I (Ckcasselman) have taken on a new area of study that I am hoping will be an ongoing investigation and perhaps, if I am lucky enough, will lead into my doctoral work. I have begun reading the Michel Foucault Reader edited by Paul Rabinow. As part of my study of postmodern thought this past quarter at Fuller, I surveyed a plethora of postmoderns and got to see the crux of their individual importance. Michel Foucault stood out to me for his ability to critique, analyze, and postulate philosophical ideas that regard the overarching whole of society, seeing the societal fragments and how they construct the whole. As part of my final project for this postmodern survey and as a way to persevere in my studies, I have decided to begin grappling and expounding on my Foucauldian studies in blog format. I would like to fuse my purposes of constructing a final project, my love and hopeful future career in education, and produce an interesting and hopefully provocative blog. Subsequently, I thought I’d start with a most basic biography of the late great Michel Foucault.
Foucault was born in 1926 to a surgeon and his wife in Poitiers, France and received his education during the onset of WWII. An intellectual giant, Foucault was admitted into the Parisian Exole Normale Superieure, an educational center for the world’s brightest where he gained his intellectual recognition. During his education, Foucault’s life was wrought with depression for which he sought help from a psychiatrist. As a psychiatric patient, Foucault gained a love for psychology, which subsequently led to dual degrees in both philosophy and psychology. In 1960 Foucault returned to France for a teaching position at the University of Clermont-Ferrand where he met his partner of twenty years Daniel Defert.
Michel taught both psychology and philosophy in his lifetime at universities such as the École Normale Université, Lille Nord de France, Warsaw University, the University of Hamburg, the University of Clermont-Ferrand, the University of Tunis, and at UC Berkeley just to name a few. As an interdisciplinarian social scientist, it seems to me that a lot of Foucault’s writing stemmed from his personal insight and as one whose position in society has been pushed to the periphery. As a homosexual suffering from depression, Foucault critiqued the institutions and reasoning that marginalized and oppressed his echelon as he wrote regarding psychiatric institutions in Madness and Civilization and social constructions of sexuality in The History of Sexuality.
It seems only fitting to me that a man who didn’t fit into socially accepted norms created a methodology for finding the historical roots of social norms. Foucault’s passion for the marginalized fueled his philosophy in both his writing and activism. Foucault died prematurely in 1984 at the age of 58 from AIDS. His works have proven to be crucial to continental philosophy and the social sciences and are celebrated posthumously.
Stay tuned for more on Foucault! Questions?
For a deeper biographical study, see these sources:
Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Foucault
The European Graduate School page: http://www.egs.edu/resources/foucault.html
Stanford Philosophy page: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/
The Foucault Society page: http://www.foucaultsociety.org/resources/michel_foucault.asp
John Protevi, Professor of French Studies LSU gives a wonderful biography and further biographical resources here.
Submitted by: Ckcasselman