Foucault's history of the present as self-referential knowledge acquisition

Philosophy and Social Criticism 24 (6):111-126 (1998)
Abstract
Underlying this article is the conviction that social scientists typically take on board a too restrictive concept of knowledge acquisition. The paper propounds a new concept of knowledge acquisition, one which is self-referential (i.e. which affects one's presuppositions) and which draws upon the unfamiliar to reveal and undercut the familiar. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it is to show that this concept of knowledge acqui sition is already anticipated by Foucault, that it is a major concern of his, and that it is a common thread throughout his work. Consequently, a new light can be thrown on both Foucault's archaeology and his genealogy: both are directed towards a self-referential form of knowledge, and as such the two periods are shown to have more in common than conventionally assumed. Second (and conversely), the aim of the paper is to elucidate this self-referential type of knowledge by showing how it is used by Foucault. Key Words: archaeology • Foucault • genealogy • history • methodology • Nietzsche • past • philosophy of social sciences • present • structuralism.
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