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Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics Paperback – December 15, 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0226163123 ISBN-10: 0226163121 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 271 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd edition (December 15, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226163121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226163123
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #278,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Paul Rabinow is a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.  

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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Brett Palomar on December 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
I did my dissertation on Foucault's archaeology (his first four books), and this required me to acquaint myself with much of the secondary literature concerning his thought. The bulk of this literature seems to be coming from critical theory and culture studies, and it is, well, not very good. Literature and sociology writers are fond of quote-mining his work, and the views I took from their articles almost convinced me that we had read different books.

So Dreyfus and Rabinow's slender volume was a welcome relief. They have the philosophical background required to get a handle on what's going on in Foucault's discourse on discourse, and they had considerable access to the Man Himself to keep them on the straight and narrow. Their work follows the text very closely, and can help the careful reader identify the themes, arguments, and (most notably) tensions that run through these books.

If you've read anything by Foucault, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Even if it's unable to reveal anything new to you, it will bring the works into a sharper focus and help you realize the place any given volume occupied in the overall project of Foucault's career.

While I have read the "genealogy," I'm in no way an expert on the later works and cannot vouch for Dreyfus and Rabinow's authority concerning them. But given the sensitivity and alacrity with which the first four works are treated, I'm fairly confident they will provide rock-steady guidance for Foucault's examination of power and the institutions the wield it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "mshockle" on March 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
Indeed, Dreyfus and Rabinow have "cleared up" much of Foucaults difficult methods. I would say that reading this does not excuse anyone from Foucaults works; it could be read alongside them to help clarify themes and connect seemingly useless portions that most people would like to skip through. Besides, without actually reading Foucault you are missing out on some of the most profound, stylistic, and original philosophy of the twentieth century. An excellent introduction and guide, but comprehensive enough to warrant FIVE stars. Trust me. Dreyfus and Rabinow have written a surprisingly original book here; their view and support of Foucault as "beyond structuralism and hermeneutics" is brilliantly explained.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lu Xun on September 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read most of Foucault and some of the jargon-laced incoherence that passes for scholarship on his work, I'd say this is the clearest, most coherent text you will find on Foucault. Dreyfus is a great explainer and clarifier of other philosophers (if he can rescue Heidegger from the being-in-the-swamp of his own verbiage, he can rescue anyone), and in this case, he makes Foucault clearer than I thought possible. Also, Dreyfus knew Foucault at Berkeley and was invited by Foucault to lecture in France, so I'm sure this personal connection gave him additional insight into Foucault's project.

I have never been a fan of Foucault or the cult that has sprung up around him in seemingly every corner of the academic world, but Dreyfus and Rabinow at least convinced me that Foucault had something to say and explained what that was more clearly than Foucault ever managed to himself. I highly recommend this book, but it would help to have some background in philosophy (i.e. Kant) before you read it -- probably not required, but it would be helpful.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tor S. Thidesen on May 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First I should state my position, or lack thereof.
I am not a scholar, not an academic, not a student of philosophy. I am just a person who has an interest and desire to understand more about life and the ways of knowing it.
As such, I was apprehensive about venturing into Foucault - having only kindergarten knowledge of post-structuralism - fearing any book (whatever its claims) would either be a condescending simplification ("Beginners guide to -" , "- for dummies") or wall of esoteric semantics and impenetrable gibberish.
But to my amazement this book couldn't have been more useful or appropriate.

The book managed to explain the overriding project of Foucault and as well explain in clear language what the problems and solutions Foucault offered (keep in mind my position as a stranger to Foucault, I cannot speak for the _accuracy_ of the text, only whether or not it manages to explain the theories they posit). The true mark of genius is how the book know exactly when to move forward and when to stop and elaborate. Whenever I found myself confused, the text would somehow become aware of this and reiterate the problem in different terms.

Moving at a comfortable pace through most of Foucaults key concepts, it seems to give a good foundation for further investigation. I'll repeat: It's neither a dummies guide nor a academic secret code. In fact, I'm hard pressed to place the book in a category.
Instead I'll say that the book was a Godsend for someone like me wanting to know more about Foucault and finding the dummies-guide's too simplistic.
(Though, perhaps, the beginners and dummies guide gave me a foundation more required that I am aware of.
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