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1) why foucault?
2) what's around?
3) Foucault FAQ
"The examen is a mechanism, which links a certain form of
machtausuebung (german; means approx. 'exercise of power')
with/to a certain type of knowledge forming"
Michel Foucault, Paris 1926-84
1) now, why Foucault, and not all the others?
goto search philosophers at globenet.org
at least this answer is simple: Michel Foucault is language philosopher -- no philosophy without language, so far, and therefore no philosophy without reflecting on language, so far.
PHILOSOPHY intends to find the basis of thinking and its objects,
and LANGUAGE philosophy intends to find out how this is communicated
-- or if it can be communicated at all --
i.e. language philosophy of human thoughts and interactions is
near the basis of freedom and democratic development, and certainly
not a privilege to "qualified" or "competent" authorities or "schools".
"PSYCHOSOPHY" developed from 1997 and could continue
what Michel Foucault ("structuralism") has started:
thoughts about "why" we humans do "all that" (what we believe
* (Michel Foucault, 1926-1984, Paris, "Die Pruefung ist ein *
* Mechanismus, welcher eine bestimmte Form der Machtausuebung *
* mit einem bestimmten Typ der Wissensformierung kombiniert") *
("the examen is a mechanism, which combines a certain form of
exercising power with a certain type of knowledge forming")
2) what's around?
there is so much truth in these words, and borders between
"developing knowledge" and abusing/exploiting knowledge workers
are very thin, with web growth more than ever before.
in fact, the more one learns (usually to prevent failure at exams),
the more one feels under pressure to learn more (to pass more exams
or to be virtually able passing more exams, doing them or not).
learning theories have been abused a lot for manipulating people,
(mostly in those people's childhood), but have made it possible
as well that ("pulling") british elite style of violent "education"
is finally obsolete now, 1999/2000, almost everywhere.
-- for more around language structure and learning, see
* philosophy of pragmatism: William JAMES, Charles Sanders PEIRCE
* applied pragmatism philosophy in learning psychology: John DEWEY
* language as "learnable" basis of philosophy: Donald DAVIDSON
* language structure in psychopathology/philosophy: Michel FOUCAULT
* George Herbert MEAD is not listed here:
his work is mainly known by publications of his students,
for example Charles William Morris. Common with James' and Peirce's
pragmatism philosophy, Mead's functionalistic psychology focuses
on a conflict oriented "interactions activity relation"
of person and environment.
a bit like in catholic perversion of thinking (b),
some guilt is to be attributed to Mead's concept of
"thinking by restrictions" (a), guilt for producing and enhancing
neurotic structures in "education" at least for several decades:
(a) Mead says basically that human reflexive thinking originate
(only or mainly) by "real problems" (reducing real abilities or
opportunities) and be fully taken by searching solutions to that.
in other words, no "real" (not simulated) problems or obstacles =
= no reflexive thinking... criteria for having "found" a "solution"
are "restored" immediate abilities or opportunities.
(there is no allegation of invertable validity, i.e. that
reflexive thinking would end when a solution is found, but:)
from this concept, wanted or not, "obstaclemakers" extracted their
"rectification", at least for decades -- reflexive thinking
(of students, for example) can be produced by "providing" those
students with "real" problems, they would say.
have fun, thinking through the resulting personalities and society ...
(b) religious teaching of the "cross" which be "loaded" onto everyone
by birth and inherited sin -- intention: make guilty feeling people
more modest -- is somehow related to this mechanism, or its origin;
it is usually perverted into s a y i n g so by words, but
a c t i n g quite in the opposite way and "producing" such
"cross(es)" to "load" onto other people, then;
a german legend hero, "Siegfried", is treated like that in the
"Ring of the Nibelungen", where he is asked by his wife "Kriemhild"
about his "weak point" in the neck (he is invulnerable, elsewhere),
to be killed by his knight "Hagen" then, using this weak point.
Mead's abusers would probably c r e a t e those Kriemhilds
who "protect" so, and make a funny peer game of it.
-- make a simple check: it's mostly people preferring to play robin
hood or the policeman in a game, or the hero saving all the others,
or the good god himself; later they end up as the "conflictmakers"
in management, when they realize that there is noone to be saved, or
when they see a chance to succeed as the "conflictSOLUTIONmakers".
a philosophy teacher would have to make the r e a d e r
have this thought instead of expressing it here, but critics are
as welcome as conclusions: see below to contact us
this f a q intends to help finding access to Foucault's work,
and to other philosophers with influence to its environment.
