Revisiting Foucault from the perspective of ‘the history of the present’

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Philosophy, Turkey

Approval Date: 2016

Thesis Language: English

Student: Burcu Kolçak

Supervisor: AHMET İNAM


The common approach to classify Foucault’s enterprise by means of three separate phases as ‘archeology’ of the 1960s, ‘genealogy’ of the 1970s and ‘ethics’ of the 1980s is one of those interpretations, which is based on treating Foucault’s work as distinct and incompatible slices which does not and cannot represent a unifying project. This interpretation approaches to Foucault’s historical philosophical-analyses based on a pre-condition of incompatibility. In other words, such an interpretation tends to conceive the Foucaldian enterprise as if what Foucault does in his analyses are incompatible with what he scrutinizes in his interviews. The contours of the Foucauldian thought can be drawn by such a schema; however, such a view either ignores or objects to some of the crucial underlying themes in Foucault’s overall work such as ‘the history of the present’ and ‘the history of problematizations’. In opposition to this view, the Foucaldian enterprise can be reconstructed following the interplay of archeology, genealogy and ethics based on Foucault’s engagement with a new way of doing history since the very beginning, in order to write ‘the history of the present’. At this point, I argue, a revisiting of Foucault’s historical-philosophical analyses in harmony with his interviews will open the path to discuss what can be referred as the Foucaldian political project grounded on the search for the possibility of transformation and change in the political and social landscape. In this context, I claim, Foucault’s theme of ‘the history of the present’ constitutes the backbone of this political project which has to account for the compatibility of and the coherence between these three different periods.