"Society Must Be Defended": Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76

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An examination of relations between war and politics

From 1971 until his death in 1984, Michel Foucault taught at the Collège de France, perhaps the most prestigious intellectual institution in Europe. Each year, in a series of 12 public lectures, Foucault sought to explain his research of the previous year. These lectures do not reduplicate his published books, although they do have themes in common. The lectures show Foucault ranging freely and conversationally over the implications of his research.

In Society Must Be Defended, Foucault deals with the emergence in the early 17th century of a new understanding of society and its relation to war. War was now seen as the permanent basis of all institutions of power, a hidden presence within society that could be deciphered by an historical analysis. Tracing this development, Foucault outlines a genealogy of power/knowledge that was to become a primary concern in his final years.

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About the Author:

Michel Foucault, acknowledged as the preeminent philosopher of France in the ’70s and ’80s, had enormous impact throughout the world, in many disciplines. His books include: History of Sexuality, volumes I, II, and III, Madness and Civilization, and Discipline and Punish.

Translator David Macey has translated 20 books from the French and is the author of The Lives of Michel Foucault and Frantz Fanon (Picador). He lives in Leeds, England.

Review:

“[Foucault] must be reckoned with by humanists, social scientists, and political activists.” ―The New York Times Book Review

“Foucault is quite central to our sense of where we are. . . [He] is carrying out, in the noblest way, the promiscuous aim of true culture.” ―The Nation

“[Foucault] has an alert and sensitive mind which can ignore the familiar surfaces of established intellectual codes and ask new questions. . ..[He] gives dramatic quality to the movement of culture.” ―The New York Review of Books

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Michel Foucault, Mauro Bertani (Editor), Alessandro Fontana (Editor), Arnold I. Davidson (Editor), David Macey (Translator)
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