3-0 out of 5 stars At the Bottom of Everything Lies the Struggle for Power
Michel Foucault has based his entire corpus of history on the premise that society has been waging a battle between those at the center of society who wield power and those who live at the periphery and lack it. In THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY, VOL I, he does not present a history of sexuality so much as yet another opportunity to delineate another marginalized subgroup, those who wish to succumb to their inner sexual desires but feel refrained by society.Ironically enough, Foucault notes that until the Victorian Age, prudery more often reigned over licentiousness throughout history.It was not until the 19th century, that society began to allow greater freedom for those who wished to explore their own sexuality.There is an inner irony here that is not present explicitly in the book.Foucault himself was a total sexual hedonist who frequented San Francisco's bathhouses where he may have caught the AIDS virus that killed him in 1984.Further, he openly expressed his belief that adults should feel perfectly free to have sex with children.He alludes to this in the book as he writes of a simple minded country youth who shares a "milk curdling" experience with a prepubescent girl.

Foucault saw the 19th century as a true explosion of discourses on sexuality, the totality of which was to demolish the then emphasis on keeping sex and the topic of sex behind closed doors.The struggle for power shifted from a repressive state controlling the environment in which sex might reasonably be expected to thrive to one in which those who had been previously bereft of the right to deal openly with sex to now having an overabundance of that very right.THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY then is a minor variation on Foucault's obsession with accusing the center of massed power of first identifying, then declaring aberrant, then ultimately marginalizing those on the fringes.Oddly enough, this book is one of Foucault's more coherent explorations of those on the fringe. ... Read more

2. Abnormal: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1974-1975 (Lectures at the College de France)
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 400 Pages (2004-09-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.08
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Asin: 0312424051
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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From 1971 until his death in 1984, Foucault gave public lectures at the world-famous College de France. Attended by thousands, these were seminal events in the world of French letters. Picador is proud to be publishing the lectures in thirteen volumes.
The lectures comprising Abnormal begin by examining the role of psychiatry in modern criminal justice, and its method of categorizing individuals who "resemble their crime before they commit it." Building on the themes of societal self-defense in "Society Must Be Defended," Foucault shows how and why defining "abnormality" and "normality" were preorogatives of power in the nineteenth century.
The College de France lectures add immeasurably to our appreciation of Foucault's work and offer a unique window into his thinking.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary
Foucault's 1974-1975 lecture series on abnormality is a typically brilliant assessment of the historical configuration of three figures, namely, the monster, the criminal/individual to be corrected, and the onanist. This is a remarkable achievement of empirical research; Foucault has filled in the gaps between the brilliant concepts developed through 'The History of Madness,' to 'Discipline and Punish,' and has provided the historical details to his archeological project. This particular series of lectures traces the complex interstices between criminality, abnormality and sexuality and provides a clean analysis of the grid of power relations immanent in these respective domains. Foucault's analysis of the medicalization/psychiatrization of crime is particularly brilliant, and I found his linkage with modern psychiatry to modern racism to be a truly original insight-though I would have liked to see further analysis of the latter connection. There is much room for future theorists in the social sciences and humanities here-Foucault's historical tool box is a rich one, and his attention to fine historical specificities continues to impress.

4-0 out of 5 stars A continuation of the post-modernist project
If you are familiar with Foucault, then saying that "Abnormal" is in many ways a continuation of "Discipline and Punish" should be enough.

"Abnormal" deals with how social constructs are invented through historical process (in this case, the "monster.") What is crime? What is normalcy? What is beyond the pale? How are these things decided/invented? It's heavy stuff but very interesting (especially if you have any interest in law, criminology, or sociology).

If you have never read Foucault, then don't start with this work. Foucault is a difficult read (although not as bad as Derrida or Habermas) and "Abnormal" is for the student/reader who is already familiar with his philosophy. "Discipline and Punish" is probably a better place to start.

Do read this book, however, whether it be now or later. I don't think it an exaggeration to say that Foucault is one of the most important thinkers since Marx. Foucault is the wellspring of Postmodernism and worth the effort. ... Read more

3. Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 320 Pages (1988-11-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.09
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Asin: 067972110X
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Perhaps the French philosopher's masterpiece, which is concerned with an extraordinary question: What does it mean to be mad? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Study of Madness and Civilization.
_Madness and Civilization:A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason_ (1965) by French philosopher Michel Foucault is an interesting study of the role of madness in history and the subsequent treatments given to the mad in the age of reason.Michel Foucault (1926 - 1984) was a French thinker whose work focused on the treatment of the insane and criminals.This book is frequently cited as an historical study of the role of madness that offers an understanding of the insane from a different perspective than that of mainstream psychiatry.This book explains how the mad and "folly" came to be treated through the Middle Ages and throughout the Renaissance until the rise of asylums and workhouses for the poor.The book explains how during these eras the mad went from being celebrated to becoming outcastes and were perceived as having moral failings.Much of the modern understanding of madness derived from this religious understanding of the mad as having moral failing and the moral rhetoric was incorporated into the work of the great doctors.

This book includes the following chapters-

Introduction - explains the role of this book noting the changing images of madness through time and culture beginning from the period of the Middle Ages.

Preface - quotes from Pascal and explains the world of mental illness and of madness in the great confinement.

"Stultifera Navis" - explains the role of leprosy in the Middle Ages and the manner in which lepers were dealt with by society, then explains from this how the "Ship of Fools" came about in the paintings of Bosch.During the Middle Ages, madness or "folly" was given a prominent place in the hierarchy of vices. Notes the role of madness and the subsequent confinement of the mad examining the role of "folly" in literature from that of Erasmus in the Renaissance to that of Shakespeare's King Lear or Cervantes' Don Quixote.Finally, explains how at the end of the fifteenth century madness became confined to the "Madhouse" and subsequently the Hospital.

The Great Confinement - explains how with the liberation of madness in the Renaissance a new movement to confine the mad followed in Paris.Foucault traces the "great confinement" in the Hopital Generale of Paris, noting for example the role of Voltaire, and explaining how morality was frequently seen to be lacking in the mad.Foucault considers the contrast in the treatment of the mad in Catholic countries with a strict Protestantism such as that of Calvin.Foucault also notes how poverty came to be seen as a moral failing and those imprisoned were seen as mad for violating the dictates of bourgeois society explaining how the old rites of excommunication became replaced with economic concerns.

The Insane - explains how the mad became "the insane" and notes the treatment of the insane in the hospital.Considers the case of the medieval killer Gilles de Rais who was accused of heresy and apostasy.Notes the role of Christianity and religion explaining the "madness of the Cross".

Passion and Delirium - explains the dangers of madness and the role of passion as "unreason".Notes the role of delirium explaining hallucination and noting the Cartesian banishment of unreason.

Aspects of Madness - notes the role of mania and melancholia as well as hysteria and hypochondria. Explains how these notions became linked to a disease model of madness and the rise of psychiatry in the nineteenth century.

Doctors and Patients- explains the role of doctors as madness became viewed as an illness in need of medical treatment.Notes some of the prominent treatments for madness, including various forms of torture and pharmacological methods.

The Great Fear - explains the fear of an outbreak of madness, noting the role for example of madness in the writings of Sade.Explains the nature of the confinement (frequently justified for economic reasons), the role of religious sentiments and fanaticism (frequently believed to be behind much of madness).Notes the role of madness in such literary figures as Holderlin, Nerval, or Nietzsche.Relates madness to liberty and anxiety.

The New Division - explains the role of psychiatry in the confinement of the eighteenth century noting how psychiatry retained many of the moral divisions held over from earlier periods.Explains the problem of poverty and how confinementwas used as a means for dealing with economic difficulties.Notes the new role of the idea of liberty as seen for example in the Declaration of the Rights of Man.

The Birth of the Asylum - explains the birth of the asylum as a means to confine the insane noting the role of eminent doctors and psychiatrists such as Tuke, Pinel, and Charcot.Explains how confinement came to be linked up with both judgment and ultimately surveillance of the insane.Notes the role of the Quakers as early advocates of a "moral treatment" for the insane.

Conclusion - examines the role of Goya's painting of "The Madhouse" and the writings of Sade.Notes the prominence of madness in literature including Nietzsche, Van Gogh, Artaud, and Swift.Finally Foucault maintains that a world that sought to justify madness through psychology now must justify itself before madness.

This book provides a fascinating literary study of the role of madness and "unreason" as outcaste from a rational bourgeois society.Foucault explains how madness was given a voice in the Renaissance but quickly became viewed as morally flawed.Ultimately madness became viewed In terms of a medical model and psychiatrists and doctors were sought to treat mental illness.I felt that this book was very interesting for what it had to say about the nature of madness and the treatment of insanity by society through time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Important Warning: Bad Research
An article in American Psychologist (a peer-reviewed academic journal) by W.B. & B. Maher (from Harvard University) stated that some psychology textbooks in the 1980s considered as fact, citing Foucault, that in medieval times it was commonplace to segregate the mentally ill on "ships of fools" and set them adrift in the water. Maher discovered, by using proper research methods, that the only historical proof of "ships of fools" are in harvest festival processions and as literary allegory via Sebastian Brant's 1494 book "Narrenschiff" or "Ship of Fools."
Basically, Foucault falsified the historical existence of these ships early in his book. This bad research does not speak well for the rest of Foucault's work. Personally, I didn't get further than page 18, when Foucault said, "But of all these romantic or satiric vessels, the Narrenschiff is the only one that had a real existence -- for they did exist, these boats that conveyed their insane cargo from town to town." This statement is an untruth according to Maher. [see Maher, W.B. & Maher, B. (1982). "Stultifera Navis or Ignis Fatuus?" American Psychologist, 37(7), 756-761.]

5-0 out of 5 stars Maddness
Eugene item was superior to the basic decription. It was sentin the time prescribed an packaged safely.. What else shoud a customer want! Thanks, Eugene Valjean

4-0 out of 5 stars "Imagination is not madness."
Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason is one of those books that you are meant to have read in graduate school. It is also one of those books that I have read citations from, seen passages from, heard discussed, heard argued about and generally felt bad that I had never gotten around to reading. It's been sitting on my shelf for at least five years, I must admit.

I don't think that I need to say very much about the book itself. Foucault studies attitudes towards insanity throughout history, with particular attention to how the treatment of the mad was reflected by the current popular narrative about madness. The book is often cited as being against psychiatric institutions. After reading it, I tend to see that as an overstatement. I think that he is more or less simply raising the question as to whether what we see as "scientific" treatments for mental illness are not actually bearing out implicit societal biases about the nature of this kind of disease. In the model he examines, the romanticization of madness is dangerous but so is a view of madness as lack of discipline or moral fibre (for example). I think that it would be dangerous to extrapolate too much authorial meaning from the way that he addresses the subject.

I have read Foucault before, and I nearly always have the same reaction to his work. While he was clearly a brilliant man and while he has many interesting things to say, I do sometimes find there to be something quite glib about his thinking. Even here, in what is possibly his most famous work, there are moments where I felt as though he was poised to really dive into something interesting and instead moves on. Certainly thought-provoking, I will admit. But still somehow Madness and Civilization was not entirely satisfying.

