(Biographical) Info On Michel Foucault:
Michel Foucault (French: [miʃɛl fuko]; born Paul-Michel Foucault) (15 October 1926 – 25 June 1984) was a French philosopher, social theorist, historian of ideas, and literary critic. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought", and lectured at both the University at Buffalo and the University of California, Berkeley. His philosophical theories addressed what power is and how it works, the manner in which it controls knowledge and vice versa, and how it is used as a form of social control.
Born into a middle-class family in Poitiers, Foucault was educated at the Lycée Henri-IV and then the École Normale Supérieure, where he developed a keen interest in philosophy and came under the influence of his tutors Jean Hyppolite and Louis Althusser. After several years as a cultural diplomat abroad, he returned to France and published his first major book, Madness and Civilization (1961), which explored the history of the mental institution in Europe. After obtaining work between 1960 and 1966 at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, he produced two more significant publications, The Birth of the Clinic (1963) and The Order of Things (1966), which displayed his increasing involvement with structuralism, a theoretical movement in social anthropology from which he later distanced himself.
From 1966 to 1968 he lectured at the University of Tunis, Tunisia before returning to France, where he involved himself in several protest movements and associated with far left groups. He then proceeded to publish on the history of prison systems. His final work was the three-volume The History of Sexuality. Foucault died in Paris of neurological problems compounded by the HIV/AIDS virus; he was the first famous figure in France to have died from the virus, with his partner Daniel Defert founding the AIDES charity in his memory.
He also rejected the poststructuralist and postmodernist labels later attributed to him, preferring to classify his thought as a critical history of modernity. Foucault is best known for his critical studies of social institutions, most notably psychiatry, social anthropology of medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. His writings on power, knowledge, and discourse have been widely influential in academic circles. His project was particularly influenced by Nietzsche, his "genealogy of knowledge" being a direct allusion to Nietzsche's "genealogy of morality". In an interview he stated: "I am a Nietzschean."
Paul-Michel Foucault was born on 15 October 1926 in the small town of Poitiers, west-central France, as the second of three children to a prosperous and socially conservative upper-middle-class family. He had been named after his father, Dr. Paul Foucault, as was the family tradition, but his mother insisted on the addition of the double-barrelled "Michel"; while he would always be referred to as "Paul" at school, throughout his life he always expressed a preference for "Michel". His father (1893–1959) was a successful local surgeon, having been born in Fontainebleau before moving to Poitiers, where he set up his own practice and married local woman Anne Malapert. She was the daughter of prosperous surgeon Dr. Prosper Malapert, who owned a private practice in Poitiers and taught anatomy at the University of Poitiers' School of Medicine. Paul Foucault eventually took over his father-in-law's medical practice as well, while his wife took charge of their large mid-19th century house, Le Piroir, located at the village of Vendeuvre-du-Poitou 15 kilometres from the town. Together the couple had 3 children, a girl named Francine and two boys, Paul-Michel and Denys, all of whom shared the same fair hair and bright blue eyes. These children were raised to be nominal Roman Catholics, attending mass at the Church of Saint- Porchair, and while Michel briefly became an altar boy, none of the family were particularly devout.
In later life, Foucault would reveal very little about his childhood. Describing himself as a "juvenile delinquent", he noted that his father was a "bully" who would sternly punish him for his misbehaviour. In 1930, Foucault began his schooling at the local Lycée Henry-IV despite the fact that he was two years younger than the usual entrance age of six. Here he would undertake two years of elementary education before entering the main lycée, where he stayed until 1936. He then undertook his first four years of secondary education at the same establishment, excelling in French, Greek, Latin and history but doing poorly at mathematics. In 1939, the Second World War broke out and France was occupied by the armies of Nazi Germany until 1945; his parents opposed the occupation and the Vichy regime who collaborated with them, but did not join the French Resistance. In 1940, Foucault's mother took him from his previous school and enrolled him in the Collège Saint-Stanislas, a strict Roman Catholic institution run by the Jesuits; here, he remained lonely, with few friends. Describing his years there as the "ordeal", he nevertheless excelled academically, particularly in the fields of philosophy, history and literature. In 1942, he entered his final year, the terminale, where he focused on the study of philosophy, earning his baccalauréat in 1943. That year, he then returned to the local Lycée Henry-IV, where he studied history and philosophy for a year. During this period, Foucault was aided in his studies by a personal tutor, the philosopher Louis Girard.
