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foucalt What is an author?

foucalt What is an author?

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Published by vandyketim746
What Is an Author?
In proposing this slightly odd question, I am conscious of the need for an explanation. To this day, the aauthor” remains an open question both with respect to its general function within discourse and in my own writings; that is, this question pennitS me to return to certain aspects of my own work which now appear ill-advised and misleading. In this regard, I wish to propose a necessary uiticism and reevaluation. For instance, my objective in The Order of Things had been to
What Is an Author?
In proposing this slightly odd question, I am conscious of the need for an explanation. To this day, the aauthor” remains an open question both with respect to its general function within discourse and in my own writings; that is, this question pennitS me to return to certain aspects of my own work which now appear ill-advised and misleading. In this regard, I wish to propose a necessary uiticism and reevaluation. For instance, my objective in The Order of Things had been to

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Published by: vandyketim746 on Dec 04, 2008
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02/04/2013

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W hatI sa nA u th o r ?
In p ro p o s in gt h i s s lig h tlyo d dq u e s t i o n ,Iam
c o n s c io u so f th e
need
f o r a n e x p la n a tio n .T o
thisd a y , th e a a u th o r\u201dr e m a i n sa n
o p e nq u e s tio nb o t hw ithr e s p e c tt oi t sg e n e ra lf u n c t i o n w ith in
d is c o u rs ea n di n m yo w n w r itin g s ; th a tis ,t h i sq u e s tio np e n n i t S
m e to re tu rn toc e rta ina s p e c tso f m yo w n w o rk w h ic h n o w a p p e a r
ill-a d v is e d a n d
misleading.I n
thisre g a rd ,Iw ish to p ro p o se a
necessaryu itic is m
a n d re e v a lu a tio n .
F o ri n s t a n c e ,m y o b je c tiv ei nT h eO r d e ro f T h in g sh a db e e nt o
a n a ly s ev e rb a l c lu s te rsa s d isc u rsiv e la y e rsw h i c hf a l l o u ts id e th e
familiarc a te g o rie s ofabook,a w o rk , o ra n a u th o r. B ut w h ileI
c o n s id e re d \u201c n a tu ra lh i s t o r y , \u201d t h ea a n a ly s iso fw e a lth ,\u201d a n d \u201c p o lit-
ic a l econom y\u201di ng e n e ra l term s,I neglecteda
similar a n a ly s iso f
th e a u th o r a n d
his w orks;i ti s perhaps due to th iso m i s s i o n that
Iem ployed the nam es
of
a u th o rsth r o u g h o u t
this
booki n
a
naive and o fte n crudefa s h io n .I spokeo fB u ffo n , C uvier,R icardo,
T h is
e s s a y
o r ig in a n y
a p p e a r e d
m
th e
B u lle tin
de
Io
S o d k tk
fm q x a im
deP h tlo s o p h ie ,6 3 ,N o.3
(1 9 6 !3 ), 7 3 -1 0 4 .
I t w asd e liv e re d
asale c tu reb e f o r e t h eS o c ie ty a tt b e C o ll& g e d eF r a n c eo nF e b ru a ry
2 2 ,
1 9 6 9 , w ith
JeanW a h l
presiding.
W e
have
omitted
P r o f e s s o r
W a h l\u2019sin tro d u c to ryrem arksa n d
a ls o
F o u c a u lt\u2019s
responsea n d
th e
d e b a te th a t fo llo w e dhis le c tu re . F o u c a u lt\u2019si n i t i a l s ta te m e n t, h o w e v e r,
h a sb e e nin te rp o la te d in
th ef+ st p a ra g ra p h
of the
translation.T he
in te re s to f th e
discussion
th a tfonow ed
F o u c a u lt\u2019s p a p e rlie sm
i t s
p re m c u p a tio n -e s p e c ia lly
asv o ic e d b yL u a e n G o ld m a n n -w ith
F o u -
c a u lt\u2019s
s u p p o s e da fh ity
w ith
th estru ctu ralist enterprise.A s
i n
th e
c o n c lu s io n
of
T h eA r c h u e o b g y
o fK now kdge
(esp. pp. 20& m l),
F o u c a u ltfo rc e fu lly d e n ie st h i sc o n n e c t i o n . T h ise s s a yi sr e p r o d u c e d
h e re
b y
permissiono f
th e
S o c ie ty .
(Allf o o t n o t e ss u p p lie db y
th e
e d ito r .)
1 1 4
C O U N T W -M E M O R Y

