Concerning the origin and foundation of the method of genealogy in Foucault’s work, there is an astonishingly unanimous “interpretative consensus” among Foucault scholars. While there is great disagreement about a vast range or many aspects of Foucault’s thought and practice, it seems that there is an almost harmonious agreement regarding the emergence of genealogy in his work. The secondary literature on Foucauldian genealogy feels obliged to repeat reverently and respectfully: in the beginning was the word of Nietzsche.
Foucault himself made no secret of his intellectual affinity to Nietzsche’s genealogical method. On the backcover of the French edition of Discipline and Punish in 1975 he posed the main question of his book in explicit Nietzschean terms by asking “could we do the genealogy of modern morality starting from a political history of the body?” [peut-on faire la généalogie de la morale moderne à partir d’une histoire politique des corps?] resonating deeply and sonorously Nietzsche’s groundbreaking Genealogy of Morality of 1887. Moreover, he confessed in what was meant to be his final interview: “I am simply Nietzschean, and I try to see, on a number of points, and to the extent that it is possible, with the aid of Nietzsche’s texts – but also with anti-Nietzschean theses (which are nevertheless Nietzschean!) – what can be done in this or that domain.”