Foucault on episteme

“If one wishes to undertake an archaeological analysis of knowledge itself, it is not these celebrated controversies that ought to be used as the guidelines and articulation of such a project. One must reconstitute the general system of thought whose network, in its positivity, renders an interplay of simultaneous and apparently contradictory opinions possible. It is this network that defines the conditions that make a controversy or problem possible, and that bears the historicity of knowledge.”

I like to mis-etymologize “archaeology” to mean, not the study of the archaic roots of knowledge, but rather the study of the arche of intellect. What is it, behind our thinking, that moves our thoughts to the only set of conclusions we can reach, given our variable tastes and interests?

Our episteme — not mysterious chthonic drives and biases within the psyche, our very own scientistic demons — is what channels our thoughts into their dogmatic ruts in pristine ignorance of alternative analyses.

The pop-episteme of our times limits the politically conceivable to identitarianism.

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