Starting with Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy

Starting with Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy

Starting with Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy

Starting with Foucault: An Introduction to Genealogy

Synopsis

In this clear, straightforward introduction to Foucault's thought, Prado focuses on Discipline and Punish and the first volume of The History of Sexuality, in which Foucault most clearly comes to grips with the historicization of truth and knowledge and the formation of subjectivity. This introduction is especially suited for readers with a background in Anglo-American or "analytic" philosophy.

Excerpt

Discipline and Punish basically is about how people who were subjects of a sovereign became subjects of a new kind. the book is about how people originally controlled by overt monarchical authority came to be controlled by being changed as persons. the focus in Discipline and Punish is on lawbreakers, malefactors, and criminals -- people apprehended and punished for contravening a sovereign's or society's laws. Later, in The History of Sexuality,Foucault generalizes his claims to cover everyone. But as suggested earlier, in Discipline and Punish application of genealogical analysis and the concept of power is to individuals whose actions are controlled in initially obvious ways. the subjects in question, then, are persons under the control of lawful authority, whether that authority is a monarch's sheriff or a contemporary penal system.

Discipline and Punish is ostensibly about how the treatment of lawbreakers changed from apprehension and punishment being the brutal exacting of monarchical vengeance, to being carceral isolation enabling the protection of society, deterrence, and rehabilitation. What the book is really about is the production of compliant subjects through the imposition of disciplines. It is about how constant observation, assessment, and regimentation manufacture new subjects. It is about how persons are reshaped and reoriented with management techniques that intrude into and govern every aspect of their lives. Discipline and Punish, however, is not just a study of penality. Its portrayal of the techniques of control employed in carceral institutions is offered as a case study, a micro-cosmos illustrating the production of contemporary norm-governed social individuals. in this way, Discipline and Punish grounds and presages The History of Sexuality. in the latter, the arena for subject-determining control is not the prison but the whole of society, and what is imposed is not an institutional regimen but a sexual nature.

As stressed earlier, Foucault's point of departure in rethinking a subject matter is to impugn the commonplace, to query accepted knowledge. Foucault addresses penality by questioning the commonplace view that the . . .

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