Notes for Michel Foucault The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences

Notes started May 2011.

Las Meninas painting by Velasquez illustrates modernity appeal to sound metanarratives including perspectival and lighting science, and hence is emblematic of great periodization theories.

Publisher's Notes

Later note on Foucault admission of arbitrariness akin to Zizek on Adorno habit of practicing vulgar sociologism, akin to Quintillian depravity of style noted in Seneca who writes of fetish of tools and engineering knowledge.

Foreword to the English edition
(ix) 1. He would recognize that it was a study of a relatively neglected field. . . . But what if empirical knowledge, at a given time and in a given culture,
did possess a well-defined regularity?
(x) 2. This book must be read as a comparative, and not a symptomatological, study.
(xi) The second risk I took was in having wished to describe not so much the genesis of our sciences as an epistemological space specific to a particular period.
(xi) 3. I did not operate, at the level that is usually that of the historian of science – I should say at the two levels that are usually his. . . . What I would like to do, however, is to reveal a
positive unconscious of knowledge: a level that eludes the consciousness of the scientist and yet is part of scientific discourse, instead of disputing its validity and seeking to diminish its scientific nature. . . . It is these rules of formation, which were never formulated in their own right, but are to be found only in widely differing theories, concepts, and objects of study, that I have tried to reveal, by isolating, as their specific locus, a level that I have called, somewhat arbitrarily, archaeological.


Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archeology of the Human Sciences.