Michel Foucault’s American commentators have frequently charged that his critiques
of the Modern Age exclude the possibility of a meaningful course of action for addressing the problems that his critiques highlight. By considering the interpretations of Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow in Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics and French philosopher Philippe Sabot’s Lire les mots et les choses, I argue that Foucault is unjustifiably understood to be offering a new metaphysics in which language is causally efficacious. I then argue that Foucault is read in such a way because Enlightenment normative criteria for critique still obtain today, and Foucault’s work is unwittingly held to these standards. Lastly, given the fact that Foucault’s critiques are largely aimed at Enlightenment thought systems, I consider what Foucault’s peculiar form of critique consists in, and the degree to which it is practical and effective.