Michel FoucaultResource PackGroup 2Rosalind Boulton, Helen Braithwaite, Tonia Brown, Hayley Bryan
Biography of Michel Foucault• Born Paul-Michel Foucault Oct 15 1926 inPoitiers, France. Father was a surgeon andwanted him to follow the same career path.He attended school earlier than the averageage with his older sister. He grew up duringWWII, being aged 14 during the Naziinvasions.• After the war Foucault gained entry into theprestigious École Normale Supérieure, thetraditional gateway to an academic career inthe humanities in France.• During his time at ENS he suffered acutedepression. During this time he chasedanother student with a knife, attemptedsuicide and also revealed hishomosexuality. In this period he saw apsychiatrist and subsequently becamefascinated by Psychology and beganreading Freud and the Kinsey reports.Gaining a degree in psychology along with adegree in Philosophy, he became obsessedwith Rorschach tests and when he beganteaching the subject, often subjected hisstudents to them.
• Joined communist party in 1950, but was not a very active member.• Georges Canguilhem a former examiner was of interest to Foucault as he was developing a newhistory of science, which related to Foucault’s first hand experience of his time being analysed.• After briefly teaching at ENS he took up a position teaching Psychology at the University of Lillefrom 1953-1954.• Foucault’s first book ‘Mental Illness and Psychology’ was published in 1954, a work which hewould later disavow.• In 1954 Foucault served France as a cultural delegate to the University of Uppsala in Sweden,where he began the research for his next publication ‘Madness and Civilisation’ coming acrossinfluences such as Nietzsche and the musician Jean Barraqué, undertaking a relationship withthe latter. In 1958 Foucault left Lille for brief positions in Warsaw and Hamburg Universities.(Foucault was advised to leave Warsaw after a sexual encounter with a young man who wasworking for the police.)• Nietzsche’s message was, ‘the truth about oneself was not something given, something whichwe have to discover, it is something we must create ourselves.’ Nietzsche’s stress on the centralrole of power in all human activity struck Foucault like a thunderbolt.• Began reading the 19th century philosopher Hegel, he then progressed to having an interest inHeidegger a 20th century philosopher. He absorbed ideas from Hegel, Heidegger and Sartre andformed himself as a reaction to them.
• Age 34 Foucault returned to France tocomplete his doctorate in Philosophy at theUniversity of Clermont-Ferrand where he metDaniel Defert, an extreme leftist, 10 years hisjunior, with whom he lived a non-monogamous partnership for the next 25years. In 1959 he was writing ‘Madness andCivilisation’.• He gained his doctorate with two theses andwas regarded as ‘the new Kant’.• Major thesis- ‘Madness and Insanity: Historyof Madness’ in the Classical Age.• Secondary thesis- a translation andcommentary on Kant’s anthropology from apragmatic point of view, ‘Madness andInsanity’.• His second book, ‘Birth of the Clinic’ waspublished in 1963. When researching for thisbook he read every book on clinical medicinepublished between 1790 and 1820.Rorschach Test
• After Defert was posted to Tunisia for military service, Foucault moved to a position at theUniversity of Tunis in 1965. Here Foucault taught about Nietzsche, Descartes and Manet.• In 1966 ‘The Order of Things’ was published.• Foucault was grouped with other scholars such as Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss andRoland Barthes at the height of interest in structuralism, a group set to topple the thinking ofexistentialism, popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre.• In 1968 he returned to France, publishing ‘The Archaeology of Knowledge’. Foucault became thehead of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII at Vincennes in the same year, appointingmostly leftist academics, whose radicalism provoked the Ministry of Education to withdraw thedepartment’s accreditation. He also joined student revolts and fights with the authorities. Foucaultand Defert joined students making barricades after being prevented by the police from watchingfilms about 1968, and was arrested. This time was a turning point in his political activism.• In 1970 Foucault was elected to France’s prestigious academic body ‘Collége de France’ as‘Professor of Systems of Thought’ a self appointed title. Foucault delivered a series of lectures inFrance and was also invited to lecture in Tokyo and at the University of California Berkeley.• Foucault helped found ‘The Prison Information Group’, for prisoners to voice their concerns. Hispolitical involvement increased during this time and his work became more politicized, with thepublication of ‘Discipline and Punish’, about western prison and school systems.• In 1970 Foucault joined the banned revolutionary Maoist group. When political activism tailed offin France, a number of Maoist’s abandoned their beliefs, becoming ‘The New Philosophers’, oftenciting Foucault as their major influence.
