The archaeology of knowledge

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The Archaeology of Knowledge is a comprehensive account of Foucault ‘s methodological analysis. Within this book, he deals with cardinal footings like discourse, enunciative modes, constructs, schemes, statements, and so on. Harmonizing to Lindgren ( 2000:294 ) , archeology is a method of historical research aimed at the statements of discourses and statement procedures, patterns whose primary intent is to uncover the discursive regulations that constitute assorted Fieldss of cognition.

In that sense, we should get down by specifying what discourse is for Foucault. Foucault ( cited in Hall, 1997:44 ) defines ‘discourse ‘ as:

    [ A ] group of statements which provide a linguistic communication for speaking about – a manner of stand foring the cognition about – a peculiar subject at a peculiar historical minute. … Discourse is about the production of cognition through linguistic communication. But… since all societal patterns entail significance, and significances form and influence what we do – our behavior – all patterns have a dianoetic facet.

With the archeology of cognition, Foucault focuses on a new method, a systematic articulation of the significance and function of discourses. He argues that cognition is created through discourse. His chief involvement is how we should analyze the cognition ( from talk notes ) . Related to this involvement, he examines how we are made topics, how we are being topics. To reply these inquiries, he looks for the relation between power and cognition. He points out that discourse is a agency of commanding the societal patterns and establishments in a society. How is it done so? For him, commanding the societal patterns and establishments in a society is done by pull offing the cognition of the society. In that sense, intent of archeological analysis is to uncover historical conditions that make cognition possible and epistemological country where these conditions occur. In other words, harmonizing to archeological analysis, cognition is historically constituted within an episteme and due to the regulations specifying dianoetic patterns of this episteme. Foucault says:

    By episteme, we mean… the entire set of dealingss that unite, at a given period, the dianoetic patterns that give rise to epistemic figures, scientific disciplines, and perchance formalistic systems ; the manner in which, in each of these dianoetic formations, the passages to epistemologization, scientificity, and formalisation are situated and operate ; the distribution of these thresholds, which may co-occur, be subordinated to one another, or be separated by displacements in clip ; the sidelong dealingss that may be between epistemic figures or scientific disciplines in so far as they belong to neighbouring, but distinguishable, dianoetic patterns. The episteme is non a signifier of cognition ( connaissance ) or type of reason which, traversing the boundaries of the most varied scientific disciplines, manifests the autonomous integrity of a topic, a spirit, or a period ; it is the entirety of dealingss that can be discovered, for a given period, between the scientific disciplines when 1 analyses them at the degree of dianoetic regularities ( Archaeology 191 )

In that point, he is interested in statements. The primary analytical component of archeology is the statement ( Lindgren, 2000: 298 ) . In The Archaeology of Knowledge, with the construct of archeology, he is paying attending to talk about and a examination of the statement. In that sense, there is a treatment about what Foucault ‘s statement includes. For illustration, harmonizing to Dreyfus and Rabinow ( cited in Barrett, 2004: 176 ) , Foucault does non cover with all statements but he deals with statements that have autonomy and include existent averment. Foucault ‘s ‘statement ‘ is different from “ the simple lettering of what is said ” ( Deleuze, 1988: 15 ) . Harmonizing to Barrett ( 2004: 176 ) , statements of Foucault are non proposition or sentence. Harmonizing to him, the statement is non as a lingual unit like the sentence, but as “ a map ” ( Foucault, 98 ) . This illustration is largely expressed to hold on how a statement is considered. AZERT, which is formation of letters on Gallic typewriter, is non a statement. On the other manus, puting this formation in the direction book as “ alphabetic formation accepted by Gallic typists ” is a statement. In Foucault ‘s words: “ … the keyboard of a typewriter is non a statement ; but the same series of letters, A, Z, E, R, T, listed in a typing manual, is the statement of the alphabetical order adopted by Gallic typewriters ” ( 85-86 ) .

With the method of archeology, he attempts to specify the existent statements as patterns that are capable to certain regulations, historically, and culturally determined regulations that determine what statements are produced. In The Archeology of Knowledge, Foucault argues that the statement itself does non make significance. Rather, statements create a web of regulations that determine what is meaningful as we can see in the AZERT illustration. Briefly, the statement enables “ groups of marks to be, and enables regulations or signifiers to go manifest ” ( Foucault, 99 ) . The conditions of a statement point toward how claims of truth are constructed. In that sense, we can claim that he is non interested in indispensable truth. He is interested in the thought of “ truth production. ” Therefore, we can see this purpose in Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic, and The Order of Things.

In that sense, he tries to give us an thought about how his work is different from traditional understanding history. His effort can be described as scheme of discontinuity. Alternatively of seeking for homogeneousness in a dianoetic entity, Foucault looks at ruptures, interruptions to understand the production of significance and cognition. Therefore, he argues that subjects like grammar, medical specialty, and gender have no positive integrity. The thing unifying them is the “ regulations of formation. ” Rules of formation find how new statements can be made. Such an analysis of discontinuous discourse does non belong to the traditional history of thoughts or of scientific discipline:

    … it is instead an question whose purpose is to rediscover on what footing cognition and theory became possible ; within what infinite of order cognition is constituted… Such an endeavor is non so much a history, in the traditional significance of the word, as an “ archeology ” ( Order, xxi-xxii ) .

