Michel Foucault. Image from “Foucault On Obscurantism: ‘They Made Me Do It!’”
Part III: The Statement and the Archive
Part 3 of Foucault’s the Archeology of Knowledge focuses on a length examination of statements. The various chapters focus on defining the concept of the “statement,” describing the function of the statement, discussing the analysis of the statement, and exploring the relationship of statements to the archive.
Chapter I: Defining the Statement
In an effort to explore statements, he compares the statement to units of language (such as the sentence) and material objects, and it describes the way in which statements are unique. According to Foucault, the statement has no criteria for unity, and it is not a unit; instead, it is a “function that cuts across a domain of structures and possible unities and reveals them with concrete contents, in time and space” (87). The statement is a structure that operates similarly to a sign, but the referent or signified is not static.
Chapter 2: The Enunciative Function
Chapter 2 focuses more on the function of the statement. Foucault opens by discussing the ways in which a statement relates to that which it represents. A statement is not merely a group of signs, but the statement contains “something else”- “a specific relation that concerns itself—and not its cause, or its elements” (89). There is no signified/signifier, proposition/referent, or sentence/meaning relationship. The “correlate of the statement” is “a group of domains in which such objects appear and to which such relations may be assigned” (91). The referential of the statement “forms the place, the condition, the field of emergence, the authority to differentiate between individuals or objects, states of things and relations that are brought into play by the statement itself” (91). The subject is related to the statement is a function that varies. The position of the subject is linked to the existence of an operation. The subject may or may not be the author. An enunciative function can operate without an associated domain. It doesn’t work in isolation, but must be related to the field (97). The statement must have a material existence. The materiality of the statement is the “order of the institution” (103). Statements have constancy, and become part of the field of knowledge (105).
Chapter 3: Description of Statements
Chapter 3 focuses more thoroughly on describing statements and analyzing their discursive elements. He first focuses on the vocabulary of the statement. You cannot analyze statements as you would language, but a descriptive model must be used. To define a statement, we must define “”the conditions in which the function that gave a series of signs […] an existence” (108). The hidden elements of statements function according to the enunciative modality (110). There are always gaps in statements prevent certain forms of use of statements. The statement is not visible; it requires a “certain change of viewpoint and attitude to be recognized and examined in itself” (111). The enunciative analysis exposes the obstacle that philosophical discourse opposes on analyses of language: the name and the origin (113). Foucault attempts to establish a possibility for analysis (115). Discursive formations are groups of statements linked at the statement level (115). We must uncover the discursive formation to describe statements (116). To conduct analyses: Mapping the discursive levels reveals the level of the statement and individualizing discursive formation (116).The regularity of a statement is defined by the discursive formation (116). Discourse, then, is “”a group of statements in so far as they belong to the same discursive formation” and is “made up of a limited number of statements for which a group of conditions of existence can be defined (117). So, discursive practice is “the body of anonymous, historical rules, always determined in the time and space that have defined a given period, and for a given social, economic, geographical, or linguistic area, the conditions of operation of the enunciative function” (117).
Chapter 4: Rarity, Exteriority, and Acculumation
In Chapter Four Foucault focuses on describing the ways in which statements are rare, exterior, and how the accumulate. The law of rarity of statements and discursive formations involves: 1) “everything is never said” (118), 2) Study the limits of what is not said to see how some statements emerge and others don’t, 3) analyze statements as always in their own place, and 4) statements are not infinite but are rare, collected in unifying totalities, and the meanings in them are multiplied (120). Analysis of discursive formations requires the weighing of the ‘value’ of statements. The analysis treats them as “the systematic form of exteriority” (120). The “initiating subjectivity” “always lags behind manifest history” and is part of a “more fundamental history, closer to the origin” (121). Enunciative analysis attempts to free itself, and analysis involves: 1) the presupposition that “it is accepted, in its empirical modesty, as the locus of particular events, regularities, relationships, modifications and systematic transformations” (121), 20 That the domain refers to “an anonymous field whose configuration defines the possible position of speaking subjects, 3) the field of statements does not obey the temporality of the consciousness as its necessary model (122). The function of analysis is “to follow awaken the [texts] from their present sleep, and, by reciting the marks still eligible (122). Remamnence, additivity, and recurrence are all taken into account. We must avoid the idea that discourses “return,” but we must examine statements as they have accumulated (125). The description of statements is a fragmented, incomplete meaning. (Like computer networks?)
