65 Inspirational Michel Foucault Quotes On Success In Life

Paul-Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, writer, political activist, and literary critic. Foucault’s theories primarily address the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. Though often cited as a structuralist and postmodernist, Foucault rejected these labels. These Michel Foucault quotes will motivate you.

Best Michel Foucault Quotes

  1. “Schools serve the same social functions as prisons and mental institutions- to define, classify, control, and regulate people.” ~ Michel Foucault
  2. “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.” ~ Michel Foucault
  3. “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.” ~ Michel Foucault
  4. “‘Truth’ is to be understood as a system of ordered procedures for the production, regulation, distribution, circulation and operation of statements. ‘Truth’ is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it. A ‘regime’ of truth.” ~ Michel Foucault
  5. “Where there is power, there is resistance.” ~ Michel Foucault

  6. “From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art.” ~ Michel Foucault
  7. “Power is not an institution, and not a structure; neither is it a certain strength we are endowed with; it is the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society.” ~ Michel Foucault, Michel Foucault quotes on power
  8. “The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.” ~ Michel Foucault
  9. “Our society is not one of spectacle but of surveillance.” ~ Michel Foucault

  10. “Are the prisons overpopulated, or is the population over-imprisoned ?” ~ Michel Foucault
  11. “Search for what is good and strong and beautiful in your society and elaborate from there. Push outward. Always create from what you already have. Then you will know what to do.” ~ Michel Foucault
  12. “What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?” ~ Michel Foucault, Michel Foucault quotes on art
  13. “The university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class.” ~ Michel Foucault
  14. “Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism.” ~ Michel Foucault
  15. “Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same.” ~ Michel Foucault

  16. “…if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal, if you are abnormal, then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing” ~ Michel Foucault
  17. “Education may well be, as of right, the instrument whereby every individual, in a society like our own, can gain access to any kind of discourse. But we well know that in its distribution, in what it permits and in what it prevents, it follows the well-trodden battle-lines of social conflict. Every educational system is a political means of maintaining or of modifying the appropriation of discourse, with the knowledge and the powers it carries with it.” ~ Michel Foucault, Michel Foucault quotes on education
  18. “We are freer than we think.” ~ Michel Foucault

  19. “There is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations” ~ Michel Foucault
  20. “Total surveillance is increasingly the general condition of society as a whole.” ~ Michel Foucault
  21. “I am hopelessly in love with a memory. An echo from another time, another place.” ~ Michel Foucault, Michel Foucault quotes on love
  22. “To change something in the minds of people – that’s the role of an intellectual.” ~ Michel Foucault
  23. “A critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest.” ~ Michel Foucault
  24. “Domination is not that solid and global kind of domination that one person exercises over others, or one group over another, but the manifold forms of domination that can be exercised within society.” ~ Michel Foucault
  25. “What desire can be contrary to nature since it was given to man by nature itself?” ~ Michel Foucault

  26. “[Knowledge is governed not by] a theory of knowledge, but by a theory of discursive practice.” ~ Michel Foucault
  27. “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” ~ Michel Foucault, Michel Foucault quotes on prisons
  28. “The ‘Enlightenment’, which discovered the liberties, also invented the disciplines.” ~ Michel Foucault
  29. “The strategic adversary is fascism… the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.” ~ Michel Foucault
  30. “I’m no prophet. My job is making windows where there were once walls.” ~ Michel Foucault
  31. “Power is everywhere…because it comes from everywhere.” ~ Michel Foucault
  32. “Knowledge is not for knowing: knowledge is for cutting.” ~ Michel Foucault

  33. “One cannot attend to oneself, take care of oneself, without a relationship to another person.” ~ Michel Foucault
  34. “The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the social worker-judge.” ~ Michel Foucault
  35. “The first task of the doctor is … political: the struggle against disease must begin with a war against bad government.” Man will be totally and definitively cured only if he is first liberated.” ~ Michel Foucault
  36. “What I seek is a permanent opening of possibilities.” ~ Michel Foucault
  37. “If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for a love relationship is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don’t know what will be the end.” ~ Michel Foucault
  38. “The gaze that sees is the gaze that dominates.” ~ Michel Foucault
  39. “Maybe the target nowadays is not to discover what we are but to refuse what we are.” ~ Michel Foucault

