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Summary[ edit ] Foucault argues that the contemporary study of the history of ideas, although it targets moments of transition between historical worldviews, ultimately depends on continuities that break down under close inspection.
The history of ideas marks points of discontinuity between broadly defined modes of knowledge, but the assumption that those modes exist as wholes fails to do justice to the complexities of discourse.
Foucault argues that "discourses" emerge and transform not according to a developing series of unarticulated, common worldviews, but according to a vast and complex set of discursive and institutional relationships, which are defined as much by breaks and ruptures as by unified themes.
During most of Archaeology, Foucault argues for and against various notions of what are inherent aspects of a statement, without arriving at a comprehensive definition. This concept of meaning differs from the concept of signification:  Though an expression is signifying, for instance "The gold mountain is in California", it may nevertheless be discursively meaningless and therefore have no existence within a certain discourse.
These rules are not the syntax and semantics  that makes an expression signifying. It is additional rules. In contrast to structuralists , Foucault demonstrates that the semantic and syntactic structures do not suffice to determine the discursive meaning of an expression. Rather, "statements" constitute a network of rules establishing which expressions are discursively meaningful, and these rules are the preconditions for signifying propositions, utterances, or speech acts to have discursive meaning.
Foucault reiterates that the analysis he is outlining is only one possible procedure, and that he is not seeking to displace other ways of analysing discourse or render them invalid. Reception[ edit ] The philosopher Gilles Deleuze describes The Archaeology of Knowledge as, "the most decisive step yet taken in the theory-practice of multiplicities.
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Foucault archéologue : généalogie d’un concept