• Foucault embarked on a 6 volume project ‘The history of Sexuality’, which he would nevercomplete. Volume 1. ‘The Will to Knowledge’ was published in 1976, the second and thirdvolumes didn’t appear for another 8 years, the second not being published until 1984. Foucault’sapproach and focus on the subject surprised readers.• Foucault began spending more time in the U.S.A at the University of Buffalo and U.C Berkeley.• In 1975 he took L.S.D and experimented in other drug taking. He took an acid trip in the desertand was nearly run down attempting to cross a freeway while high on morphine. He justified hisbehaviour on theoretic grounds.• 1979 Foucault made two tours of Iran, interviewing political protagonists who supported the newinterim government after the Iranian Revolution. His controversial essays on Iran were publishedin the Italian paper ‘Corriere Della Sera’, but not translated until 1994.• Foucault died of an AIDs related illness in 1984 in Paris. He was the first high profile Frenchpersonality reported to have AIDs, when little was known about the disease, causing controversy.• Prior to his death, Foucault destroyed most of his manuscripts and prohibited the publication ofany he may have overlooked.• Foucalt gave us the term ‘transdiscursive’ – a person is not simply an author of a book, but theauthor of a theory, tradition or discipline.• In 1977 Jean Baudrillard published the book ‘Forget Foucault’ in response to and againstFoucault’s work.
Bibliography of worksYear English Title1954 Mental Illness and Psychology1955 Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason1963 The Birth of the Clinic: An Archeology of Medical Perception1964 Death and the Labyrinth: the World of Raymond Rouselle1966 The Order of Things: An Archaeology of Human Sciences1969 Archeology of Power1971 The Discourse on Language1975 Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison1976 The History of Sexuality: Vol I: The Will to KnowledgeVol II: The Use of PleasureVol III: The Care of the Self
Bibliography of works in responseto Michel Foucault• Chris Horrocks and Zoran Jevtic (1997) Foucault for Beginners. Icon Books Ltd.• Paul Stratherm (2002) The Essential Foucault. Virgin Books Ltd.• Lydia Alix Fillingham (1993) Foucault for Beginners. Writers and Readers Ltd.• Sara Mills (2003) Michel Foucault. Routledge.• Clare O’Farrell (1989) Foucault- Historian or Philosopher? Macmillan Press Ltd.• Couzens Hoy, D. (1986) Foucault: A Critical Reader. Oxford: Blackwell• Diamond, I and Quinby, L (1988) Feminism and Foucault: Reflections on Resistance. Boston:North Eastern University Press.
Précis: Discipline and Punish• This book is a study through time of the soul andbody in political, judicial and scientific fields,particularly in relation to punishment and power over,and within the body. Foucault charts the shift inpunishment from the spectacle of public torturebefore the 1800s to obsessive over-regulation inprisons. The book covers the following topics.The Body of the Condemned• Foucault begins by comparing a public executionfrom 1757 to an account of prison rules from 1837.The shifts between the two reveal how new codes oflaw and order developed. One important feature isthe disappearance of torture. Punishment asspectacle disappeared; the exhibition of prisonersand the public execution ended. Now, the certainty ofpunishment, and not its horror, deters one fromcommitting a crime.• Sentences are now intended to correct and improve.Punishment no longer touched the body. If it did, itwas only to get at something beyond the body: thesoul. New figures took over from the executioner,such as doctors, psychiatrists, chaplains andwarders. Executions were made painless by drugs. Ifa prisoner is condemned to death now, the prisoneris injected with tranquilizers. ‘Take away life, butprevent the patient from feeling it, deprive theprisoner from rights, but do not inflict pain.’