I wish that he had included a bibliography. Also, he discusses so much about painting that it would be useful for the edition to contain a few prints. But these are minor quibbles.

4-0 out of 5 stars Defining madness is a subjective thing...
When I first saw the book's title, I imagined it would be a book about psychiatric hospitals and many psychopaths' stories.
I was wrong.
It is much more than just that.
Madness and civilization, is a book that explores the history of mental illness and how it was defined since the 16th century.
The book takes to through history and reveals a story not known to most.
How the first considered crazy people were thieves and homeless people, then leapers, and slowly it became what it is today.

Though very interesting, the book is also a bit hard too read. it is a book that gives a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of plot. So unless you are looking to learn about the historical p.o.v of madness, do not take it.
However, if you are, you will not regret it.
... Read more

4. Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 288 Pages (1980-11-12)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 039473954X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Michel Foucault has become famous for a series of books that have permanently altered our understanding of many institutions of Western society. He analyzed mental institutions in the remarkable Madness and Civilization; hospitals in The Birth of the Clinic; prisons in Discipline and Punish; and schools and families in The History of Sexuality. But the general reader as well as the specialist is apt to miss the consistent purposes that lay behind these difficult individual studies, thus losing sight of the broad social vision and political aims that unified them.

Now, in this superb set of essays and interviews, Foucault has provided a much-needed guide to Foucault. These pieces, ranging over the entire spectrum of his concerns, enabled Foucault, in his most intimate and accessible voice, to interpret the conclusions of his research in each area and to demonstrate the contribution of each to the magnificent -- and terrifying -- portrait of society that he was patiently compiling.

For, as Foucault shows, what he was always describing was the nature of power in society; not the conventional treatment of power that concentrates on powerful individuals and repressive institutions, but the much more pervasive and insidious mechanisms by which power "reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives"

Foucault's investigations of prisons, schools, barracks, hospitals, factories, cities, lodgings, families, and other organized forms of social life are each a segment of one of the most astonishing intellectual enterprises of all time -- and, as this book proves, one which possesses profound implications for understanding the social control of our bodies and our minds. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars An Approachable Entry into Foucault's work
This particular work covers a broad range of Foucault's writings and is ideal for someone who hoping to get a general understanding of his work before delving in further. What's wonderful about Foucault is that his works are approachable even to non-academics. There's not an egregious over-use of italicized jargon. He's trying to get his point across, not impress the reader with his superior intelligence.

While I think the dialogue of power has evolved since Foucault's first writings, I would say that in the context of what came before him, his work is quite amazing. It has had important implications in a variety of veins of academic thought.

His unique ability to identify what seems normal but is actually absurd and couched in a wealth of rationalization makes him truly brilliant. His essays on the prison system, sexuality, and health are enlightening in this fashion.

For my research, I was more interested in his work showing power as a far more pervasive/invasive instrument. Several essays elucidate the dialog surrounding the power and influence ascribed to process. His concept that power is NOT localized in the State and that the mechanics of society must also be addressed is quite brilliantly articulated.

The only reason to remove one star (if there were 1/2 stars, I would have only removed 1/2 a star) is because of the format of a couple of the articles.The use of dialogue goes back to Socrates and yet, no one seems to get it quite right when they write a dialogue.There are times where it is perfectly fine and flows well in the book. There are other times where I wish he'd just stick with prose.

Still, one should definitely read this book if they are interested in modern political or philosophical thought. (show less)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Primer
Excellent preliminary introduction to the thought of French philosopher Michel Foucault, who was situated at the forefront of French post-modernity and post-structuralism during the 1960's, grouped with other intellectuals such as Derrida, Lacan, Althusser, and Delueze.

For Foucault, (as it exists in modern societies) power is not an entity to be acquired, it is an instrument that is continually exercised. Power operates as knowledge through discourse, confession, observation, surveillance, etc. "Power for Foucault is not an omnipotent causal principle, or shaping spirit but a perspective concept" (245). Power is used and applied, not obtained.

This volume serves as a useful compendium to the ideas outlined in Foucault's major works, (i.e. Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish, the Order of Things, Archeology of Knowledge, Birth of the Clinic, etc.). It is mostly a gathering of lectures and interviews with various scholars in the field of the history of systems of thought. The first essay (On Popular Justice) is a discussion with a Maoist organization about the applicability of people's courts and the use and relativity of the concept of justice. One gets the impression that Foucault is not entirely at home with this material. The second essay (Prison Talk) is an explication of the major ideas posited in Discipline and Punish, particularly the development of Bentham's Panopticon and the transmission of power as surveillance. A fascinating read, and one of Foucault's great breakthroughs in the social sciences. The third essay (Body/Power) provides further information about Discipline and Punish. The fourth essay (Questions of Geography) is very interesting as Foucualt is backed into a corner by the interviewer for failing to address questions of space in his analysis of power in the age or reason. It is fun to watch Foucault's thinking shift here throughout the course of the interview; initially he is quite hostile to the idea of examining geographical material as a means to access power relations, but he finishes with tremendous enthusiasm for the idea. The fifth essay (Two lectures) is a lecture course primarily concerned with Marxism and the social sciences more broadly. The sixth essay (Truth/Power) is another interview about power and the dissemination of knowledge and information and the dynamics of power as transmitted via discourse. The seventh essay (Power and Strategies) basically outlines the workings of power in totalitarian communist societies (esp. the USSR), and the usage of the gulags as a means of inducing docility and subordination. The eighth essay (The Eye of Power) is another explication of power as a mode of surveillance. The ninth essay (The Politics of Health in the 19th century) is not particularly interesting; in it, Foucault analyses the power relations implicit in public hospitals and medical treatment (further elaborated in Birth of the Clinic). The tenth essay is a very helpful summary of the major ideas posited in the History of Sexuality, an extraordinarily difficult and important text. Additionally, the eleventh essay (the Confession of the Flesh) provides further explication into the subsequent volumes of Foucault's massive history (which he sadly failed to complete).

Naturally, any serious student of Foucault should turn to his original texts in order to fully grasp his philosophical outlook, yet this collection should serve as a useful conduit for new readers to his rich and complex body of work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Foucault 101 - don't stop your education here.
Power/Knowledge is an excellent introduction to and distillation of the thought of Michel Foucault. It's much more functional than The Foucault Reader, which offers a few key essays ("What Is Enlightenment?", "Nietzsche, Genealogy, and History", etc.) mixed with book excerpts, and may be more gentle to the first-time reader than diving into one of Foucault's full-length works.

This book offers the colloquial Foucault, as it is mostly interviews where "The Fox" is asked to explain and expand upon his concepts and theories. Sprinkled in are the occasional lecture ("Two Lectures" is a fragment of the recently released "Society Must Be Defended") and debate, such as the book's opening salvo of Foucault and the Maoists, where we see the somewhat rare portrait of Foucault in direct political engagement. You even get a glimpse of Foucault's sense of humor at the end of "The Confession of the Flesh".

These fragments are useful for understanding Foucault's key concerns, such as the diffuse and productive nature of power and the Nietzschean historical contingency in universal truth claims. However, this book should not serve as the last word on Foucault: from here the reader is advised to make their way into his oeuvre. It's not a bad idea to begin with Foucault's most famous works, such "hard" studies of historical practices as Discipline and Punish, Madness and Civilization, and The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. From there one can move into the more challenging works such as The Order of Things and The Archeology of Knowledge. The sky's the limit.

So Power/Knowledge is a solid point of departure for those interested in Foucault - but don't get lulled into thinking it's all you need. Remember: the map is not the terrain.

4-0 out of 5 stars untitled
I don't know how to rate most of Foucault's work because quite frankly I don't understand most of it.I read some of his primary material and didn't get it.I read some secondary material and I still didn't completely get it.A friend then introduced me to some philosophy comic books.He had the whole series including Hegel, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard to name a few.I now understand the objective and nature of his works yet still can't grasp the nuance of it.Perhaps I'm grasping for greater meaning that doesn't exist, but chances are that I'm just too dumb.

His work is incredibly hard to understand, more tedious to read then Dickens and Dostoevsky combined, and very incoherent.None the less, I'm afraid to give it poor marks out of fear that the intellectuals will brand me a mental midget.On the same line, I'm afraid to engage anyone in conversation about Foucault out of fear that my shallow-comic-book-level understanding of his text will be exposed.

Ultimately, I think this really takes away from his work.He has a lot of insightful things to write.But if you can't communicate them what is the purpose?Read the text and get the comic books.Study your signs and make sure you obey traffic laws.

3-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Thought, Not Brilliantly Presented
Don't get me wrong - Foucault is an absolutely brilliant thinker and modern philosopher. His methods of utilizing classical thought and analysis in the study of modern problems (at least up to the mid-20th century) are fascinating and hugely insightful. He knows the causes and effects of power in all its manifestations, and he applies this knowledge to all manner of intriguing contemporary issues such as struggles against the state, the prison system, health care, sexuality, and geopolitics. (I would be especially interested in Foucault's take on the modern American prison-industrial-political complex.)

The problem with this book is in the presentation. I don't agree with other reviewers who state that this is a good summary or compendium of Foucault's works, because of its very fragmentary nature. Each of the chapters here can be considered distillations of Foucault's thoughts on key subjects. Most of the chapters are structured as interviews or dialogues but with no surrounding context. We have no explanation of who the interviewers are or from which angle they have approached Foucault's works. The chapters begin abruptly, often with the feel of an interview in progress, with no introductory explanations of the context for that portion of Foucault's efforts. Similarly, the chapters end abruptly with no wrapping up or conclusive explanations of the matter at hand. One chapter consists of two "lectures" given at different times, with zero explanation of the purpose of Foucault's visit to wherever the lecture was delivered, who the audience was, or the environment in which Foucault's presence was utilized.

Therefore this book is not a good summary because it only leaves you with fragmentary details of far more vast philosophical masterpieces, with no surrounding context or supplementary information. You can get a passable introduction to Foucault's general ideas here, but for true knowledge you will have to tackle his proper dissertations. The best examples with relevance for contemporary thought are "Madness and Civilisation," "Archeology of Knowledge," and others. [~doomsdayer520~] ... Read more

5. The Government of Self and Others: Lectures at the College de France, 1982-1983
by Michel Foucault
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2010-06-08)
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Asin: 1403986665
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This lecture, given by Michel Foucault at the Collège de France, launches an inquiry into the notion of parresia and continues his rereading of ancient philosophy. Through the study of this notion of truth-telling, of speaking out freely, Foucault re-examines Greek citizenship, showing how the courage of the truth forms the forgotten ethical basis of Athenian democracy. The figure of the philosopher king, the condemnation of writing, and Socrates’ rejection of political involvement are some of the many topics of ancient philosophy revisited here.

