Foucault

Reading various philosophers introduces to ideas we never think of. I came across Foucault and his take on power, punishment fascinated me. So, to understand his ideas I picked up A Very Short Introduction by Gary Gutting.

Some of the ideas/quotes which the author covers

1) Foucault said “The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning.”

2) What is an author? Is a person who writes shopping list on a paper an author?

3) Politics – distinction between polemics and problematizations. Gary writes “Political discussions should be driven by the concrete problems that raise our questions, not by the established theories that claim to be able to answer them.”

4) Archaeology of knowledge – every author writes under constraints of his time. Gary writes “But Foucault’s idea is that every mode of thinking involves implicit rules that materially restrict the range of thought. We will not be so much interested in, say Hume or Darwin as in what made Hume or Darwin possible.”

— marginalization of the subject
— do not ask what Descartes mean but “they use what Descartes – wrote as clues to the general structure of the system in which they thought and wrote.”

5) There is an intimate tie between knowledge and power. “Foucault claims that power has a positive epistemic role, not only constraining or eliminating knowledge but also producing it.”

6) Crime and Punishment – “The most striking thesis of Discipline and Punish is that the disciplinary techniques introduced for criminals become the model for other modern sites of control ( schools, hospitals, etc.). so that prison discipline pervades all of modern society.”

— Foucault says that modern approach to discipline produces ‘docile bodies’ through 3 means – Hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement and examination.
— “Society itself appears as a multitude of dominated others: not only criminals but also students, patients…. Each of us is the subject of modern power.”

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