Chapter 5: The Historical a priori and the Archive
Chapter 5 of the text discusses the relationship of positivity to discourse. Positivity “characterizes its unity throughout time” beyond individual texts, and all texts/voices “communicate by the form of positivity of their discourse (126-127). Positivity allows for “historical a priori”- an a priori “that is not a condition of validity for judgments, but a condition of reality for statements” (127). It involves the history of things that have been said (127). The historical a priori is concerned with “different types of positivity” and “divided up by distinct discursive formations” (128). Historical a priors involve “density of discursive practices, systems that establish statements as events, […] and events, and this system of statements is the archive (128). The archive, as the “root of the statement event” “defines the system of its enunciability” (128). It is also the system of the statement things’ functioning (128). The archive is the “general system of the formation and transformation of statements” (130). It cannot be described in totality, but must be it emerges in fragments and levels (130).
IV: Archaeological Description
Chapter 1: Archaeology and the History of Ideas
The first chapter of this section seems to focus on the ways in which the archaeological analysis that Foucault has been describing can be applied. He wasn’t to differentiate his archaeological analysis from the history of ideas. He claims that the history of ideas is “the discipline of fluctuating language (languages), of shapeless works, of unrelated themes. The analysis of opinions rather than of knowledge, of errors rather than of truth, of types of mentality rather than forms of thought” (137). It is also a boundary-crossing practices that deals with disciplines from the outside (137). The primary ways in which archaeological analysis differs from the history of ideas are: 1) archaeology focuses on the discourses themselves rather than on the “thoughts, representations, images, themes, preoccupations that are concealed or revealed in discourse; 2) archaeology attempts to define discourses in their specificity, to show the set of rules as irreducible, to follow discourses’ ridges (139); 3) the aeurve is not a relevant division, and it defines the rules for discursive practices of aeurves (139); it does not try to repeat what has already been said; it is a rewriting-a “preserved form of exteriority”; it is “the systematic description of a discourse-object” (140).
Chapter 2: The Original and the Regular
The history of ideas deals with the traditional or original (old/new). The history of ideas does not examine these concepts in the same way. To examine the traditional, the history of ideas looks at inventions, transformations, and changes, while the original “reveals history as inertia and weight, as a slow accumulation of the past;” statements are “treated by weight and in accordance with what they have in common”. The are neutralized and their importance (whether of author, place, time) are diminished (141). The extent of these neutralized ideas must be measured for continuity (141-142). Conflicts between old and new are described (142). By contrast, “archaeological description is concerned with those discursive practices to which the facts of succession must be referred if one is to establish them in an unsystematic and naïve way (144). Originality is not relevant. It attempts to “establish the regularity of statements” (144). Archaeological analysis “designates, for every verbal performance […] the set of conditions in which the enunciative unction operates, and which guarantees and defines existence” (144). Regularity “specifies and effective field of appearance” (144). The attempt is to “uncover the regularity of a discursive practice” (145). The field of statements that is studies is not inert, but is active throughout (145). Foucault suggests that the analysis of discursive regularities includes: 1) statements characterized by forms of regularity, but also by disconnections (145). 2) “interior hierarchies within enunciative regularities” (146). This involves a tree of enunciative derivation: “at its base are the statements that put into operation rules of formation in their most extended form; at its summit, and after a number of branching, are the statements that put into operation the same regularity, but one more delicately articulated, more clearly delimited and localized in its extension” (147). Archaeology operates as a tree of derivation of discourse (147). At it’s root are governing statements, and at the end are “discoveries” (147). Archaeological has it’s own enunciative homogeneity with temporal articulations (148).
Chapter 3: Contradictions
The history of ideas sees coherence in discourse, and contradictions are to be overcome (149). By contrast, archaeological analysis does not attempt to overcome contradictions or view them as secretive principles (151). They are to be described for themselves. Archaeology attempts to show how two share common origins. Contradictions themselves are studied. This is done by looking at different types of contradictions, different levels of contradictions, and the functions of contradictions (153-154). Contradictions are important because “A discursive formation is not, therefore, an ideal continuous, smooth text that runs beneath the multiplicity of contradictions;” rather, it is “a space of multiple dissentions; a set of different oppositions whose levels and roles must be described” (155).
Chapter 4: The Comparative Facts
Archaeological analysis “compares discursive formations by opposing them to one another in the simultaneity in which they were presented, distinguish them from those that do not belong to the same time-scale, relate them, on their basis of specificity, to the non-discursive practices that surround them and serve as a general element for them” (157). Comparisons in archaeological analysis are different than others because: 1) they are limited and regional, 2) they attempt to uncover “the play of analogies and differences as they appear at the level of rules of formation” (160), and they reveal “relations between discursive formations and non-discursive domains” (162). What the archaeological description of discourses attempts “to discover that whole domain of institutions, economic processes, and social relations on which a discursive formation can be articulated; it tries to show how the autonomy of discourse and its specificity nevertheless do not give it the status of pure ideality and total historical independence; what it wishes to uncover is the particular level in which history can give place to definite types of discourse, which have their own type of historicity, and which are related to a whole set of various historicities (165).
