Michel Foucault’s relationship between power and knowledge. | William Parsons - egauteng.info
Power-knowledge (French: le savoir-pouvoir) is a concept coined by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. Contents. 1 Definition; 2 Implications; 3 History of the term; 4 References. Definition. According to Foucault's understanding of power, power is based on Thus Foucault's concept of power draws on micro- relations without falling. Foucault introduces the idea of the episteme with a tale from the . First, the internal relations between power and knowledge do not directly. Michel Foucault's relationship between power and knowledge. Michel Foucault was a brilliant 20th century visionary philosopher, historian, sociologist and.
Foucault repeatedly emphasizes that, in investigating our sexuality we are not learning about ourselves, not if that means probing the whys and wherefores of our inner selves e.
Sexuality is not something in us to be discovered; it exists only in the discourses we construct as moves in our power struggles. Sexuality Sexuality, then, is a historical construct HSI What is the history of sexuality? It seems to be rather short, actually, sexuality having only been invented at the end of the eighteenth century.
Its roots go back much further, however. Their utility as instruments by which some people can get others in their power is obvious. That in fact must be why sexuality is interesting to Foucault to begin with.
He is hardly in a position to claim that he is probing human nature, after all. Sexuality is not the most intractable element in power relations, but rather one of those endowed with the greatest instrumentality: Foucault hints, however, that sexuality may not last forever.
Foucault on Power Relations
What society creates, society can destroy. People of the future may look back in amazement at the importance we attribute to sex HSI Conclusion By way of wrapping up, there are two additional issues I want to briefly raise. First, how accurate is Foucault as history? Is he an accurate historian with a bizarre interpretive overlay or does his philosophy distort his history?
I believe the answer is more the former than the latter. I am unfamiliar with most of the historical facts Foucault discusses in HSI, and I have not yet read volume 2, The Use of Pleasure Vintage Books, ; first publishedwhich discusses sex in Greek antiquity. The problems rather are three. Second, Halperin seems not really interested in any facts not relevant, pro or con, to his philosophical program.
Halperin does not, however, so far as I can see, distort or otherwise play fast and loose with the evidence. Third, there is a tendency to exaggerate discontinuities in history.
Knowledge and Power in Foucault
This is an inevitable consequence of the thesis that history is not continuous, and so something to watch out for in these authors. Kuhn, needless to say, is also criticized for this. The question bears repeating in the case of Foucault. Does Foucault offer any reasons to suppose, for example, that sexuality is a historical construction? He does finally consider, near the end of HSIthe objection that in studying sexuality people may be trying to understand our underlying sexual nature.
Power is not exercised over wholly passive bodies, but these react and take the imperative and transform it in more or less conforming ways. As the great Foucault scholar Judith Butler puts it, power attaches the subject to its own identity 3. The power imperative that discloses a possible field of action does so in way that makes the subject cling to the act as an act originating from the subject itself.
The freedom that lies in the resistance to every power relation thus becomes a necessary condition for making the subject speak in the name of power, reproducing and strengthening the norm. In this way, the subject is both the target and the vehicle of power 4. Norms and Efficiency How does such power mechanisms work on a societal level? Though the human being is a social being and it would thus be right to assume that a society is unthinkable without power relations, such a statement may be misleading if we by that imagine a sovereign force, guaranteeing the duration of the state as is the case in the conceptualization of power up until Foucault.
The origins and point of analysis is always the micro-workings of power on individual and local basis. Rather than justifying sovereign juridical power as done by several contract theorists through the history of thought, the point of departure for an analysis of disciplinary power must always be its places of application, i. Instead of analysing political agency of the great political leaders through history, Foucault invites us to consider how social norms and ways of social punishment and construction of possibilities have shaped society and made possible certain structurizations.
Concretely, instead of understanding the current penal system as a rational response to crimes and a way of retaliation, our research should aim at understanding the mechanisms of power, criminalization of the person committing the crime there seems to be a historical shift the deed to the doer of the crimeways that the system developed as a response to fragmented power relations, taking advantage of circumstances, mixing with other power relations, etc. In short, instead of focusing on political and rational agency, one is to look into the circumstances that made present power relations possible.
Interestingly, it is not the people in power that initialise such marginalisation though they may and often do benefit from itrather the working of power comes from below, circulating amongst individuals without juridical or institutional power; it comes from a multitude of causes that happen to converge in the creation of certain structures and institutions.
As these practices of recognition of these structures and institutions are reiterated, they congeal as norms. Hekman, The Material of Knowledge: Feminist Disclosures Indiana, We must think of institutions from the perspective of force relations, not vice versa. Knowledge is always an exercise of power.
Rabinow, The Foucault Reader: A Post-Structuralist Reader London, By uncovering their genealogy, Foucault desired to understand how, and around what concepts, discourses were formed, how they were developed and how they were, and are, used to exercise power. To be true, Foucault never separates academic and social discourse, as they are endlessly influencing and interacting, with the human science discourses holding significant influence over society. Our sexual desires must be transformed into discourse.
Through repeated participation, i. It may become true that throwing off the chains is the only way to real sexual fulfilment. Institutions categorise, classify and quantify, contributing to the discourse from an authoritative position.