... Read more

6. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 352 Pages (1995-04-25)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$9.09
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Asin: 0679752552
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (47)

3-0 out of 5 stars Dry but important
I think I understand.

Foucault's book here is one long delayed-thesis essay.In it he traces history as philosophy coming to the thesis that all social interactions have become part of the prison-like system that we live in, in the western world.School, work, even the hospital place us as subjects of potential surveillance that exist to normalize us.What is the worst aspect of the `carceral' is that we cannot opt out of the system, as it is all-encompassing.

Aside from the main thrust of the argument Foucault makes, there are a lot of interesting bits to learn about theories of punishment through time.The information leans too heavily on post-enlightenment, European theories and history, but that is acceptable.Nothing ever happened in Europe or Asia until the colonial benefactors decided to divest themselves of the burden.A minor critique is that the reading is a little dry.Neither Foucault nor his translator were able to spice things up enough.Maybe elsewhere he carried some polemic and show some passion.Interestingly enough, the authorial presence only comes in during the last sentence.

Overall I would recommend the book to people who are interested in theory.However, I am certain that unless you need the full accounting of the work, there are other venues to get a quick gloss on the main points of the argument.These might be helpful for the student, but the philosopher needs to read the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Piercing and evocative
This is the first book I read by Michel Foucault. I was not disappointed and will definitely be picking up some of his other books soon. It is an impressive work in the style of Nietzsche's "genealogy of morals".

To summarise, Foucault gives a piercing and well argued account of the evolution of various institutions, like the school, the prison, the hospital, the barracks, showing how over the past few centuries, our institutions have become ever more apt at controlling the body and, increasingly, the psyche. He illuminates interactions between the penal system and the sciences to show how the judges of normality gain ever more minute detail at their disposal.

I would think that most readers would walk away from this book with a strong impression of one kind or another. One does not need vast amounts of imagination to see the structures of which Foucault speaks around oneself. It is easy to see traps and walls around you with this viewpoint -- however, Foucault has a strictly neutral tone throughout; he never explicitly condemns the system he describes. A balanced account would have to take into account the valuable effects caused by all this enforced normalisation as well, but Foucault doesn't quite open that can of worms.

Occasionally the book is very vivid in its depiction of past penal mechanisms and torture, but this has the positive effects of strengthening some arguments and making the read more gripping. One other possible criticism is that much of the basic research is based on French history, though at no point did the arguments seem irrelevant to other countries.

I strongly recommend this to readers who want to know more about the society they live in and have more intellectual tools at their disposal (the perspective from which I read this).

5-0 out of 5 stars Wow
I'm not a big fan of theory in the English discipline. I'm more on the creative writing side. However, I thoroughly enjoyed Foucault's discussion on the Panopticon. If anything, just skip to that section and read it. I'm surprised that more prisons are not like that. Brilliant visionary and nice read. Don't get discouraged by the timely references in the beginning. It sets up the meat of the discussion later on.

3-0 out of 5 stars A History of the Present: What Happened to Us
Foucault asks, but does not fully answer, how non-tortuous physical coersion as exemplified in the prison system came to be the dominant form of punishment. In the classical age of the 17th and 18th centuries, man came to be understood as trainable. This is the knowledge part of the equation. Foucault amply demonstrates that discipline was implemented in various fields at this time. Power. Man was trained. Instead of deterrence, in which man would have to be understood as teachable, punishment is just one form of regulation, against which all men potentially deviate from a norm. How did not just organization, but the concern for hyper-efficiency come about in the new discipline? Foucault points out the shift of focus from the crime to the criminal himself, from the temporary breach order to permanent surveillance of a population. Power, once clearly visible, becomes diffuse and subtle. But what caused this? Claiming that it is easier, more economical is not circular only if it is results that power seeks, instead of working according a set of ideals or limit, any kind of humanism. In this history, there is no agency, hence the disregard for any justifications behind laws, for they would be merely after the fact. Structures move between fields, from the religion of monastic life to the schools, from the military to the prison system. Things merely happen. No responsibility. This history disregards the Enlightenment, perhaps because it did not take.

4-0 out of 5 stars Expert Analysis
Just as my title says, this book gives expert analysis on the topic of how disciplines make us into docile bodies and therefore, easier to control.Dont let the title fool you, this book, while it does deal with some of the history of criminology, it deal much more heavily into disciplines.A must read for the student of social control.The only thing that is missing, which is also a common theme in Foucault's work, are recommendations for what society should do.Its clear that he takes issue with disciplines (although, dont fool yourself into thinking that he thinks all disciplines are bad) but he offers no way to get out of them.An untrained Foucault reader might think that he prefers the barbaric public torture to modern punishment and this is its weakness. ... Read more

7. The Foucault Reader
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 400 Pages (1984-11-12)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.92
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Asin: 0394713400
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Michel Foucault was one of the most influential thinkers in the contemporary world, someone whose work has affected the teaching of half a dozen disciplines ranging from literary criticism to the history of criminology. But of his many books, not one offers a satisfactory introduction to the entire complex body of his work. The Foucault Reader was commissioned precisely to serve that purpose.

The Reader contains selections from each area of Foucault's work as well as a wealth of previously unpublished writings, including important material written especially for this volume, the preface to the long-awaited second volume of The History of Sexuality, and interviews with Foucault himself, in the course of which he discussed his philosophy at first hand and with unprecedented candor.

This philosophy comprises an astonishing intellectual enterprise: a minute and ongoing investigation of the nature of power in society. Foucault's analyses of this power as it manifests itself in society, schools, hospitals, factories, homes, families, and other forms of organized society are brought together in The Foucault Reader to create an overview of this theme and of the broad social and political vision that underlies it. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
Book arrived as described, very fast shipment. The book is in great condition, absolutely no problem at all.

thank you, will shop again.

4-0 out of 5 stars Contains some key selections...
As Mr. Rabinow himself states, any selection of Foucault's wide range of works and écrits might seem random at best, pointless at worst.I believe, however, that this compilation includes some of Foucault's most important essays (particularly "What Is Enlightenment?" and "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History") and some VERY edited selections from his most famous oeuvres, especially "Discipline and Punish".If you want a very general overview of Foucault's theories, get this... some informationcontained here in priceless.If you are interested in reading his books... this certainly won't do.I think Mr Rabinow justly skips Foucault's initial "phase" (archeology) BUT unjustly overlooks most of Foucault's final phase (technologies & hermeneutics of the self).One of Foucault's most important essays is missing here, "The Subject & The Power", in which he pieces together his general reflexions on well, the subject and the power.I guess the reason for not including that article is because it is already featured as an extra "bonus" in Rabinow's own "Beyond Hermeneutics & Structuralism".
The introductory pages written by Paul Rabinow are ALSO excellent, by the way.
All in all, a good compilation, if only just a starting point.

4-0 out of 5 stars Goes down easy
This volume includes some classic Foucault essays, like the segment from Birth of the Asylum in which Foucault explains how the asylum sets up controls by means of perpetual observation and perpetual judgement. By continually observing and judging people, the impetus for conformity is laid to rest, becomes less visible, less obvious and subsequently, according to Foucault, all the more powerful because of its restrained state. This is a similar theme in the segment Panopticism where Foucault shows a transition in prison systems from physical manipulation to implicit manipulation. This new form of control is implemented through a physical construction that creates the illusion of continual surveillance. This surveillance creates the impetus for self-control. It ties in rather tightly with earlier discussions by Elias and Bordeau on etiquette. Etiquette is enforced and reinforced by the social force of shame and embarrassment. People control themselves out of a desire not to be looked down upon - to control their own public reputations. Panopticism works in a similar way - by continual observation or the illusion of continual observation, people are expected to continually discipline themselves so as to avoid being disciplined by an external source.
This discussion of self-disciplining the self is an interesting paradigm to work with in the electronic media. TV personnel have certain self-imposed expectations - far beyond state censorship and far more powerful, the desire to be respected by one's peers and superiors, controls the content of the media. Similarly, chatters on the Net are divided on a range along this self-imposed discipline from those who deliberately say the most absurd things just because they are outside the Panopticon to those who continue to hold real whole expectations of themselves in the virtual world. Between these two is a whole range of behaviors from constructing wildly inaccurate selves for Net view to "white lies" about age, weight, hair color, etc. The Net is interesting precisely because it falls outside the daily life which is observed and surveyed, i.e. similar in structure to a social Panopticon and TV news is interesting because it is a much more highly judged arena to step into. Foucault's writing provides more points from which to view the same sociological problem, allowing a researcher to more ably unpack issues embedded in the study.

4-0 out of 5 stars All the Foucault you'll ever need....
Foucault has been well served by this editor.Rabinow can't do anything about the author's dry, humorless prose style, but he has at least wittledit down into digestible chunks. Of course, Foucault's major thesis, thathuman liberation has made no progress in the last two centuries, isludicrous.Foucault's continuing influence on American intellectual lifeis one of the enduring mysteries of our times.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good beginning
This is a good introductory book, not so good if you have (like myself) read a great deal of Foucault and have at least a solid grounding in some of his basic concepts. ... Read more

8. Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (Routledge Classics)
by Michel Foucault
Hardcover: 448 Pages (2001-12-21)
list price: US$130.00 -- used & new: US$113.38
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Asin: 0415267366
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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When one defines order as a sorting of priorities, it becomes beautifully clear as to what Foucault is doing here. With virtuoso showmanship, he weaves an intensely complex history of thought. He dips into literature, art, economics and even biology in The Order of Things, possibly one of the most significant, yet most overlooked, works of the twentieth century. Eclipsed by his later work on power and discourse, nonetheless it was The Order of Things that established Foucault's reputation as an intellectual giant. Pirouetting around the outer edge of language, Foucault unsettles the surface of literary writing. In describing the limitations of our usual taxonomies, he opens the door onto a whole new system of thought, one ripe with what he calls exotic charm. Intellectual pyrotechnics from the master of critical thinking, this book is crucial reading for those who wish to gain insight into that odd beast called Postmodernism, and a must for any fan of Foucault. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have background reference for any thorough-going post-modernist criticism
I think most scholars and educators in the history of philosophy would put this in the top ten most important philosophical works of the latter half of the 20th Century, despite whether one largely agrees with Foucault's views or not.

This is because the work has had enormous influence not just in philosophy, but also in literary criticism, historiography, social psychology, theology, and a host of other disciplines within the humanities and social sciences.

What I think is interesting is that if you are either a friend or foe of deconstructionism, you will find plenty to appreciate in this book.In fact, even if you can't stand (or can't understand) what deconstruction is all about, you can safely give Foucault a try.Though very heavy reading, he is far more structured and organized in his argumentation than, say, Derrida.

If post-modern meta-theory (i.e. discussion of how we might take a step back and judge whether the very principles of how we form theories may be called into question) is of interest to you, in any field, then you probably will be glad for having read this book.

About this edition: It's a shame they did not keep the print of the painting, Las Meninas, on the cover -- as an older paperback version had borne.Foucault talks about this painting at length in the book, and there is no replacement for seeing it.A black-and-white print on the inside is not nearly as nice as the larger, color one that was on previous covers.

5-0 out of 5 stars The key to postmodernism
This was an eye-opener for me. Not so much that Foucault's insights are convincing, but in reading him I achieved a first glimpse of how much of the language used by academic writers conversant in "theory" is taken from this book. After a little time spent reading this, I felt more comfortable with academic writing. Not so much that I understand better what the scholars are saying, but it's now clearer whom they are parroting. It consequently lets me know where an author's allegiance lies.

3-0 out of 5 stars Amusing diversion
More a curiosity and an exploration in the mental discipline of standing rigor up to total relativism. Read this classic if you're (a) interested in the roots of the nascent deconstruction movement (b) thick skinned enough not to be distracted by the author's biases.

I read it out of a desire to see my suppositions challenged; it succeeded well for that.

1-0 out of 5 stars Review specific to Random House / Vintage printing only
The 1994 Random House / Vintage edition astonishingly does not include an index.Without an index, the text is virtually useless for students and academics.One is forced to rely on Google Books in order to find terms in the text.If you intend to use this book for anything more than casual reading, avoid this edition.

5-0 out of 5 stars read it
This book has dramatically changed the way I conceptualize reality.It is hard to follow but incredibly insightful. It will hurt to get through but once you do, you might consider practising your best Mr.Universe pose and claiming -- in the words of the the "Governator" --"No pain, no gain."

I recommend the following steps to understanding this book:
1) read once;
2) see a psychiatrist;
3) read again;
4) think;
5) read again
6) understand.

Im only considering step two. I might just skip it and go strait to step 3.

Good luck. ... Read more

9. Power (The Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Vol. 3)
by Michel Foucault, Robert Hurley, James D. Faubion, Paul Rabinow
Paperback: 528 Pages (2001-10)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.83
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Asin: 1565847091
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The final volume in the definitive collection of Foucault's articles, interviews, and seminars. Power, the third and final volume of The New Press's Essential Works of Foucault series, draws together Foucault's contributions to what he saw as the still-underdeveloped practice of political analysis. It covers the domains Foucault helped to make part of the core agenda of Western political culture—medicine, psychiatry, the penal system, sexuality—illuminating and expanding on the themes of The Birth of the Clinic, Discipline and Punish, and the first volume of The History of Sexuality. Power includes previously unpublished lectures, later writings highlighting Foucault's revolutionary analysis of the politics of personal conduct and freedom, interviews, and letters that illuminate Foucault's own political activism. ... Read more

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4-0 out of 5 stars Not Just for Foucault Fanatics
This collection of Foucault's essays, lectures, interviews, and editorials, offers even the casual reader of Foucault welcome insights into his methods, his intellectual biography and the development of his own methods.Most valuable perhaps are interviews collected from various magazines where he is challenged by his interviewers to respond to their criticisms and the criticisms of others.In one, for instance, Foucault tries hard to correct those who read his works as a totalizing critique of capitalism, or the current penal system, or the mental institution. He insists that his works are only intended to be seen as the history of various specific institutions and that those critics and followers who are tempted to project his findings onto current practices distort his intent.Whether or not you believe him, his defense of his method and his avowed intent are compelling.In another, he also quickly and cogently characterizes his two main intellectual influences, Hegelism and phenomenology, explains why he rejected these particular philosophical trends, but how they nevertheless challenged him to arrive at his own agenda and the course of his studies.Throughout Foucault is ruthlessly honest about his own failings -- for instance his lack of knowledge about the Frankfurt School, and thoughtful -- his appraisal of the problems that inhere in national healthcare programs, which he generally supports but with interesting qualifications.The editorials, while they address issues that may seem remote or dated, demonstrate that he was actively engaged in the politics of his time, and show how he applies his analytical methods to current events.Some selections will be of interest only to the Foucault fanatic or to his biographers, which is the reason for the four star, instead of the five-star, rating. Highly recommended. ... Read more

10. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 304 Pages (1990-04-14)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
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Asin: 0394751221
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In this sequel to The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, the brilliantly original French thinker who died in 1984 gives an analysis of how the ancient Greeks perceived sexuality.

Throughout The Uses of Pleasure Foucault analyzes an irresistible array of ancient Greek texts on eroticism as he tries to answer basic questions: How in the West did sexual experience become a moral issue? And why were other appetites of the body, such as hunger, and collective concerns, such as civic duty, not subjected to the numberless rules and regulations and judgments that have defined, if not confined, sexual behavior? ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars let's hear it for the boy: a greek fable
three quotations from the use of pleasure:

1) the work that one performs on oneself, not only in order to bring one's conduct into compliance with a given rule, but to attempt to transform oneself into the ethical subject of one's behavior is ethical work.Pg 27

2) an `aesthetics of existence' is a way of life whose moral value does not depend either on one's being in conformity with a code of behavior, or on an effort of purification, but on certain formal principles in the use of pleasures,in the way one distributed them, in the limits one observed, in the hierarchyone respected.through reason and the relation to truth that governed it, such a life was committed to the maintenance and reproduction of an ontological order; moreover, it took on the brilliance of a beauty that was revealed to those able to behold it or keep its memory present in mind.Pg 89

3) the principle according to which sexual activity was meant to be regulated, the `mode of subjection' was not defined by a universal legislation determining permitted and forbidden acts; but rather by an art that prescribedthe modalities of a use that depended on different variables (need, time, status). Pg 91

if a man could successfully regulate and master his behavior and, a modern word, passions, he was in a pretty good position to maintain a functioning household of which included a wife, servants and children. and success with his household indicated he was fit to govern.the man, since time immemorial went out and brought home the bacon and the wife stayed home doing housework until the husband arrived with the bacon which she would prepare, and later, if the time was right, make ready for sexual duties in hope that sons would be born who would continue the bloodline. girls were pretty much forgotten. probably they observed their mothers as they busied about the house ordering servants as to chores done until someone wanted to marry them and they left the house of the father for the house of a husband who instructed her in the ways of maintaining his household. boys, on the other hand, had education to look forward to, and the free men, the professional class, the teachers, physicians, philosophers, many of whom found the boys beautiful instead of the stinky booger eaters the girls perceived them as being. in ancient greece, the literature informs us, there was the object of desire, the erotic object of desire, and for many free men that object was a boy, a relationship not of a legal matter but a problematic concern of certain philosophers, in particular Socrates and hisbiographers, plato and xenophon.

there was an entire erotics, foucault tells us, games of love, courtships, devised by those desirous men surrounding the boys, not much different than the mass marketing campaign based on the word and undefined concept `sexy' (just because a jacket is sexy does not mean the jacket or the wearer wants to engage in sexual activity) in the late 20th century. nor either were the boys supposed to take the erotic pressure seriously, they were, after all, out in the world of men to get an education; however, the boys did not know they were not to take the presents, the stalking, the fawning, the invitations, seriously, and if they did, well, that was alright if they responded with the proper decorum, and if their lovers were not compromising the boy's honor and, as men, their own honor. so the male philosophers agreed, the boys are beautiful; however, you may want to consider that more beautiful than the bodies of boys are the souls of boys, and if you really want to be master of yourselves you should cultivate a desire for beauty, beauty in its highest nature, the soul, instead of beauty of the body for the sake of brief pleasures, for there is true love.

now on to volume 3.

4-0 out of 5 stars Unconventional History
Foucault's continuation of his impressive History of Human Sexuality looks into the sexual mores and practices of the Ancient Greeks, and attempts to understand the development of sexuality as a moral problematic. Contrary tothe conventional wisdom which posits a complete epistemic reversal from the Hellenic world to the Christian world, Foucault poses a more complex network of interconnections between the two paradigms, which lie in a valuation of asceticism. Although The Use of Pleasure is only a small piece of a very large story, it is an interesting development in the hermeneutics of sexuality.

4-0 out of 5 stars Foucault
A good account of the history of sexuality. One of the most prominant of writers on the subject next to Freud.
A difficult read, great for refrencing in academic work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Use of Leisure
Although it is not as theoretically courageous, The Use of Pleasure is tenfold more interesting and approachable than the first volume in this trilogy on the history of sexuality.

Foucault delves deep into therecesses of our occidental world by attempting to answer the question,"Why is it that sexuality has become morally problematic?"Whyand when did we attribute a negativity to certain sexualities?And whatdoes this imply about sexuality itself?

Foucault works with irresistiblesources (e.g. Plato's Republic; Hippocrates' Ancient Medicine) in an effortto reconstruct the Hellenic approach to sexuality.The result: a clear andfascinating delineation of the similarities and differences between modernsexual consciousness and "pagan license". ... Read more

11. History of Madness
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 776 Pages (2009-04-02)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.65
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Asin: 0415477263
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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When it was first published in France in 1961 as Folie et Déraison: Histoire de la Folie à l'âge Classique, few had heard of a thirty-four year old philosopher by the name of Michel Foucault. By the time an abridged English edition was published in 1967 as Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault had shaken the intellectual world.

This translation is the first English edition of the complete French texts of the first and second edition, including all prefaces and appendices, some of them unavailable in the existing French edition.

History of Madness begins in the Middle Ages with vivid descriptions of the exclusion and confinement of lepers. Why, Foucault asks, when the leper houses were emptied at the end of the Middle Ages, were they turned into places of confinement for the mad? Why, within the space of several months in 1656, was one out of every hundred people in Paris confined?

Shifting brilliantly from Descartes and early Enlightenment thought to the founding of the Hôpital Général in Paris and the work of early psychiatrists Philippe Pinel and Samuel Tuke, Foucault focuses throughout, not only on scientific and medical analyses of madness, but also on the philosophical and cultural values attached to the mad. He also urges us to recognize the creative and liberating forces that madness represents, brilliantly drawing on examples from Goya, Nietzsche, Van Gogh and Artaud.

The History of Madness is an inspiring and classic work that challenges us to understand madness, reason and power and the forces that shape them.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great read
This book is very well reasoned and Foucault has a really good crack at the problem of 'madness' in society, by looking at how it evolved historically.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mad for Foucault
I think this new translation of History of Madness is one of the most important "book-events" (to use Foucault's term) of the last decade.Although the original French version of this book was published in French in 1961--it was Foucault's first major book, and the first to turn away from his phemonenological roots--it has taken over forty years for it to be fully translated into English.The 1965 English translation, Madness and Civilization, is only about half of the book's original length.Important passages are missing from the 1965 abridged translation, including the two pages on Descartes's exclusion of madness from the cogito which forms the basis of the famous Foucault-Derrida debate.History of Madness gives us, in my view, the seeds of all of Foucault's later ideas, including his ideas about power and ethics.For more on this argument that scrambles typical periodizations of Foucault's work, see my recent book, Mad for Foucault: Rethinking the Foundations of Queer Theory, which gives a detailed reading of History of Madness in light of the new translation.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Foucault Masterpiece in Full
Finally, the first great work by the 20th century's most influential and prescient thinker is available in full in a beautiful translation.Routledge is one of my favorite publishers and both the paperback and hardback editions meet their usual high standards.As is usual with Foucault, there is so much to think about in every sentence the work is best taken in small doses.It's also very depressing, but amply repays the effort and stamina required to read.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Space of the Unreasoned
Michel Foucault's first book should be a real treat, for those interested in modern theory and (as previously mentioned in another review) for those with a psychiatric history of their own. I say "should be": although Foucault is usually reckoned as attempting to tackle social facticity without any support from either dominant or "liberatory" ideologies, Habermas' charge that he was "crypto-normative" rings oddly true in the case of this work. *History of Madness* is itself an effort in the early-modern genre it chronicles, that of providing a definition for mental illness that explains exactly what is objectionable about the conduct of the alienated from the standpoint of reason, rather than merely explaining their unreason in terms of an undifferentiated objectionability.

