Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Gordon Hull, Bakhtin’s Carnival, Genealogy, History, New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science, 25 September 2018

Foucault’s use of Nietzsche to make the distinction between history and genealogy in “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” is well-known.  What is less well-known, I think (perhaps I am projecting again, but I had forgotten this passage until I saw a note I’d made to it the other day), is a very clear presentation of the distinction in Society must be Defended.  Here I want to tentatively suggest some connections between the language of SMD and some of Foucault’s other writings.  The SMD context is a discussion of state historiography and archiving in the 18th Century.  Foucault announces “another new excursus,” and writes:

“The difference between what might be called the history of the sciences and the genealogy of knowledges is that the history of sciences is essentially located on an axis that is, roughly speaking, the cognition-truth axis, or at least the axis that goes from the structure of cognition to the demand for truth. Unlike the history of the sciences, the genealogy of knowledges is located on a different axis, namely the discourse-power axis or, if you like, the discursive practice-clash of power axis” (SMD 178).

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