(at this time, 1999, no library in the world offers yet access to
full contents of books via the web:
for a quick deeper access see any philosophy encyclopedia).
1. csun.edu has a very good descriptive site of Michel Foucault
and his time and genre, with many good links around
(and a much better graphic outlay :)
-- the link collection there is deeper than the few faq lines here
ever could be, so dont miss to visit the csun.edu pages
2. also, Foucault as a sociologist (by pscw.uva.nl
might not be quite common for everybody even knowing Michel Foucault and his work: pscw.uva.nl has more, partially linking to the other pages here
3. Foucault References, with pages and links behind, is offered by Patrick Jennings at synaptic.bc.ca, very recommendable!
who was michel foucault?
michel foucault (1926-84), language philosopher and psychopathologist,
later professor at university of Clermont-Ferrand (France)
and Coll'ege de France (Paris, France)
what subjects worked michel foucault on?
foucault studied philosophy, psychology and psychopathology
and wrote his doctorate thesis on subjects in these fields,
coming from psychopathological work to the search for
its meaning for society and (later) for politics,
and to the search for truth in all of these fields.
he "started" from understanding medical and philosophical as the
traditional key faculties of 1950-80 european universities and can be
easier understood with relation to derrida ("poststructuralism") and
sartre (existentialism), in context with "classical" husserl and
heidegger (phenomenology and its critics),
and, of course, with other proponents of language philosophy
before and around structuralism:
humboldt, saussure, karcevskij, trubeckoj, jakobson, hjelmslev,
levi-strauss, lacan, starobinski, barthes.
what is michel foucault's field in philosophy?
it is language philosophy.
foucault's work is often referred to, as "structuralism",
as opposed to the contempory french mainstream of jean paul sartre
("existentialism"), while michel foucault himself
would rather design himself as "epistemologist" than "structuralist"
(cf. "les mots et les choses. une arche'ologie des sciences humaines", 1966;
what other philosophers can michel foucault's work
be related to?
beside other language philosophers
(earlier humboldt, then ferdinand de saussure
= "founder" of structuralistic linguistics and thereby of structuralism,
and later sergeij karcevskij, nikolai trubeckoj, roman jakobson,
louis hjelmslev in structuralistic linguistics,
claude levi-strauss in structural anthropology,
jacques lacan in structuralistic psychoanalysis,
et jean starobinski, roland barthes in structuralistic literature science)
associations to three french (at their time) mainstream thinkers are
invoked strikingly, when reading foucault or about him:
francois marie voltaire (arouet) 1694-1778, who would not consider himself
as a philosopher but chose the form of cynism
to formulate his thoughts into various publications
around political philosophy and social analysis;
voltaire became a main figure in eclairation
jean paul sartre (1905-1980), existentialism: the mainstream in french
philosophy at the (postwar) time from 1945;
* sharp critics of foucault, whom he calls
"the latest barrier of bourgeoisy against marxism"
* philosophical search of truth comparable
to foucault, but different means of expression
(sartre publishes literature, theater,
and lives from his philosophical publications
while absolutely not taking care of reader "markets")
* difference/dispute explains itself partially by
foucault's life as employed university professor
-- and life inside established hierarchies --
while sartre is forced to awaken intellectual
understanding, or at least curiosity in his public.
it should be mentioned here, that most philosophers from 1800 to present
days have more or less strong relation with, or opposition to religion,
mostly with or opposed to theology.
for typical examples, see martin heidegger or karl rahner.
while foucault, derrida and sartre cannot really be attributed that,
("dieu est mort" stems from nietzsche, but sounds perfectly sartre)
it appears that sartre offers an "intellectual description of the
inherited sin" (i.e. the guilt principle of catholic church) in his
description of the "petrifying look of the medusa".
saying so, is probably not simply
accepted by many people, but it is
somehow characteristic for philosophy
in France, where Avignon offered an
asylum site when Italy's Rome was
struck by power wars of the popes.
