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As this essay will argue, and as this epigraph should suggest, epistemology was a central concern of Michel Foucault's. By denying the conflation of knowledge with power, and consistently maintaining a dyadic relationship ("power/knowledge") rather than a relationship in which power eclipses knowledge, Foucault maintains that knowledge requires its own analysis irreducible to the strategic maneuvers of power. But clearly, given Foucault's political critique of numerous truth claims, to say that Foucault has an epistemology raises the question of what the term epistemology could mean in relation to Foucault's work. The term is often conflated with positivism by continental philosophers, Foucault included, or otherwise used as an oversimplified foil against which a historical approach to the various ways in which knowledge has been defined can be brought up for discussion. "Epistemology," by this caricature, has to approach the question of knowledge as a transcendent entity, akin to Plato's Ideal Forms. But this is not the way many influential analytic philosophers approach it today, from Brandom to Van Fraasen.


Institute for Social Justice

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