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Foucault's Archaeology

Science and Transformation

David Webb

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Puts The Archaeology of Knowledge at the heart of Foucault's thought

David Webb reveals the extent to which Foucault's approach to language in The Archaeology of Knowledge was influenced by the mathematical sciences, adopting a mode of thought indebted to thinkers in the scientific and epistemological traditions. By aligning his thought with the challenge to Kantian philosophy from mathematics and science in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, he shows how Foucault established his own perspective on the future of critical philosophy.

Key features

  • Sheds new light on a crucial period of Foucault's work
  • Highlights Foucault's relation to thinkers such as Cavailles and Serres


Part I: Background
1. To what problem does The Archaeology of Knowledge respond?
2. Gaston Bachelard
3. Jean Cavaillès
4. Michel Serres: Mathematics, Epistemology, History
5. Michel Serres: Atomism
6. The Mathematical A Priori
7. Temporal Dispersion
Commentary, Archaeology of Knowledge
Part I Introduction
Part II The Discursive Regularities
1. The Unities of Discourse
2. Discursive Formations
3. The Formation of Objects
4. The Formation of Enunciative Modalities
5. The Formation of Concepts
6. The Formation of Strategies
7. Remarks and Consequences
Part III The Statement and the Archive
1. Defining the Statement
2. The Enunciative Function
3. The Description of Statements
4. Rarity, Exteriority, Accumulation
5. The Historical a priori and the Archive
Part IV Archaeological Description
1. Archaeology and the History of Ideas
2. The Original and the Regular
3. Contradictions
4. The Comparative facts
5. Change and Transformations
6. Science and Knowledge
Part V

About the Author

David Webb is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Staffordshire University. His publications include Heidegger, Ethics and the Practice of Ontology, and papers on Michel Foucault, Michel Serres, and Jean Cavaillès.


David Webb makes one of the biggest advances in our understanding of Foucault’s archeological thinking. He identifies with the utmost lucidity the problem to which Foucault’s 1969 The Archeology of Knowledge really responds. Archeology, Webb shows, attempts to determine conditions of knowledge that are historical (and not transcendental) and non-empirical (but formal). Foucault’s Archeology is a great achievement.

- Leonard Lawlor, Sparks Professor of Philosophy, Penn State University