And "unreason" is a key word for Foucault's project, as is ably explained in Ian Hacking's introduction. Rather than import the diagnostic categories of contemporary psychiatry back into the Classical age, Foucault explains why the practical failure of persons to integrate themselves into modern social life -- which rather obviously has economic and political dimensions -- became "unreason", a failing which compelled modernizing authorities to regiment the "afflicted" in workhouses and *hopitals* rather unlike hospitals rather than treat them in a medical fashion. Rather than a strict critique of psychiatry, Foucault's analysisis a window onto the social struggles which constitute mental illness as something to be combated in the first place, rather than as poorly-calibrated religiosity or aesthetic sentiment.

Although it is true that Routledge seems not to have weathered the changeover to electronic publishing very well, they should be commended for making this great historico-philosophical work available to an English-speaking audience in its entirety.

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
At last the complete version of Foucault's great 'History of Madness' has been released in English. This very fine translation offers a higher degree of clarity and accuracy than the Vintage edition, and it also provides more comprehensive endnotes and Foucault's rejoinder to Derrida's 'Cogito and the History of Madness.' However, Routledge is once again guilty of producing a great and beautiful book but leaving a number of typos in. I don't know if they rush these volumes through production too quickly but it seems to be a recurring volume. In any case, 'The History of Madness' is one of the great works of historical philosophy of the last century. Foucault traces the transmutations and interpretations of insanity from the Dark Ages through the Classical Age and all the way up to modernity with the advent of psychoanalysis. You will never be able to understand the nature of our understanding of insanity without until you have followed Foucault's multi layered analysis. Truly a marvelous book. ... Read more

12. The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 240 Pages (1994-03-29)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.43
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Asin: 0679753346
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In the eighteenth century, medicine underwent a mutation. For the first time, medical knowledge took on a precision that had formerly belonged only to mathematics. The body became something that could be mapped. Disease became subject to new rules of classification. And doctors begin to describe phenomena that for centuries had remained below the threshold of the visible and expressible.

In The Birth of the Clinic the philosopher and intellectual historian who may be the true heir to Nietzsche charts this dramatic transformation of medical knowledge. As in his classic Madness and Civilization, Michel Foucault shows how much what we think of as pure science owes to social and cultural attitudes -- in this case, to the climate of the French Revolution. Brilliant, provocative, and omnivorously learned, his book sheds new light on the origins of our current notions of health and sickness, life and death. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars About freedom
Birth of the Clinic is a partner to Discipline and Punish: Birth of the Prison.They are both about political economy and the irony of how the modern 'free' world is as confining as previous historical eras just in an opposite way.This is kind of Foucault's whole mission, to show us just how confined we really are and wake us up to reality.But he is always subtle about it.In a way his 'philosophy' and 'methodology' and the wild theoretical tangents the academies have taken it to, are a mask for his very powerful and even dangerous political indictments.In Discipline and Punish (Surveil in French) Foucault shows historically how individual time and space have been controlled by the ever evolving, profit-driven, techno-efficiency of the panopticon-state and the distracted aquiescence of its subjects.In Birth of the Clinic he will show historically how the individual person and their body have become property of the state via consensus (law) and the same somnambulent aquiescence.In many ways Foucault is a major conservative showing us empirically, through historical evidence, how the power-play of today is an interiorization of past power-relationships, interiorized to the point of invisibility and largely unacknowledged by the manipulated masses.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read Kuhn first, then Foucault
Wow, Foucault is truly a literary genius.Getting a small glimpse into his wonderful genius is pleasure enough to warrant reading this book.However that said The Birth of the Clinic lacks in certain areas.Obviously, Foucault is writing in the postmodern era, thus his ideas are not nearly as groundbreaking as they would have been had he been writing 30-40 years earlier.This book, as Foucault explicitly states, is not so much about the birth of the clinic, as it is about the birth of ideas and knowledge - how conceptions of good and bad science come to be.In that regard the book, unfortunately the book falters in comparison to some others.The one I have in mind is Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions".The main difference between the two is in time of release.Kuhn's book was released immediately after the Second World War.Subsequently, due to the nascent phase of the field, his book sets the foundation for the literature to follow in its tradition - such as The Birth of the Clinic.Therefore, readers interested in the development of scientific knowledge would be better served to pick up Kuhn's book first, then move onto The Birth of the Clinic.

While an introduction to the topic is somewhat helpful, the value of this book must not be overlooked.Your impression of medicine will not be the same.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sound historical interpretation, hold the postmodernism
Foucault has been interpreted in the US as a pretentious standard-bearer of postmodernism - as an almost "evil" figure who threatens to undermine the foundations of Western knowledge with his problematisation of conceptual categories.It doesn't help that his work has been taken up to justify just about any subversive perspective, whether well-conceived or not.This is only a pitifully small perspective on the man and his work.Foucault should be seen first as a historian, not a philosopher; second, his work should be lauded for the contribution it makes to Western knowledge rather than the superficial "threats" it makes to perspectives whose time has come in any event.Every revolution of perception has been accompanied by vociferous resistance, yet a great many of those sounding their disapproval loudly probably don't really understand what the late Michel was really on to.

The Birth of the Clinic, MF's most accessible work, is a well-researched, brilliantly interpreted account of the development of the clinical "gaze" in the wake of modern medical knowledge and practice.Foucault problematises the institution of the clinic, showing how clinical perception is the result of a historically specific constellation of knowledge and power.His ultimately emancipatory analysis is substantiated every step of the way with textual and historical examples.No metaphysics here, just a radical questioning of the nature of knowledge within institutional practice.

So, sorry (Objectivists!) if this is too much to handle.It's good research, plain and simple.Don't dismiss Foucault as a lightweight postmodernist - try to see him where he would situate himself, in the tradition of reflexive historical sociology.

5-0 out of 5 stars Structural analysis of the origins of clinical medicine
Here is a commentary:

Reviewer: A reader from California May 17, 1998 "Again, Foucault shatters our illusions.This book examines our cultural tendency to elevate the authority of the physician..." This reviwer's summary of the book is incorrect because the work is not astudy of power or "authority" (themes which would be important inFoucault's later works). In "The Birth of the Clinic" we see howFoucault MIGHT HAVE made a crticism of clinical medicine as anauthoritarian institution, but in fact this is NOT the focus of the book.This book is not the attempt to dispel a "myth", it is adescription of the reality of the development of the clinical gaze as adiscursive formation distinct from its historical predecessors.

Reviewer:spandex9@aol.com from Barbaraville, Manitoba (Canada)July 21, 1998."Structures of Perception and Positivism Questioned". This reviewis much closer to the mark than the first one. In particular, in the secondparagraph the reviewer touches on the implications of the development ofanatomo-clinical medicine for "the human experience itself". Inthe conclusion to the book Foucault himself stated that "theexperience of individuality in modern culture is linked to the experienceof death" and that is one reason why we should be interested in thiswork.

Reviewer: Dr. W Y Wan from Hong Kong "A book with specialinsight-- one that you cannot miss. I agree that this book can be ofvalue to physicians who are genuinely interested in human welfare, and it'sunfortunate that most physicians never study the humanities during theireducations.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book with special insight-- one that you cannot miss
" The birth of the Clinic " is an attempt by the philosopher and the learned historian to decipher the secret of medical perception. Only when the chaotic and subjective clinical experience is transcended to theobjective language, we have the medicine as a scientific subject as today.As a physician myself , I think understanding " clinical gaze "helps me to define the place of modern medicine, of doctors and patientsand of medical organisation in this fast changing world. ... Read more

13. The Archaeology of Knowledge & The Discourse on Language
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 256 Pages (1982-09-12)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.56
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Asin: 0394711068
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In France, a country that awards its intellectuals the status other countries give their rock stars, Michel Foucault was part of a glittering generation of thinkers, one which also included Sartre, de Beauvoir and Deleuze. One of the great intellectual heroes of the twentieth century, Foucault was a man whose passion and reason were at the service of nearly every progressive cause of his time. From law and order, to mental health, to power and knowledge, he spearheaded public awareness of the dynamics that hold us all in thrall to a few powerful ideologies and interests. Arguably his finest work, Archaeology of Knowledge is a challenging but fantastically rewarding introduction to his ideas. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

1-0 out of 5 stars The worst sort of literary self-indulgence
A friend who found Foucault's The Order of Things useful and interesting recommended that I give the Archaeology of Knowledge a try.I had enjoyed his first book, Madness and Civilization, so I took up the challenge.

I spent an extremely frustrating month trying to make sense of The Archaeology and then gave up.From the first page on Foucault uses totally unfamiliar concepts in a vocabulary loaded with neologisms which he neither defines nor references.Since the concepts are used in extraordinarily complex locutions, invariably along with other idiosyncratically opaque terminology, it seems impossible to discern their meaning from the context in which they occur.

I have since been advised that The Archaeology of Knowledge is much more approachable for one who has read everything else that Foucault has written, and who has also mastered Derrida and Kristeva.That may be true, but it's not a risk I'm willing to take.Even if I did eventually manage to decipher the code used in producing The Archaeology, I doubt that the intellectual payoff would be substantial.Foucault is the kind of author who delights in keeping people guessing, making sure that no one can ever be certain as to his meaning.It all sounds very profound, but what does it mean.When all is said and done, Foucault wants to keep us off balance, uncertain, but somehow deeply impressed, as in "Perhaps this is what Foucault means by discursive formation!Ah ha!"Or, "Oh, I see:dispersion refers to the post-structuralist notion that any signifier is inevitably modified by an infinitely large number of other signifiers, so its meaning is never absolute... I think ..."But we're never sure.

I have since read interviews with Foucault written when he was at his most influential.Success seems to have been an intoxicating experience for him, and he indulged himself in a sort of yes-I-am, no-I'm-not obfuscation.There is a common and suitably profane English term for this, head-[blanking], sufficiently familiar so that most readers can fill in the blank.Readers who find virtue in head-[blanking] by construing it as an instance of "the death of the author" are kidding themselves.An author who writes an incomprehensible book that somehow gets to be taken very seriously is not dead, but very much in control.

