Research Repository

Is early Foucault a historian? History, history and the analytic of finitude

Han-Pile, B (2005) 'Is early Foucault a historian? History, history and the analytic of finitude.' Philosophy & Social Criticism, 31 (6). 585 - 608. ISSN 0191-4537

Is Early Foucault an Historian - History, history and the Analytic of Finitude.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (154kB) | Preview


This paper is an exploration of the theme of history in The Order of Things, with a view to clarifying the relation between history and philosophy in Foucault's early work. I argue that Foucault introduces, beyond the Hegelian distinction between res gestae (past deeds) and historia rerum gestarum(the history of past deeds), a third meaning for the notion: History (capitalized) as our current historical a priori or épistémè, succeeding Order in the Classical age. I show that methodologically speaking, this commits early Foucault to a revised form of transcendental idealism. I then examine the complex relation between History and Man, established by chapters VII and IX as the ground of our current épistémè. This involves an analysis of the theme of the origin in chapter IX, which in turn allows the core of this relation to be formally identified as the possibility of shifting from the empirical to the transcendental in order to distinguish between two forms of temporality, primordial and derived. I then argue that because Foucault still belongs to the very épistémè he is trying to describe, the content of this distinction is and must remain obscure. However, I also show that his liminary position allows him a unique insight into the problems generated by the grounding of History in Man, and examine the impact of his criticism of anthropology on his characterization of History. Finally, I draw out the consequences of these analyses for Foucault's methodology by arguing that the latter is best characterized as a form of ‘transcendental history’, meant to de-anthropomorphize the analytic of finitude while retaining its demand for a shift from the post hoc to the a priori (in a revised sense). © 2005, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Users 161 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2017 12:56
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 16:23

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item