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Paul-Michel Foucault: Prophet and Paradox

  • Bradley BowdenEmail author
Living reference work entry

Abstract

Paul-Michel Foucault, better known simply as Michel Foucault, is arguably the dominant intellectual influence in Western academia, if not Western society more generally. A prophet to many, Foucault’s life and work were characterized by an almost endless series of paradoxes. Claiming to speak on behalf of the marginalized and excluded members of the society, Foucault boasted a privileged existence. Graduating from France’s most prestigious high school, the Lycée Henri-IV, Foucault spent almost his entire life within France’s elite cultural and educational institutions. A long-time disciple of Nietzsche, Foucault nevertheless emphasized the conditions that constrain freedom rather the capacity of the will to overcome obstacles. A historian by inclination and practice, Foucault became, as Hayden White observed, “an anti-historical historian,” a scholar who argued that the “will to truth” was a source of oppression. In exploring the paradoxes of Foucault’s life and work, this chapter traces the development of Foucault’s ideas from his entry into the Lycée Henri-IV in 1945 until his death from AIDS in 1984.

Keywords

Foucault Derrida Postmodernism Hayden White Sartre Camus Existentialism Neo-liberalism 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith Business SchoolGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia

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