• The elimination of pain and the end of spectacle were linked. Machines like the guillotine, whichkills almost without touching the body, were intended to be painless. Between 1830 and 1848,public executions ended.• The penalty for crime now focused on the soul. Judgment was now passed on the motives andinstincts of the criminal. Offences became objects of scientific knowledge. The development of anew penal system in Europe led to the soul of the criminal as well as the crime being judged.• The power to punish changes. Psychiatrists now decide on a criminals treatment. The adoptionof these non-legal elements meant that the judge is not the only one who judges.• This book is a time line of the ways of punishment and follows four themes: one) to regardpunishment as a complex social function; two) to regard punishment as a political tactic; three) tosee whether the history of penal law and human sciences are linked; four) to try to find inchanges in penal techniques and a general history of changing power relations.The spectacle of the scaffold• The French penal system of 1670 set out very harsh penalties. Public execution and torture werenot the most frequent form of punishment, but torture played a considerable part.• Torture is an ancient practice, which had its place in the classical legal system. Classical torturewas a way of finding evidence in which investigation and punishment were mixed. A publicexecution is a political as well as a judicial ritual.• Attitudes toward punishment were related to general attitudes to the body and death. Death wasfamiliar because of epidemics and wars. These general reasons explain the possibility and longsurvival of physical punishment. The truth-power relation remains at the heart of all mechanismsof punishment, and is found in different forms in contemporary penal practice.• A key element in the execution was the people or audience. But the role of the people wasuncertain. Criminals often had to be protected from the crowd, and crowds often tried to freeprisoners. The intervention of the crowd in executions posed a political problem. In his last words,the convict could, and did, say anything.
• Newspapers began to recount the details of everyday crime and punishment. The people wererobbed of their old pride in crime, and murders became the game of the well-behaved.Generalised punishment• Petitions against executions and torture increased in the eighteenth century. Execution becameshameful and revolting. The need for punishment without torture was formed as a need torecognize the humanity of the criminal. The eighteenth century resolved the problem with the ideathat humanity was the measure of punishment.• There were fewer murders, and criminals tended to work in smaller groups. They moved fromattacking bodies to seizing goods. This can be explained by better socio-economic circumstancesand harsher laws. Eighteenth century reform of the criminal law was a rearrangement ofstructures of power. It aimed not to punish less but to punish better. Sometimes laws wereignored, and exemptions were made.• The eighteenth century reform presumed that the citizen has agreed to the law by which he ispunished. The right to punish has shifted from the sovereign to the defence of society.• The object of punishment is to create consequences for crime. Punishment must be adjusted tothe nature of the crime. The eighteenth century, had the idea that one should punish just enoughto prevent recurrence.The gentle way in punishment• A suitable punishment is a deterrent that robs the crime of all attraction by finding a suitableopposition. An immediate link between the crime and punishment is necessary. Punishment mustdecrease the desire for crime and increase the fear of the penalty. Penalties cannot bepermanent: the more serious the crime, the longer the penalty. The punishment should bedirected at others, not just the criminal. The penalty is a representation of public morality.• Prison shortly became the essential punishment. In the French penal code of 1810 a hierarchicalprison structure was planned. Corrective punishment, acts on the soul.
