In The Order of Things (1966), Michel Foucault proposed an "archaeology of the human sciences" which leaves a wide place to the analysis of epistemological configuration of classical knowledge. He thus argues a strong and now famous thesis that the space of the human sciences does open when closed on itself the space of classical representation. This book proposes to examine two aspects of this thesis.
The first aspect concerns the approach of an "archaeology of knowledge" as Foucault implemented in The Order of Things.
In particular, we show that such an approach finds its own resources in archive of an epoch that the archaeologist must therefore "document" to use it in his own discourse.
But archaeology is also based on the exposure of a knowledge configuration and of a historical a priori which allow to articulate together discourses and knowledges of an epoch. From this point of view, we show that, according Foucault's “history of the order of things”, traditional knowledge is some thought of the same which organizes the implementation order of things in positive knowledge (General grammar, natural history, analysis of wealth) under the dual constraint of a classification and a taxonomy.
Historico-philosophical analysis of the classical episteme thus demonstrates its fertility. But it also draws its own limitations, inherent in the breakdown of fields of thought which treats an archaeology of knowledge attached to understand “from where we are thinking”.