Michel Foucault with his thought of resurgence of the undercut lawfulness was born in Poitiers, France, on October 15, 1926. He was intelligent but psychologically tormented as a student. Becoming academically established during the 1960s, Foucault held a series of positions at French universities. In 1969, he went to the Kolese de France, very prestigious; he was a Professor of the History of Systems of Thought until his death.
Foucault was also politically active in the 1970s and was the Prison Information Group founder, often voicing fringe groups. Foucault died in Paris on June 25, 1984, as an early victim of AIDS. Foucault’s academic formation is psychology, history, and philosophy; people and professors often question whether Foucault is a philosopher. His books are essentially a history of medical and social sciences and his interests in literature and politics.
People read nearly all of Foucault’s works philosophically in many ways. Either they carry out the traditional critical project of philosophy in a new way or as a critical engagement with conventional philosophers’ thinking.
The Continuity of Systematization
Using an archaeological approach, Michel Foucault defines it as an exploration of several accurately to the resurgence of undercut lawfulness. Furthermore, specific historical conditions, a combined statement informing and describing a field of knowledge and requiring a particular set of concepts. Every change in historical objects is not explanatory in the same perspective, where discourse is always discontinuous.
Not typically, prehistory does not determine thoughts and images where thought occurs or appears in course discourses. Archeology does not want to find continuity. The transitions of the senses on a flat surface connect one discourse to another. The study of antiquity also does not organize established figures. It does not unearth the horizon’s anonymous moments when speaking about psychological and sociological creation.
He investigates the origins of human science with an archaeological approach and divides European history into three periods, namely Renaissance, classical, and modern.
Foucault and Morality
Foucault opposes all forms of global speculation and tries to avoid a complete critical analysis of systematization. His works have an essential coherence if Nietzsche‘s vision of history is based on Foucault’s results even though they do not form a system. He acknowledges the influence of Nietzsche’s schema of historical conception as genealogy. The Genealogy of Morality, written by Nietzsche, attempts to delegitimize the present by separating the past.
Foucault’s efforts are not like those of historians to trace the inevitability of history. However, he separated the past from the present. By showing the alienation of the past, he revitalizes and undercuts the legitimacy of the present. Genealogical aims to trace the beginning of episteme formation; it can occur at any time. There is no intention of looking for origins but instead trying to dig the episteme’s depths and trying to reach the basis of truth in each cognition at each time.
It is also not a theory but a way of looking to dismantle episteme and social practice. Michel Foucault cannot escape from a critical description because it replaces and complements one another to the resurgence of the undercut lawfulness. The crucial side of analysis relates to the entire system of discourse spheres, trying to sort out the principles of structuring and irregularities in discourse.
The Genealogical Distortion
The genealogical side is closely related to a series of effective formations to protect them based on the power of their affirmations. Power forms object domains where each domain can affirm the truth or falsity of a proposition. Genealogy aims to continue anthropology and focus on the scope of discursive practice and discover the origin of a point of departure thought without relating it to the essence of lost identity.
Like so, Foucault proves that history has been a history of distortion, not history with language or meaning, but with relations between powers. In one of his essays, he describes a discursive formation within forming a regime of the power of truth, previously natural. It cannot be separated and cannot be free from the limitations and control of the many non-discursive formations.
The central point is that discourse is dangerous, and power tries to control it. He defines the domain in which address is problematic, namely politics, desire, madness, and a balance between right and wrong.
The Rejection of Science
Apart from taking many references from Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, in addiction to the resurgence of undercut lawfulness, rejected science for the benefits of science itself. It is not for the sake of power. Nevertheless, it is about madness, politics, or sexuality as long as it has the direction to achieve control. In management, it is repressive and sometimes even oppressive, where the domination between subject and object has been mutually justifying one another.
Power produces subjective truth, involving knowledge, where reality becomes disciplinary. Foucault concluded that every society has its identity politics. For Foucault, proficiency in any form never transcends the regime of truth and power itself. Every knowledge has an attachment in socio-historical concrete, is temporary, and never transforms itself into objective and universal truths.
Thus, the postmodern is a universe without any boundary points. There is no central point and no general standard for measuring, judging, or evaluating concepts. Struggling to replace the idea of the universality of modernism with multi-versatility, accepting and acknowledging diversity in society is an implementation of Foucault.
