Sartre, Foucault, and Historical ReasonA Poststructuralist Mapping of History

Sartre, Foucault, and Historical ReasonA Poststructuralist Mapping of History

Thomas R. Flynn

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226254708

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding. In Volume One of this two-volume study, a reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory was carried out. This second volume offers a comprehensive and critical reading of the Foucauldian counterpoint. A history, theorized Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comprehensive charting of structural transformations and displacements over time. Contrary to other Foucault scholars, the text here proposes an “axial” rather than a developmental reading of Foucault's work. This allows aspects of Foucault's famous triad of knowledge, power, and the subject to emerge in each of his major works. This book maps existentialist categories across Foucault's “quadrilateral,” the model that Foucault proposes as defining modernist conceptions of knowledge. At stake is the degree to which Sartre's thought is fully captured by this mapping, whether he was, as Foucault claimed, “a man of the nineteenth century trying to think in the twentieth.”