  40. “…it’s my hypothesis that the individual is not a pre-given entity which is seized on by the exercise of power. The individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces.” ~ Michel Foucault
  41. “What makes power hold good, what makes it accepted, is simply the fact that it doesn’t only weigh on us as a force that says no, but that it traverses and produces things, it induces pleasure, forms knowledge, produces discourse. It needs to be considered as a productive network which runs through the whole social body, much more than as a negative instance whose function is repression” ~ Michel Foucault
  42. “Truth is undoubtedly the sort of error that cannot be refuted because it was hardened into an unalterable form in the long baking process of history” ~ Michel Foucault
  43. “The soul is the effect and instrument of a political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body” ~ Michel Foucault

  44. “Why shouldn’t I be interested in politics? That is to say, what blindness, what deafness, what density of ideology would have to weigh me down to prevent me from being interested in what is probably the most crucial subject to our existence, that is to say the society in which we live, the economic relations within which it functions, and the system of power which defines the regular forms and the regular permissions and prohibitions of our conduct. The essence of our life consists, after all, of the political functioning of the society in which we find ourselves.” ~ Michel Foucault
  45. “The language of psychiatry, which is a monologue by reason about madness, could only have come into existence in such a silence.” ~ Michel Foucault
  46. “My point is not that everything is bad, but that everything is dangerous, which is not exactly the same as bad.” ~ Michel Foucault
  47. “Madness, in its wild, untamable words, proclaims its own meaning; in its chimeras, it utters its secret truth.” ~ Michel Foucault
  48. “I don’t write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me.” ~ Michel Foucault
  49. “I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am.” ~ Michel Foucault

  50. “… we are obliged to produce the truth by the power that demands truth and needs it in order to function: we are constrained, we are condemned to admit the truth or to discover it. Power constantly asks questions and questions us; it constantly investigates and records; it institutionalizes the search for the truth, professionalizes it, and rewards it. … In a different sense, we are also subject to the truth in the sense that truth lays down the law: it is the discourse of truth that decides, at least in part; it conveys and propels effects of power.” ~ Michel Foucault, Michel Foucault quotes on discourse
  51. “it is the certainty of being punished and not the horrifying spectacle of public punishment that must discourage crime” ~ Michel Foucault
  52. “Why should the lamp or the house be an art object but not our life?” ~ Michel Foucault

  53. “Since the Fall, man had accepted labor as a penance and for its power to work redemption. It was not a law of nature which forced man to work, but the effect of a curse.” ~ Michel Foucault
  54. “Knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting.” ~ Michel Foucault
  55. “‘The prison’ begins well before its doors. It begins as soon as you leave your house – and even before.” ~ Michel Foucault
  56. “One should try to locate power at the extreme of its exercise, where it is always less legal in character.” ~ Michel Foucault
  57. “A critique does not consist in saying that things aren’t good the way they are. It consists in seeing on just what type of assumptions, of familiar notions, of established and unexamined ways of thinking the accepted practices are based… To do criticism is to make harder those acts which are now too easy.” ~ Michel Foucault
  58. “A critique does not consist in saying that things aren’t good the way they are. It consists in seeing on just what type of assumptions, of familiar notions, of established and unexamined ways of thinking the accepted practices are based… To do criticism is to make harder those acts which are now too easy.” ~ Michel Foucault
  59. “Visibility is a trap.” ~ Michel Foucault

  60. “At every moment, step by step, one must confront what one is thinking and saying with what one is doing, what one is.” ~ Michel Foucault
  61. “There are more ideas on earth than intellectuals imagine. And these ideas are more active, stronger, more resistant, more passionate than “politicians” think. We have to be there at the birth of ideas, the bursting outward of their force: not in books expressing them, but in events manifesting this force, in struggles carried on around ideas, for or against them. Ideas do not rule the world. But it is because the world has ideas (and because it constantly produces them) that it is not passively ruled by those who are its leaders or those who would like to teach it, once and for all, what it must think.” ~ Michel Foucault
  62. “There is no glory in punishing” ~ Michel Foucault

  63. “If repression has indeed been the fundamental link between power, knowledge, and sexuality since the classical age, it stands to reason that we will not be able to free ourselves from it except at a considerable cost.” ~ Michel Foucault
  64. “You know the difference between a real science and a pseudoscience? A real science recognizes and accepts its own history without feeling attacked. When you tell a psychiatrist his mental institution came from a lazar house, he becomes infuriated.” ~ Michel Foucault
  65. “It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.” ~ Michel Foucault

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