French Epistemology and its Revisions: Towards a Reconstruction of the Methodological Position of Foucaultian Discourse Analysis

Rainer Diaz-Bone


This article reconstructs epistemology in the tradition of Gaston BACHELARD as one of the main foundations of the methodology of FOUCAULTian discourse analysis. Foundational concepts and the methodological approach of French epistemology are one of the continuities in the work of Michel FOUCAULT. BACHELARDian epistemology (and of his successor Georges CANGUILHEM) can be used for the reconstruction of the FOUCAULTian methodology and it can also be used to instruct the practices of FOUCAULTian discourse analysis as a stand-alone form of qualitative social research. French epistemology was developed in critical opposition to the phenomenology of Edmund HUSSERL, and to phenomenological theories of science. Because the phenomenology of HUSSERL is one foundation of social phenomenology, the reconstruction of the FOUCAULTian methodology—as built on the French tradition of BACHELARDian epistemology—makes it clear that FOUCAULTian discourse analysis is incommensurable with approaches derived from social phenomenology. The epistemology of BACHELARD is portrayed as a proto-version of discourse analysis. Discourses as well as discourse analyses are conceived as forms of socio-epistemological practice. In this article, the main concepts and strategies of French epistemology are introduced and related to discourse analysis. The consequences of epistemology for a self-reflexive methodology and its practice are discussed.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0702241


discourse analysis; Michel FOUCAULT; Gaston BACHELARD; Georges CANGUILHEM; Edmund HUSSERL; epistemology; phenomenology; epistemological break; epistemological obstacle; phenomenotechnique; Michel PÊCHEUX; Pierre BOURDIEU; structuralism; post-structuralism

Copyright (c) 2007 Rainer Diaz-Bone

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