Docile bodies• The prison system arrives as part of a disciplinary society. Punishment followed new rules andresulted in detention, work and a regime of cleaning and praying. This was moral reform, “Modernman is born of regulations.” The body is now docile and subject to improvement and usefulness.Disciplines are enforced everywhere. The body becomes a mechanism of power, e.g, soldiersare trained to march, schoolchildren to sit and write properly.The means of correct training• The purpose of disciplinary power is to train. The success of disciplinary power depends on threeelements: hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and examination. Disciplinaryinstitutions created a mechanism of control. Slight departures from correct behaviour werepunished.• Hospitals as an examining machine are one of the features of the eighteenth century wherenormality is judged. A similar process is evident in the development of examination in schools.Panopticism• Foucault begins with a description of measures to be taken against the plague in the seventeenthcentury: partitioning of space and closing off houses, constant inspection and registration. Thetechniques and institutions for measuring and supervising ‘abnormal beings’(those who wereinfected,) forms the disciplinary mechanisms created by the fear of the plague. All modernmechanisms for controlling abnormal individuals derive from these.• The Panopticon, a type of prison, was designed by Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Thecircular design consists of a tower which a warden can spy on and penetrate behaviour of theinmates. Because of its shape, the subjects under surveillance never know when they are beingwatched, and so effectively police themselves. The design increases the number of people whocan be controlled, and decreases the number needed to operate it.• Disciplines are techniques of assuring the ordering of human masses.• It is no surprise that the cellular, observational prison is a modern penal instrument, or thatprisons resemble factories, schools and hospitals.
Complete and austere institutions• Other forms of punishment were unthinkable because theprison was so closely linked to the functioning of society. Wecan no longer think of "replacing" prison. As our society is builton liberty, prison as the deprivation of liberty is the obviouspunishment. Prison both deprives of liberty and transformsindividuals.• Prison has total power over individuals; it is "omni-disciplinary”.The first principle is isolation from other prisoners and from theworld. Habit is imposed by the regulation of the prisoners timeand life. The length of detention is determined by the prison,not by the crime. The prison also acts as a workshop, and ahospital where cure and normalization take place. Thiscombination is known as the penitentiary system.Illegalities and delinquency• Prisons were soon criticised. Various points were made, e.g.,prisons do not diminish the crime rate, and they producedelinquents by the environment. Prison encourages delinquentsto associate and plot future crimes. Prison conditions andcondemns freed inmates to future surveillance. Also, prisonsproduce delinquency by making the prisoners family destitute.Critics always argued that prison is not corrective enough, orthat, in correcting, it loses its power of punishmentCarceral society• The carceral system succeeds in making the power to punishlegitimate and accepted. The overall political issue of prisons iswhether we should have them, or something else. Foucaultsees this book as a historical background to various studies ofpower, normalization and the formation of knowledge insociety.• Prisons are major industries of power/knowledge. Carceralsociety and its ‘sciences’, such as psychiatry, criminology andpsychology, ensure that the judges of normality areeverywhere.
Précis: The Order of Things• Foucault looks at the history of human sciences as awhole.• The translation of the French title is “ words andThings”• It begins with a quote from writer Jorge Luis Borges.He quotes a Chinese encyclopaedia where it statesthat “ animals are divided into” a) belonging to theemperor, b) embalmed, c) tame, d) suckling pigs, e)sirens, f) fabulous, g) stray dogs, h) included in thepresent, I) frenzied, j) innumerable, k) drawn with afine camelhair brush, l) et cetera, m) having justbroken the water pitcher, n) that from a long way offthey look like flies.• The ridiculous way of categorizing things violates oursense of order i.e. the order of things.• Foucault wished to see what “we all know”. We knowwhen categories make sense and when they do not.He wanted to discover what the knowledge of how toform categories is and how it differed in earlier times.
