“Archaeology of Knowledge”

“We’re here to show you discourse is within the established order of things, that we’ve waited a long time for its arrival, that a place has been set aside for it- a place which both honours and disarms it, and if it should happen to have a certain power, then it is we, and we alone, who give it that power.”- “The Discourse on Language” by Michael Foucault


Importance of exclusion…

It is assumed that discourse is controlled in each society to deter its dangers. In our society this comes in the form of prohibited speech, such as yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theatre. Rules exist to regulate safety and organization. However, these rules are not always so concrete and can be more of unspoken social cues. For example, it is seen as a rule of discourse to not speak openly about politics and sexuality, these topics can be offensive and very partisan.

It is also common knowledge to speak in such a way that the common man can understand and relate, to use the words of the times. If people cannot perceive ones words, they are deemed to be untrue or wrong, they lose validity. In the middle ages these people were considered to be madmen and were doomed to the lowest opinion of society. Discourse must be separated from falsehood.

People have an inherent desire to gain knowledge and this can e done through the sharing of important persuasive discourse.


“The political discourse in Israel has reached an all-time low with politicians and commentators insulting parts of Israel’s society as some type of effort to be more popular with others.”- TLV1 This story describes how the ideologies heard in the political arena seem less substantial in the election campaign, major political parties seem to have no official platform, or their representatives don’t feel an obligation to be truly aligned to whatever the official party line might be.

This shows the importance of a strong discourse. Though discourse should be regulated, it also needs to exist in society. In order for people to advocate for a party, person etc, they must be inspired to do so- through meaningful and persuasive discourse.

Another political example is Hilary Clinton’s email scandal:

Washington (CNN) Unfavorable views of Hillary Clinton are on the rise and perceptions of her as “honest and trustworthy” have dropped following the revelation that while serving as secretary of state she used a personal email address and home-based server to conduct State Department business.”

Citizens feel that she lacks a trustworthy manner because a personal email allows for her to keep national concerns private. This raises concerns about how she dealt with situations and her underlying concern for national affairs. This example demonstrates how power and truth coincide.

Foucault’s article states “true discourse, liberated by the nature of its form from desire and power.” Discourse and power go hand-in-hand in terms of creating valuable meaning in society. The will to truth is a continuous influx of truth that has more to do with what is said than who says it.

In class examples…

1. “Google boss warns of ‘forgotten century’ with email and photos at risk“- theguardian.com. “The warning highlights an irony at the heart of modern technology, where music, photos, letters and other documents are digitised in the hope of ensuring their long-term survival.”

2. “The digital black hole: will it delete your memories?”- theguardian.com. “Google’s vice-president Vint Cerf has warned that all digitally stored information could be wiped out by tech upgrades, putting the sum total of human knowledge under threat.” The article explores how today’s technologies are at risk and how professionals are preparing as well as how this effects citizen journalists.

3. “A Warehouse Fire of Digital Memories“- theatlantic.com. “A top Google executive believes that today’s electronic personal records, photos, and even tweets will all be lost to defunct software, resulting in a “forgotten century.”


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