Tweet Michel Foucault on the Power Dynamics in Modern Institutions Michel Foucault —84 was a French historian and philosopher who studied the modern institutions and the power relations within these institutions. Bentham — was a legal philosopher and advocate of prison reform. Foucault describes the ways in which power is exercised in modern institutions, such as prisons and schools: We know the principle on which [Bentham's Panopticon] was based:
As a student he was brilliant but psychologically tormented. From the s on, Foucault was very active politically. He frequently lectured outside France, particularly in the United States, and in had agreed to teach annually at the University of California at Berkeley.
One might question whether Foucault is in fact a philosopher. His academic formation was in psychology and its history as well as in philosophy, his books were mostly histories of medical and social sciences, his passions were literary and political.
This article will present him as a philosopher in these two dimensions. Intellectual Background We begin, however, with a sketch of the philosophical environment in which Foucault was educated. Merleau-Ponty, whose lectures he attended, and Heidegger were particularly important.
But he soon turned away from both. Jean-Paul Sartre, working outside the University system, had no personal Micheal foucault on Foucault. But, as the French master-thinker of the previous generation, he is always in the background.
Like Sartre, Foucault began from a relentless hatred of bourgeois society and culture and with a spontaneous sympathy for marginal groups such as the mad, homosexuals, and prisoners.
They both also had strong interests in literature and psychology as well as philosophy, and both, after an early relative lack of political interest, became committed activists. But in the end, Foucault seemed to insist on defining himself in contradiction to Sartre.
Three other factors were of much more positive significance for the young Foucault. In a quite different vein, Foucault was enthralled by French avant-garde literature, especially the writings of Georges Bataille and Maurice Blanchot, where he found the experiential concreteness of existential phenomenology without what he came to see as dubious philosophical assumptions about subjectivity.
Major Works Since its beginnings with Socrates, philosophy has typically involved the project of questioning the accepted knowledge of the day. Later, Locke, Hume, and especially, Kant developed a distinctively modern idea of philosophy as the critique of knowledge.
What might have seemed just contingent features of human cognition for example, the spatial and temporal character of its perceptual objects turn out to be necessary truths. Foucault, however, suggests the need to invert this Kantian move. Rather than asking what, in the apparently contingent, is actually necessary, he suggests asking what, in the apparently necessary, might be contingent.
The focus of his questioning is the modern human sciences biological, psychological, social. These purport to offer universal scientific truths about human nature that are, in fact, often mere expressions of ethical and political commitments of a particular society.
Each of his major books is a critique of historical reason.
Standard histories saw the nineteenth-century medical treatment of madness developed from the reforms of Pinel in France and the Tuke brothers in England as an enlightened liberation of the mad from the ignorance and brutality of preceding ages.
Moreover, he argued that the alleged scientific neutrality of modern medical treatments of insanity are in fact covers for controlling challenges to conventional bourgeois morality.
In short, Foucault argued that what was presented as an objective, incontrovertible scientific discovery that madness is mental illness was in fact the product of eminently questionable social and ethical commitments. But the socio-ethical critique is muted except for a few vehement passagespresumably because there is a substantial core of objective truth in medicine as opposed to psychiatry and so less basis for criticism.
But there is little or nothing of the implicit social critique found in the History of Madness or even The Birth of the Clinic. Instead, Foucault offers an analysis of what knowledge meant—and how this meaning changed—in Western thought from the Renaissance to the present.
At the heart of his account is the notion of representation. But, he says, we need to be clear about what it meant for an idea to represent an object. This was not, first of all, any sort of relation of resemblance: By contrast, during the Renaissance, knowledge was understood as a matter of resemblance between things.
The map is a useful model of Classical representation. It consists, for example, of a set of lines of varying widths, lengths, and colors, and thereby represents the roads in and around a city. This is not because the roads have the properties of the map the widths, lengths, and colors of the lines but because the abstract structure given in the map the relations among the lines duplicates the abstract structure of the roads.
At the heart of Classical thought is the principle that we know in virtue of having ideas that, in this sense, represent what we know.
Of course, in contrast to the map, we do not need to know what the actual features of our ideas are in virtue of which they are able to represent. We do, however, have direct introspective access to the abstract structures of our ideas: How, on the Classical view, do we know that an idea is a representation of an object—and an adequate representation?
Not, Foucault argues, by comparing the idea with the object as it is apart from its representation. This is impossible, since it would require knowing the object without a representation when, for Classical thought, to know is to represent.Foucault: power is everywhere.
Michel Foucault, the French postmodernist, has been hugely influential in shaping understandings of power, leading away from the analysis of actors who use power as an instrument of coercion, and even away from the discreet structures in which those actors operate, toward the idea that ‘power is everywhere’, diffused and embodied in discourse, knowledge and.
The Panopticon was a metaphor that allowed Foucault to explore the relationship between 1.) systems of social control and people in a disciplinary situation and, 2.) the power-knowledge concept. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (French: Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la prison) is a book by the French philosopher Michel Foucault.
It is an analysis of the social and theoretical mechanisms behind the changes that occurred in Western penal systems during the modern age based on historical documents from France.
Paul-Michel Foucault (15 October – 25 June ), generally known as Michel Foucault (French: [miʃɛl fuko]), was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. The History of Sexuality, Volume!: An Introduction by Michel Foucault, is this major French thinker's last work, and since so many others have given a good sense of what the book is about, I will be brief.
Human Nature: Justice versus Power Noam Chomsky debates with Michel Foucault ELDERS: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the third debate of the International Philosophers’ Project.