Bookmarked Book Summary: The Order of Things: The Archaeology of the Human Sciences / Michel Foucault by Huzeyfe Kıran (Thinking Prismatically)

“One thing in any case is certain: man is neither the oldest nor the most constant problem that has been posed for human knowledge. Taking a relatively short chronological sample within a restricted geographical area — European culture since the sixteenth century — one can be certain that man is a recent invention within it. It is not around him and his secrets that knowledges prowled for so long in the darkness. In fact, among all the mutations that have affected the knowledge of things and their order, the knowledge of identities differences, characters, equivalences, words — in short, in the midst of all the episodes of that profound history of the Same — only one, that which began a century and a half ago and is now perhaps drawing to a close, has made it possible for the figure of man to appear. And that appearance was not the liberation of an old anxiety, the transition into luminous consciousness of an age-old concern, the entry into objectivity of something that had long remained trapped within beliefs and philosophies: it was the effect of a change in the fundamental arrangements of knowledge. As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end.

If those arrangements were to disappear as they appeared, if some event of which we can at the moment do no more than sense the possibility — without knowing either what its form will be or what it promises — were to cause them to crumble, as the ground of Classical thought did, at the end of the eighteenth century, then one can certainly wager that man would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea” (The Order of Things p.386-387).

I remember reading Michel Foucault’s Archeology of Knowledge during university, but never got around to The Order of Things. Wondering about the crux of the book I stumbled upon this lengthy summary from Huzeyfe Kıran. I was left thinking about archeology in relation to my Honours thesis on psychoanalysis and the way in which what we talk about when we talk about psychoanalysis.
Read Notes from the Underground

Notes from Underground (pre-reform Russian: Записки изъ подполья; post-reform Russian: Записки из подполья, Zapíski iz podpólʹya; also translated as Notes from the Underground or Letters from the Underworld) is an 1864 novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky, and is considered by many to be one of the first existentialist novels.

It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator (generally referred to by critics as the Underground Man), who is a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg. The first part of the story is told in monologue form through the Underground Man’s diary, and attacks contemporary Russian philosophy, especially Nikolay Chernyshevsky’s What Is to Be Done?. The second part of the book is called “Apropos of the Wet Snow” and describes certain events that appear to be destroying and sometimes renewing the underground man, who acts as a first person, unreliable narrator and anti-hero.

I have never read any of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s works before and was always intrigued by the supposed associating between Notes from the Underground and Catcher in the Rye.

Like The Stranger’s Meursault and The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield, the Underground Man is our sole window into this world. As a result, we only get his skewed take on the “reality” in which he lives. Key to this reality is the Man’s status as “underground.” He identifies himself as underground for two main reasons. First, it establishes him as an outsider, and although this status is the source of much misery, it is essential for the reality he has created for himself. Second, it hints at the notion of revolution: there might be other Undergrounders out there waiting to unite against the oppression of their everyday lives. Ironically, the Underground Man is too apathetic to seek out other Undergrounders, creating further dissatisfaction in himself.

For me, the first person style of writing reminds me of Friedrich Nietzsche and Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

Liked The Philosopher Stoned by Adam Kirsch (The New Yorker)

Benjamin always hoped to turn his powers of reading to even more tempting and obscure kinds of signs—astrology fascinated him—and his willingness to indulge such ideas hints at the metaphysical, even mystical inspiration that is at the heart of all his work, especially his understanding of language. This affinity for the mystical was evident to Scholem, who described Benjamin’s work as “an often puzzling juxtaposition of the two modes of thought, the metaphysical-theological and the materialistic,” but it is not easy for modern readers to embrace. The theological side of Benjamin’s thought remained hidden, during his lifetime and long afterward, in part because he chose to hide it. He never published the seminal 1916 essay “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man,” which explicitly set forth his mystical vision of language, or later writings that show its continued hold on his imagination. Only with the publication of the “Selected Writings” has it been possible for English readers to grasp the crucial fact that the “metaphysical-theological” element of Benjamin’s thought was older and more profound than the “materialistic” element.