Rejecting his father's wishes that he become a surgeon, in 1945 Foucault traveled to the French capital of Paris, where he enrolled in one of the country's most prestigious secondary schools, which was also known as the Lycée Henri-IV. Here, he briefly studied under the philosopher Jean Hyppolite (1907–1968), an existentialist and expert on the work of 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831). Hyppolite devoted his energies to uniting the existentialist theories then in vogue among French philosophers with the dialectical theories of Hegel and Karl Marx (1818–1883); these ideas influenced the young Foucault, who would adopt Hyppolite's conviction that philosophy must be developed through a study of history. As a result, in ensuing years he would defend those who proposed a Marxist interpretation of history coupled with the existentialist view of the human individual.
École Normale Supérieure: 1946–1951
Attaining excellent results at the school, in the autumn of 1946 Foucault was admitted to the elite École Normale Supérieure (ENS); in order to get in, he had to undertake a series of exams and oral interrogation by Georges Canguilhem and Pierre-Maxime Schuhl. Of the hundred students entering the ENS, Foucault was ranked fourth based on his entry results, and encountered the highly competitive nature of the institution. Like most of his classmates, he was housed in the school's communal dormitories, located on the Parisian Rue d'Ulm. He remained largely unpopular among the other students, and spent much of his time alone, reading voraciously. His fellow students noted him for his love of violence and the macabre; he had decorated his bedroom with the images of torture and war drawn during the Napoleonic Wars by Spanish artist Francisco Goya (1746–1828), and on one occasion chased one of his classmates while brandishing a dagger. Prone to self-harm, in 1948 Foucault allegedly undertook a failed suicide attempt, for which his father sent him to see the psychiatrist Jean Delay (1907–1987) at the Hôpital Sainte-Anne. Obsessed with the idea of self-mutilation and suicide, Foucault would attempt the latter several times in ensuing years, and praised the act of killing oneself in a number of his later writings. The École Normale Supérieure's doctor examined Foucault's state of mind, suggesting that his suicidal tendencies emerged from the distress surrounding his homosexuality, which at the time was legal but socially taboo in France. At the time, Foucault engaged in homosexual activity with men whom he encountered in the underground Parisian gay scene, also indulging in drug use; according to biographer James Miller, he particularly enjoyed the thrill and sense of danger that these activities offered him.
Although studying an array of subjects at the school, Foucault's particular interest was soon drawn to philosophy, reading not only the works of Hegel and Marx that he had been exposed to by Hyppolite but also studying the writings of the philosophers Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) and most significantly, Martin Heidegger (1889–1976). He also began to read the publications of philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1884–1962), taking a particular interest in his work exploring the history of science. In 1948, the philosopher Louis Althusser (1918–1980) became a tutor at the École Normale Supérieure. A Marxist, he proved to be an influence both on Foucault and a number of other students, encouraging them to join the French Communist Party (Parti communiste français - PCF), which Foucault duly did in 1950. Despite this, he never became particularly active in any of its activities, and never adopted an orthodox Marxist viewpoint, refuting concepts such as class struggle which were central to Marxist thought. He would soon become dissatisfied with the bigotry that he experienced within the party's ranks; he personally faced homophobia and was also appalled by the anti-semitism exhibited in the Doctors' plot that occurred in the Soviet Union. He left the Communist Party in 1953, but would remain a friend and defender of Althusser for the rest of his life. Although failing at the first attempt in 1950, he passed his agrégation in philosophy on the second try, in 1951. Excused from national service on medical grounds, he decided that he wanted to go on and study for a doctorate at the Fondation Thiers, focusing in on the philosophy of psychology.
