Michel Foucault. (1994) . Qui êtes-vous Professeur Foucault? In Dits et écrits: 1954-1988. Vol I. D. Defert, F. Ewald & J. Lagrange (Eds.). Paris: Gallimard. (pp. 601-620).
Michel Foucault. (1999) . Who are you, Professor Foucault? In Religion and Culture. J. R. Carrette (Ed.). Manchester: Manchester University Press. (pp. 87-103).
The page numbers below refer to the French edition.
Foucault argues that the polemical force of his work comes from showing that things that are considered as purely contemporary are very much a product of the past and of past ideas and practices that people thought were dead and gone. (p. 607) For example, in The Order of Things it was a matter of looking at the historically specific nineteenth century origins of an object called ‘Man’. The human sciences which see themselves as thoroughly contemporary are centred around this nineteenth century concept. Advocates and practitioners in the late 1960s and early 1970s of some of these human sciences were none too pleased at Foucault’s exposure of their historical roots .
In order to understand what is going on ‘today’, Foucault argues that we need to undertake a historical excavation of how the current universe of thought, discourse and culture came about (p. 613).
In view of the aforementioned polemics around Foucault’s work, I think another lolcat might be in order.