'Nietzsche, genealogy, history'


Passage 1

Comment

The accepted translation of 'provenance' when used in the context of Foucault's discussion of genealogy is 'descent', which I personally don't find very helpful in my understanding of the text.

Contributed by Clare O'Farrell, April 2003.

French Original

'Le corps: surface d'inscription des événements (alors que le langage les marque et les idées les dissolvent), lieu de dissociation du Moi (auquel il essaie de prêter le chimère d'une unité substantielle), volume en perpétuel effritement. La généalogie, comme analyse de la provenance, est donc à l'articulation du corps et de l'histoire. Elle doit montrer le corps tout imprimé de l'histoire, et l'histoire ruinant le corps.'

Michel Foucault. (1971.) 'Nietzsche, la généalogie, l'histoire'. In Dits et Ecrits vol II. Paris: Gallimard, p. 143.

Published English Translation

'The body is the inscribed surface of events (traced by language and dissolved by ideas), the locus of a dissociated self (adopting the illusion of a substantial unity), and a volume in perpetual disintegration. Genealogy, as an analysis of descent, is thus situated within the articulation of the body and history. Its task is to expose a body totally imprinted by history and the process of history's destruction of the body.'

Michel Foucault, (1991). 'Nietzsche, Genealogy, History'. In Paul Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader, London: Penguin. p. 83.

Alternative Translation

The body: a surface on which events are inscribed (whereas language takes note of events and ideas dissolve them), a site where the Ego is dissociated (an Ego to which it tries to lend the illusion of a substantial unity), it is a perpetually crumbling mass. Genealogy, as an analysis of where things come from is thus situated at the point of articulation of the body and history. It must show a body totally inscribed by history, and history destroying the body.


Passage 2

Comment

[This] is a bit clunky in the summary of the 1874 notion; but it gets downright misleading in the understanding of genealogy. Sujet is translated as man; 'maintains' appears for nowhere to make sense of that choice, when sujet de connaissance has a very different meaning; and propre is something of a false-friend in this context.

Contributed by Stuart Elden, July 2011.

French Original

La critique des injustices du passé par la vérité que l'homme détient aujourd'hui devient destruction du sujet de connaissance par l'injustice propre à la volonté de savoir.

Michel Foucault. (1971.) 'Nietzsche, la généalogie, l'histoire'. In Dits et Ecrits vol II. Paris: Gallimard, p. 143.

Published English Translation

The critique of the injustices of the past by a truth held by men in the present becomes the destruction of the man who maintains knowledge [connaissance] by the injustice proper to the will to knowledge.

Michel Foucault, (1985) 'Life: experience and science'. In J. Faubion (ed.). Tr. Robert Hurley and others. Aesthetics, method and epistemology. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Volume Two Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Allen Lane, Penguin.

Alternative Translation

The critique of past injustices by the truth held by man today becomes the destruction of the subject of knowledge [connaissance] by the injustice specific to the will to knowledge.