• Foucault named the group of assumptions, prejudices and mind-sets that structured and limitedthe thought of a particular age episteme.• The episteme marks out the limits of a periods experience, its notion of truth and its extent ofknowledge.• A certain episteme is sure to give rise to a certain type of knowledge. This is named discourse,the accumulation of concepts, practises, statements and beliefs produced by a particularepisteme• Three major areas of human sciences are examined, linguistics, biology and economics.• Foucault looks at the “structure of knowledge of a time” and its way of establishing order• He begins long before the existence of human sciences and examines the areas known asgeneral grammar, natural history and analysis of wealth in the 17th and 18th centuries.• . Foucault starts with the Renaissance episteme which he believes was based uponresemblances: similitudes and correspondences.• Next he studies the classical episteme, to us the age of reason. Distinction was now the mainthought taking the place of resemblance.• With the turn of the century, going into the 19th century thought turned to a humanitarianepisteme.• Foucault predicted a death of man. He claimed that man was an invention and that he might die.• The book presented a direct challenge to Satre’s Humanism.
Précis: The History of Sexuality• Written in three volumes as an attempt to understandthe experience of sexuality in modern Westernculture- the birth and growth of ‘sex’ and ‘sexuality’ ashistorically given objects. The project inquired intosexuality, pleasure and friendship in the Ancient,Christian and Modern Worlds.• Volume one: ‘The History of Sexuality: AnIntroduction’ challenges the repressive hypothesis.The volume asks questions such as; why do we saywe are sexually repressed? What led us to show thatsex is something we hide? And why do w talk aboutsex all the time?• Foucault asks whether there was ever a repression orcensorship on sex. Psychology and medicine nowwere beginning to exert their power over the body, andso sexuality became subjected to social control.• In the 19th century, legal sanctions against minorperversions and sexual deviancy became associatedwith mental illness. Christian morals imposed thisidea.• Confession• In Western society, what Foucault calls "scientiasexualis", the science of sexuality was created..• Psychoanalysis represents the modern, scientific formof confession. Foucault sees psychoanalysis as alegitimization of sexual confession. In it, everything isexplained in terms of repressed sexuality and thepsychologist becomes the sole interpreter of it.
• "Coming out" as a concept did not exist when Foucault wrote "The History of Sexuality", but thisprocess of confessing homosexuality can be interpreted as an expression of this urge toconfess..• The reason sexuality is given such importance in our society seems to be, that making sexualitysomething sinful did not make it disappear. Quite the contrary: it was reinforced and becamesomething to be noticed everywhere.Power relations• Power relations are to Foucault central to any analysis of society, and this is especially true forsexuality. Power relationships are formed in all relations where differences exist.• What Foucault means by power is not necessarily what is ordinarily meant by the word. It issomething that creates a division between those dominating and those being dominated.• Common power relations related to sexuality are, between the one who confesses and the onethat receives the confession, those between teacher and pupil, between parent and child, andbetween doctor and patient.Sexuality in the 19th century• In the 16th century, the focus was on regulating the sexuality of the married couple, ignoringother forms of sexual relations, but now other groups were identified: the sexuality of children,criminals, mentally ill and gay people.• Sexuality became seen as the core of some peoples identity. Homosexual relations had beenseen as a sin that could be committed from time to time.• Seeing gay people as a group is now taken for granted, but before the 18th century the ideawould never had occurred to ask the question whether homosexuality is hereditary or because ofupbringing. It was not seen as being a fundamental part of the person, but instead as an action,something s/he did.• Homosexuality was not the only object of study for the medical "science". Foucault identifies fourreoccurring themes: The body of women became sexualized because of its role as a child bearer.The concept "hysteria" was invented and seen as a result of sexual problems. The importance ofsexuality for reproduction is recognized. The sexuality of adults becomes an object of study andall forms of "perverse" abnormalities are seen as dangers.• Many forms of sexuality were seen as harmful and they wanted to protect health and the purity ofthe race. A mixture of ideas on population growth, venereal diseases and heredity created theidea that many forms of sexual conduct where dangerous.
