Foucault’s investigation of the emergence of human sciences in The Order of

Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences has been ground-breaking and

widely persuasive. In the foreword of the English edition (1970), he points out

that this book addresses a neglected field, as the history of science traditionally

discusses the rigorous sciences of mathematics, cosmology and physics, in

whose history one can observe ‘the almost uninterrupted emergence of truth

and pure reason’ (1991: ix). Other disciplines, those concerning human beings,

languages or economy, have been considered too exposed to the vagueness of

empirical thought, chance, imagery or tradition to be considered sciences and as

such to have a history of relevance to knowledge. It is this empirical, non-exact

and uncertain kind of knowledge based on evidence of unstable discourses

– such as the state of mind, intellectual fashions, combination of archaisms,

conjecture and intuition – that he writes about in The Order of Things.