The Discourse Practice
Foucault rejects the Hegelian bent model in which one mode of production flows dialectically from another. He chose the tactic of Nietzschean criticism of proposing differences and starting from the present and moving backward in time until he gets a difference. Thus, he will move forward again, trace the transformation process, and maintain discontinuity and continuity. Foucault’s method of alienating discourse or practice in such a way is negativity about the present blown up phenomena’ rationality.
However, when the past power technology is descriptive in detail, the past’s assumptions view history as irrational collapsing. The gap between the past and the present underscores the principle of difference central to Foucault’s historiography. He leaves disruption unclear, and most post-mortem texts reduce explanations to evolutionist conclusions, contrary to the genealogy of difference.
The genealogical analysis differs from traditional unidirectional forms of research. On the other hand, definitive history enters events into large dispersal systems and linear processes. It is a celebration of events and characters and attempts to document the origin of events. The pedigree analysis seeks to establish and maintain a singularity of events and leave spectacular events for trivial events.
The Efficiency of Knowledge
The whole range of phenomena, the denial of history, occurs, according to Foucault, when the rebellion of knowledge is suppressed to insufficient knowledge. Naive understanding is at the bottom of the hierarchy of command outside the scientific level. Foucault often uses the term genealogy to refer to the unity of intellectual knowledge and local memories, enabling humans to build historical knowledge about life’s struggles.
Apart from using knowledge politely in everyday life, genealogy focuses, especially on local knowledge, on the presumption of illicitity in the face of a unified claim of filter theory, hierarchical ordering, and organization in the name of actual knowledge. Foucault reverses the general viewpoint of the relationship between knowledge and power like Nietzsche’s. Many philosophers and professors think that knowledge gives the ability to do something and cannot make unacknowledged decisions themselves.
Foucault said that knowledge is the power to dominate others. Knowledge is no longer liberating and a mode of control, regulation, and discipline. Foucault focused on the times when putting people under surveillance was more efficient and profitable.
The Prisoner of War
Then making obedience to specific punishments in Discipline and Punish, the transition in the 18th century was closely related to establishing a new model of exercising power. Starting with a description of torture and execution incidents, Foucault explained how there had been significant changes in eight years. The phenomenon of torture is gone, replaced by prisoners’ regulation and new monitoring mechanisms such as barracks, prisons, and schools.
Foucault said that power is not subject to everything, mainly serving economic interests if power is not ownership or ability. He emphasized that the power relations pattern does not originate from the ruler or the state but belongs to individuals or classes in addition to being conceptualized. Analysis of power should not focus on the level of conscious goals but on exercising power.
Power is spread everywhere in the network. He changes the focus of questions such as who belongs to power or the holders of power’s goals.
In his thought, apart from talking about new things and tending to be foreign by defining formation and positivity, Foucault, different from historians in general, entered into a unique understanding of history and looked at history from a micro perspective critically. He redefined history and emphasized the use of the word discontinuity. For him, history was not a series of events that continued from one point to another.
In any event, there is a discontinuity, in contrast to historians in general, writing history with a new orientation and perspective. History is a necessity for the present and not just a story from the past. Besides having more visionary thinking and generating new ideas, Foucault shows the courage to get out of his comfort zone with all the risks or consequences. Few people call it an imbalance; thus, real and urgent requires the touch and persistence of philosophers or historians’ research.
The diligence proves it in studying taboo themes such as prison and sexual deviance. Restricted by power and tradition, people often view science objectively but have taboo views of discrimination forms. Every discourse, for Foucault, has the same potential and is part of knowledge worthy of knowing by everyone as well.
The Power of Origin
Foucault also rejects the analysis of power’s origin in structures or institutions at the leading or top positions. Foucault’s view is questioning the concept of conflict between the business class and the lower class. The bourgeoisie does not create techniques or mechanisms, nor does it make a class by exercising practical domination. However, the spread of power shows political and economic benefits for the bourgeoisie.
Seeing power as both an oppressor and a barrier is not adequate for the power of reality creation. Power creates a domain of objects and rituals of truth in which Foucault says power drives people insane. Society must pay attention to the fact that power creates and gives birth to new knowledge objects. Knowledge makes the effects of power; on the contrary, without knowledge of power, it is impossible not to give birth to power.
- Bielskis, A. (2009). Power, History and Genealogy: Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault. Problemos, 75, 73-84.
- Foucault, M. (2019). Aesthetics, method, and epistemology: Essential works of Foucault 1954-1984. Penguin UK.
- Muldoon, J. (2014). Foucault’s forgotten Hegelianism. Parrhesia, 21, 102-112.