The Vanishing Face of Man: Foucault on the End of Human Science Open Access

Yang, Yiqing (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL:


Contemporary French philosopher Michel Foucault examines the historical development of human understanding in his major theoretical work The Order of Things. He includes three epistemes in History: the age of similarities, the Classical Age, and the age of man. He employs an archaeological method to reveal the origin of man based on human science, which includes economics, biology, and language. He argues that man is only a recent creature after the 19th century and a product of historical arrangement. His understanding about man’s existence and his non-subject centered view of History allow him to propose in the end of The Order of Things that man will vanish later in History.

            This paper aims to propose that Foucault’s hypothesis on the end of man is invalid. The first chapter of the paper will illustrate his development of History. The second chapter will examine how economics, biology, and language transform into human science in the beginning of the 19th century. However, the third chapter will challenge his view on the existence of man. It will prove that Foucault’s positivist view limits his understanding of man, since he considers man’s existence only as a modern scientific object. It will also reveal that man can also exist through his subjectivity; thus, the true moment of the rise of man should be in the creation of poetry because poetry is the most original expression of human subjectivity. In this sense, Foucault’s archaeological method that is based on the idea of man being only a recent creature is mistaken, since he has already presupposed to objectify man.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                1

Chapter I: Historical Development of Epistemes                                       7

Chapter II: Transformations into Human Science                                    25   

Chapter III: Foucault’s Misconception of Man                                        44

Conclusion                                                                                                62     

Bibliography                                                                                             67

About this Honors Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files