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Sartre, Foucault, and Historical Reason, Volume Two

A Poststructuralist Mapping of History

Sartre and Foucault were two of the most prominent and at times mutually antagonistic philosophical figures of the twentieth century. And nowhere are the antithetical natures of their existentialist and poststructuralist philosophies more apparent than in their disparate approaches to historical understanding. In Volume One of this authoritative two-volume study, Thomas R. Flynn conducted a pivotal and comprehensive reconstruction of Sartrean historical theory. This long-awaited second volume offers a comprehensive and critical reading of the Foucauldian counterpoint.

A history, theorized Foucault, should be a kind of map, a comprehensive charting of structural transformations and displacements over time. Contrary to other Foucault scholars, Flynn proposes an "axial" rather than a developmental reading of Foucault’s work. This allows aspects of Foucault’s famous triad of knowledge, power, and the subject to emerge in each of his major works. Flynn maps existentialist categories across Foucault’s "quadrilateral," the model that Foucault proposes as defining modernist conceptions of knowledge. At stake is the degree to which Sartre’s thought is fully captured by this mapping, whether he was, as Foucault claimed, "a man of the nineteenth century trying to think in the twentieth."

360 pages | 2 figures | 6 x 9 | © 2005

History: Ancient and Classical History, General History, History of Ideas

Philosophy: General Philosophy


"This is a magnificent book, an invaluable study of Foucault and a penetrating comparative analysis of two of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century."

Edward McGushin | Review of Metaphysics

Table of Contents

Works Frequently Cited
Part One: Conceptual Coordinates
1. Foucault and the Historians
2. Foucault and Historical Nominalism
3. The Career of the Historical Event
Part Two: Spatialized Reasoning
4. The Eclipse of Vision?
5. The Spaces of History
6. The Philosopher-Historian as Cartographer
7. Pyramids and Prisms: Reading Foucault in 3-D
Part Three: Diaries and Maps
8. Mapping Existentialist History
9. Experience and the Lived
10. Sartre on Violence, Foucault on Power: A Diagnostic
11. Foucault as Parrhesiast: His Last Course at the Collège de France (An Object Lesson in Axial History)
12. Ethics and History: Authentic vs. Effective History
Conclusion: The Map and the Diary

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