Precis: Foucault

Foucault's intro to The Archaeology of Knowledge is a work that he says criticizes and corrects three of his previous books that he was "unable to avoid." He criticizes historical methodology and its discontinuities. Foucault says that the problems are due to the "document." Historians have become more interested in the documents themselves, and "history is now trying to define within the documentary material itself unities, totalities, series, relations. Rather than understanding or "'memorizing' the monuments of the past," history "transforms documents into monuments."

Foucault then outlines four consequences of this: 1.) the proliferation of discontinuities in the history of ideas, 2.) discontinuity assumes a major role in the historical disciplines, 3.)the theme and possibility of a "total history" begin to disappear, and 4.) the new history is confronted by several methodological problems.

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