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By Paul Veyne

Michel Foucault and Paul Veyne: the thinker and the historian. significant figures on the earth of principles, resisting all makes an attempt at categorization. undying thinkers who've lengthy walked and fought jointly. during this brief ebook Paul Veyne deals a clean portrait of his pal and relaunches the controversy approximately his principles and legacy. Foucault isn't who you're thinking that he's , writes Veyne; he stood neither at the left nor at the correct and used to be usually disowned via either. He used to be now not quite a bit a structuralist as a sceptic, an empiricist disciple of Montaigne, who by no means ceased in his paintings to mirror on 'truth games', on singular, developed truths that belonged to their very own time. a special testimony by way of a student who knew Foucault good, this publication succeeds brilliantly in greedy the middle of his inspiration and in stripping away the confusions and misunderstandings that experience so frequently characterised the translation of Foucault and his paintings.

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The works are themselves swords wielded with a dexterity that assumes the reader hi mself possesses the requisite vital tonicity. The virtuosity of this fencing style delighted readers still young at heart, and ensured success for Foucault's books, whether or not they were understood . But at the same time, and whether or not understood, they forced other readers on to the defensive or even repel led them when his style alerted them to what kind of a man and what attitudes they were dealing with .

Every society has its own regime of truth, its own general policy of truth. 34 It would be possible to write a history of conceptions of the truth itself,35 a history that would draw heavily on the j uridical domain. 37 Foucault wrote a long draft for such a work,38 which, he said, a year or two before his death, he would have liked to develop much further. 39 All this is impregnated by the 'discourse' of the day. We have already noted the bizarre forms that it takes and the fact that its frontiers are more historical than natural: this entity associated with a particular time resem­ bles a shard or a pebble more than something carefully reasoned.

The questioning 'discourse', the object that it buries and manipulates, and the knowledgeable subject himself, all three take shape from the same questioning process. Each chooses its path and subjectivization freely ( there will be more to say about that adverb, 'freely', which may alarm sociologists) . We shall, all i n good time, b e coming back to that; but right now let us return to Foucault's tacit principle. While 52 Foucault's Scepticism all is well for empirical singularities, in contrast, by virtue of the same principle, a general idea, which planes above and presumes to subsume a number of singular realities that it then confuses together, is bound to be superficial and mis­ leading.

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