The Archaeology of Knowledge
The Archaeology of Knowledge attempts to provide a novel means of analysing knowledges. We have already seen that Foucault attempts through the category of the episteme to locate a level at which the analysis of knowledges might operate, a level which refuses either to synthesise them at the manifest level of the text or by reference to some presumed level of an essence, be that the spirit of the age or the long march of rationality. The episteme is the condition of the production of certain sets of statements and not others. But this theoretical innovation remains, in The Order of Things, unstable and unelaborated. Occasionally it was indeed in danger of collapsing into an essence, or in structuralist terms into a ‘combinatory’. Moreover as Foucault himself remarks, the account of the analysis of wealth ought to engage with the institutional practices of Mercantilism; elsewhere Foucault links general grammar to reforms in language teaching; clearly natural history may be linked to the organisation of zoological and botanical gardens. In short, the knowledges he has analysed also have an institutional component which equally have a claim to be treated as a form of knowledge. The identification of the episteme cannot be said to be adequate to the analysis of knowledges.
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