Foucault on power

>> From a Foucauldian perspective, however, "the force
>> of the better argument" is precisely the force one is concerned about.
Vunch replies

>Not really, Foucault is fundamentally concerned about power as punishment,
>particularly in terms of the penal system.

I don't see how Foucault can be reduced to this. It strikes me you would
have to read Discipline and Punish very selectively to make this claim
stick. DP is not just about the penal system: it is a genealogy of the
modern soul, and of the disciplinary society. The examples of the army camp,
factories, schools, hospitals, the plague town, etc. all help to illustrate
this. The prison is the disciplinary society taken to its extremes. It is
not that the disciplinary society is the prison on a wider basis.

I think you would also have to exclude all of Foucault's other books to make
this claim stick. What about the material on sexuality, ethics, etc? Indeed
what about Histoire de la folie and Birth of the Clinic? Foucault's
understanding of power has a number of key distinctions from, say, the three
faces of power. There is a not a clear distinction between power and
authority, such as liberal discourse would introduce. Power relationships
are at least two way: where there is power there is the potential for
resistance. Power is exercised not possessed. Power flows throughout
society, not from a centralised source. Power can be creative (pouvoir not
puissance, from Nietzsche Macht not Kraft) as well as repressive.

Equally power and knowledge, and power and truth interlink. In this sense
'From a Foucauldian perspective, however, "the force of the better argument"
is precisely the force one is concerned about.' is a fair enough claim.

>For example, he has difficulty
>understanding the distinction between pre-modern and modern that occurred
>with Kant's works because the problem of 'atrocious torture' was still

I'm not sure I entirely follow this. Are you alluding to DP again? It seems
to me that the opening of DP is framed around three historical schemes:
punishment as torture on the body (i.e. Damiens), punishment as training of
the mind (an ideal, such as Mably's proposals), and what actually happened.
What actually happened is that punishment retained 'un fond suppliciant' (a
torturous sediment). But this doesn't mean that "'atrocious torture' was
still endemic". Or am I missing your point?

>Even though Kant spoke of a world without war, we still have war today.
>Adorno pointed this out to structuralists and positivists, namely, that it
>merely war that has not gone away but the magnitude of WWII was such that
>need to look seriously at the basis for our believing in the modernist
>project, given our current awareness of what technology/science can

I don't think Foucault would have problems with agreeing with Adorno on
this. As I've suggested before, Adorno is actually very close to Heidegger
here, and so too, I think, is Foucault.

Best wishes


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