Early career: 1951–1955
Over the following few years, Foucault embarked on a variety of odd jobs in research and teaching. From 1951 to 1955, he worked as an instructor in psychology at the École Normale Supérieure at the invitation of Althusser. In Paris, he shared a flat with his brother, who was training to become a surgeon, but for three days in the week commuted to the northern town of Lille, where he took up a position at the Université Lille Nord de France, teaching psychology from 1953 to 1954. His lecturing style was looked upon positively by many of his students. Meanwhile, he continued with his work on his thesis, spending much of his time devoted to his own research in the history of psychology and psychiatry, visiting the Bibliothèque Nationale every day to read the work of psychologists like Ivan Pavlov (1849–1936), Jean Piaget (1896–1980) and Karl Jaspers (1883–1969). Undertaking research at the psychiatric institute of the Hôpital Sainte-Anne, he became an unofficial intern, studying the relationship between the doctors and the patients and aiding the experiments in the electroencephalographic laboratory. Foucault adopted many of the theories of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), undertaking psychoanalytical interpretation of his dreams and making friends undergo Rorschach tests.
Embracing the Parisian avant-garde, Foucault entered into a romantic relationship with the composer Jean Barraqué (1928–1973), a prominent advocate of serialism. Together, they wished to push the boundaries of the human mind, believing that in doing so they could produce their greatest work; making heavy use of drugs, they also engaged in sado-masochistic sexual activity. In August 1953, Foucault and Barraqué went on a holiday to Italy, where the philosopher immersed himself in Untimely Meditations (1873–1876), a collection of four essays authored by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900). Later describing Nietzsche's work as "a revelation", he felt that reading the book deeply affected him, and he subsequently "broke with my life" as he had formerly experienced it. Foucault would subsequently experience a groundbreaking self-revelation when watching a Parisian performance of Samuel Beckett's new play, Waiting for Godot, in 1953.
Taking an interest in literature, Foucault was an avid reader of the book reviews authored by the philosopher Maurice Blanchot (1907–2003), which were published in the Nouvelle Revue Française. Becoming enamoured with Blanchot's literary style and critical theories, in several later works he adopted Blanchot's technique of "interviewing" himself. Foucault also came across Hermann Broch's 1945 novel The Death of Virgil at this time, a work that came to obsess both him and Barraqué. While the latter attempted to convert the work into an epic opera, Foucault admired Broch's text for its portrayal of death as an affirmation of life. The couple also took a mutual interest in the work of such authors as the Marquis de Sade (1740–1814), Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821–1881), Franz Kafka (1883–1924) and Jean Genet (1910–1986), all of whose works explored the themes of sex and violence.
Interested in the work of Swiss psychologist Ludwig Binswanger (1881–1966), Foucault aided a young woman and family friend named Jacqueline Verdeaux in translating his works into French. Foucault was particularly interested in the work that Binswager had undertaken in studying a woman named Ellen West who, like himself, had a deep obsession with the idea of suicide, eventually killing herself. In 1954, Foucault authored an introduction to one of Binswager's papers, "Dream and Existence", in which the Frenchman put forward the idea that dreams constituted "the birth of the world" or "the heart laid bare", expressing the mind's deepest desires. That same year Foucault also published his first book, Mental Illness and Personality (Maladie mentale et personnalité), in which he exhibited his influence from both Marxist and Heideggerian thought, covering a wide range of subject matter from the reflex psychology of Pavlov to the classic psychoanalysis of Freud. Referencing the work of sociologists and anthropologists such as Émile Durkheim and Margaret Mead, he also used the book as a vehicle to present his theory that illness was culturally relative. Biographer James Miller would later note that while the book exhibited "erudition and evident intelligence", it lacked the "kind of fire and flair" which Foucault exhibited in his subsequent works. It would be largely critically ignored, receiving only one review at the time. He himself would grow to despise it, unsuccessfully attempting to prevent its republication and translation into English.