a n do th e rs a s w e ll,b u tfa ile d tore a liz e th a tI h a d dow ed th e ir nam es to function am biguously.Thishas proved an em barassm ent to m e in

th a tm y
oversight has served to
r a is etw o
p e rtin e n t
o b je c tio n s .
I t w asa rg u e d th a tI h a dn o t p ro p e rlyd d b e d B u ffo n o rh i s
w o rk a n d th a t m y h a n d lin go f M arx w as p itifu lly in a d e q u a te in
term so f the totality
of
histh o u g h t'
A lth o u g h th e s e o b je c tio n s
w e r e o b v io u s lyj u s t i f i e d , th e y ig n o re d th e ta s kI h a d
set m yself:
Ih a dn o in te n tio no f d e s c rib in g B u ffo n o rM an o ro f re p ro d u c in g
th e ir
s ta te m e n ts
o r
im p lic it m e a n in g s , b u t,
sim p ly
s ta te d ,I
w a n te d to lo c a te th er u l e s th a t fo rm e dac e rta in n u m b e r ofc o n -
ceptsa n d th e o re tic a l re la tio n s h ip si n
their w orks.'
I n
a d d itio n ,
i tw a sa rg u e d th a tI h a d c re a te dm o n s t r o u s fa m ilie s b y b rin g in g

to g e th e r n a m e s a s d is p a ra te a s B u ffo n a n d L in n a e u s o r in p la c in g C u v ie rn e x tto D a rw ini n d e fia n c eo f th em o s t re a d ily o b s e rv a b le fam ily resem blancesa n dn a t u r a ltie s .3T h i s o b je c tio n a l s os e e m s in a p p ro p ria tes in c eI h a d n e v e rtrie d to e s ta b lis h a g e n e a lo g ic a l ta b leo fe x c e p tio n a l in d iv id u a ls , n o r w a sI c o n c e rn e d in fo rm in g a n in te lle c tu a l d a g u e rre o ty p eo f thes c h o l a r or naturalist o fth e s e v e n te e n th a n d e ig h te e n thc e n t u r y .I nfa c t,I h a d n oi n t e n t i o n

offo rm in g a n y fa m ily , w h e th e r h o ly o r p e rv e rse .O n th e c o n -
trary,Iw a n te d to d e te rm in -
m uch m ore m odestta sk -th e
fu n c tio n a l c o n d itio n so f
discursive practices.
Then whyd idI use the nam eso f authorsi n
TheO rdero f
1.S e e" E n t r e t i e n ss u rM ic h e lF o u c a u lt"(d ire c te db yJ .P m u s t ) ,L o
Pm h,N o.1 3 7
(1968),p p .6 -7
and1 1 ; anda l s oS y lv ie l eh ,W
n
P ositivism e dksesperke,"E s p rit,N o .5
(1 9 6 7 ),p p .1 3 1 7 -1 3 1 9 .
2 .F o u c a u lt'sp u r p o s e , c o n c e rn e d w ith d e te rm in in g th e "c o d e s"
of
discourse,i se x p lic itly statedi n the Prefacet o
TheO r d e r of Things,
p .
xx.
T hese
objections--see
"Entretiens
s u r
M ic h e l F o u c a u lt" -a re
o b v io u s ly
th o s e
o f
specialistsw ho
fault Foucaultfo r
his
a p p a re n t
fa ilu ret o
a p p re c ia teth e
fa c ts
and
c o m p le x itie so f
th e ir th e o re tic a l
fie ld .
3 .F o r
a n
a p p re c ia tio n
of
F o u c a u lt's
te c h n iq u e ,
see
o n a th a n
Z n tro d u c tiu n ,
ed.
D a v id
R obey
(O x fo rd :
C la re n d o n
Press,
1 9 7 3 ),
C u lle r,'T h e
Linguistic
Basis
of
S tru c tu ra lis m ,"
S h u c tU T al
ism :
A n
p p . 2 7 -2 8 .
W HATISA N
A V T R O R ?
1 1 5
Things?W h y n o t a v o id th e ir u s e a lto g e th e r, o r, s h o rt of
that,
w hy
n o t d e fin e th e m a n n e r in
w h ic h th e y
w ere used? These
q u e s tio n s a p p e a r fu lly ju s tifie d a n dIh a v e trie d to g a u g e th e ir
im p lic a tio n s a n d c o n s e q u e n c e s in a b o o k th a t w iIIappear s h o rtl~ .~
T h e s e q u e s tio n s h a v e d e te rm in e d m y e ffo rt to s itu a te c o m p re h e n -
s iv e
d is c u rs iv e
u n its ,
s u c h
a s
\u201c n a tu ra l h is to ry \u201d
o r
\u201d p o litic a l
e c o n o m y ,\u201d
a n d
t o
establish the
m e th o d s a n d
in s tru m e n ts fo r
d e lim itin g , a n a ly z in g , a n d d e s c rib in g th e s e u n itie s . N e v e rth e le s s ,
as
a
p riv ile g e d m o m e n t of
in d iv id u a liz a tio n in
the history
of

