Michel Foucault (Fuko): Human Self-EsteemJune 27, 2021
The idea that man is an exploration of the recent past was put forward in “The Order of Things: Archeology of the Humanities” by the French philosopher Michel Foucault.
To understand what Foucault means by this, we need to know what he means by archeology and why he thinks we should apply it to the history of thought. Foucault is concerned with how our discourse – how we talk and think about things – is shaped by a set of unconscious rules that arise in large part from the historical conditions in which we find ourselves. What we take to be “common sense ground” for how we think and talk about the world is actually shaped by these rules and these conditions. But rules and conditions change over time; Of course, then our discourse changes. This is why archeology is needed to unearth the limits and conditions of how people thought and talked about the world in earlier ages. We cannot take concepts in the context we use them today (for example, the concept of human nature) and assume they are somehow eternal, all we need to trace their pedigrees. what is the “history of ideas”.
According to Foucault, it is wrong to assume that our current ideas can be adapted at some point in history. The way we use the words “human”, “human being” and “human nature” is an example of this. This idea has its roots in the old question of “Why is the world the way it is?” and “Why do we see the world like that?” It lies in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, who completely changed philosophy by asking the question. We think our idea of being human is fundamental and unchanging, but in reality it is only a recent discovery. Foucault argues that our idea of ”man” began around the time the natural sciences were born, particularly in the early 19th century. Foucault considers this idea of ”man” to be paradoxical: we see ourselves in the world both as objects, and therefore as objects to be studied, and as subjects who study and experience the world—like strange creatures that can look in two directions at once.
Foucault argues that not only is the idea of ”man” an exploration of the recent past, but also an exploration that is nearing its end – which will soon be erased “like a face drawn in the sand by the sea”. Is Foucault right? At a time when there are rapid developments in programming and human-machine interfaces, and philosophers such as Daniel Dennett and Dan Wegner are meeting with science and questioning the nature of subjectivism, it is impossible not to feel the wave hitting its shores terribly, if the face in the sand is not indelible.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook