Critical and Effective Histories: Foucault's Methods and by Mitchell Dean

By Mitchell Dean

This e-book areas Foucault's methodologies opposed to valuable currents in social conception and philosophy so as to supply a advisor to doing ancient sociology specifically and social sciences extra ordinarily. it really is written for a number of purposes. First, it seeks to make Foucault's contribution understandable to a variety of expert and non-professional readers. moment, it rescues the originality and usability of Foucault's paintings, and his severe undertaking from either the welter of ill-informed feedback and the obfuscation of sympathetic commentators. 3rd, it embodies a conviction that Foucault's ways might tell the metamorphosis of sociology into an efficient, open-ended, multi-focused, suitable self-discipline, in a position to problematising the grand frameworks and assumptions of past social idea. ultimately, it demonstrates that Foucault's tools give you the important for any state of the art social study this present day. The publication therefore addresses the numerous formulations of Foucault's methodological place and seeks to set up its relation to such figures as Nietzsche, Kant, Weber, Elias, Habermas, Giddens and the Annales and Frankfurt colleges. Futhermore, it explores the itnerconnected considerable topics of Foucault's paintings: fact, wisdom and rationality; strength, domination and executive; and the self and moral perform. The ebook is much less a remark on Foucault than a use of Foucault's how to chart an unique place at the of social technological know-how this day. it really is directed not just to readers attracted to Foucault's legacy yet to any social scientis or pupil operating on the leading edge of latest learn and to the non-professional viewers inquisitive about the valuable, moral, political, and theoretical difficulties of our time.

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Example text

In his 1950 inaugural leçon, Braudel had rejected a ‘general history’ as merely the combination of many narrative histories, the crossing of the ‘exceptional destinies’ of great beings (ibid. 11). Instead he spoke in favour of a ‘total history of man in all its aspects’ as being on the agenda of a history open to social reality and the findings of the human sciences (ibid. 21). He later substitutes ‘global history’ for this term (ibid. 93) and commends Chaunu’s ‘serial history’ (ibid. 91–104). There are no doubt some important shifts of position associated with these moves.

Turning to Foucault’s use of these terms, we find he rejects a ‘total history’ as seeking to reconstitute the overall form of a civilisation or reduce a society to the emanations of a single principle. He advocates, instead, a ‘general history’, the latter defined in terms of the establishment of relations between series. The problem of this general history is to constitute series, define the elements of each, set its limits, formulate its laws and, finally, to establish the relation between series, the ‘series of series’ or tables it is possible to construct (Foucault 1972:7–10).

We have shown that Foucault sought to raise these problems in his engagement with the uses of history isolated by Nietzsche. If, then, we are to understand how a self-styled history of the present can avoid presentism, we must turn to the relation of archaeology and genealogy. As for the second critique of Foucault’s historiography as presentist, three points can be made. First, a rejection of historians’ presentist narcissism does not entail a forsaking of a relation between historical knowledge and the future.

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