id e a s , k n o w le d g e , a n d lite ra tu re , o r in th e h is to ry ofp h ilo ~ p h y a n d s c ie n c e , th e q u e s tio n of th e a u th o r d e m a n d s a m o re d ire c t response. Even now , w hen w e study the historyo fa c o n c e p t,a literary genre, or a branch of philosophy, these concerns assum e

arelatively w eak and secondary position in relation to the solid
a n d fu n d a m e n ta l ro le of a n a u th o r a n dh i s w o rk s.

For the purposeso fth is p a p e r,I w ill s e t a s id e as o c io h is to r ic a l a n a ly s iso f th e a u th o r a s a n in d iv id u a l a n d th e n u m e ro u s q u e s - tio n s th a t d e s e rv e a tte n tio ni nth is c o n te x t: h o w th e a u th o rw as in d iv id u a liz e d in a c u ltu re s u c ha so u r s ; th e s ta tu s w e h a v e g iv e n th e

a u th o r, fo r
in s ta n c e , w h e n
w e
b e g a n
o u r
re s e a rc h
into

a u th e n tic ity a n d a ttrib u tio n ; th es y s te m so f v a lo riz a tio n in w h ic h h e w a s in c lu d e d ; o r th e m o m e n t w h e n th e s to rie so f heroes gave w a y to a n a u th o r\u2019s b io g ra p h y ; th e c o n d itio n s th a t fo s te re d th e fo rm u la tio no f

th e fu n d a m e n ta lc ritic a l c a te g o ry
of

\u201c th e m a n a n d h is w o r k \u201d F o r th e tim e b e in g ,Iwish to restrict m yself to th e s in g u la r re la tio n s h ip th a t h o ld sb e t w e e n a n a u th o r a n d a te x t, th e m a n n e r in w h ic h a te x t a p p a re n tly p o in ts to th is fig u re w h o is o u ts id e a n d p re c e d e s it.

B eck etts u p p lie sa
d ire c tio n : \u201c W h a t m a tte rw h o \u2019s
s p e a k in g ,
som eone said, w hat m atter w ho\u2019s
p e a k in g ." ^I n
anin d iffe re n c e
4 .T h eA r c h a e o b g y
o f
K n o w le d g e ,t r a n s .A .
M . S h e r id a nS m i t h
(L o n d o n :
T avistock,1 9 7 2 )
w as
p u b lis h e d
in
F r a n c e in
1 9 6 9 ;fo r
discussiono fth ea u th o r,seee s p .p p . 9 2 -6 ,1 2 !2 .
5 . Sam uelB eck ett,
Texts
fo r
N o th in g ,
trans.
Beck&
(L o n d o n :
C a ld e r&B oyars, 1 9 7 4 ),p .1 6 .

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