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Old 22-12-2007, 11:10 AM   #30
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Michel Foucault (pronounced[help] [miʃɛl fuko]) (October 15, 1926 – June 25, 1984) was a French philosopher, historian, critic and sociologist. He held a chair at the Collège de France, giving it the title "History of Systems of Thought," and taught at the University of California, Berkeley.
Michel Foucault is best known for his critical studies of various social institutions, most notably psychiatry, medicine, the human sciences, and the prison system, as well as for his work on the history of human sexuality. Foucault's work on power, and the relationships among power, knowledge, and discourse, has been widely discussed and applied. Sometimes described as postmodernist or post-structuralist, in the 1960s he was more often associated with the structuralist movement. Foucault later distanced himself from structuralism and always rejected the post-structuralist and postmodernist labels.

Early life

Foucault was born on October 15, 1926 in Poitiers as Paul-Michel Foucault to a notable provincial family. His father, Paul Foucault, was an eminent surgeon and hoped his son would join him in the profession. His early education was a mix of success and mediocrity until he attended the Jesuit Collège Saint-Stanislas, where he excelled. During this period, Poitiers was part of Vichy France and later came under German occupation. After World War II, Foucault gained entry to the prestigious École Normale Supérieure (rue d'Ulm), the traditional gateway to an academic career in the humanities in France.

[edit] The École Normale Supérieure

Foucault's personal life during the École Normale was difficult—he suffered from acute depression. He was taken to see a psychiatrist. Because of this, or perhaps in spite of it, Foucault became fascinated with psychology. He earned a licence (degree) in psychology, a very new qualification in France at the time, in addition to a degree in philosophy. He was involved in the clinical arm of psychology, which exposed him to thinkers such as Ludwig Binswanger.

Like many 'normaliens' , Foucault joined the French Communist Party from 1950 to 1953. He was inducted into the party by his mentor Louis Althusser. He left due to concerns about what was happening in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Various people, such as historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, have reported that Foucault never actively participated in his cell, unlike many of his fellow party members.

Foucault was born in 1926 in Poitiers, France, the son of a wealthy surgeon. His early years passed by in a fairly conservative religious environment, as Foucault attended Catholic camp, served as a choirboy, and studied for his baccalaurèat at a Jesuit college (Collège Saint-Stanislas). By this time (1943), France was in the full turmoil of ##World War II##, and discussions of history as either a progress of reason or a chaos of suffering were prevalent. Foucault was taught briefly by the Hegelian philosopher and historian Jean Hyppolite, to whom these historical issues were central (see below).

1936-1945 Besuch 1936-1940 des Lycée de Poitiers und 1940-1945 des Jesuiten Collège Saint Stanislas; 1942-1943 Baccalauréats.

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