Truth, purification and power: Foucault's genealogy of purity and impurity in and after The Will to Know lectures

Robbie Duschinsky, Kate Adey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)
    2 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Foucault’s 1970–71 lectures at the Collège de France, The Will to Know, highlight the significance of themes of purity and impurity in Western thought. Reflecting on these themes coincided with the emergence of Foucault’s theory of power. This article presents the first analysis of Foucault’s investigation of purity and impurity in The Will to Know lectures, identifying the distinctive theory Foucault offers of purity as a discursive apparatus addressing correspondence between the subject and the truth through the image of relative integrity or mixture. It then traces Foucault’s subsequent reflections on these themes in his later writings on disciplinary power. The implications of Foucault’s position are considered; the article will close by putting Foucault’s ideas in dialogue with those of Kristeva, and in considering the role that purity and impurity may play in resistance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)425-442
    JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
    Volume17
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014

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