Michel Foucault Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Arac, Jonathan, ed. After Foucault: Humanistic Knowledge, Postmodern Challenges. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1988. This book contains essays on Michel Foucault presented in 1985, the year after Foucault’s death, at a conference sponsored by the Institute for the Humanities of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Includes bibliography and index.

Barker, Phillip. Michel Foucault: An Introduction. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press, 1998. This book provides an introduction to Foucault and his thought. Includes bibliographies and an index.

Bernauer, James William. Michel Foucault’s Force of Flight: Toward an Ethics for Thought. Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1990. This work, part of a series on modern philosophers, examines Foucault’s views on ethics in the twentieth century. Includes a bibliography.

Boyne, Roy. Foucault and Derrida: The Other Side of Reason. London: Unwin Hyman, 1990. This volume looks at the ongoing debate between Foucault and deconstructionist Jacques Derrida. Includes bibliographical references and index.

Davidson, Arnold I. Foucault and His Interlocutors. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997. This book includes essays by several French thinkers who were influenced by Foucault. These authors take up the breadth of Foucault’s life’s work and provide a firm foundation by which to understand his writing.

Eribon, Didier. Michel Foucault. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991.

Foucault, Michel, ed. I, Pierre Riviere, Having Slaughtered My Mother, My Sister, and My Brother : A Case of Parricide in the Nineteenth Century. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990. A literal account of the murder of a family by a “madman” that simultaneously analyzes the “murder” of free will and responsibility.

Gutting, Gary. Cambridge Companion to Foucault. 2nd ed. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2006. A comprehensive overview of Foucault’s essays and an extensive bibliography of his works.

Miller, James. The Passion of Michel Foucault. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Nehamas, Alexander. Art of Living: Socratic Reflections from Plato to Foucault. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. Nehamas focuses on the importance of Socrates to Foucault and produces an accessible evaluation of the idea of personhood as described by each.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Michel Foucault (few-koh) is one of the most important French intellectuals of the twentieth century. Born to a middle-class family in Poitiers, France, Foucault attended various public schools and then received his baccalauréat from a Catholic secondary institution. He studied philosophy as well as psychology at the Sorbonne, in Paris, and obtained his diploma in philosophy in 1948. Dissatisfied with his studies in philosophy, he began research in the field of psychopathology and taught in Paris and in Sweden for several years. In 1960 he was nominated head of the philosophy department at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, and in 1970 he was given a chair at the prestigious Colège de France in Paris, where he remained until his death of cerebral abscesses.

Foucault’s work is primarily in the area of the philosophies of history and of sociology, especially where these disciplines intersect with the domains of psychology and medicine. He termed the philosophical thrust of his early works an “archaeology” of ideas; that is, he sought to uncover the beginnings or roots of certain fundamental concepts of Western culture such as rationality, knowledge, and power, especially in terms of the way these ideas structure society and the perception of human relationships. His early work, Madness and Civilization, looks to the origins of societal definitions of madness and reason and the early development of psychiatry as well as the emergence of the mental asylum as a social institution in eighteenth century France. Before the seventeenth century and the early period of the European Enlightenment (the Age of Reason), mental illness or “unreason” was considered somewhat of a...

(The entire section is 699 words.)


(Critical Survey of Ethics and Literature)

Author Profile

Michel Foucault was a twentieth century French philosopher who studied the concept of “principles of exclusion.” The career of this professor at the University of Paris-Vincennes and the College de France expressed two broad themes. The first, which was represented in his 1961 book Madness and Civilization, focused on mental illness and society’s response through the institution of the insane asylum.

Later, Foucault began to expand the concept of exclusion to include the penal system and prisons, and in 1975 he published Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. In this book, Foucault described the societal changes that led to the move from castigating the...

(The entire section is 524 words.)