Explain why, according to Foucault, the oeuvre is a false unity.

The oeuvre is a false unity in terms of the analysis of discourse, because discursive relations are far too numerous and varied to remain within the boundaries of the oeuvre. An oeuvre is defined simply by the presence of the name of the author. But the unity apparently given by this name ignores the variety of ways in which the documents in the oeuvre relate to the sign of that name (this relation is different, for example, in a novel, a posthumous publication, or a tax form). The archeological method takes the author not as a psychological entity whose presence ultimately binds a set of texts together, but rather as a function that relates to those texts in a myriad of ways. This function is itself highly variable, and it can be put into action in multiple ways by a single author or a single way by multiple authors.

What is “the statement” in relation to materiality and to propositional content?

The statement is related to materiality in the sense that materiality gives the statement its historical "coordinates," the discursive position from which it was uttered. But the statement is not completely defined by these coordinates. If it were, no statement would ever be truly repeatable (since its material coordinates would differ each time it was articulated). Statements can in fact be repeated, despite the importance of their materiality. The statement is not defined at all by its propositional content. "What it says" is analyzed only in relation to other statements, and only in the interest of determining the conditions of possibility of the statement and tracing its transformations within the field of discourse.

What does “material repeatability” mean?

“Material repeatability” refers to the unique property of the statement by which it is partly defined by its materiality while remaining capable of repetition.

What does the concept of “rarity” mean to Foucault?

“Rarity” is the term Foucault’s method uses in opposition to the twin notions of “plethora” and “totality” in the history of ideas. The history of ideas generally sees all statements made in a given discourse as variations on a single, totalized, hidden theme or idea. Thus, the range of statements appears as a “plethora” of expressions of a single, underlying totality. Foucault’s method analyzes the statement in its rarity, in the uniqueness of the set of conditions that allowed that statement to be made from that specific discursive position.

What does the concept of “exteriority” mean to Foucault?

Foucault uses “exteriority” in opposition to the various ways in which the history of ideas sees discourse as the trace or surface of something deeper, an “internal” psychology or spirit. Archeological analysis treats discourse not in the interest of what lies beneath it (whether this be a psychology or a historical stage), but solely in terms of its exteriority, its appearance and transformation within the describable processes of discourse.

What does the concept of “accumulation” mean to Foucault?

“Accumulation” revises the traditional understanding of the archive as a static collection of old documents. For Foucault, the archive is a system by which statements accumulate according to a set of describable processes. These processes involve both properly discursive elements like repetition and institutional elements like the library.

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