Sweden, Poland, and West Germany: 1955–1960
Foucault would spend the next five years working abroad, first in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where he took up the position of cultural diplomat at the University of Uppsala. This was a job that he had obtained through his acquaintance with the historian of religion Georges Dumézil (1898–1986), a prominent figure in French academia. At Uppsala, he was appointed a Reader in French, meaning that he was responsible for teaching both French language and literature, giving courses on such topics as "The Conception of Love in French Literature from the Marquis de Sade to Jean Genet." He was simultaneously appointed director of the Maison de France, opening the possibility of a future cultural-diplomatic career. Although finding it difficult to adjust to the "Nordic gloom" of Uppsala and its long winters, he developed close friendships with two other Frenchmen working in the city, biochemist Jean-François Miquel and physicist Jacques Papet-Lépine. In the city, he became known for his heavy alcohol consumption and reckless driving in his new Jaguar car; he also entered into romantic and sexual relationships with various men. In spring 1956, Barraqué would break from his relationship with Foucault, announcing that he wanted to leave the "vertigo of madness". In Uppsala, Foucault spent much of his spare time in the university's Carolina Rediviva library, where he made use of their Bibliotheca Walleriana collection of texts on the history of medicine for his ongoing research. Eventually finishing his doctoral thesis, Foucault initially hoped that it would be accepted by Uppsala University, but Sten Lindroth, a historian of science at the university, was unimpressed by his work, asserting that it was full of speculative generalisations and was a poor work of history. As such, he refused to allow Foucault to be awarded a doctorate at Uppsala. In part because of this rejection of his thesis, Foucault decided to leave Sweden and look for a post elsewhere.
In October 1958, Foucault arrived in the Polish city of Warsaw, where he was put in charge of the University of Warsaw's Centre Français. Once again, he had been recommended for the position by Dumézil. Foucault found life in Poland difficult due to the lack of material goods and services following the destruction of the Second World War. He would comment that he had moved from a "social-democratic country which functioned "well"," to a "people's democracy that functioned "badly."" Witnessing the aftermath of the Polish October, in which students had protested against the governing Communist Party of Poland, he felt that the Polish people widely disliked their far left government, viewing them as a puppet regime of the foreign Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he felt that the university was a liberal enclave within a repressive state, although traveled to various other parts of the country giving lectures. Proving popular in Poland, he decided to adopt the position of de facto cultural attaché to the country. Like France and Sweden, homosexual activity was legal but socially frowned upon in Poland, and he undertook relationships with a number of men in Warsaw. One of these turned out to be a Polish government agent who hoped to trap Foucault in an embarrassing situation, which would therefore reflect badly on the French embassy. Wracked in diplomatic scandal, he was soon ordered to leave Poland for a new destination. Various positions were available in West Germany, and so Foucault decided to relocate to the city of Hamburg, where he continued to teach the same courses that he had given in Uppsala and Warsaw. Spending much of his time in the Reeperbahn red light district, he entered into a relationship with a transvestite.
Madness and Civilization and Kant's Anthropology: 1960
While working in West Germany, Foucault had finally completed his doctoral thesis, Folie et déraison: Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique (Madness and Insanity: History of Madness in the Classical Age), a philosophical work based upon his studies into the history of medicine. In the book, Foucault dealt with the manner in which Western European society had dealt with madness, arguing that it was a social construct distinct from mental illness. Foucault traces the evolution of the concept of madness through three phases: the Renaissance, the "Classical Age" (the later seventeenth and most of the eighteenth centuries) and the modern experience. He argues that in the Renaissance the mad were portrayed in art as possessing a kind of wisdom, a knowledge of the limits of our world, and portrayed in literature as revealing the distinction between what men are and what they pretend to be. With the rise of the age of reason in the 17th century, madness began to be conceived of as unreason and the mad, previously consigned to society's margins, were now separated from society and confined, along with prostitutes, vagrants, blasphemers, orphans and the like, in newly created institutions all over Europe. The subsequent modern experience, Foucault argued, began at the end of the 18th century with the creation of places devoted solely to the care of the mad under the supervision of medical doctors. This was born out of a blending of two motives: the new goal of curing the mad away from the family who could not afford the necessary care at home, and the old purpose of confining undesirables for the protection of society. The work contains a number of allusions and references to the work of French poet and playwright Antonin Artaud (1896–1948), who exerted a strong influence over Foucualt's thought at the time. Histoire de la folie was an expansive work, consisting of 943 pages of text, followed by appendixes and a bibliography. He decided to submit this work in France at the University of Paris, although the university's regulations for awarding a doctorate required the submission of both his main thesis and a shorter complementary thesis.