Chapter 5: Change and Transformations
The fifth chapter of the text discusses change and transformations. Discourse is “ a discontinuous atemporality” that is “immobilized in fragments”(166). Archaeological analysis is a “suspension of temporal successions” because rules of discourse can be “found in statements or groups of statements in widely separated circles” (167). Archaeology defines the rules of formation for a group of statements and do not all have the same level of generality (168). Archaeology “is much more willing than the history of ideas to speak of discontinuities, ruptures, gaps, entirely new forms of positivity, and of sudden redistributions (169). Archaeology does not attempt to overcome differences, but to analyze them. Archaeology: 1) distinguishes several possible levels of events within the very density of discourse; 2) to analyze changes, “We must define precisely what these changes consist of: that is, substitute for an undifferentiated reference of change[…] the analysis of transformation (172); 3) “to say that one discursive formation is substituted for another […] is to say that general transformations of relations has occurred” and “that statements are governed by new rules of formation” (173); 4) archaeology attempts to “establish, between so many different changes, analogies and differences, hierarchies, complementarities, coincidences, and shifts” (175).
Chapter 6: Science and Knowledge
This chapter focuses on the relation between archeology and the analysis of sciences (178). Discursive formations can be identified as neither sciences or as scientific disciplines (181). “Discursive practice does not coincide with the scientific development that it may give rise to […] The sciences […] appear in the element of a discursive formation and against the background of knowledge” (184). Science does not adopt all of the knowledge that led to its current stat. “Science […] is localized in a field of knowledge and plays a role in it” (184). Foucault says that “it is possible to describe several distinct emergences of a discursive formation” (186), which Foucault details. These include the thresholds of formalization, scientificity, and epistemologization (187). There are several types of history of the sciences that are possible due to the multiple thresholds (189). Foucault concludes the chapter by claiming that archaeology is not solely useful in the analysis of scientific discourse, but in the description of knowledge itself and can be used to explore different types of formations (195).
Part V: Conclusion
The conclusion of the text is structured as dialogue between Foucault himself and a critic of the text and his views on the archaeology of knowledge. Foucault seems to use the conclusion as a way of anticipating and answering future challenges to his theory. The critic claims that discourse is historical and cannot be analyzed outside of its time. Foucault’s response describes the limitations of his claims about subjectivity, but he also claims that he rejects “a uniform model of temporalization” (200). The back and forth focus on misinterpretation, structuralism (which Foucault denies he is practicing), his approach to subjectivity, Foucault’s ability to objectively analyze discourse, and Foucault’s negativity toward other methods.
Associated field – pg. 98 – The “associated field” is a “sentence or series of signs into a statement, and which provides them with a particular context , a specific representative content, forms a complex web. It is made up first of all by the series of other formulations within which the statement appears and forms one element;” “it is made up of all the formulations to which the statement refers;” it “is also made up of all the formulations whose subsequent possibility is determined by the statement, and which may follow the statement as its consequence, its natural successor, or its conversational retort;” and it “is made up of all the formulations whose status the statement shares” (99).
Discourse – pg. 117 – Discourse is “a group of statements in so far as they belong to the same discursive function; it does not form a rhetorical or formal unity, endlessly repeatable, whose appearance or use in history might be indicated” (117).
correlate of the statement – pg. 91 – The correlate of the statement “is a group of domains in which such objects may appear and to which such relations may be assigned” (91).
referential of the statement – pg. 91 – “The referential of the statement forms the place, the condition, the field of emergence, the authority to differentiate between individuals or objects, stats of things and relations that are brought into play by the statement itself; it defines the possibilities of appearance and delimination of that which gives meaning to the sentence, a value of truth to the proposition” (91).