Constructivism• Foucault had some of the first ‘constructivist’ views in this area, claiming that sexuality and sexualconduct is not a natural category. Instead it is a question of social constructions, categories onlyhaving an existence in a society, and that probably are not applicable to other societies than ourown.• This is why we should not speak of "homosexuality" in, for example, Ancient Greece. What wenow call homosexuality cannot exist outside our specific cultural context. Sexuality is more thansexual behaviour, its meaning lies in its cultural context. For the first time, sexuality was analyzedas a social construction, making it possible to study the origins and the development of our viewof sexuality.• Volume two, ‘The History of Pleasure’ looks at ancient Greece. A time full of sexual eroticism.• His specific goal was to compare ancient and Christian ethics regarding sexuality and to trace thedevelopment of Christian ideas about sex from the very different ideas of the ancients.• Foucaults contrasts the Christian view that sexual acts were, on the whole, evil in themselvesand the Greek view that they were good, natural and necessary, though subject to abuse.• As a result, instead of the Christian moral code forbidding most forms of sexual activity (andseverely restricting the rest), the ancient Greeks emphasized the proper use (,chresis,) ofpleasures, where this involved engaging in the full range of sexual activities (heterosexual,homosexual, in marriage, out of marriage), but with proper moderation.• He uses the explorations of Greek behaviour to explain how sexuality became integrated withinthe moral code.• Volume three, ‘The Care of the Self’ goes to ancient Rome.• Foucault talks of the “culture of the self”• He maps out the growth of subjectivity: how it developed into “an attitude”, “a way of behaving”,and “permeated ways of living”.• There was a planned fourth volume of ‘The History of Sexuality’ which concentrated onChristianity, entitled ‘Confessions of the Flesh’, but it was never completed, and restrictions onhis work prevent it from being published.
Précis: Madness and Civilisation• Madness and Civilisation begins in the middle ages.Foucault describes how, as leprosy disappeared insociety, madness took over the position. Placeswhere once the sick would be were desolate andsterile. For four centuries the people would ‘wait,soliciting with strange incantations a new incarnationof disease.’ Towards the end of the middle ages allthe leprosy houses that were built all over Europehad no inmates.• In the 17th Century, Foucault describes what he calls“the Great Confinement”. This was when one out onehundred inhabitants of the city was confined.Madmen were put into this regime for a century and ahalf. In the 18th century, madness became to beseen as the opposite of Reason. The mad seemed tobecome almost animal like, and were treated likethis.• “Madness did not disclose a mechanism, butrevealed a liberty raging in the monstrous forms ofanimality.” Pg 78, Madness and Civilisation, Foucault.• It was not until the 19th Century that Foucault states,Madness became a mental illness.
• Foucault talks about the treatments that the mad have been given, and that these in fact aren’t tohelp, but to control the patients. Types of treatment were, Consolidation, Purification, Immersion,Regulation of movement.“The madnman’s body was regarded as the visible and solid presence of his disease: whencethose physical cures whose meaning was borrowed from a moral perception and a moraltherapeutics of the body.” Pg 151, Madness and Civilisation.• Foucault describes how the modern day treatments are no less controlling than the previous oldage methods. He says in the chapter ‘Doctors and Patients’, how there is a difference in naturebetween the techniques that try and modify the qualities which are common to people, and thosewho try and treat the mad by conversation and discussion.• The following are some of the expressions and descriptions, used by psychologists to describethe illnesses.• Awakening, since delirium is the dream of waking persons, those who are delirious must be tornfrom this quasi-sleep.• Theatrical Representation, this technique is opposed to that of awakening. Here, the imaginationmust play its own game, voluntarily propose new images.• The return to the immediate. Since madness is illusion, the cure of madness, it is still true thatsuch a cure can be effected by theatre, can also and still more directly be effected by thesuppression of theatre.• The brutal treatment which was an extended version of aversion therapy, like freezing coldshowers, and straightjackets, Foucault did not see as helping but thought that the constantbrutality would not stop until it would become internalized by the patient.