In any case, I'm sure that The Archaeology of Knowledge will have a long life in references and indexes as Foucault's major methodological work.Learned people, moreover, will purport to discern its meaning and will discuss it with ease and assurance.

I had a similar experience 30 years ago when I studied ethnomethodology.I could talk about it with facility and self-satisfaction, but I couldn't shake the vague suspicion that I had merely become adept at exchanging utterances in a shared but meaningless logic of head-[blanking].

As an addendum, an irate reader of this review took me to task for evaluating a book that I do not have the conceptual wherewithal to appreciate.He may have a point, but I've read Habermas, Eagleton, Anthony Giddens, Peter Berger, and other contemporary social and cultural theorists with little difficulty, so I don't think it's unreasonable to expect to be able to make some sense of Foucault.

2-0 out of 5 stars A tough read
My sympathies to anyone who has to read this.This was something I had attempted to read on recommendation of a professor.Later on in my graduate studies I had to read it.It is a required reading for anyone studying rhetoric.If you can get through it, you are destined for greatness.It is reading that requires intense concentration and no interruptions!

3-0 out of 5 stars Obtuse but important
Foucault is not a light read - you will spend several hours just trying to interpret this text.His wording is unusual and complicated, and sentences can run on for almost a paragraph.Sometimes you'll just want to tear your hair out.

Nonetheless, this book is important.The theories Foucault presents in this book, while nearly impossible to cite correcly, do reappear in many modern texts, especially ones about modern literature or the academy.My suggestion is you read it with the assistence of others, preferably including someone with more academic experience (i.e. a professor.)

3-0 out of 5 stars Foucault on Facts
Viewed against the background of Foucault's other books, *The Archaeology of Knowledge* is a curious work. In it, Foucault not only explicates the results of his early books on madness, medicine, and the history of the human sciences: he also offers programmatic statements that link up his methods with the main stream of 20th-century French historical researches. The *episteme* linking seemingly disparate fields of inquiry is here explicitly presented against the background of Ferdinand Braudel's *duree*, and other famed devices for recontextualizing historical facts. For Foucault is intent on demonstrating his method without reference to (*against*) the philosophical luminaries that had until then monopolized such meta-theory.

The uninformed, and perhaps some of the informed, may be surprised to find Foucault actually considering the fact itself: hardly a promising beginning for showing how everything seemingly natural about social life hinges on systems of power. But it is precisely the historical fact that Foucault is concerned with, the dry, value-free content of the "archive": he is interested in the conditions of the possibility of grasping the events of the world in the manner of the historian, and proceeds to elaborate a system for comparing and construing such data without reference to processes of consciousness or any other valorizing quantity from outside history.

He proceeds to do this by elaborating a pragmatics of discourse quite unlike linguistics of the Saussurean (or Gricean) variety, studying how contexts of information combine to produce a happening intelligible as an event, not only as a linguistic counter or evidence of an intention. His analysis strongly resembles that of the celebrated Thomas Kuhn, who in truth aimed not to relativize science but to explain its true "background" in actual scientific practice. Drawing many examples from (and correcting naivete in) his books *History of Madness*, *Birth of the Clinic* and *The Order of Things*, Foucault attempts to show how an intellectual history can carefully collate and juxtapose historical information without imposing an idealizing "mentality" on the originators of a discourse.

Recapping as it does his work of the Sixties, fans of Foucault's analyses in *Discipline and Punish* and *The History of Sexuality* may expect this book represents only "transitional" views of Foucault's, later discarded in favor of a full-blooded Nietzschean pursuit of power relations. But "genealogical" theories are not ignored here, particularly in Foucault's inaugural address for the College de France, "The Order of Discourse", generously included at the end of this volume. It is true that Foucault's theory does not represent the program of a "history of truth" elaborated in "Truth and Juridical Forms", early lectures on the history of the penal system included in volume 3 of the New Press's *Essential Works*. But by the same token those interested in the French social theorists who preceded Foucault will find that Foucault's engagement with their problems, especially those of his teacher Althusser, is here much more explicit than elsewhere.

In conclusion, this book is unlikely to grab you unless you have already made a significant investment in Foucault, or "contemporary" history more generally. But for anyone who has indeed spent some time thinking about such things, this book is an anodyne statement of important and influential views about history and how it is done.

5-0 out of 5 stars Indispensible
Do not be fooled by those who dismiss this as a mere curiousity in Foucault's oeuvre.This difficult work is absolutely essential for understanding his central concept of 'discourse'.All of his works are better understood after a careful reading of this difficult work; this is true even for the later 'geneaological' works. ... Read more

14. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1978--1979 (Lectures at the College de France)
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 368 Pages (2010-03-02)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$11.43
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Asin: 0312203411
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Picador is proud to publish the sixth volume in Foucault's prestigious, groundbreaking series of lectures at the Collège de France from 1970 to 1984

The Birth of Biopolitics continues to pursue the themes of Foucault's lectures from Security, Territory, Population Having shown how eighteenth-century political economy marks the birth of a new governmental rationality--seeking maximum effectiveness by governing less and in accordance with the naturalness of the phenomena to be governed--Michel Foucault undertakes a detailed analysis of the forms of this liberal governmentality.  In a direct and conversational tone, this book raises questions of political philosophy and social policy that are at the heart of current debates about the role and status of neo-liberalism in twentieth century politics.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars afterthoughts on the dialectics between "external politics" and "internal politics" in Europe and China
I am a historian doing researches on the economic and legal development in Chinese early modern history. Reading Foucault's The Birth of Biopolitics is a wonderful experience, I learned a lot and cannot help but to think that the dialectics between "external politics" and "internal politics" in Europe from 17thc on may probably constitute an interesting and plausible comparative framework against the deployment of statecraft project in the sixteenth to eighteenth century China.

1-0 out of 5 stars michel Foucault
Michel Foucault was the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. These lectures are the finest examples of his ideas as they formed into the masterworks of his books. It is a rare occasion to watch the unfolding of such profound ideas.

5-0 out of 5 stars An analysis of U.S. and German Neo-Liberalism
This book is a collection of lectures that Foucault gave.They are focused on the development of Neo-liberalism after World War II, in Germany and the U.S.Foucault traces the development of this theory and how how it differs in Germany and the U.S. respectively.The book being a collection of his lectures, it is at times choppy when reading, because at times the recordings were not able to pick up what was being said.The editor of the book does a wonderful job at acknowledging these parts, but I did not find them detracting from the work.The editor also wrote the lectures in a way that reproduces the lecture so that one can close their eyes and easily imagine themselves there listing to them.The analysis of Neo-Liberalism in this book is the best that I have ever read, and the depth of thought is amazing.It is not an easy read, but one that anyone interested in theory or Foucault should read.It is enjoyable and worth every penny spent.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must read in our changing world
I bought this book in French when it was first published in 2004.At the time the topic meant very little to me in that we were living in a world that had re-elected GWB and seemed somehow to have found stability in its grandiose fantasies...House prices were up up up...The Stock market was up up up...Iraq was becoming another Vietnam ... Liberal thought was as solid a dogma as ever and not a set of evolving ideas ... We lived in a form of ideologically blocked society.`If you're not for us...'The Security volume caught my attention. Last week - after having it literally fall on my knee - I picked it up and opened it.Not only was it fascinating but it helped me understand better the thinking behind the world that fell apart these past six months.A great read and his developments on liberalism are clear and brilliant!

4-0 out of 5 stars Long awaited translation
A book that was due to be translated in English and provides the first attempt of Foucault to cirscumscribe the neoliberal enterprise. ... Read more

15. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth (Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984, Vol. 1)
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 384 Pages (2006-04-28)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.15
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Asin: 1565844343
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Michel Foucault is generally considered one of the most brilliant and influential philosophers of the twentieth century, yet much of his writing has remained unpublished and/or unavailable in English. It is only recently that the French publisher Gallimard issued Dis et crits, the first complete collection of everything Foucault published outside of his monographs. Ethics, the first of three volumes in the collection, provides a lucid and accessible overview of Foucault's work. Included in the first section of this volume are his groundbreaking analyses of penal institutions, psychiatry, "biopolitics," and the modern subject. A second section contains interviews, along with Foucault's key writings on ethics. Winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Relations -- Ethics or Morals or Both?
Of all recent French intellectuals, Foucault is the most perspicacious and daring (and intelligible). His critique of Reiff's Triumph of the Therapeutic (psychiatry/psychology/penology) is brilliant, whether "Civilization & Madness," "Discipline & Punish," or his newly-translated-into-English "History of Madness." Whether one embraces his homoerotic S&M disposition, or not, his assault on the Cult of Therapy/Imprisonment and Powerful must speak to liberals everywhere.

Of Foucault's many writings, this collection of essays seems to represent his broadest range of ideas. I continue to find his historical, psychological, hermeneutic, and philosophical discourse problematic, but one cannot mistake his thrusts -- the making of an authentic self against the forces that would limit human freedom, but recognizing that freedom is not synonymous with libertinism. His indictments of the Therapeutic, the Penal, the Authority, etc. are all here. When he focuses on the "hermeneutic of the self (and subject)," one understands he is addressing how we "make ourselves into who we are," interpreting our different modes,in an almost technological (e.g., artificial) sense, but then decides against such constructs unless they "write truth of subjectivity." In scientific parlance, he's writing on the "phase transition" of his Cartesian inheritance between choas and stasis.

While associated with Nietzsche and post-modernism, Foucault was an Enlightenment Liberal to the core, and his chief interest was in "relations," including relations of power, viz., relations with the State, relations with Authorities, relations with Authoritarians, relations with Corporate Hegemons, etc. Given this focus, one would expect him to confront relations with others as person-to-person, the subject of morals and ethics. His embedded in Cartesian dualism, notwithstanding (a fault on most French thinkers), and despite exaggerating the apotheosis of the "self," he makes perennial contributions to relations between individuals and "others." Power may be thrilling, but only if one submits to it voluntarily, not if it is imposed from without.

Unfortunately, he has not reached deep enough into history to bring the ethical/moral debate into brightest focus. He fails to distinguish between morality (deontological proscriptions) and ethics (teleological prescriptiveness). Rather, he often conflates the two, or confuses them. Nietzsche, of course, heralded a return to an ethics-based civilization, overthrowing deontologically-based Judeo-Christianity, which prizes humility, injustice, and weakness. Foucault suggests as much, but lacks the typical brilliance and clarity in doing so. He also skirts the sole deontological moral imperative (the Harm Principle, articulated by Hippocrates and J.S. Mill), which, of course, the Bible never "reveals." Ethos, for Foucault, is human freedom, and while freedom is necessary, it's insufficient. Alas, Foucault neglects the "sufficient conditions," deferring to self-making.

One has the sense that "indeterminancy" is its own reward, for Foucault. In the Parmenides-Heraclitus debate, he refuses to take a stand, except to "hang" in the phrase transition, between binaries of opposition, between all the dualities of French structuralism.

