Homer, Aristotle, and the Church Fathers played this role, as did the first mathematicians and the originators of the Hippocratic tradition.This type of author is surely as old as our civilization.But I believe that the nineteenth century in Europe produced a singular type of author who should not be confused with "great" literary authors, or the authors of canonical religious texts, and the founders of sciences.Somewhat arbitrarily, we might call them "initiators of discursive practices".
The distinctive contribution of these authors is that they produced not only their own work, but the possibility and the rules of formation of other texts.[..]
On the other hand, Marx and Freud, as "initiators of discursive practices", not only made possible a certain number of analogies that could be adopted by future texts, but as importantly, they also made possible a certain number of differences.They cleared a space for the introduction of elements other than their own, which, nevertheless, remain within the field of discourse they initiated.[..]
In keeping with this distinction, we can understand why it is inevitable that practitioners of such discourses must "return to the origin".Here, as well, it is necessary to distinguish a "return" from scientific "rediscoveries" or "reactivations"."Rediscoveries" are the effects of analogy or isomorphism with current forms of knowledge that allow the perception of forgotten or obscured figures.[..]
If we return, it is because of a basic and constructive omission, an omission that is not the result of accident or incomprehension.In effect, the act of initiation is such, in its essence, that it is inevitably subjected to its own distortions;that which displays this act and derives from it is, at the same time, the root of its divergences and travesties.This nonaccidental omission must be regulated by precise operations that can be situated, analyzed, and reduced in a return to the act of initiation.The barrier imposed by omission was not added from the outside;it arises from the discursive practice in question, which gives it its law.Both the cause of the barrier and the means for its removal, this omission-also responsible for the obstacles that prevent returning to the act of initiation-can only be resolved by a return.
[M.Foucault, Language, counter-memory, practice / p.131-135]