This page features a selection of the best quotes by Michel Foucault. All of these quotes are real and references are given after each quote.
Here are the best quotes by Foucault in no particular order:
If power were never anything but repressive, if it never did anything but to say no, do you really think one would be brought to obey it? What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn’t only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression.
Power is not something that is acquired, seized, or shared, something that one holds on to or allows to slip away; power is exercised from innumerable points, in the interplay of nonegalitarian and mobile relations. … Power comes from below; that is, there is no binary and all encompassing opposition between rulers and ruled at the root of power relations, and serving as a general matrix — no such duality extending from the top down and reacting on more and more limited groups to the very depths of the social body.
– The History of Sexuality, Vol. I
If you are not like everyone else then you are abnormal, if you are abnormal then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing.
– Interview, 1975
Psychiatric internment, the mental normalisation of individuals, and penal institutions have no doubt a fairly limited importance if one is only looking for their economic significance. On the other hand, they are undoubtedly essential to the general functioning of the wheels of power.
Truth is not by nature free—nor error servile—its production is thoroughly imbued with relations of power.
– History of Sexuality, Vol. 1
If you want to learn more about Foucault, check out the following pages:
- The Best Books on or by Foucault
- The Philosophy of Foucault: A collection of articles, videos, and podcasts
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A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations – Lennox Johnson
Publisher’s Description: A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.