Obtaining a doctorate in France at the period was a multi-step process. The first step in the process was to obtain a rapporteur, or sponsor for the work, and Foucault found this in Georges Canguilhem. The second was to find a publisher, and as a result Folie et déraison would be published in French in May 1961 by the company Plon. Foucault had initially received an offer of publication from the Presses Universitaires de France, but he wanted his work to be published by a popular rather than an academic press, so that it would reach a wider audience. Hoping that his work would be picked up by Gallimard, the publishers of Jean-Paul Sartre's influential bestseller, Being and Nothingness (1943), he was perturbed when they rejected him, instead selecting Plon. In 1964, a heavily abridged version was published as a mass market paperback, which was then translated into English for publication the following year as Madness and Civilization.
Upon publication, Folie et déraison received a mixed reception in France and in foreign journals focusing on French affairs. It was critically acclaimed by the likes of Maurice Blochot, Michel Serres, Roland Barthes, Gaston Bachelard, and Fernand Braudel, but much to Foucault's upset, largely ignored in the leftist press. The work most notably came under attack from a young philosopher who had been a student on Foucault's psychology course at the École Normale Supérieure, Jacques Derrida (1930–2004). Derrida's critique came in the form of a lecture he gave on "The Cogito and the History of Madness" at the University of Paris on 4 March 1963, accusing Foucault of advocating metaphysics. Responding to the criticism with a vicious retort, Foucault ignored some of Derrida's points, focusing in on a criticism of how the younger philosopher had interpreted the work of René Descartes. The two would remain bitter rivals until reconciling in 1981. In the English-speaking world, the work would become a significant influence over the anti-psychiatry movement during the 1960s; Foucault himself took a mixed approach to this movement, associating with a number of figures involved in it but arguing that most of the anti-psychiatrists fundamentally misunderstood his work.
Foucault's secondary thesis involved a translation of, and commentary on, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant's 1798 work Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht). Much of this thesis consisted of Foucault's discussion of textual dating – an "archaeology of the Kantian text" – although he rounded off the work with an evocation of Nietzche, who had become his biggest philosophical influence. This work's rapporteur sponsor was his old tutor, Jean Hyppolite, who was himself well acquainted with German philosophy and who was then director of the ENS. After having both of his theses championed and reviewed, he had to undergo his public defense, the soutenance de thèse, on 20 May 1961. The academics responsible for reviewing his work were concerned about the unconventional nature of his major thesis; Henri Gouhier, one of the reviewers, noted that it was not a conventional work of history, making sweeping generalisations without sufficient particular argument, and that Foucault clearly "thinks in allegories". They all agreed however that the overall project was of merit, and so awarded Foucault his doctorate "despite reservations".
University of Clermont-Ferrand, The Birth of the Clinic and The Order of Things: 1960–1966
While his doctorate was being assessed, in 1960 Foucault purchased his first flat, a part of a high-rise block on the rue du Dr Finlay, off the quai de Grenelle. In October, he was offered a tenured post in philosophy at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, and over the next six years he would commute to the city every week from Paris, where he continued to live. At the time, psychology was usually subsumed within the philosophy departments in French universities, and it was this subject that Foucault was primarily responsible for teaching. Considered a "fascinating" but "rather traditional" teacher at Clermont, he was popular with his pupils. The university's philosophy department was then under the control of Jules Vuillemin (1920–2001), who had chosen him for the position after becoming impressed by Foucault's then unpublished doctoral dissertation. After taking up his post, Foucault soon developed a friendship with Vuillemin despite their political differences; Vuillemin being a rightist and Foucault a leftist. When Vuillemin was elected to the Collège de France in 1962, he left Clermont, with Foucault taking over as the departmental head. One of the academics appointed to Clermont-Ferrand by the government was Roger Garaudy (1913–2012), a Marxist and senior figure in the French Communist Party. Foucault despised Garaudy, believing him to be stupid and disliking his dogmatic adherence to the Soviet party line. Foucault intentionally made life at the university difficult for Garaudy, highlighting his various mistakes and refusing to talk to him, leading the latter to eventually accept a transfer to Poitiers. It was in this stage of his life that Foucault met the young philosopher Daniel Defert (1937–), and they would enter into a non-monogamous relationship that would last for the rest of Foucault's life. Controversially, Foucault secured Defert a job at the university, even though other candidates for the post were better qualified.
