Power, history and genealogy: Friedrich nietzsche michel foucault

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The essay explores Friedrich Nietzsche's and Michel Foucault's accounts of genealogy. It argues that genealogy sees human history not in terms of events, battles and wars (i.e. through empirical facts), but in terms of discursive regimes and practices which form our subjectivity. The link between knowledge/truth and power plays crucial role in both Nietzsche's and Foucault's accounts of genealogy. Foucault's notion of dispositive (the regime of intelligibility) serves as a key concept in his approach to history. The Nietzschean idea of the will to power is transformed into the idea of strategies of relations of forces supporting and supported by types of knowledge. The essay concludes that Foucault's genealogy reduces meaning to power relations. It argues that in Foucault's thought human history is intelligible not because of its inner meaning, but because knowledge and discourses, which play a key role in human history, are understood in terms of tactics and strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Discourse
  • Genealogy
  • Philosophy of history
  • Power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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