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The Order of Things, ​Michel Foucault

"It is comforting, however, and a source of profound relief to think that man is only a recent invention, a figure not yet two centuries old, a new wrinkle in our knowledge, and that he will disappear again as soon as that knowledge has discovered a new form."


"Those things are 'convenient' which come sufficiently close to one another to be in juxtaposition; their edges touch, their fringes intermingle, the extremity of the one also denotes the beginning of the other. In this way, movement, influences, passions, and properties too, are communicated." p. 18

"Language partakes in the world-wide dissemination of similitudes and signatures. It must, therefore, be studied itself as a thing in nature." p. 35

"A thing can be absolute according to one relation yet relative according to others; order can be at once necessary and natural (in relation to thought) and arbitrary (in relation to things), since, according to the way in which we consider it, the same thing may be placed at differing points in our order." p. 54

"It is in this strict sense that language is an analysis of thought: not a simple patterning, but a profound establishment of order in space."

p. 83

"Language gives the perpetual disruption of time the continuity of space, and it is to the degree that it analyses, articulates, and patterns representation that it has the power to link our knowledge of things together across the dimension of time. With the advent of language, the chaotic monotony of space is fragmented, while at the same time the diversity of temporal successions is unified."

p. 113

"The fundamental task of Classical ‘discourse’ is to ascribe a name to things, and in that name to name their being. For two centuries, Western discourse was the locus of ontology. When it named the being of all representation in general, it was philosophy: theory of knowledge and analysis of ideas. When it ascribed to each thing represented the name that was fitted to it, and laid out the grid of a well-made language across the whole field of representation, then it was science - nomenclature and taxonomy."

p. 120

"Natural history is situated both before and after language; it decomposes the language of everyday life, but in order to recompose it and discover what has made it possible through the blind resemblances of imagination; it criticizes language, but in order to reveal its foundation. If natural history reworks language and attempts to perfect it, this is because it also delves down into the origin of language. It leaps over the everyday vocabulary that provides it with its immediate ground, and beyond that ground it searches for that which could have constituted its raison d'être; but, inversely, it resides in its entirety in the area of language, since it is essentially a concerted use of names and since its ultimate aim is to give things their true denomination."

p. 161

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