This deficit notwithstanding, and for reasons that are altogether unclear, his discussion of "interpersonal relations" still offers salience, just not the brilliance Foucault is capable of. Recapturing the Greek ideal of eudaimonia (human flourishing) by avoiding excess and deficiency (vice) in pursuit of moderation (virtue) would have been a stunning achievement in Foucault's relational analysis. As a liberal, he should have also elaborated on the Harm Principle ("do no harm"), which is the foundation of our modern justice, scrapping all the Bible-talk of nonsense and power-relations of Imperialists and Totalitarians.

But if the reader presumes both the ethical and the moral principles above, Foucault's "relational" insights make both principles even more stellar, compelling, and eminently practical in a world that has lost its relational bearings, except for the Will to Power (which he repeatedly and rightly assails). Governments, Corporations, Religions, Autocrats should fear Foucault's exposure, and hopefully we can learn to be ethical and just once again. Recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Foucault at His Best
The acute awareness of the world and the role of the thinker in the world Foucault displays in this collection, especially in this volume, has inspired me. I see this collection as the personal side of Foucault, where the histories/archaeologies are of a slightly more academic tone. Berkeley's Rabinow, one of the leading MC scholars around, provides some great commentary and insight in his introduction.

3-0 out of 5 stars A decent start...
I'm not too crazy about this inaugural edition of the Essential Works of M. Foucault series in English.For one, the three volumes are to be collected from the French 'Dits et Ecrits' series; that is to say, the English translations will be a selection from the complete French.Itblows my mind why they didn't just translate the entire French series.

This volume is divided into two sections: the first is the completecollection of Foucault's resumes from the courses he conducted at theCollege de France; and the second part consists of numerous interviews andessays that have been gathered around the theme of ethics.The resumes arethe official submissions by Foucault to the College, meaning that theyweren't meant for publication but rather for administrative reasons.Assummaries of a year's worth of teachings, covering 1970 to 1984, they onlyprovide crude chunks of what may have proceeded in these courses and publiclectures.Thus, they are rather innocuous, and useless for most scholars. The second part is equally erratic as the theme of ethics just doesn't holdup: for example, what does the piece "The Masked Philosopher"have to do with Foucault's study of Greek and Christian ethics?

The 2ndvolume of this series, on aesthetics, methhod and epistemology, is a farsuperior collection of Foucault goodies.

The best selections from thisvolume is a good summary of Foucault's last two projects: on Greek andRoman sexual practices.Even the introduction by Paul Rabinow is a minordisappointment.

And I gotta say this: the cover layout is atrocious. And why couldn't they just find another photo of Foucault for the backcover, instead of merely reversing the image?Which makes me wonder: whichis the original? ... Read more

16. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics
by Hubert L. Dreyfus, Paul Rabinow
Paperback: 271 Pages (1983-12-15)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$17.22
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Asin: 0226163121
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book, which Foucault himself has judged accurate, is the first to provide a sustained, coherent analysis of Foucault's work as a whole.

To demonstrate the sense in which Foucault's work is beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, the authors unfold a careful, analytical exposition of his oeuvre. They argue that during the of Foucault's work became a sustained and largely successful effort to develop a new method—"interpretative analytics"—capable fo explaining both the logic of structuralism's claim to be an objective science and the apparent validity of the hermeneutical counterclaim that the human sciences can proceed only by understanding the deepest meaning of the subject and his tradition.

"There are many new secondary sources [on Foucault]. None surpass the book by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. . . . The American paperback edition contains Foucault's 'On the Genealogy of Ethics,' a lucid interview that is now our best source for seeing how he construed the whole project of the history of sexuality."—David Hoy, London Review of Books
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Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Analysis
Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rainbow have written a lucid explication of the major ideas of the late Michel Foucault with this brief volume. This is primarily a methodological assessment of Foucault's work, from his archaeological inquiries of asylums, clinics, and prisons, to his brilliant work assessing the 'discursive formations' of the Enlightenment in 'The Order of Things.' There are also excellent chapters regarding Foucault's work in 'The History of Sexuality,' from his interpretation of bio-power to the care of the self. This is not a totally positive appraisal of Foucault's challenging body of work, whose disparate projects failed to be unified in an intelligible and overarching theory of power. However, Foucault comes across as an immensely brilliant and provocative thinker and historian who refused to naively accept reductive programs of social change. This is a very clear and thorough work of scholarship.

5-0 out of 5 stars Overall and insightful consideration about M. Foucault
I haven't yet read all of this book but I think this book is very useful and helpful to understand the thought of Foucault that is hard to understand. There are many authers' insightful consideration about Foucault's thought and they explain it chronologically. So readers of this book can easily follow the development process of Foucault's thought. Although readers must have the knowledge of European philosophy, I recommend this book for all readers who want to know the overall thought of Foucault.

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I was very excited to read this book after seeing the unanimous five-star reviews. I am a beginner when it comes to Foucault, though am fairly well-versed in the central contributions of Freud, Saussure, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Derrida, and know about Kant's phenomenal/neumenal scheme, so felt I had sufficient background to tackle a book like this. However, having just about finished the book, I have to say I was quite disappointed. It is actually not very accessible in many places and presupposes much background knowledge (even beyond that of the philosophers I brought along). I think it would be helpful for someone who is already quite familiar with Foucault's other writings and the intellectual milieu in which he wrote, to get a "big picture", but it is not so helpful if you are approaching it as and introduction to Foucault to get a survey of his thought. In fact, compared to the prose in the book, I found the actual essay by Foucault in the back of the book, "The Subject and Power," refreshingly clear and intelligible. A much more helpful introduction, in my opinion, is Gary Gutting's "Foucault: A Very Short Introduction."

5-0 out of 5 stars Clearer than Foucault
Having read most of Foucault and some of the jargon-laced incoherence that passes for scholarship on his work, I'd say this is the clearest, most coherent text you will find on Foucault.Dreyfus is a great explainer and clarifier of other philosophers (if he can rescue Heidegger from the being-in-the-swamp of his own verbiage, he can rescue anyone), and in this case, he makes Foucault clearer than I thought possible. Also, Dreyfus knew Foucault at Berkeley and was invited by Foucault to lecture in France, so I'm sure this personal connection gave him additional insight into Foucault's project.

I have never been a fan of Foucault or the cult that has sprung up around him in seemingly every corner of the academic world, but Dreyfus and Rabinow at least convinced me that Foucault had something to say and explained what that was more clearly than Foucault ever managed to himself. I highly recommend this book, but it would help to have some background in philosophy (i.e. Kant) before you read it -- probably not required, but it would be helpful.

5-0 out of 5 stars as good as it gets
I did my dissertation on Foucault's archaeology (his first four books), and this required me to acquaint myself with much of the secondary literature concerning his thought. The bulk of this literature seems to be coming from critical theory and culture studies, and it is, well, not very good. Literature and sociology writers are fond of quote-mining his work, and the views I took from their articles almost convinced me that we had read different books.

So Dreyfus and Rabinow's slender volume was a welcome relief. They have the philosophical background required to get a handle on what's going on in Foucault's discourse on discourse, and they had considerable access to the Man Himself to keep them on the straight and narrow. Their work follows the text very closely, and can help the careful reader identify the themes, arguments, and (most notably) tensions that run through these books.

If you've read anything by Foucault, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Even if it's unable to reveal anything new to you, it will bring the works into a sharper focus and help you realize the place any given volume occupied in the overall project of Foucault's career.

While I have read the "genealogy," I'm in no way an expert on the later works and cannot vouch for Dreyfus and Rabinow's authority concerning them. But given the sensitivity and alacrity with which the first four works are treated, I'm fairly confident they will provide rock-steady guidance for Foucault's examination of power and the institutions the wield it. ... Read more

17. The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège de France 1981--1982
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 608 Pages (2005-12-27)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$11.13
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Asin: 0312425708
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Hermeneutics of the Subject is the third volume in the collection of Michel Foucault+s lectures at the Collge de France, where Foucault+s candid and wide-ranging lectures influenced groundbreaking works like The History of Sexuality and Madness and Civilization. In the lectures comprising this volume, Foucault focuses on how the -self+ and the -care of the self+ have been conceived during the period of antiquity, beginning with Socrates. The problems of the ethical formation of the self, Foucault argues, form the background for modern conceptions of the self and remain at the center of contemporary moral thought. Engaging and provocative, The Hermeneutics of the Subject reveals Foucault at the height of his powers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Past of Philosophy Meets The Future of Our Time
I repute this book one of the best because the class take the moment that Foucault discover subjectivity as more powerful than power, when secularization leave people free of religion. The book, as the other of collection, was done taking the tapes and Foucault`s class notes and rebuilding the class lesson. It`s very detailed, more than 550 pages. Foucault works with I and II century of Roman Empire, but he put it in perspective. Greeks and Roman Republic, Roman transition and then Roman democratic empire. He follows how epicureans, cynics and stoics reacts face the rise of Roman Empire. He tries to distinguish the parrhesi­a (fearless speech and freedom) as a different dimension between the Platonic epistrophe and the Christian metanoia vis a vis the transformation of the relationship of self care and self knowledge. After the rise of empire, public life becomes mundanity and the relationship between self care with self knowledge includes a conversion to yourself that differentiate parrhesi­a from epistrophe and metanoia. The last two had erased completely the meaning of parrhesía in the ancient world, deleting an original sense of truth and subjectivity where the subject was tied with the truth talked by himself. Epistrophe was the reminiscence of a past world/life, and the metanoi­a was the conversion to a new world/life, but parrhesia was the conversion to himself understood as the present and truth world/life. I think that the book is the Foucault`s "What Is The Philosophy?" The pages where he opposes paidea and parrhesi­a are a lesson about the difference between truth in mass media and truth in web media; the truth of blogosphere, forums and alike. The rescue of parrhesi­a`s meaning in the ancient society is a very actual problem and show ours spiritual and social troubles in a new light. The edition has a Frédéric Gros` essay in the end of the book that try to contextualize the Course and talk about all material in the Foucault`s notebooks that he will use in the last book about the flesh, and never used but in this class.

