The Comparative Facts
DOI link for The Comparative Facts
The Comparative Facts book
Archaeological analysis individualizes and describes discursive formations. That is, it must compare them, oppose them to one another in the simultaneity in which they are presented, distinguish them from those that do not belong to the same time-scale, relate them, on the basis of their speciﬁcity, to the non-discursive practices that surround them and serve as a general element for them. In this, too, they are very diﬀerent from epistemological or ‘architectonic’ descriptions, which analyse the internal structure of a theory; archaeological study is always in the plural; it operates in a great number of registers; it crosses interstices and gaps; it has its domain where unities are juxtaposed, separated, ﬁx their crests, confront one another, and accentuate the whitespaces between one another. When it is concerned with a particular type of discourse (that of psychiatry in Madness and Civilization or that of medicine in Naissance de la clinique), it is in order to establish, by comparison, its chronological limits; it is also in order to describe, at the same time as them and in correlation with them, an institutional ﬁeld, a set of events, practices, and political decisions, a sequence of economic processes that also involve demographic ﬂuctuations, techniques of public assistance, manpower needs, diﬀerent levels of unemployment, etc. But it may also, by a sort of lateral rapprochement (as in The Order of Things), put into operation several distinct positivities,
whose concomitant states are compared during a particular period, and which are confronted with other types of discourse that have taken place at a given period.