Table of contents:
- Childhood. Boyhood
- From Nietzsche and Hegel to Foucault
2023 Author: Henry Conors | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 12:05
Foucault Michel among his contemporaries is considered the most original and progressive philosopher in France. The main direction of his work is the study of the origin of man in a historical context, the attitude of society towards the mentally ill and the very concept of mental illness.
Michel Foucault was born on October 15, 1926 in the south of the country in a small provincial town. His family belonged to a dynasty of surgeons: his father and both grandfathers owned this profession. They expected that the eldest grandson and son would continue their work and follow the medical path, but, despite the pressure, the boy defended his right to self-realization and partially switched from medicine to metaphysics. Another exception to the rule was the duality of his name. There was a tradition in his family - to give the name Paul to all first-borns, however, the mother named her son Paul Michel, and the child preferred when he was called by his middle name. Therefore, in all official documents he appears as Paul, but is known to the public as Michel Foucault. His biography is also rather controversial.
The future sociologist, historian and philosopher studied at the best high school in France, but at the same time he could not find contact with hisfellow students. He received his secondary education during the years of the fascist blockade of Europe, and this significantly influenced him as a person, changed the angle of his view. Everything that happened at a time when politics determined the fate of people cannot be perceived on the basis of today's moral and ethical foundations of society. People thought differently, their lives were changing quickly and not for the better, so there were supporters of radical measures.
After entering university in 1946, twenty-year-old Michel begins a new life. And it turned out to be much worse than before. All students were terribly pressed by the responsibility for their future, because the graduates of the Higher School were such outstanding people as Canguillem or Sartre, who managed to write their names in golden letters in history. To repeat their path or surpass, it was necessary to be strikingly different from others.
In this regard, Foucault Michel has achieved the palm. He was able to work amazingly long and hard, to study, to develop skills. In addition, his comprehensive education, biting irony and sarcasm did not leave indifferent fellow students who suffered from his bullying. As a result, classmates began to avoid him, considered him crazy. Such a tense situation led to the fact that Michel Foucault tried to take his own life two years after admission. This event brought him to St. Anne's asylum for the first time. There were some positive aspects to his act, because the rector gave the unstable student a separate room.
The first, thanks to whom the philosopher Michel Foucault was able to take place in the future, was Jacques Lacan Gusdorf. It was he who organized lectures on psychiatry for his students, took them to St. Anne's Hospital for practical exercises. The next was Louis Al-Thusser, who continued the tradition of his predecessor regarding the preparation of students. Foucault Michel, despite his reputation, was able to befriend him for years to come.
In 1948, the Sorbonne gives the writer a degree in philosophy. A year later, the Paris Institute of Psychology gives him his diploma, and four years later Foucault Michel graduates from the same educational institution, but the speci alty is already psychopathology. A lot of the philosopher's time is spent working at St. Anne's Hospital. He goes to the prison for medical examinations, to the homes of the sick, studies their life and morbid condition. Thanks to this attitude towards patients, serious intellectual work, the modern Michel Foucault crystallized. The biography briefly describes this period of his life, because he himself is not disposed to expand on it. The hospital was one of many operating in France at that time. She did not have any significant advantages or disadvantages and made a rather depressing impression when viewed through the eyes of a modern doctor.
Five years, from 1951 to 1955, Foucault Michel taught at the Higher Normal School and, imitating his mentors, also leads students toSt. Anne's Hospital for tours and lectures. It was not the most eventful period in the life of a philosopher. At the same time, he began work on his book "The History of Madness", drawing inspiration from Marxism and existentialism - popular philosophical currents of the time. Wanting to repeat the triumph of Sartre and being a graduate of the same educational institution, the ambitious scientist looked for any opportunities to improve his creation. He even had to learn German to read the works of Heidegger, Husserl and Nietzsche.
From Nietzsche and Hegel to Foucault
Years later, when his attitude towards Marxism and existentialism changed, respect for Nietzsche's work remained for life. His influence can be seen in Foucault's later work. It was this German philosopher who gave him the idea of genealogy, that is, the study of the history of the origin of concepts, things, ideas.
Another facet of Michel Foucault's creativity is due to Hegel. Or rather, to his teacher Hippolytus, who was an ardent supporter of Hegelianism. This inspired the future philosopher so much that even his thesis was devoted to the analysis of Hegel's works.
Michel Foucault, whose biography and philosophy were closely intertwined with the political currents of Europe at that time, in 1950 joins the Communist Party. But disappointment in these ideas came quickly, and after three years he leaves the "red" ranks. During his short stay in the party, Foucault manages to rally the students of the Higher Normal School andorganize a kind of circle of interests. The yard of the institute turned into a debating club, the leader of which was, of course, Michel. Such a craving for change, the corresponding moods among young people can be explained by the fact that their childhood and adolescence passed during the Second World War, and youth - in the process of redistribution of spheres of influence between the USSR and Western Europe. They saw both heroic and frankly vile deeds, and each of them presented himself as a member of the Resistance, in a romantic halo. Membership in the Communist Party gave them the opportunity to move closer to their dreams.
Features of work in the party, a critical look at the surrounding reality, a sharp rejection of the ideals of the bourgeoisie were reflected in the work of Foucault. But, as always, from a slightly different angle than expected from him. Most of all he was interested in power relations. But not obvious examples, but those that are veiled in society: a parent-child, a teacher-student, a doctor-patient, a convicted overseer. In more detail, the philosopher comprehended and described the relationship between a psychiatrist and a mentally ill person.
Life in France was disgusting to Michel Foucault, and he hastily packed his bags and left to travel. His first stop was Sweden, then Poland and Austria-Hungary. During this period, active work is underway on the "History of Madness". Some dromania is inherent in this period of his life, as Michel Foucault himself noted (“Biography”). Photos of sights of different countries and even continents openus a new, lost philosopher. He has lectured in Brazil, Japan, Canada, USA, Tunisia.
On the slope of his life, this talented man finally found a place where he could be truly happy. The long search was due to the difficulty of understanding and accepting by European society how Michel Foucault lived and worked. His personal life has always been a secret, since homosexuality in communist-minded countries was openly not welcomed. But in California, USA, things were not so bad. There was a separate subculture of people with a non-traditional orientation, they fought for their rights, published newspapers and magazines. Perhaps it was this lifestyle that influenced Foucault's quick departure from life. In the fall of 1983, the philosopher visits the United States for the last time, and in the summer of 1984 he dies from the terminal stage of HIV infection - AIDS.
The study of madness as a person's alienation from society, its development, the attitude of society towards the mentally ill, the interaction between the doctor and the patient convinced Foucault that no one before him had studied this problem from within the human community. His book is not a history of the development of psychiatry, but rather the path of its formation and acceptance by society as a discipline.
He was especially interested in the aspect of the influence of madness on the culture of the time in which it is actively developing. He drew parallels between the historical era and the main, according to society, manifestation of insanity, and then reflected this inliterature, poetry, painting of that time. After all, people of art have always been sure that the mentally ill know some secret of human existence and can be considered the ultimate truth, but the truth is not always sweet and pleasant, so “he althy” people must be fenced off from the revelations of “sick people.”
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