Aside from his teaching, Foucault also maintained a keen interest in literature, having reviews published in such literary journals as Tel Quel and Nouvelle Revue Française, and sitting on the editorial board of Critique. In May 1963 he published a work entitled Raymond Rousell, which was devoted to the eponymous poet, novelist and playwright, who was one of Foucault's favourite authors. Brought out by Gallimard, it had been written in under two months, and would be described by Foucault biographer David Macey as "a very personal book" that resulted from a "love affair" with Roussel's work. It would eventually be published in English in 1983 as Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel. It would receive few reviews, being largely ignored. That same year he also published a sequel to Folie et déraison, entitled Naissance de la Clinique: une archéologie du regard médical, subsequently translated into English as Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception. A shorter work than its predecessor, it focused on the changes that underwent the entire medical establishment in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Like his preceding work, Naissance de la Critique was largely critically ignored, only gaining a cult following in subsequent years. Foucault was also selected to be among the "Eighteen Man Commission" that assembled between November 1963 and March 1964 to discuss university reforms that were to be implemented by Christian Fouchet, the Gaullist Minister of National Education. Upon their implementation in 1967, the reforms brought staff strikes and student protests.
In April 1966, Gallimard brought out another significant work by Foucault, Les Mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines ("The words and the things"), which was later translated into English as The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. The work explores how man came to be an object of knowledge, arguing that all periods of history have possessed certain underlying conditions of truth that constituted what was acceptable as scientific discourse. Foucault argues that these conditions of discourse have changed over time, from one period's episteme to another. Although designed for a specialist audience, the work gained press and television attention and became a surprise bestseller in France. It was during the height of interest in structuralism in 1966, and Foucault was quickly grouped with scholars such as Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Roland Barthes as the newest, latest wave of thinkers set to topple the existentialism popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre. Although he initially accepted this description of being a "structuralist", it would not be long before Foucault changed his mind, and vehemently rejected such a description. Foucault's relationship with Sartre was strained, with the two regularly criticising one another in the press; both Sartre and his partner Simone de Beauvoir attacked Foucualt and his ideas as "bourgeoisie", with Foucault retaliated against their Marxist beliefs by proclaiming that "Marxism exists in nineteenth-century thought as a fish exists in water; that is, it ceases to breathe anywhere else." Meanwhile, Foucault had been wanting to leave the university at Clermont for some time, considering both Japan and Brazil as possible destinations, and he was finally able to do so the end of the 1965–66 educational year.
University of Tunisia and The Archaeology of Knowledge: 1966–1970
Foucault then took up a position teaching psychology at the University of Tunis in the North African nation of Tunisia, which had gained independence from France in 1956. His decision to do so was in part based upon the fact that his lover, Defert, had been posted to the country as a part of his national service following the completion of his agrégation. Arriving in the country in September 1966, Foucault moved into the village of Sidi Bou Saïd, which was just a few kilometres away from Tunis and where Gérard Deledalle, who also worked at the university, lived with his wife. Soon after he arrived in the country, he would announce that Tunisia was "blessed by history", a nation which "deserves to live forever because it was where Hannibal and St. Augustine lived." His lectures at the university proved very popular, and were well attended. Although many of the young students were enthusiastic about his teaching, they were critical of what they believed to be his right-wing political views, viewing him as a "representative of Gaullist technocracy", even though he considered himself a leftist. Foucault was in Tunis over the course of the anti-government and pro-Palestinian riots that rocked the city in June 1967, and which would continue for the next year. Although highly critical of the violent, ultra-nationalistic and anti-semitic nature of many of the protesters, he used his status to try and prevent some of his militant leftist students from being arrested and tortured for their role in the agitation. Hiding their printing press in his own garden, he tried to testify on their behalf at their trials, but was prevented when the trials became closed-door events.
While in Tunis, Foucault had continued to write. Inspired by a correspondence with the surrealist artist René Magritte, Foucault set about writing a book upon the impressionist artist Eduard Manet, but it was never completed.
