Although arguably a philosopher of his time, Michel Foucault is probably the thinker whose work has had the greatest impact upon me, academically. I first encountered his works in the third year of my undergraduate studies and his revolutionary thinking blew me away. From studies of madness, through the prison system to sexuality, his ability to take conventional wisdom and stand it on its head showed me the power of critical thought. He wasn't always right -- his embarrassing stance on the Iranian revolution didn't quite pan out -- and he isn't consistent, but then:
"What, do you imagine that I would take so much trouble and so much pleasure in writing, do you think that I would keep so persistently to my task, if I were not preparing – with a rather shaky hand – a labyrinth into which I can venture, into which I can move my discourse... in which I can lose myself and appear at last to eyes that I will never have to meet again. I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same" -- The Archaeology of Knowledge
Michel Foucault would have been 85 today, had his life not been cut short by AIDS.
Featured image by photogreuhphies under a CC-BY-NC-ND license.