Quotes: Life Cycle of a Statement
In Chapter Two of Part III of the text, Foucault describes the life cycle of the statement within discourse. He says, “the statement, as it emerges in its materiality, appears with a status, enters various networks and various fields of use, is subjected to transferences or modifications, is integrated into operations and strategies in which its identity is maintained or effaced. Thus the statement circulates, is used, disappears, allows or prevents the realization of a desire, serves or resists various interests, participates in challenge and struggle, and becomes a theme of appropriation or rivalry (105). When I read this description of a statement, I was reminded of the discussion of the way in which information is transmitted over a computer network via packets. According to Jonathan Strickland, packets “are parts of a file that range between 1,000 and 1,500 bytes. Packets have headers and footers that tell computers what’s in the packet and how the information fits with other packets to create an entire file. Each packet travels back up the network and down to your computer. Packets don’t necessarily all take the same path — they’ll generally travel the path of least resistance.” By saving information in the form of a packet, it is recorded in a material form that can circulate on other devices that are connected to the network. That packet becomes part of the network. The packet itself is so small that it does not contain enough information to make sense on its own. A packet operates in the context of other packet of information. the function of the packet, like the function of a statement, is dependent upon the context. When discussing the function of a statement, Foucault says, “the enunciative function–and this shows that it is not simply a construction of previously existing elements–cannot operate an a sentence or proposition in isolation” (97). He also says, “A statement always has borders peopled by other statements (97). A packet’s function, it’s operation, depends upon the way in which “your device arranges them according to the rules of the protocols” (Strickland). Strickland compares this to “putting together a jigsaw puzzle”.
Question: What are the commonalities between Foucault’s discussion of the original and the regular and Biesecker’s discussion of the origin of texts?
In The Archaeology of Knowledge, Foucault explores an approach to discourse analysis that he describes as and archeological approach, while Biesecker’s “Rethinking the Rhetorical Situation” explores rhetorical analysis through the use of deconstruction, which “allows us to take seriously the rhetoricity of discursive practices” (120). Both author’s discuss the concept of the origin of discourse. While the use of the term “original” in the title of Foucualt’s chapter might imply “origin,” here it refers to a unique interruption or discontinuity in tradition of the discourse. The “regular” is the status quo of the discourse, while the original is a unique interruption. Foucault says that “a group of statements is characterized, then, by a certain form of regularity, without it being either necessary or possible to distinguish between what is new and what is not” (145). For Foucault, discourses are organized with a wide base representing the rules of that discourse, while derivations from the strict rules that have defined that particular discourse are narrow branches at the top. Foucault call this the “tree of enunciative derivation” (147). He describes the more unique branchings as ” the statements that put into operation the same regularity [as the base rules], but one more delicately articulated, more clearly delimited and localized in its extension” (147). Biesecker includes a similar concept, borrowed from Derrida, called différance (120). Différance is “the way in which all texts are inhabited by an internally divided non-originary ‘origin'”. While Foucault’s “tree of enunciative derivation” seems to allow for differences between texts that are part of the same discourse co-exist, Biesecker’s description of the way in which “The divisiveness of that ‘originating’ moment is, so to speak, covered over, or, as I put it earlier, finessed into a unity by the writing and the speaking” (120). “In fact,” she says, “the finessing of the non-identical into an identity is, as we noted above, precisely the activity that makes signification happen” (120). This glossing over of the differences or the divisiveness in discourse is reminiscent of Foucault’s discussion of the approach of the history of ideas to contradictions. Foucault says that “discourse is perpetually undermined from within by the contradiction of their [men’s] desires, the influences that they are subjected to, or the conditions in which they live; but to admit that if they speak , and if they speak among themselves, it is rather to overcome these contradictions, and to find the point from which they will be able to be mastered” (149). In this way, the attempt to solve the problem of contradictions in a discourse seem to serve to, as Biesecker said, shape the non-identical into an identical discourse, serving to solve the problem of discontinuity in the history of ideas.
Relation of Text to Course Objectives
It seems to me that Foucault’s The Archaeology of Knowledge seems to help meet the course objectives in several ways.
Objective #1: Describe and analyze different elements of “networks” as defined in different theories; including (but not limited to): node, connection, agency, circumscription…
It seems to me that the text helps meet the first course objective in that Foucault’s text envisions the development of discourse, of the development of knowledge, as a network. For example, the statement may be representative of the node. Because “A statement always has borders people by others statements,” it is akin to a node in a network. The other nodes (statements) are vital in order for that statement to make sense.
Course Objective #5: To articulate a theoretical framework for describing a methodology.
The entirety of the text seems to be focused on developing a theoretical framework for describing a method for looking a the history of discourse development.
Biesecker, Barbara A. “Rethinking The Rhetorical Situation From Within The Thematic Of ‘Différance’.” Philosophy & Rhetoric 2 (1989): 110. JSTOR Arts & Sciences VIII. Web. 27 Jan. 2014.
Eugene. “Foucault on Obscurantism: ‘They Made Me Do It.‘” Critical Theory. N.p. 11 July 2013.
Foucault, Michel, Alan Sheridan, and Michel Foucault. The Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Pantheon Books, 1972. Print.
Strickland, Jonathan. “Packet, Packet, Who’s Got the Packet?” N. p., n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.