Michel Foucault

Sexuality and Solitude

Michel Foucault and Richard Sennett, 21 May 1981

A few years ago, Michel Foucault and I discovered we were interested in the same problem, in very different periods of history. The problem is why sexuality has become so important to people as a definition of themselves. Sex is as basic as eating or sleeping, to be sure, but it is treated in modern society as something more. It is the medium through which people seek to define their personalities, their tastes. Above all, sexuality is the means by which people seek to be conscious of themselves. It is that relationship between self-consciousness, or subjectivity, and sexuality that we want to explore. Few people today would subscribe to Brillat-Savarin’s ‘Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are,’ but a translation of this dictum to the field of sex does command assent: know how you love, and you will know who you are.

Denunciations: Foucault in the Bastille

Ruth Scurr, 14 December 2017

At​ the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities, Dr Manette is ‘recalled to life’. His death was figurative – he had been held in the Bastille for 18 years by lettre de cachet. The...

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In the 1950s, three individuals, unknown to one another and from different countries, were engaged in what seem, looking back, to have been remarkably similar projects vis-à-vis those whom...

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Sex in the head

Roy Porter, 7 July 1988

How are we to read the history of sexuality? In the Introduction volume to his great multi-volume essay in critical-revisionism, Michel Foucault set out to demystify the discourse which has...

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Champion of Words

John Sturrock, 15 October 1987

Michel Foucault, for once and for now, may stand aside: who is the Raymond Roussel about whom he wrote this, his one real essay into literature? Roussel was a writer, of sorts, of the early 20th...

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Being on top

John Ryle, 20 February 1986

What is more important: is it the project of understanding why sexual desire is, or has become, a problem for us like no other, fraught with particular anxiety and special perplexity; or is it...

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After Foucault

David Hoy, 1 November 1984

With the death of Michel Foucault the end of another era of French philosophy suddenly seems imminent. Jean-Paul Sartre died long after the Existentialist era had dwindled, and that phase of his...

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Foucault’s Slalom

David Hoy, 4 November 1982

French philosophers become notorious when, deviating from Anglo-American ‘common sense’, they appear to cast aside respect for truth, tradition, reality and reason. Michel Foucault is...

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Homo Sexualis

Michael Ignatieff, 4 March 1982

Is a history of sexuality possible? It is easy to envisage a history of the language of enticement, the trail of clothes on the floor, the bed even, but the coupling, the thing itself, how could...

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Beyond Nietzsche and Marx

Richard Rorty, 19 February 1981

Russell and Wittgenstein and Heidegger and Sartre are dead, and it looks as if there are no great philosophers left alive. At the end of his book, Alan Sheridan hesitantly stakes a claim for...

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