He explains this with a good metaphor.

    The papers is non the fortunate tool of a history that is chiefly and basically memory… history, in its traditional signifier, undertook to ‘memorize ‘ the memorials of the yesteryear, [ and ] transform them into paperss… In our clip, history is that which transforms paperss into memorials. In that country where, in the past, history deciphered the hints left by work forces, it now deploys a mass of elements that have to be grouped, made relevant, placed in relation to one another to organize entireties ; it might be said, to play on words a small, that in our clip history aspires to the status of archeology, to the intrinsic description of the memorial ( Archaeology, 7 ) .

The chief intent is to analyze the papers non what papers represents. In other words, intent of archeological analaysis can be stated in three rubrics:

  • To demo discontinuities in the history of idea.
  • He sees these discontinuities as normal non a stigmata.
  • … the subject and possibility of a entire history Begin to vanish, and we see the outgrowth of something really different that might be called a general history. The undertaking of a entire history is one that seeks to restructure the overall signifier of a civilisation… The job that now presents itself — and which defines the undertaking of a general history — is to find what signifier of relation may be lawfully described between these different series… non merely what series, but besides what ‘series of series ‘ — or, in other words, what ‘tables ‘ it is possible to pull up. A entire description draws all phenomena around a individual Centre… a general history, on the contrary, would deploy the infinite of scattering ( 9-10 ) .

In other words, the intent is to happen regulations working within different series. What we witness is non continuity without break but scattering. We should analyze objects, statements, and subject. He prefers to look into constructs, subjects, and paradigms at all degrees of discourse ; the “ dianoetic regularities. ” These constitute dianoetic information. Undertaking of archeology is to analyze this. Responsible of the said is non the author ; it is history. Foucault summarizes this as:

    Archeology does non seek to rediscover the uninterrupted, insensible passage that relates discourses, on a soft incline, to what predate them, surrounds them, or follows them… its job is to specify discourses in their specificity ; to demo in what manner the set of regulations that they put into operation is irreducible to any other… it is non a ‘doxology ‘ ; but a differential analysis of the modes of discourse ( 139 ) .

Second, to get down to grok a dianoetic formation, we have to oppugn the talker: who is talking? The intent of this analysis is to look at conventional and established discourses and establishments, such as medical specialty. Once we ascertain who is talking, we must analyze the papers to see who they are talking for.

The 3rd set of regulations of formation of a dianoetic formation is those that relate to the ‘formation of constructs. ‘ An effort to specify regularity in the procedure of the outgrowth of constructs has nil to make with an attempt to depict a chronological or hierarchal procedure. Rather, the regulations of formation of constructs would depict the organisation of the land of statements where these statements appear and circulate. This organisation, harmonizing to Foucault, entails ‘forms of sequence ‘ , ‘forms of coexistence ‘ , and ‘procedures of intercession ‘ ( 56-58 ) .

Equally far as I concerned from the book, The Archaeology of Knowledge, it is presented the methodological analysis of archeology used in Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic, and The Order of Things.

For illustration, while he examines the lunacy in Madness and Civilization, he surveies the outgrowth of the discourse called psychopathology. He discovers that what made this subject possible at the clip it appeared was a whole set of dealingss between hospitalization, internment, the conditions and processs of societal exclusion, the regulations of law, the norms of labour and bourgeois morality. In short, he examines external dealingss that characterized for this dianoetic pattern the formation of its statements.

As the rubric suggest, The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences investigate the history and the historic roots of the ‘human scientific disciplines ‘ , holding an involvement in linguistics, biological science and economic sciences. Furthermore, the book has a shutting chapter on ‘history, sociology, depth psychology and ethnology ‘ ( O ‘ Farrell, 2005:39 ) .

Another illustration for archeological analysis can be The Order of Discourse. This book corresponds to a sum-up of Foucault ‘s archeological analysis. Within the book, there is a treatment about processs, regulations and rules, which regulate, control, and organize effects of discourse.

In The History of Sexuality, volume 1: An Introduction, Foucault focuses on the discourses based on analysis, statistics, categorization, and specification centered around sex by turning upside down the traditional impression. He examines truth about sex expressed in a linguistic communication that is based on power and cognition.

If we do the survey of archeological analysis by mentioning to these plants, we can stretch out the obvious elements of the theoretical model, which Foucault articulates in The Archaeology of Knowledge. From them, he derives and illustrates the footing of the methodological analysis. This method is distinguished by its uncertainties about of continuity and the hunt for intending in history. Dreyfus and Rabinow point out that archaeological analysis “ shows that what seems like the uninterrupted development of significance is crossed by discontinuous dianoetic formations ” ( 1986: 106 ) .

