Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A collection of quotes and sayings by Michel Foucault on punishment, discipline, education, thought, books, knowledge, madness, power, panopticism and resistance

64 Interesting Quotes By Michel Foucault

Quick Facts

Famous As: French philosopher

Born On: October 15, 1926

Died On: June 25, 1984

Born In: Poitiers

Died At Age: 57

Michel Foucault was an eminent French philosopher, historian, literary critic, and social theorist. His writings, thoughts and theories primarily highlight the relationship between knowledge and power. They also throw light on how societal institutions use power and knowledge as a form of social control. He was often labelled as postmodernist and post-structuralist, but he condemned these labels. His works, writings, and thoughts have strongly influenced academics, including those working in literary theory, sociology, critical theory and cultural studies. His theories have also been termed as compelling by activist groups. We have created a corpus of thought-provoking, motivating and inspiring quotes by Michel Foucault. Let us browse through the quotes and thoughts by Michel Foucault on trap, oppression, nature, chance, life, power, technology, love, society, freedom, justice, expression and more.

People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.

Michel Foucault

I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.

Michel Foucault

Where there is power, there is resistance.

Michel Foucault

Knowledge is not for knowing: knowledge is for cutting.

Michel Foucault

I'm no prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls.

Michel Foucault

I don't write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me.

Michel Foucault

Maybe the target nowadays is not to discover what we are but to refuse what we are.

Michel Foucault

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.

Michel Foucault

Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same. More than one person, doubtless like me, writes in order to have no face.

Michel Foucault

The 'Enlightenment', which discovered the liberties, also invented the disciplines.

Michel Foucault

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.

Michel Foucault

The intellectual was rejected and persecuted at the precise moment when the facts became incontrovertible, when it was forbidden to say that the emperor had no clothes.

Michel Foucault

Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

I'm not making a problem out of a personal question; I make of a personal question an absence of a problem.

Michel Foucault

Death left its old tragic heaven and became the lyrical core of man: his invisible truth, his visible secret.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

We have to be there at the birth of ideas, the bursting outward of their force: not in books expressing them, but in events manifesting this force, in struggles carried on around ideas, for or against them.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

You may have killed God beneath the weight of all that you have said; but don't imagine that, with all that you are saying, you will make a man that will live longer than he.

Michel Foucault

Schools serve the same social functions as prisons and mental institutions- to define, classify, control, and regulate people.

Michel Foucault

From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art.

Michel Foucault

The first task of the doctor is ... political: the struggle against disease must begin with a war against bad government." Man will be totally and definitively cured only if he is first liberated...

Michel Foucault

There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body

Michel Foucault

The individual is the product of power.

Michel Foucault

There is no glory in punishing

Michel Foucault

We demand that sex speak the truth [...] and we demand that it tell us our truth, or rather, the deeply buried truth of that truth about ourselves wich we think we possess in our immediate consciousness.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

People know what they do; they frequently know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.

Michel Foucault

The language of psychiatry is a monologue of reason about madness

Michel Foucault

Death as the destruction of all things no longer had meaning when life was revealed to be a fatuous sequence of empty words, the hollow jingle of a jester’s cap and bells.

Michel Foucault

Power is tolerable only on condition that it masks a substantial part of itself. Its success is proportional to an ability to hide its own mechanisms.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

The court is the bureaucracy of the law. If you bureaucratise popular justice then you give it the form of a court.

Michel Foucault

Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order.

Michel Foucault

We must not think that by saying yes to sex, one says no to power.

Michel Foucault

It is the certainty of being punished and not the horrifying spectacle of public punishment that must discourage crime

Michel Foucault

Prefer what is positive and multiple, difference over uniformity, flows over unities, mobile arrangements over systems. Believe that what is productive is not sedentary but nomadic.

Michel Foucault

No seventeenth-century pedagogue would have publicly advised his disciple, as did Erasmus in his Dialogues, on the choice of a good prostitute.

Michel Foucault

Confined on the ship, from which there is no escape, the madman is delivered to the river with its thousand arms, the sea with it's thousand roads, to that great uncertainty external to everything.

Michel Foucault

Self-attachment is the first sign of madness, but it is because man is attached to himself that he accepts error as truth, lies as reality, violence and ugliness as beauty and justice.

Michel Foucault

It is meaningless to speak in the name of - or against - Reason, Truth, or Knowledge.

Michel Foucault

There is no escaping from power, that it is always-already present constituting that very thing which one attempts to counter it with.

Michel Foucault

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

Michel Foucault

In civilizations without ships, dreams dry up, espionage takes the place of adventure and the police take the place of corsairs.

Michel Foucault

Life itself was only futility, vain words, a squabble of cap and bells.

Michel Foucault

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.

Michel Foucault

I don't feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am.

Michel Foucault

Government is the right disposition of things.

Michel Foucault

Madness is the false punishment of a false solution, but by its own virtue it brings to light the real problem, which can then be truly resolved.

Michel Foucault

Today, criminal justice functions and justifies itself only by this perpetual reference to something other than itself, by this unceasing reinscription in non-juridical systems.

Michel Foucault

As the archeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.

Michel Foucault

How could the disciplines and the power that functions in them appear arbitrary, when they merely operate the mechanisms of justice itself, even with a view to mitigating their intensity?

Michel Foucault

We are entering the age of the infinite examination and of compulsory objectification.

Michel Foucault

Surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action.

Michel Foucault

My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous.

Michel Foucault