With the benefit of the complete publication of Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France, the reception of his work by political philosophers in the English-speaking world during the late 1970s and early 1980s appears extremely confused. This reception was based on the English translations of work published in the mid-1970s, chiefly Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality Volume One, along with collections of interviews from the same period. The misunderstandings of those works were compounded by ignorance of developments in his approach to politics and his understanding of power worked out in lectures from 1976 to 1979. The aim of this paper is not simply to defend Foucault against critics from that period, but to show how a more complete understanding of the evolution of his political thought might enable a better understanding of the similarities and differences between his genealogical approach to power and government and the concerns of normative political philosophy.
- political philosophy