The Order of Things cover



The Order of Things


The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences (French: Les mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines) is a 1966 book by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. It was translated into English and published by Pantheon Books in 1970. (Foucault had preferred L'Ordre des Choses for the original French title, but changed the title because it had been used by two structuralist works published immediately prior to Foucault's). Foucault endeavours to excavate the origins of the human sciences, which have their root in "life, labour, and language", that is: biology, economics, and linguistics. The book opens with an extended discussion of Diego Velázquez's painting Las Meninas and its complex arrangement of sightlines, hiddenness, and appearance. Then it develops its central claim: that all periods of history have possessed certain underlying epistemological assumptions that determined what was acceptable as, for example, scientific discourse. Foucault develops the notion of episteme, and argues that these conditions of discourse have changed over time, from one period's episteme to another. Foucault demonstrates parallels in the development of three fields: linguistics, biology, and economics.
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original title: Les Mots et les choses
subtitle: Une archéologie des sciences humaines
language: French
date of publication: 1966
genre: essay
main subject: human science
follows: The Birth of the Clinic


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