Top 29 Michel Foucault Quotes

The strategic adversary is fascism… the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.


Do not think that one has to be sad in order to be militant, even though the thing one is fighting is abominable.


Knowledge is not made for understanding it is made for cutting.


With humanity, life has ended up with a living creature that never quite finds itself in the right place, a living creature destined to wander and endlessly make mistakes.


Nature, keeping only useless secrets, had placed within reach and in sight of human beings the things it was necessary for them to know.


After Sade, violence, life and death, desire, and sexuality will extend, below the level of representation, an immense expanse of darkness, which we are now attempting to recover…in our discourse, in our freedom, in our thought.


There is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations


We must cease once and for all to describe the effects of power in negative terms, it ‘excludes’, it ‘represses’… in fact power produces, it produces reality, it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth.


I have not tried to write the history of that language, but rather the archaeology of that silence.


I am hopelessly in love with a memory. An echo from another time, another place.


From the point of view of wealth, there is no difference between need, comfort and pleasure


What desire can be contrary to nature since it was given to man by nature itself?


In writing, the point is not to manifest or exalt the act of writing, nor is it to pin a subject within language; it is, rather, a question of creating a space into which the writing subject constantly disappears.


Among the mutations that have affected the knowledge of things … only one, which began a century and a half ago … has allowed the figure of man to appear.


The game is worthwhile in so far as we don’t know what will be the end.


In any given culture and at any given moment, there is always only one ‘episteme’ that defines the conditions of possibility of all knowledge, whether expressed in theory or silently invested in a practice.


Through Sade and Goya, the Western world received the possibility of transcending its reason in violence….


In the darkest region of the political field the condemned man represents the symmetrical, inverted figure of the king.


The nineteenth century and our own have been rather the age of multiplication: a dispersion of sexualities, a strengthening of their disparate forms, a multiple implantation of “perversions.” Our epoch has initiated sexual heterogeneities.


But the guilty person is only one of the targets of punishment. For punishment is directed above all at others, at all the potentially guilty.


Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.


If repression has indeed been the fundamental link between power, knowledge, and sexuality since the classical age, it stands to reason that we will not be able to free ourselves from it except at a considerable cost.


The problem of Islam as a political force is an essential one for our time and for the years to come, and we cannot approach it with a modicum of intelligence if we start out from a position of hatred.


In its function, the power to punish is not essentially different from that of curing or educating.


The history of thought, of knowledge, of philosophy, of literature seems to be seeking, and discovering, more and more discontinuities, whereas history itself appears to be abandoning the irruption of events in favor of stable structures.


Madness is the absolute break with the work of art; it forms the constitutive moment of abolition, which dissolves in time the truth of the work of art.


What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is only related to objects, and not to individuals, or to life.


Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only by means of the work it does on itself and on its institutions.


Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism.



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