The story

Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault

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Born into a traditional family of doctors, Michel Foucault frustrated the expectations of his father, surgeon and professor of anatomy at Poitiers by becoming interested in history and philosophy. Supported by her mother, Anna Malapert, she moved to Paris in 1945 and before joining the École Normale da rue d´Um, she was a student of the philosopher Jean Hyppolite, who introduced her to Hegel's work.

In 1946 managed to enter the École Normale. His closed temperament made him a lonely, aggressive, and ironic person. In 1948, after an attempted suicide, he began psychiatric treatment. In contact with psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, he read Plato, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Freud, Bachelard, Lacan, and others. all things, since for him man is the product of discursive practices.

Two years later, Foucault graduated in Philosophy at Sorbone and the following year graduated in psychology. In 1950 he joined the French Communist Party, but withdrew due to doctrinal differences.

In 1952 he attended the Institute of Psychologie and obtained a degree in Pathological Psychology. In the same year he became an assistant at the University of Lille. Foucault has taught psychology and philosophy at various universities in Germany, Sweden, Tunisia, the United States, and others. He wrote for several newspapers and worked for a long time as a psychologist in psychiatric hospitals and prisons.
Traveled the world giving conferences. In 1955, he moved to Sweden, where he met Dumézil. This contact was important for the evolution of Foucault's thinking. He lived with important intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Genet, Canguilhem, Gilles Deleuze, Merlau-Ponty, Henri Ey, Lacan, Binswanger, etc.

At age 28 he published "Mental Illness and Psychology" (1954), but it was with "History of Madness" (1961), his doctoral thesis at Sorbone, that he established himself as a philosopher, although he preferred to be called a "archaeologist", dedicated to the reconstitution of what is deepest in a culture - archaeologist of the madman's silence, of medical insight ("The Birth of the Clinic", 1963), of the humanities ("Words and Things", 1966), of knowledge in general ("The Archeology of Knowledge", 1969).
He was in Brazil in 1965 for a conference at the invitation of Gerard Lebrun, his student at rue d'Ulm in 1954. In 1971 he assumed the chair of Jean Hyppolite in the discipline History of Thought Systems. The inaugural class was "the Order of Speech".

His next work, "Watch and Punish," is a broad study of discipline in modern society, for him "a technique for producing docile bodies." Foucault analyzed the disciplinary processes employed in prisons, considering them as examples of the imposition on people and "normal" standards of conduct established by the social sciences. From this work, the notion was clarified that the thought forms are also power relations, which imply coercion and imposition.

Thus it is possible to fight against the domination represented by certain patterns of thought and behavior, yet it is impossible to completely escape any and all power relations. In his writings on medicine, Foucault criticized traditional psychiatry and psychoanalysis.

He left unfinished his most ambitious project, "History of Sexuality," which aimed to show how Western society makes sex an instrument of power, not through repression but through expression. The first of the six volumes announced was published in 1976 under the title "The Will to Know."

In 1984, shortly before his death, he published two other volumes: "The Use of Pleasures," which analyzes sexuality in Ancient Greece and "Self-Care," which deals with Ancient Rome. Foucault had several contacts with various political movements. He engaged in political disputes in the Iranian and Turkish Wars. Japan is also a discussion venue for Foucault. Several times he was in Brazil, where he held conferences and established friendships. It was in Brazil that he delivered the important conferences on "The Truth and the Legal Forms" at the Rio de Janeiro PUC.

The United States attracted Foucault because of its support for intellectual freedom and San Francisco, where Foucault can experience some remarkable experiences in his personal life with regard to his homosexuality. Berkeley became a center of contact between Foucault and the United States.

On June 25, 1984, due to AIDS complicating factors, Foucault died at 57, in full intellectual production.