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Sartre, Foucault, and Historical ReasonA Poststructuralist Mapping of History$
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Thomas R. Flynn

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780226254708

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226254722.001.0001

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The Career of the Historical Event

The Career of the Historical Event

(p.48) Chapter Three The Career of the Historical Event
Sartre, Foucault, and Historical Reason
University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses the features of Foucault's approach that serve to justify Veyne's characterization—namely, his event orientation. Foucault's relationship to structuralism and to the new history as history of the nonevent is ambiguous. But this very lack of definition affords him the Spielraum to develop his own approach to the history of discursive and nondiscursive practices. The chapter surveys how the concept of the event figures centrally in each of Foucault's three “methodologies”—archaeology, genealogy, and problematization. Though this book cites instances from a number of his works, this chapter returns to Discipline and Punish for a detailed study. The chapter shows how the very meaning of “event” has been broadened by Foucault so as to span the chasm marked by new historians between the “eventworthy” and the “noneventworthy.” If his differential analyses and decentering of the subject have linked Foucault with the new historians, his insistence on “event orientation” and on the possible service of archaeology and genealogy to a number of broad historical processes reminds us of his ties to the old. The chapter confirms his claim that the event/nonevent dichotomy is exaggerated. Here again, Foucault has chosen to go his own way.

Keywords:   Foucault, event orientation, structuralism, intellectual history, philosophy

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