Foucault, Michel (Paul)

Foucault, Michel (Paul)

biographical name

(born Oct. 15, 1926, Poitiers, France—died June 25, 1984, Paris) French structuralist philosopher and historian. A professor at the Collège de France from 1970, he examined the codes and concepts by which societies operate, especially the “principles of exclusion” (such as the distinctions between the sane and the insane) by which a society defines itself. He theorized that, by surveying social attitudes in relation to institutions such as asylums, hospitals, and prisons, one can examine the development and omnipresence of power. His books—including Madness and Civilization (1961), The Order of Things (1966), The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), Discipline and Punish (1975), and History of Sexuality, 3 vol. (1976–84)—made him one of the most influential intellectuals of his time. He was an outspoken homosexual, and he died of AIDS. See also structuralism.

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