Foucault News

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

Moore, Alison Downham “Temporal Layering in the Long Conceptual History of Sexual Medicine: Reading Koselleck with Foucault”, Journal of the Philosophy of History (2019): 1-23

doi: 10.1163/18722636-12341428

Abstract
This paper reflects on the challenges of writing long conceptual histories of sexual medicine, drawing on the approaches of Michel Foucault and of Reinhart Koselleck. Foucault’s statements about nineteenth-century rupture considered alongside his later-life emphasis on long conceptual continuities implied something similar to Koselleck’s own accommodation of different kinds of historical inheritances expressed as multiple ‘temporal layers.’ The layering model in the history of concepts may be useful for complicating the historical periodizations commonly invoked by historians of sexuality, overcoming historiographic temptations to reduce complex cultural and intellectual phenomena to a unified Zeitgeist. The paper also shows that a haunting reference to ‘concepts’ among scholars of the long history of sexual medicine indicates the emergence of a de facto methodology of conceptual history, albeit one in need of further refinement. It is proposed that reading Koselleck alongside Foucault provides a useful starting-point for precisely this kind of theoretical development.

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