Précis: The Birth of the Clinic• The Birth of The Clinic is centred on a change inmedical thought and practice at the end of theeighteenth century.• Foucault is using The Birth of the Clinic toundermine the traditional belief that the history ofthe scientific medical practice has always been aconstant and homogenous process of accumulationof knowledge.• The book is about space, about language, andabout death it as about the act off seeing, the gaze.• The following things are highlighted as importantfactors of the clinic:• Teaching is united with practice.• The clinic becomes the basis for the licensing of thedoctors, which gradually became more restricted.• The Professor of Medicine becomes a very powerfulfigure. He examines the patient, and the he‘examines’ the student’. At the same time theProfessor is always taking a risk. If he makes amistake it will be seen by all students.• Patients accept the clinical rounds as part of theirnecessary service to the state. Yes, they may die,but nobly, since they will add to human knowledge.
• As the place of medical learning, the clinic offers up a series of diseases. All examples of aparticular disease may be located in a single ward. The disease is what is important, theindividual patient is just an accident. The more unusual the disease, the more interesting thepatient. So the diseases are laid out spatially, and the professor walks from one to another,turning his all-powerful eye on each one.• ‘The Gaze’ is something that is discussed a lot within this book, it is a kind of active vision, and iselevated into great importance in medicine:“Over all these endeavours on the part of clinical thought to define its methods and scientificnorms hovers the great myth of a pure Gaze that would be pure Language: a speaking eye. Itwould scan the entire hospital field, taking in and gathering together each of the singular eventsthat occurred within it; and as it saw, as it saw ever more and more clearly, it would be turned intospeech that states and teaches…”• The doctor’s perception is key, and an unobservant doctor is the worst failure. To see all is to bea perfect doctor, where earlier definitions might have stressed the doctor’s actions.• Dissecting corpses was not so new, but the decision that it was central was very different. Whenthe eye can see inside the body, all of the disease is visible to the Gaze. As this involves thedead body, the idea of death changes. Death is less the lack of life than the culmination of life.Death and disease change from purely negative ideas to crucial elements in the process of life.Dissection meant the doctor could look at a person’s outsides and see the insides, and his powercame from his way of seeing rather from his abstract theories.
Summary of Key TermsPower and Institutions:Foucault’s work is largely concerned with the relation between social structures andinstitutions and the individual. The relationship between the individual and the institution iswhere we find power operating most clearly.Archaeology:The Archaeology of the human sciences investigates how the concept of humanity itself hadevolved and become an object of our knowledge. The term Archaeology, meaning theunearthing of the hidden structure of knowledge particular to a certain period; in simplerterms, the unconscious prejudgements that limit our thoughts.Biopower:Refers to the practice of modern states and their regulation of their subjects through "anexplosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies andthe control of populations". The term first appeared in The Will to Knowledge, Foucaults firstvolume of The History of Sexuality. In both Foucaults work and the work of later theorists ithas been used to refer to practices of public health, regulation of heredity, and risk regulation.
Episteme:The ‘underground’ grid or network which allows thought to organize itself. Each historicalperiod had its own episteme. It limits the totality of experience, knowledge and truth, andgoverns each science in one period.Govermentality:The analysis of who can govern and who is governed, but also the means by which thatshaping of someone else’s activities is achieved, i.e, the psychologist talks about themadman and the doctor about the patients, but never the other way round, because whatthey have to say has already been ruled irrelevant. This idea links to knowledge and power.Disciplinary society:The way power operates in different forms of regime at particular historical periods, forexample, the way a crime may be punished today compared to previous periods in historyand how they differ; from public execution and spectacle, to confinement and surveillance.This idea also relates to the mechanisms of power.
