Response to the Perspectives on Rhetoric-Foucault

It’s the first time I learn about ideas of Foucault. Since I didn’t read his book before, what I know about his theory is from our textbook, which is an interpretation of his theory through the vision of Foss & Trapp. Unfortunately, Foucault’s books were written in French and translated in English, as a result, some of Foucault’s ideas maybe lost and distort.

 As far as I read the Foucault part in the textbook. The first impression of his theory is historical and dynamic. All his understandings about the knowledge, power and ethic is changing and unstable. For example: “Foucault understands mental illness in the revised version as a changing, historically conditioned notion (341).” ”Foucault published The Archaeology of Knowledge, in which he criticize the traditional method of dealing with history in terms of period and unifying themes and suggests that it be viewed instead from the perspective of contradiction and discontinuities.(343) ” “The History of Sexuality…characterized by a continuous increase in the mechanism of power.(345)”

 The key word to understand the Foucault’s notion of knowledge is discursive formation, which means “the total set of relations that unite, at a given period, the discursive practice that give rise to epistemological figures, sciences, and possibly formalized systems. (348)” In my opinion, I think the term of “discursive formation” is the same as the ideology of individual, because both of them are governed by culture and the political system. In other words, I will take the discursive formation as the reason for formation of person’s rhetorical discourse. And knowledge is created by the rhetorical discourses.


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