jacques derrida (1930- ), phenomenology of "deconstruction":
(cf. husserl on "phenomenology" and
heidegger on "deconstruction")
* dispute with foucault over years, because
foucault's "discourse" attempts to focus on
developments rather than on "true statements",
(emphasizing the problematics of truth itself)
while derrida seeks "uncheatable facticities"
(in the sense of a "building of facts" to be
"true" or to contain "truth" to certain extents)
(* comment: without entering a "truth" discourse,
here, appearently humans feel very different things
"true", "valid", "contradictionfree" or "reliable",
depending on the density of humans and on
hierarchical pressure they are exposed to
-- but disregardable of the person those
"values" seem to be similar or equal for humans
in the same situation, i.e. density/hierarchical
pressure etc., as different those "equalities"
might be for different situations *end comment)
* called a "post-structuralist" by others,
derrida would rather relate himself to
phenomenology (but in the sense of building
his concepts by analysing/destructing
existing concepts plus including
to any concepts their antagonism as well,
i.e. developing thoughts by "de-con-structing")
* reproaches looking for "inherent totality"
-- cf. monism -- to e.g. foucault
(reproaching foucault to look for a total
where questioning the total as well as
fragments be a part of that total,
while derrida worked on difference, dissemination
and "dividibility" itself)
(* comment: derrida says that "the concept of 'fragment' from novalis
up to presence equals to hoping for totality"; he says that when
defining his work on "difference", "dissemination", "partitionability"
(german: teilbarkeit, analog to comprehension/comprehensibility)
adding 'time' as a dimension leads to the conclusion that
the concept of "hope" leads to totality: hoping for totality
is a (earlier) point towards totality -- of what is hoped for --
on the "time dimension line scale".
derrida's work at a view of the "cheated majority of hoping humans"
-- most and worst cheat in the world is committed by people "giving"
hope to others, e.g. in churches where hierarchies make it easier --
is at the same time a sharp contrast to foucault's work
who focusses on the cheat itself -- cf. his "archeology approach" --
without formulating that expressively,
nor cheat's "mechanical engineering"
* end comment *)
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what are the major publications of michel foucault?
1954, "maladie mentale et psychologie"
(mental illness and psychology)
1961, "histoire de la folie. folie et de'raison 'a l'age
classique". (doctorate thesis)
(history of insanity. insanity and unreasonability
in the classic era,
translated also to "... in the era of reasonability",
where "history of insanity" invokes associations of/to
an expression like "insane story", when trying to feel
what foucault wants to express)
1963, "naissance de la clinique" (birth of clinics; subtitle
"archeology of medical views",
focussing on the subject of physicians' person/environment/clinic
-- european psychotherapy was longtime unseparable from
psychiatry and medical doctors exercising it,
and: therapy often means not only the consequence of diagnosis
but also one special direction in the field psychology/psychiatry --
and their object of thinking/working, i.e. insanity/truth
and institutional, pedagogical, therapeutical and political (!)
conditions determining view and therapy of the physician
-- because of the social/power aspects of "normality"
as opposed to "insanity", and because of their relation to
foucault's thesis field psychopathology:
speaking with husserl or heidegger, insanity would not exist
without "normality", or normality would become conscient
without existence of "insanity")
1966, "les mots et les choses. une arche'ologie des sciences humaines",
(lit. "words and things. an archeology of human sciences", where
"les mots" equal approx. to "words and concepts" and
"les choses" equal approx. to "facts and truth";
"archeology" becomes to a synonymous expression for questioning
usual cheating concepts i.e. mentally harassing habits in society):
where sartre states "god is dead", foucault details what and how many
single thoughts and concepts are dead -- possibly god being one of them
1969 "l'archeologie du savoir" (archeology of knowledge)
1971 "l'ordre du discours" (order of the discourse)
1975 "surveiller et punir. la naissance de la prison" (naissance = birth)
1976 "histoire de la sexualite'. 1. la volonte' du savoir" (the Will to know)
1984 "l'usage des plaisirs" (the use of lusts)
"le souci de soi" (the sorrow about oneself)
how could michel foucault's work and development be characterized?
coming from medical, psychopathological environments with
philosophical and psychological studies background,
"usual" (cheating and harassing) mechanisms in society
obviously became unbearable to foucault.
in other words:
since "normality"/insanity often depends much more on power/recognition
than from objective truth (where/if truth is possible at all
-- this is one of the basic questions of philosophy itself, at all times),
foucault came soon to the point to see that "knowledge" depends
much more on "personality" (in his field: of physicians) than on truth.
