60 pages 2 hours read

Michel Foucault

The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1966

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Chapter 9Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 2

Chapter 9 Summary: “Man and His Doubles”

Chapter 9: “Man and His Doubles” explores the dualities of the modern episteme. Foucault traces this duality back to a “hiatus” or suspension of connection between representation and knowledge in the 19th century. The connection was not done away with entirely, but placed in the unconscious—a new invention of the 19th century. The chapter is split into eight parts.

In part one (“The Return of Language”), Foucault explores how language became mysterious again, as it was in the 16th century. This is a “return” because Foucault classifies language as a dead thing in the Classical Age, due to its sanitized use in taxonomy and mathesis. The focus on the active subject made language an inherently transcendental and subjective thing in the 19th century. Foucault believes the return of language is best exemplified by the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher. Nietzsche’s nihilism and idea of the superhuman made language an act of pure projection of will. Foucault classifies Nietzsche as a philologist as a result.

In part two (“The Place of the King”), Foucault returns to Las Meninas and its missing king.