Chapter 2 is more specific. It addresses the first of the four issues in which Foucault will mark the distance of his approach from that of the history of ideas: the issue of innovation or origin. The history of ideas is constantly seeking after the moment at which an idea was first introduced against the backdrop of all the normal, tired, received ideas that define a given historical worldview. This means that 'original' statements are given a higher value than 'regular' or repetitive statements, and also that we must assume some criteria of sameness versus newness on which the historical importance of a statement can be judged. According to Foucault's method, none of this is the case. The archeologist of discourse avoids any valuation of statements as new, original, well-worn, or typical. If a statement indeed turns out to be 'new,' that newness must be described solely in terms of the way the statement is conditioned or 'regulated' by the discursive field in which it emerges. This form of description means that the 'archeological order' in which statements are put by the Foucauldian historian is independent from any logical or chronological order or sequence in which they might be put using more traditional methods. Two statements that seem to say the same thing in terms of their content might be found to be occupy very different places in the archeological order. It is less about what the statements 'mean' than about how they function within a particular discourse.

A different kind of history emerges when we no longer search for the origins of ideas. Rather than seeing history as a mass of normal, ho-hum statements with the occasional flash of an 'abnormal, prophetic, retarded, pathological,' or brilliant meaning, we see the whole enunciative field as 'both regular and alerted; it never sleeps.' Statements are 'regular' not in the sense of being normal, but in the sense of being 'regulated' by a specific discursive field. It is precisely this regularity that makes statements 'alert' and active, because it defines statements in terms of their active identity within a field outside of themselves.

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