“Austin Kleon” in Diving in ()
Liked muse-letter 24: time and the self (

What if we are just a collection of thoughts and reactions and there is not an actual self sitting behind the thoughts. It’s quite a mind-fuck and goes against everything we tend to assume in our post-Descartes world — “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes argues, even if everything around us is a deception and our senses do not report reality, that our experience of our world, true or not, is real. Our perceptions and thoughts are ours and we can be certain that we exist because of them. Others, however, have gone on to say that just because thinking is occurring it doesn’t mean that it is being done by any given ‘I’.

Bookmarked How to deconstruct the world by Peter Salmon (Psyche)

Derrida saw this kind of reading as reading against the grain. Take a text, find what it seems to advocate, and look in the opposite direction. G W F Hegel wrote about spirit, untainted by the mess of life – so Derrida explored his relationship to family. Husserl wrote about subjectivity by describing the surrounding world, so Derrida looked for moments where Husserl invoked God. This doesn’t eliminate the text or the thinking, but it problematises them, it finds the limits. In a sense, we’re to treat every text with suspicion, although Derrida himself called this an act of ‘hospitality’. To read a text this closely is to treat it with seriousness, to really look at what’s going on.

Peter Salmon provides an introduction into the work of Jacques Derrida, one pipe at a time.
Bookmarked Peter Singer Is Still Interested in Controversial Ideas by Daniel A. Gross (The New Yorker)

Daniel A. Gross interviews the Australian philosopher Peter Singer about freedom of speech, disability, capitalism, and the launch of his peer-reviewed publication, the Journal of Controversial Ideas.

A thought provoking long read diving into the ideas of Peter Singer.

I was a founding member of the Australian Greens, which said that we should accept all the so-called boat people from Afghanistan and Iran and other places, who were seeking asylum in Australia in the eighties and nineties. For a time, Labor did as well. But it was clear that those issues were exploited by the conservatives to suggest that Australia was going to be swamped by different people, and I’m pretty sure it cost Labor a federal election on at least one occasion. And then you see the other bad consequences of this: not only did the borders get closed and the refugees were put in horrible detention camps, which the conservative government did, but they also opposed doing something on climate change. They cut foreign aid, they run down the hospitals and schools and universities. There is a real cost to this.

The E.U. has had to realize the same thing. You got right-wing governments in Hungary and Poland and Italy for a while. Clearly, immigration was a factor in Trump getting elected in 2016. So that’s why, as a consequentialist, I think you have to have policies that include some restrictions.

Replied to

Bianca, I really enjoy the Minefield podcast featuring Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens. Not sure if this is what you are looking for.
Liked Notes on Richard Rorty’s ‘Philosophy and Social Hope’ by jennymackness (

In this book Rorty wanted to convince people that ‘relativism is a bugbear’ and that discarding dualisms will help bring us together. Trust, social cooperation and social hope, he says, are where our humanity begins and ends. The most praiseworthy human capacity is to trust and cooperate with other people; to work together to improve the future. He urges us to substitute hope for the sort of knowledge that philosophers try to attain, to substitute imagination for certainty, and to substitute curiosity for pride. Hope (rather than truth) is the ability to believe that the future will be unspecifiably different from, and unspecifiably freer than the past. It is a condition of growth and the direction of growth is unpredictable.

Listened The Minefield from

In a world marked by wicked social problems, The Minefield helps you negotiate the ethical dilemmas, contradictory claims and unacknowledged complicities of modern life.

Started listening to Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens’ podcast on ‘wicked’ problems. I am always taken by Waleed Aly’s perspective on the world. I feel that the length of this medium allows more nuance than something like The Project.
Listened Philosophy in a nutshell pt 3: Derrida and the text from ABC Radio National

In 1967, French philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote “There is nothing outside the text”. Or did he? It’s a bad translation that’s launched a thousand bad interpretations – but it’s gone on to become a key element of Derrida’s work.