Summary of InfluencesThinkers whose work has apparently or admittedly had a strong impact on Foucaults thought include:• Louis Althusser - French structuralist Marxist philosopher and Foucaults sometime teacher andmentor, who persuaded him to become a member of the French Communist Party (PCF.)• Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel – 19th century German philosopher, who influenced Foucault tothink about reason and rational thought. Hegel thought that what is real is rational, and that thetruth is ‘the whole’- one great complex system which he called the Absolute.• Georges Bataille - French philosopher, novelist and critic whose views on transgression,communication, and sexuality were very influential in Foucaults work.• Maurice Blanchot - Literary critic and novelist whose views on non polemical critique had astrong impact on Foucault• Georges Canguilhem - Author of The Normal and the Pathological and a major influence onFoucaults work on deviance and the medical sciences (cf.The Birth of the Clinic) Canguilhemasked the question ‘What is Psychology?’ This was a question which influenced Foucaultbecause of his first hand contact with institutional psychiatry.
• Gilles Deleuze - French philosopher. A great friend and ally of Foucaults in the early 1970s.• Georges Dumézil - French structuralist mythologist, known for his reconstruction of Indo-Aryanmythology.• Roland Barthes - French (post) structuralist literary critic who was at one time very close toFoucault.• Martin Heidegger - German philosopher whose influence was enormous in post-war France.Foucault rarely referred to him, but once stated For me Heidegger has always been the essentialphilosopher... My entire philosophical development was determined by my reading of Heidegger.Foucault took from Heidegger the thought that psychology wants to be an objective science, butrealizes that human reality is not simply a part of ‘natural objectivity’.• Jean Paul Sartre – Formerly influenced by Heidegger himself. He popularized the theory ofexistentialism, highly subjective and believed ‘existence before essence’. Foucault formed himselfin reaction to these ideas.• Jean Hyppolite - French Hegelscholar and Foucaults sometime teacher. Hyppolite was aFrench expert on the philosopher Hegel. He showed Foucault that philosophy could explainhistory.
Culture, Performance,Scenography and Society• From Foucault’s ideas, actors would be able to get many ideas into how to act, and move theirbodies for characters that are ‘mad’. Foucault describes both how the mad got the way that theyare, and also the techniques in which psychologists tried to get the mad sane again. From theharrowing tales that Foucault tells throughout his books, actors can definitely pick up on how itwould effect someone’s movements, therefore helping them in future performances.• Society and culture is shown in many different periods, starting off in the Medieval times.Foucault seems to be blaming society and culture for the way that some people have become tobe seen as ‘mad’. Whatever was not normal was seen as mad. The way that people treatedduring the plague, caused so many to be mentally disturbed.• The effects on society and culture come from Foucault’s ideas on the development of law andorder and how punishment has moved from physical to mental in disciplinary society. Punishmentshould now be corrective and the consequences of a crime should be the deterrent fromcommitting the crime. Corporal punishment is now non physical, execution is now painless. Wehave become a more lenient society, but one with many power relations that support discipline,such as schools and the army. Foucault describes the body as a mechanism for these powerrelations. So although punishment is now considered non physical there is still an element ofcontrol over the body.
• People have become desensitised from crime as it is recounted everyday in newspapers and onthe television. We are all exposed to crime and violence; however most people do not see it inreality, like they did in the middle ages through public punishment. This may have an effect onscenography and performance, as theatre is a live experience. Would seeing violence and crimeonstage affect a modern audience?• Normality is now judged by the sciences of Psychiatry, Criminology and Psychology. Judgementis now everywhere.• Foucault’s ideas on the use of the Panopticon prison design may also have affected the ‘BigBrother’ society we live in, both in the excessive use of surveillance and its constant presence,and also the T.V programme. Does the threat of being watched control a person’s action? If youare aware of being watched would u behave differently to when you are unaware?• Foucault also suggests that even if we are unaware of it we always carry our own personalhistory along with the history of our society and culture, which may subconsciously affect ourbehaviour. This in turn creates patterns of behaviour and repetition.• Foucault’s ideas on the formation of categories in society may affect scenography in that, thecategories set up in our culture and society may not apply to, or be understood by another cultureor generation. Therefore the culture of the audience must be considered in the design andperformance.