He was still in Tunis during the May 1968 student riots, where he was profoundly affected by a local student revolt earlier in the same year. In the Autumn of 1968 he returned to France, where he published L'archéologie du savoir (The Archaeology of Knowledge) – a methodological treatise that included a response to his critics – in 1969.
In the aftermath of 1968, the French government created a new experimental university, Paris VIII, at Vincennes and appointed Foucault the first head of its philosophy department in December of that year. Foucault appointed mostly young leftist academics (such as Judith Miller) whose radicalism provoked the Ministry of Education, who objected to the fact that many of the course titles contained the phrase "Marxist-Leninist," and who decreed that students from Vincennes would not be eligible to become secondary school teachers. Foucault notoriously also joined students in occupying administration buildings and fighting with police.
Collège de France: 1970–
Foucault's tenure at Vincennes was short-lived, as in 1970 he was elected to France's most prestigious academic body, the Collège de France, as Professor of the History of Systems of Thought. His political involvement increased, and his partner Defert joined the ultra-Maoist Gauche Proletarienne (GP). Foucault helped found the Prison Information Group (French: Groupe d'Information sur les Prisons or GIP) to provide a way for prisoners to voice their concerns. This coincided with Foucault's turn to the study of disciplinary institutions, with a book, Surveiller et Punir (Discipline and Punish), which "narrates" the micro-power structures that developed in Western societies since the 18th century, with a special focus on prisons and schools.
In the late 1970s, political activism in France trailed off with the disillusionment of many left wing intellectuals. A number of young Maoists abandoned their beliefs to become the so-called New Philosophers, often citing Foucault as their major influence, a status Foucault had mixed feelings about. Foucault in this period embarked on a six-volume project The History of Sexuality, which he never completed. Its first volume was published in French as La Volonté de Savoir (1976), then in English as The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (1978). The second and third volumes did not appear for another eight years, and they surprised readers by their subject matter (classical Greek and Latin texts), approach and style, particularly Foucault's focus on the human subject, a concept that some mistakenly believed he had previously neglected.
Foucault began to spend more time in the United States, at the University at Buffalo (where he had lectured on his first ever visit to the United States in 1970) and especially at UC Berkeley. In 1975 he took LSD at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, later calling it the best experience of his life.
In 1979 Foucault made two tours of Iran, undertaking extensive interviews with political protagonists in support of the new interim government established soon after the Iranian Revolution. In the tradition of Nietzsche and Georges Bataille, Foucault had embraced the artist who pushed the limits of rationality, and he wrote with great passion in defense of irrationalities that broke boundaries. In 1978, Foucault found such transgressive powers in the revolutionary figures Ayatollah Khomeini, Ali Shariati and the millions who risked death as they followed them in the course of the revolution. Both Foucault and the revolutionaries were highly critical of modernity and sought a new form of politics, they both also looked up to those who risked their lives for ideals; and both looked to the past for inspiration. Later on when Foucault went to Iran “to be there at the birth of a new form of ideas,” he wrote that the new “Muslim” style of politics could signal the beginning of a new form of “political spirituality,” not just for the Middle East, but also for Europe, which had adopted the practice of secular politics ever since the French Revolution. Foucault recognized the enormous power of the new discourse of militant Islam, not just for Iran, but for the world. He wrote:
As an Islamic movement, it can set the entire region afire, overturn the most unstable regimes, and disturb the most solid. Islam which is not simply a religion, but an entire way of life, an adherence to a history and a civilization, has a good chance to become a gigantic powder keg, at the level of hundreds of millions of men. . . Indeed, it is also important to recognize that the demand for the 'legitimate rights of the Palestinian people' hardly stirred the Arab peoples. What it be if this cause encompassed the dynamism of an Islamic movement, something much stronger than those with a Marxist, Leninist, or Maoist character? (“A Powder Keg Called Islam”)During his two trips to Iran, Foucault was commissioned as a special correspondent of a leading Italian newspaper and his articles appeared on the front page of that paper. His many essays on Iran, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, only appeared in French in 1994 and then in English in 2005. These essays caused some controversy, with some commentators arguing that Foucault was insufficiently critical of the new regime. The more common attempts to bracket out Foucault's writings on Iran as "miscalculations," reminds some authors[who?] of what Foucault himself had criticized in his well known 1969 essay, "What is an Author?" Foucault believed that when we include certain works in an author's career and exclude others that were written in a "different style," or were "inferior" (Foucault 1969, 111), we create a stylistic unity and a theoretical coherence. This is done by privileging certain writings as authentic and excluding others that do not fit our view of what the author ought to be: "The author is therefore the ideological figure by which one marks the manner in which we fear the proliferation of meaning" (Foucault 1969, 110). This controversy is frequently discussed in the Foucault literature.
