9. Foucault's Normative Epistemology

  1. Christopher Falzon2,
  2. Timothy O'Leary3 and
  3. Jana Sawicki4
  1. Linda Martín Alcoff

Published Online: 5 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch9

A Companion to Foucault

A Companion to Foucault

How to Cite

Alcoff, L. M. (2013) Foucault's Normative Epistemology, in A Companion to Foucault (eds C. Falzon, T. O'Leary and J. Sawicki), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118324905.ch9

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Newcastle, Australia

  2. 3

    University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

  3. 4

    Williams College, USA

Author Information

  1. Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 5 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 12 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444334067

Online ISBN: 9781118324905



  • epistemology;
  • Foucault;
  • knowledge;
  • power;
  • truth


Epistemology was a central concern of Michel Foucault. By denying the conflation of knowledge with power, and consistently maintaining a dyadic relationship (“power/knowledge”) rather than a relationship in which power eclipses knowledge, Foucault maintains that knowledge requires its own analysis irreducible to the strategic maneuvers of power. “Epistemology,” by this caricature, has to approach the question of knowledge as a transcendent entity, akin to Plato's Ideal Forms. Foucault's work on knowledge is primarily critical rather than normatively reconstructive. The most important and influential of his ideas was Foucault's claim that power and knowledge are co-constituting: “that power and knowledge directly imply one another ”. The chapter also explores some of Foucault's case studies, which reveal general claims about the nature of truth and knowledge.