Sunday, 9 March 2014

Michel Foucault (French: [miʃɛl fuko]; born Paul-Michel Foucault) (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, philologist and literary critic. His theories addressed the relationship between power and knowledge.

Foucault's colleague Pierre Bourdieu summarised the philosopher's thought as "a long exploration of transgression, of going beyond social limits, always inseparably linked to knowledge and power."
"The theme that underlies all Foucault's work is the relationship between power and knowledge, and how the former is used to control and define the latter.  What authorities claim as 'scientific knowledge' are really just means of social control. Foucault shows how, for instance, in the eighteenth century 'madness' was used to categorize and stigmatise not just the mentally ill but the poor, the sick, the homeless and, indeed, anyone whose expressions of individuality were unwelcome."
Philip Stokes, Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers (2004)[157]

Philosopher Philip Stokes of the University of Reading noted that overall, Foucault's work was "dark and pessimistic", but that it did leave some room for optimism, in that it illustrates how the discipline of philosophy can be used to highlight areas of domination. In doing so, Stokes claimed, we are able to understand how we are being dominated and strive to build social structures that minimize this risk of domination. In all of this development there had to be close attention to detail; it is the detail which eventually individualises people.

--Taken from

For a more detailed introduction go to Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy  --