Illness and death: 1983–1984
In the philosopher's later years, interpreters of Foucault's work attempted to engage with the problems presented by the fact that the late Foucault seemed in tension with the philosopher's earlier work. When this issue was raised in a 1982 interview, Foucault remarked "When people say, 'Well, you thought this a few years ago and now you say something else,' my answer is… [laughs] 'Well, do you think I have worked hard all those years to say the same thing and not to be changed?'" He refused to identify himself as a philosopher, historian, structuralist, or Marxist, maintaining that "The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning." In a similar vein, he preferred not to state that he was presenting a coherent and timeless block of knowledge; he rather desired his books "to be a kind of tool-box others can rummage through to find a tool they can use however they wish in their own area… I don't write for an audience, I write for users, not readers."
During these trips to California, Foucault spent many evenings in the gay scene of the San Francisco Bay Area. He frequented a number of sado-masochistic bathhouses, engaging in sexual intercourse with other patrons. He would praise sado-masochistic activity in interviews with the gay press, describing it as "the real creation of new possibilities of pleasure, which people had no idea about previously." The American academic James Miller would later claim that Foucault's experiences in the gay sadomasochism community during the time he taught at Berkeley directly influenced his political and philosophical works. Miller's ideas have been rebuked by certain Foucault scholars as being either simply misdirected, a sordid reading of his life and works, or as a politically motivated, intentional misreading.
At one point, Foucault contracted the HIV virus, which would eventually develop into AIDS. Little was known of the disease at the time; the first cases had only been identified in 1980, and it had only been named in 1982. In the summer of 1983, he noticed that he had a persistent dry cough; friends in Paris became concerned that he may have contracted the HIV/AIDS virus then sweeping the San Francisco gay population, but Foucault insisted that he had nothing more than a pulmonary infection that would clear up when he spent the autumn of 1983 in California. It was only when hospitalised that Foucault was diagnosed with AIDS; placed on antibiotics, he was able to deliver a final set of lectures at the Collège de France. Foucault entered Paris' Hôpital de la Salpêtrière – the same institution that he had studied in Madness and Civilisation – on 9 June 1984, with neurological symptoms complicated by septicemia. He died in the hospital at 1:15pm on 25 June.
On 26 June, the newspaper Libération – associated with Foucault for much of his life – announced his death, also highlighting the rumour that it had been brought on by AIDS. The following day, Le Monde publicly issued a medical bulletin that had been cleared by his family; it made no reference to the HIV/AIDS virus. On 29 June, Foucault's la levée du corps ceremony was held, in which the coffin was carried from the morgue. Taking place in the rear courtyard of the Hôpital de la Salpêtriêre, it was attended by hundreds of admirers who had seen the event advertised in Le Monde, including left wing activists like Yves Montand and Simone Signoret and academics such as Jacques Derrida, Paul Veyne, Pierre Bourdieu and Georges Dumézil. Foucault's friend Gilles Deleuze gave a speech, with the words coming from the preface to the final two volumes of The History of Sexuality. Soon after his death, Foucault's partner Daniel Defert founded the first national AIDS organisation in France, which he called AIDES; a pun on the French language word for "help" (aide) and the English language acronym for the disease. On the second anniversary of Foucault's death, Defert agreed to publicly announce that Foucault's death was AIDS-related, doing so in the California-based gay magazine, The Advocate.
All BioExtracts Taken From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault
More Info Related: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilles_Deleuze