David Rutledge speaks with Rebecca Hill about the the famous quote: “there is nothing outside the text.” The discuss what constitutes a text, including ideas of masculinity and feminism.
Listened History of Ideas (Talking Politics Podcast) from

History Of Ideas is a new series of talks by David Runciman in which he explores some of the most important thinkers and prominent ideas lying behind modern politics – from Hobbes to Gandhi, from democracy to patriarchy, from revolution to lock down.

David also talks about the crises – revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics – that generated these new ways of political thinking.

Bookmarked Why the chaos of 2020 is turning us all into philosophers (

Friedrich Nietzsche once observed that when things are going well, we tend not to bother ourselves too much with the how or the why of our delight.

Pain, on the other hand, makes philosophers of us all.

David Rutledge explores what the ideas of existentialism and stocism have to offer during the current pandemic.
Liked Søren Kierkegaard’s Struggle with Himself (The New Yorker)

By that time, the Copenhagen eccentric had become one of the most important influences on twentieth-century theology and philosophy. Although the term “existentialism” wasn’t coined until the nineteen-forties, in retrospect Kierkegaard appears as the first existentialist, thanks to his insistence that life’s most important questions—How should I act? What must I believe?—can’t be resolved by abstract reasoning. They present themselves as urgent problems for each individual, demanding commitment and action. “To be entirely present to oneself is the highest thing and the highest task for the personal life,” he wrote.

Replied to Freud thought philosophers were deluded. But was he one himself? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) (

It’s difficult to know where to place Sigmund Freud in the canon of Western thinkers.

This is an interesting discussion David. I Like the idea that Sigmund Freud has contributed to both literature in regards to his particular narrative style:

More significantly, Freud has given us resonant narratives that stretch culturally far beyond the point where we argue the toss over whether or not they’re “true”.

Subconscious desire, ego, death wish, anal retentive: if you’ve ever used these terms — and who hasn’t? — then you’ve referenced stories authored by Freud, stories about the human condition that have burrowed as deep into the collective unconscious (there’s another one) as anything found in Shakespeare or the Bible.

To rate these stories in terms of scientific accuracy seems like a category error, in the same way that it would seem a little off to dismiss the psychological insights of a Jane Austen or an Edith Wharton on the grounds that they’d just made it all up.

And philosophy:

There’s a strong — and perhaps surprising — case to be made that Freud’s most fertile legacy has been a philosophical one.

Surprising, because you might expect that professional philosophers, unkindly cast as delusional psychotics, would be a bit sniffy about admitting Freud into their ranks.

But in fact Freud has been a key figure in the development of what’s been dubbed the “school of suspicion” — a line of philosophical descent that originally linked Freud with Nietzsche with Karl Marx, but has since been expanded into a broader tradition connecting such later figures as Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.

My question is whether we anchor on the idea of who ‘Sigmund Freud’ was or is? Is there a core truth to Freud’s work? I would argue that his thinking evolved overtime? To talk about Freud (or Marx or Derrida) is to make an assumption about who or what we are in fact talking about. This is what I touched on in my thesis, wondering whether it was useful to read Freud as a text that is continually interpreted overtime?

Bookmarked Who am I? Why am I here? Why children should be taught philosophy (beyond better test scores) (The Conversation)

Teaching children philosophy can help improve academic results. But the main reason it should be used in schools is it allows children a space to make sense of the world, and meaning in their lives.

Ben Kilby discusses the potential of teaching philosophy to children, in particular P4C. This supports a range of skills:

from clarity and coherence in speaking and listening to providing reasons for arguments, constructing counter-examples, and using analogical reasoning.

This all reminds me of of quote from Ron Berger captured by Tom Barrett:

When a student completes schooling and enters adult life, for the rest of her life she will be judged not by test scores, but rather two things: The quality of her character / The quality of her work.