You are on page 1of 3

Introduction to Penserla folie: Essais sur Michel Foucault

Georges Canguilhem

Translated by Ann Hobart

Why have I agreed to be the first to say a few words on a work published thirty years ago? It is because, as the third reader of Michel Foucault's manuscript, I delight in having helped to make it famous. To be more precise: third reader after Georges Dumezil and Jean Hyppolite, in an institutional space where the manuscript could pretend to be taken for a doctoral thesis. I make this qualification out of respect for Maurice Blanchot, who claims to have been made aware of it first through the mediation of Roger Caillois. It has happened, in the course of my career as teacher, that I have been taken as capable and culpable of self-satisfaction. Naturally I am no judge of these judgments. But if there is a moment in my work as academic about which I am happy, even today, to be able to flatter myself, it is to have been the reporter on the doctoral thesis of Michel Foucault. Allow me to forget for an instant that it is thirty years later and to resituate myself thirty years ago. I was at that time rather controversial for not holding in high esteem certain schools of psychology. I was not, however, totally uneducated on the subject. In 1925-26, when a classmate of Daniel Lagache at the Ecole Normale, I attended with him some courses and lectures by Georges Dumas. Later, when a colleague of Lagache at the Facult6 des Lettres at Strasbourg, removed at that time to Clermont-Ferrand, I attended a number of his lectures. If my doctoral thesis in medicine, in 1943, principally concerned problems
Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.-TRANS.
CriticalInquiry21 (Winter 1995) ? IDITIONS GALILEE, 1992. English translation ? 1995 by The University of Chicago. 0093-1896/95/21020003$01.00. All rights reserved.


This content downloaded on Sat, 16 Mar 2013 06:59:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

La Volonte'de savoir vol. 1978). trans. in La Volonte collective de savoir."3A quick reminder of these pages does not seem to me superfluous at a time when the French are discovering in their own country what biopower is capable of. 611. Eugene Minkowski. under cover of philanthropy. I hid and cared for their wounded for several weeks in the psychiatric hospital at Saint-Alban in Lozere and in the surrounding areas. I witnessed some of their work. no. better than I had ever done before. all the powers that had been dispersed throughout the existence of the asylum. I never concealed that I was immediately won over. another figure of the abnormal than organic pathology. at Toulouse. Foucault said of him: "Freud demystified all the other structures of asylums.. broken with "the mechanisms of power" that pretended to control and manage the daily practice of sexuality." Le Dibat.. A much-abridged version of Histoirede lafolie was published in 1964 and was translated into A Historyof Insanityin English by Richard Howard under the title Madnessand Civilization: theAge of Reason (New York. p.. He welcomed into his home the doctor Frangois Tosquelles. I learned to know. there is a closely argued study by Robert Castel. Freud and psychoanalysis are praised once again for having. 16 Mar 2013 06:59:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the director of the hospital. See Robert Castel. pp. On the misinterpretations and deviant usages that Foucault's thesis on power has incited. Foucault.' For my part. a policing of madmen. It is with and through Freud. 140. He transferred to himself.. no doubt.-Nov. This stand immediately follows the pages in which Foucault has described the ways and means of what he has called "biopower. But a question remains for which my reading of Foucault does not 1. . p. p. 1961). 41 (Sept. 185. 1 of Histoirede la sexualiti (Paris. The memory of their cordiality is still alive in me. are some of the reasons for the trust my friend Jean Hyppolite saw fit to put in me when he advised Michel Foucault to come to present his work to me. Robert Hurley. 1986): 41-51. We debated a good deal. I had known previously. Michel Foucault.288 GeorgesCanguilhem to Penser la folie Introduction of physiology. after Foucault's death. Lucien Bonnaf6. 1976). I believe that it is at the end of Histoirede la folie that one learns when and how psychiatry ceases to be in reality."2 And fifteen years later. Folieet diraison:Histoirede lafolie a l'dgeclassique(Paris. Here. In the summer of 1944. 1965). in rejecting the neuropsychiatry of degeneracy. and Henri Ey as well. This content downloaded on Sat. 3. when doctor to the maquisof Auvergne. "Les Aventures de la pratique. 277-78. the position he has since held in the debates on institutional psychotherapy is well known. 2. to interrogate the normal and the pathological invited reference to such authors as Karl Jaspers. entitled "Les Aventures de la pratique. under the title The History of Sexuality:An Introduction(New York." published in a special issue of the journal Le Dibat in 1986. And Foucault obliged me to recognize the historical existence of a medical power that was equivocal.

16 Mar 2013 06:59:04 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Could the victory that the analysand. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. ique (Strasbourg. 77-84. 4. Fabienne Durand-Bogaert. un parcoursphilosophique: Au-deldde l'objectivite 6.7 It has been thirty years! Since 1961. I cannot believe that he was seduced by psychoanalysis. 5.8 I wrote an article on behalf of the second for which I had nothing but praise. under the title Michel Fouet de la subjectiviti(Paris. "Michel Foucault et la psychanalyse.5 presentation on Foucault and psychoanalysis during the 1988 international conference "Michel Foucault. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow. Risumi des cours 1970-1982 (Paris. Michel Foucault:BeyondStructuralism and Hermeneutics(Chicago. In Le Normalet le pathologique. Folieet diraison. other works by Foucault-Naissance de la clinique. 1983). p. however. which is the self-justification of psychoanalysis. against death. 1984). all three were seen united.Paris 9. Pathological. But for me. even as he celebrated the rupturethat Freud's work represented. that he had "expanded the miracle-working powers" of the medical practitioner?4 I have not found the elements of a response to these questions in the work of Hubert L. 1978).I said how much I had been moved by the first. One day. 611. would Foucault maintain what he said of Freud. listened to by the analyst. pp. They did not get along with one another. Carolyn ed. would supply some new information concerning his opinion of psychoanalysis. 1989). That was to sustain. 1961 remains and will remain the year that a truly great philosopher was discovered. 10. is this the same for Foucault as the recognition of the unconscious? Thirty years afterwards. See Jacques-Alain Miller.p." which dealt extensively with antipsychiatry. See Georges Canguilhem. an undertaking without limits. Robert S. See Hubert L. R. cault. See Foucault. 277. under title the On the Normal and the Fawcett. trans. Michel nor in Jacques-Alain Miller's important Foucault. 11 janvier 1988 (Paris."6 Perhaps the lectures at the College de France in 1973-74 on "Le Pouvoir psychiatrique.Les Mots et les choses. wins over censure seem to him to be pure of all resemblance to confession? Is the refusal of any attempt at corrective recuperation. philosophe: 7. 8. Madnessand Civilization." in Michel Foucault.Histoirede la sexualit~-have in part eclipsed the initial influence of Histoirede la folie. Nor did they get along with Michel Foucault. always totally transparent? If the recognition of sexuality is to be credited to psychoanalysis.un parcours philosophique. Cohen (Boston. philosophe. I admire the first two. Foucault.CriticalInquiry Winter1995 289 yet permit me to sketch the beginning of a response. This content downloaded on Sat. 1989). Essai sur quelques concernant le normalet le pathologproblemes trans. who had been my classmates: Raymond Aron and Jean-Paul Sartre. 1943). I had already known at least two. Rencontreinternationale.