5-0 out of 5 stars How philosophy matters...Foucault at his best!
With wit and subtlety, Foucault tells here the story of how Western philosophy became progressively disengaged from life -- and, more importantly, what (and how) philosophy sought to teach us before that fatal split.The result is a long but consistently engaging series of historical meditations on the relevance of philosophy to everyday life.For those of us who never had a chance to attend Foucault's lectures (at the College de France 500 audience members reportedly overflowed a 300 person lecture hall in order to hear Foucault make these weekly presentations of his previous year's research), reading these clearly translated lectures makes for a truly mind expanding experience, and I found these to be the most stimulating of the three lectures courses translated so far (although "Society Must be Defended" is really wonderful too!) ... Read more

18. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self
by Michel Foucault
Paperback: 288 Pages (1988-11-28)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.50
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Asin: 0394741552
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The Care of the Self is the third and possibly final volume of Michel Foucault's widely acclaimed examination of "the experience of sexuality in Western society." Foucault takes us into the first two centuries of our own era, into the Golden Age of Rome, to reveal a subtle but decisive break from the classical Greek vision of sexual pleasure. He skillfully explores the whole corpus of moral reflection among philosophers (Plutarch, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Seneca) and physicians of the era, and uncovers an increasing mistrust of pleasure and growing anxiety over sexual activity and its consequences. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars volumes one and two also reviewed
in the 2nd volume the reader learned that `the obligation to keep the use of pleasure within the bounds of marriage was a way of exercising self-mastery, a mastery made necessary by one's status or authority one had to exercise in the city.'

in volume 3 foucault discusses the shift from the greek city states to the rise of hellenistic monarchies and the empire of rome.the prominent texts consulted by foucault were mainly written by the stoics,seneca, epictetus, and plutarch, and galen, when the body in particular is discussed.the consulted texts are of practical application, beginning, in the 2nd century, with artemidorus' the interpretation of dreams, a book of which foucault wrote, `exemplifies a common way of thinking ... which will allow a measure of what may have been uncommon and in part new in the work of philosophical and medical reflection on pleasure and sexual conduct that was undertaken in the same period', of the second sophistic.

`the ethics inspired by stoicism, are in order to satisfy the specific requirements of the relation to oneself, not to violate one's natural and essential being, and to honor oneself as a reasonable being that one must keep one's practice of sexual pleasure within marriage and in conformity with its objectives.'

however, the problematic of boys as the object of erotic desire rises again, and foucault relates the story, the affairs of the heart, attributed to lucian. theomnestus, in jest, proposes the question, which is the better love choice, boys or women. the debaters, who take the question seriously, are charicles, a lover of women, and callicratidas, a lover of boys. foucault describes `the debate between the love of women and the love of boys' as `the confrontation of two forms of life, of two ways of stylizing one's pleasure, and of the two philosophical discourses that accompany these choices.' callicratidas wins the debate by citing the duplicity and falsity of women who use cosmetics to hide physical flaws, whereas claiming that boys, possess a natural beauty and engage in relationships with men that can develop into true friendships. theomnestus accuses callicratidas of falsely winning the debate by linking his argument tophilosophy and eliminating physical pleasure, what foucault describes as `a fundamental objection to the very old line of argument of greek pederasty, which, in order to conceptualize, formulate, and discourse about the latter and to supply it with reasons, was obliged to evade the manifest presence of physical pleasure.'

though historically, the argument for the love of women seems, for a moment, to win out, and the emphasis shifts from the man and the woman who will care for his household and, eros, his erotic relationship with boys outside the household within the larger world marks the new erotic, to the boy and the girl who makes her entrance as the virgin of the first romances,. It's much easier to follow the history of sexuality from this point to the romances described in, among other books, denis de rougemont's love in the western world than it is to get to `the principle of a perfect conjugal fidelity that is in the pastoral ministry,' an unconditional duty for anyone concerned with his salvation, the subject of a 4th volume foucault, unfortunately, did not live to finish.

1-0 out of 5 stars Abysmal
All Volumes Reviewed: Is this the work of Michel Foucault, the author of "Order of Things," "Discipline and Punish," and "Archeology of Knowledge?" Surely, this must be a hoax. Foucault is notoriously provocative, keenly insightful, and always virulent. So what happened here? Hardly much of a history, anything but provocative, entirely pedestrian, already outdated, and woefully incomplete. Accessibility is not a problem, unlike "Archeology of Knowledge," but truly lacking in information, perspective, and relevance. Compare, for example, this trite and superficial reading with Compton's expansive and exhaustive "Homosexuality and Civilization." After all, Foucault was gay and into sado-masochism. The two are incomparable. A complete waste of time (since I was sure Foucault had something quixotic to write over three volumes), but hope never materialized into reality. Key theme: Sex is a power relation. Maybe for Foucault and his preoccupation with S&M, but some men, gay and straight, find romantic love, passion, intimacy, tenderness, and yes, by golly, love-making culminates in the sex act. How did we get it wrong? PASS.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exposes the Seeds of Contemporary Practice
This is my favorite volume in The History of Sexuality. In The Care of the Self, Foucault traces the shift towards a greater concern over sexual praxis which initiated a more severe ethical code from the one found in the Greek antiquity of his The Use of Pleasure. It is here that Foucault shows us the seeds of moral anxiety that would permeate later Christian sexual ethics. However, Foucault makes clear that this is not the sexuality found in the Christian era--there are still several substantial differences.

So what is the nature of the changes presented in this volume? First is the newfound and pivotal concern for the self nearly absent in the writing examined in the preceding volume. The Greeks seemed concerned for the self only insomuch as an untamed, desirous self would have no right to rule over others within the domestic or political sphere (Use 70-72). These political conceptions of the good, moderate citizen, in conjunction with any special birthrights, were to dominate the life of the individual men (I use this word literally) who would make up a Greek city (Use 72). But within the first two centuries of our own era, there was a new concern for the self and a general disconnection of its relation to the political sphere (Care 67-68). It was through the care of the self that one would discover how to relate to the political realm, and this would be regardless of class strata or other "external" difference (Care 87-94). In many ways, the development of more personal practices of the self would more definitely shape the greater moral code--this code would be more relativized, more individualized.

But this would certainly not mean that men could absolutely develop their own ethical code without regard to the discursive features of the period. It was not absolutely relative to the individual in question. The second theme, thus, was a shift in emphasis in practices related to the body, boys and marriage. In all of these realms, there was an increasing idea of the frailty of the fiber--morally and physically--of the self. For instance, the Greek's valorization of sexual moderation shifted nearly to idealization of sexual abstinence in Roman writings (122). What was once an anxiety over the effects of too much sexual activity became an anxiety over sexual pleasure generally--due very visibly to the new emphasis on the care of the self for the self's own sake (123).

Within this thematic of shifting values the question of marriage and of relations with young men was re-cast. Marriage became a much more personal institution; the idea of love, mutual care and fidelity began to dominate discourse on marriage. Where before the husband was not expected to have sexual relations exclusively with his wife (Use 180), it was now a weakness if he did not (Care 175). Marriage was idealized as the most perfect, most complete formulation for sexual relation. Therefore, Foucault writes, when the love of young men was posed, it would often be contrasted with this more "perfect" marital relation and held against a valorization of intentional virginity--ideally meant until the more excellent marital union might be realized (228-32). The love of young men became a weakness of the self in this ideational restructuring.

This is perhaps where I would call into question Foucault's hermeneutical method. While he makes it very clear that he is only analyzing an elite medico-philosophical discourse from the period (235), he does not mention exactly what this means: what he is leaving out. Martial's Epigrams, for instance, was a contemporaneous personal exposition into as many sexual acts and practices as one might imagine. Further, Garland's poetry from the same period speaks of a love for a boy held above any other love one might find in the earthly realm. Foucault can only (albeit convincingly) speculate that the early Roman discourse he is uncovering matriculated into the formation of the Christian Roman Empire (235), and that it was not, for instance, an inconsequential reaction to the varied "decadences" one might find in these other literary works. There is simply not a lot of methodological certainty about why or how this elite and small conversation between philosophers and medics diffused itself so completely into the later empire.

Nonetheless, I still think that this is the most exciting volume of Foucault's history. Its presentation is more complex and subtle then the almost schematically frigid The Use of Pleasure, and its articulation is more intentional and deliberate than the broad strokes of the Introduction. Moreover, this volume, I believe, shows us the very first seeds of the discourse that would eventually insist on an essential sexuality revelatory of the truth of the self: the idea of sexuality we all live with today. ... Read more

19. Manet and the Object of Painting
by Michel Foucault
Hardcover: 96 Pages (2010-03-01)
list price: US$21.95 -- used & new: US$12.98
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Asin: 1854378457
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In this encounter between one of the 20th century’s greatest minds and an artist fundamental to the development of modern art, French philosopher Michel Foucault explores Edouard Manet’s importance in the overthrow of traditional values in painting.

Originally delivered in Tunis in 1971 as part of a conference on Manet and here translated into English for the first time, this powerful critique takes the form of a commentary on 13 of Manet’s paintings. For the political-minded philosopher, the connection between visual art and power was clear: art is not an aesthetic pursuit, but a means to explore—and challenge—power dynamics. A precursor to Foucault’s later work on le regard, or the gaze, the text examines paintings like Un Bar aux Folies-Bergére, where Manet used the mirror to imply the multiple gaze of the waitress, the viewer, and the man at the bar, who may or may not be the artist himself.  Foucault used Manet as a basis for a wider exploration of culture.

With a new introduction by leading French critic and Tate curator Nicolas Bourriaud and a note on the translation by Matthew Barr, this is a major contribution to the fields of both modern philosophy and art history.
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Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Academic Painter
As an artist, I found Foucault's observations pointed, but not as insightful as I have come to expect from his brilliant mind. This book is a lecture, not a more contemplative tour de-force and thus not as lengthy and in depth as I would have liked. That said, I did thoroughly enjoy this very quick read. If you like Foucault and have a basic appreciation of the plastic arts, you will probably enjoy this book. There are few subjects better than Manet's catalog and I commend Michel for sharing his thoughts. As always, it is filled with clever observations that will invariably contribute to any small talk at a dinner party. ... Read more

20. Feminist Interpretations of Michel Foucault (A E Reading the Canon)
by Susan Hekman
Paperback: 336 Pages (1996-11-01)
list price: US$26.00 -- used & new: US$26.00
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Asin: 0271032715
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An exploration of the intersection between the work of Michel Foucault and feminist theory, focusing on Foucault's theories of sex/body, identity/subject, and power/politics.Like the other books in this series, this volume seeks to bring a feminist perspective to bear on the interpretation of a major figure in the philosophical canon. In the case of Michel Foucault, however, this aim is somewhat ironic because Foucault sees his work as disrupting that very canon. Since feminists see their work as similarly disruptive, Foucault and feminism would seem to find much common ground, but, as the contributors to this collection reveal, the matter is not so simple. Foucault, like many feminists, is centrally concerned with questions related to sexuality and the body. This concern has led both Foucault and feminists to challenge the founding concept of the modernist philosophical canon: the disembodied transcendental subject. For both Foucault and feminists, this subject must be deconstructed and a new concept of identity articulated. The exciting possibilities of a Foucaultian approach to issues of the subject and identity, especially as they relate to sex and the body, are detailed in several of the essays collected here.Despite these possibilities, however, Foucault's approach has raised serious questions about an equally crucial area of feminist thought-politics. Some feminist critics of Foucault have argued that his deconstruction of the concept "woman" also deconstructs the possibility of a feminist politics. Several essays explore the implications of this deconstruction for feminist politics and suggest that a Foucaultian feminist politics is not viable. Overall, this collection illustrates the range of interest Foucault's thought has generated among feminist thinkers and both the advantages and liabilities of his approach for the development of feminist theory and politics.Contributors are Nancy Fraser, Nancy Hartsock, Judith Butler, Ellen L. McCallum, Linda Alcoff, ... Read more

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