In 1980, Le Monde published a series of interviews with French philosophers, one of whom only agreed to participate on condition that he remain anonymous. His interview appeared under the title 'The Masked Philosopher'. At the time, only expert readers were able to guess that the masked philosopher in question was Michel Foucault. Foucault had no objection to the practice of giving interviews: he gave several under his own name, and they often yielded some remarkably fine texts, which rightfully belong to the corpus of his work. It is significant that he insisted that he not be named on this one occasion - for an interview about philosophy. In many respects Foucault was indeed a masked philosopher. In his writings, his philosophical position usually remains implicit or presupposed. Only in The Archaeology of Knowledge did he attempt to offer a systematic presentation of the principles underlying his method of analysing historical material. Yet most commentators agree that this book fails to define a coherent position. It is only today that we are beginning to consider, not just what Foucault had to say as a leading intellectual, but also the position he embraced as a fully-fledged philosopher.
LRB 5 March 1987 | PDF Download