After The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault began progressively to be interested in the relationship between cognition and power, and how this relationship can take to the production of peculiar ‘truths ‘ about the human ‘subject ‘ ( McHoul & A ; Grace, 1993:57-58 ) . In other words, Archaeology is non analyzing the history of thoughts. On the other manus, it is an attempt to focuse on the status in which a topic ( the mad, for illustration ) is constituted as a possible object of cognition. He says:

    Analyzing the history of thoughts, as they evolve, is non my job so much as seeking to spot beneath them how one or another object could take form as a possible object of cognition. Why for case did madness become, at a given minute, an object of knoweldge matching to a certain type of cognition? By utilizing the word “ archeology ” instead than “ history ” , I tied to denominate this asynchronism between thoughts about lunacy and the fundamental law of lunacy as an object.

Therefore, every bit far as I understood from the citation, power is no longer the conventional power of establishments and/or leaders, but alternatively the manners of power that controls persons and their cognition, the mechanism by which power “ reaches into to the really grain of persons, touches their organic structures and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, larning procedures and mundane lives ” ( Power/Knowledge, 30 ) . It is in discourse that power is manifest to place the mad.

Briefly, with archeological analysis, he is against the humanist constructs of ego and objectiveness. we can summaries this resistance under two rubrics:

  • He is against the thought of an independent person. The topic for Foucault is non a rational agent thought and moving under its ain self-imposed and self-created bids. Rather the topic is a merchandise of societal constructions, epistemes, and discourses as we witness in discourse of the lunacy. For illustration, in Discipline and Punish, he examines new creative activities bring forthing the felon as a new type of individual.
  • He is besides against an objectivist epistemology, theory of cognition. Our significance, experiences, and truths are non merely prearranged to us as stable and fixed objects. Rather they are constructed for us by the same societal constructions, the epistemes, and discourse that give us our individuality as we witness the designation of the mad or as we gain our sexual individuality.

Therefore, archeology of cognition is looking for the regulations for the statements in a peculiar discourse which makes us a peculiar topic. The job with the archeological method is that on the one manus, it allows the comparing of different dianoetic formations of different periods, it helps proposing the eventuality by merely demoing that different ages had thought otherwise. For illustration, he deals with the development of medical pattern during period 1760 to 1810 to show a new sort of medical thought. On the other manus this method can non convert us to cognize more about the causes that fabricate the passage from one manner of believing to an other. Subsequently, he uses the construct of family tree to explicate what makes this passage. He did non abandon archeology but family tree was given a clear high quality.

To sum up, importance of archeology in discourse analysis can be summarized with Foucault ‘s words:

    Archaeological analysis [ of painting ] would hold another purpose: it would seek to detect whether infinite, distance, deepness, colour, visible radiation, proportions, volumes, and contours were non, at the periods in inquiry, considered, named, enunciated, and conceptualized in a dianoetic pattern ; and whether the cognition that this dianoetic pattern gives rise to was non corporal possibly in theories and guesss, in signifiers of instruction and codifications of pattern, but besides in procedures, techniques, and even in the very gesture of the painter. It would non put out to demo that the picture is a certain manner of ‘meaning ‘ or ‘saying ‘ that is curious in that it dispenses with words, It would seek to demo that, at least in one of its dimensions, it is dianoetic pattern that is embodied in techniques and effects. … it would seek to explicate the formation of a dianoetic pattern and a organic structure of radical cognition that are expressed in behaviour and schemes, which give rise to a theory of society, and which operate the intervention and common transmutation of that behaviour and those schemes ( 193-195 ) .

His method is of import because Foucault calls into inquiry the dealingss among statements in recognized classs in dianoetic Fieldss, literature, psychological science, doctrine, and political relations, for illustration and the dealingss among statements. By this manner, we can analyze different capable places and inquire inquiries about suppression and misrepresentation. Furthermore, we can inquire ourselves how we can gestate of dianoetic integrities in any signifier at all.


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    Deleuze, G. ( 1988 ) . Foucault. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Dreyfus, H. L. , & A ; Rabinow, P. ( Eds. ) . ( 1986 ) . Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

    Foucault, M. ( 1967 [ 1961 ] ) . Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason ( R. Howard, Trans. ) . London: Tavistock Publications.

    Foucault, M. ( 1972 [ 1969 ] ) . The Archaeology of Knowledge ( A. M. S. Smith, Trans. ) . New York: Pantheon Books.

    Foucault, M. ( 1973 [ 1966 ] ) . The Order of Thingss: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York: Vintage Books.

    Foucault, M. ( 1977 [ 1975 ] ) . Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon Books.

    Foucault, M. ( 1979 [ 1976 ] ) . The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. London: Penguin Press.

    Hall, S. ( Ed. ) . ( 1997 ) . Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London The Open University/Sage Publications.

    McHoul, A. , & A ; Grace, W. ( 1993 ) . A Foucault Primer: Discourse, Power, and the Subject. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.

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