foucault's "history of insanity" developed soon into a "history of truth",
focussing on "variants of constitution of human beings towards subjects"
and turning away from "knowledge of the subject", therefore, in favor of
a theory of " d i s c o u r s i v e " p r a c t i c e s ,
while voltaire (francois marie arouet) developed into cynism at a point
where foucault attempts to formulate analysis:
-- their publications (of foucault and voltaire)
suggest a similar state of being "shocked" by
what happens to humans in hierarchies, where voltaire
voted for "better hierarchies" with an eclaired king/emperor
to overcome the untruth level in society, but escaped into pure
cynism (cf. "candide") and adored/developed "esprit" as a self-value
(translating to s.th. between "spirit" and "mental wealth")
while foucault attempted to develop practicable countermeasures
by formulating the "as is" state and its analysis
from a philosophical view but living still within academic
situation, function and perceptive abilities determine, following
foucault, sort of "codes of culture", and "historic apriori" thoughts,
explaining thereby historic appearence of idioms and stereotypes
in language (which finally led to foucault's language philosophy).
-- this attempt probably made sartre reproach to foucault
that foucault basically created "better excuses" or
"better explanations" for those responsible for all that untruth,
i.e. being the "latest barrier of bourgeoisy against marxism", as
sartre expressed it.
the concept of a "discourse" in a development rather than a
static description (e.g. of knowledge, of a subject, see above)
is contained in all "histories" and "archeologies",
where questioning is the basis and "archeology" suggests a bit
that those "questioned" concepts are not alive any more, at all.
husserl would come to this point with his phenomenological
example of the "disappointment" development,
wenn bowing to collect what one believes to be a piece of money,
while only a silver shining closure (verschluss)
of a bottle lies on the floor.
sarcasm as their (foucault's and husserl's) personal motivating force,
or frustration as the motivating force of readers at their time
(or both), questioning is certainly a necessary basis
for whatever Foucault+co. have initialized in democratic development.
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veto for each, montesquieu, monetary, weizsaecker
democratic <-> freedom, "consequences cheat" ("consequ" = harassment of others:
depending on "power" = staatsgewalt, mobbing, ..)
harassments, mobbing, bossing, smit.99c, reacti~3.txt
Gilles DELEUZE (philosophe, +1995)
Pourparlers, cité dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 10 de printemps 1998, p. 7, Nietzsche et la philosophie, cité idem n° 11 d'hiver 1998/99, p. 3, L'abécédaire, mentionné ibidem p. 10 et idem n° 12 d'été 1999, p. 19 ;
avec Félix GUATTARI : Qu'est-ce que la philosophie ?, cité dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 5 d'été 1996, p. 18, et idem n° 10, p. 27 ;
Cité dans :
Les périphériques vous parlent n° 4 d'hiver 1995/96, p. 15, idem n° 8 de juillet 1997, p. 45, idem n° 11, p. 5, et idem n° 12, p. 22 ;
Mentionné dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 10, p. 23, et idem n° 12, p. 20 ;
Texte sur Gilles Deleuze :
Deleuze : surfeur de l'immanence par Gibus de Soultrait dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 11, p. 6.
L'écriture et la différence, éd. Seuil, cité dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 4 d'hiver 1995/96, p. 23 ;
Cité dans :
Les périphériques vous parlent n° 4, p. 15.
Archéologie du savoir éd. Gallimard, cité dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 0 d'avril 1993, p. 28
Les mots et les choses éd. Gallimard, cité idem p. 29
Cité dans :
Les périphériques vous parlent n° 1 de janvier/février 1994, p. 2 et 44, n° 4 d'hiver 1995/96, p. 12 et 21, et n° 7 d'hiver 1996, p. 58 ;
Mentionné dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 10 de printemps 1998, p. 39.
André GORZ (économiste et philosophe)
“Oser l'exode” de la société de travail réalisé par Yovan Gilles, dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 10 de printemps 1998, p. 43-49 ;
Adieux au prolétariat, (éd. Galilée, 1980) ; Les chemins du paradis, (éd. Galilée, 1983) ; Métamorphoses du travail ; quête du sens, (éd. Galilée, 1988), cité dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 4 d'hiver 1995/96, p. 42-43 et idem n° 10, p. 31 ; Sortir de la société salariale, (éd. Transversales Sciences/Cultures), cité dans Les périphériques vous parlent n° 4, p. 8 et 9 ;
Cité dans :
Les périphériques vous parlent n° 4, p. 28, et idem n° 12 d'été 1999, p. 2 ;
Mentionné dans :
Les périphériques vous parlent n° 12 d'été 1999, p. 44.
chantal euzeby - Pistes pour une revolution tranquille du travail.htm
note: does this make sense?
bajo construcción de la preparación de las hojas de operación (planning) de la consideración de las opiniones temperamental de la jerarquía