Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Harlan Garnett Wilson


Michel Foucault, Freedom


Charles Taylor chose to begin his 1984 critique of Michel Foucault with the phrase "Foucault disconcerts." This seems to be a most appropriate choice of words. Reading Foucault changes the way one looks at things. His work, both in style and content, subtly erodes assurances and certainties, leaving one with the feeling of standing at the edge of a cliff in complete darkness with the knowledge that there is something out there without being able to grasp that something-yet without fear of falling off the cliff. The reader is left with an unexplainable gap in understanding where before there was explanation, meaning, even truth; a feeling that there is something missing or something left unsaid. Yet his writing is powerful, sometimes literary or even beautiful. It is at points coldly empirical and descriptive, then speculative; unsettling conclusions drawn from the weight of 'fact'. Foucault's pen pokes at the nerve endings of his readers while explaining to them, in no uncertain terms, why it is that they hurt For these reasons--for the combination of brightly illuminating explanation and gray areas of confusion--Foucault seemed like a good place to start my inquiry into freedom.