The Order of Things

Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Translated by Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books, 1994.

The Order of Things (Les Mots et les Choses. Une archéologie des sciences humaines; French publication 1966; English translation, 1970) became a bestseller in France. In it, Foucault analyzes the human sciences that thematize “life, labor, and language”: biology, economics, and linguistics. He hypothesizes that discourses of science are ordered by rules that can make sense both of the “truths” and also the errors of the nascent human sciences. Thus, unlike the structuralists, who sought to develop a universal theory of discourse, Foucault sought to explain the historical forms of discursive practices. (Arguing that his inquiry was the more comprehensive, Foucault claimed that The Order of Things could have been subtitled the “archaeology of structuralism.”)

Chris Barker

Google Books