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Foucault’s history of the subject.

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1 Foucault’s history of the subject.
Lecture Three

2 Background. Early 1600s philosophy of Rene Descartes. ‘Cogito Ergo Sum’. Before the age of serious secularisation - he concluded that God must have given us all a Cogito. Image of human subjectivity as an immaterial, fixed, unitary thing that we are born with, and that stays with us throughout our lives. Huge impact on the way that we conceive of ourselves. 100 years later Materialist, empiricist philosophers (Hume, Mettrie, Diderot) argue that the human mind is a product of experience, and a material thing made of brain matter, not an immaterial, fixed unitary thing that we are born with.

3 Subjectivity in Sociology
Early sociology neglects history of the subject. Exception is Durkheim- ‘modern subject a product of ideas and values of modern individualism’. Individual rights and justice. Indivudual and ‘division of labour’.

4 Foucault and Subjectivity.
A History and Critique of Reason. Foucault in this tradition. Examines historical circumstances that gave rise to the modern type of person. Madness, Punishment, Government, and Sexuality and subjectivity. Linked to his history of the subject is a history and critique of reason. Critique of the ‘Enlightenment’

5 Subjectivity and Rationality- Learned or Innate?
Reason and rationality objectifying, measuring, calculating, and judging - truth, morality and beauty. According to Kant, these faculties are innate they are what defines us as human. Foucault denies the innateness of the subject. He gives it a history.

6 What is important about History?
The history of all societies is the history of forms of power. The subject and rationality have a history - it is itself part of the history of power. Enlightenment ideals equate reason and knowledge with human freedom. Foucault argues that knowledge is directly linked to power.

7 Madness and Civilisation 1
Late 1950s - the history of madness and psychiatry. Examines the emergence of the modern rational subject We assume that madness/insanity - pre-existed psychiatric knowledge. For Foucault -madness has a recent history- tied to the construction of the rational subject.

8 Madness and Civilisation 2
Modern rational subjectivity created was by locking away all of those people who displayed ways of thinking and forms of behaviour which did not accord with the notions of rational subjectivity which were developing in the 17th and 18th century. The Great Confinement. Modern subjectivity was created by material things done to people. By in every 100 Parisians was confined.

9 The Great Fear The Great Fear. A double fear.
A fear of irrationality ‘outside’ and ‘inside’ the self. Collective anxiety- has an affective dimension. The consequence of The Great Fear- demands for order, regulation, categorisation and segregation, for regimes of cure and control.

10 Consequences. Creation of outsiders - in particular criminals and the insane. Creation of discourse, categories, treatments, regimes, expertise and experts of psychiatry. Expert regimes to order, understand, categorise, analyse, discipline, record, experiment upon – Irrationality and deviance made visible and no longer scary. Projects of objectification all fed into of criminology, psychiatry and medicine, pedagogy, anthropology.

11 Knowledge as a new form of power.
Knowledge, for Foucault, doesn’t develop in a vacuum. Inextricably linked to emergence of institutions. Knowledges involve doing things with bodies. They invade the self-determination of the individual body. Power of rational expert invades/ moulds/ shapes the individual body

12 Governmentality Governmentality (in The Foucault Effect edited by Burchill et al) Power of the rational expert also invades the social body. Prior to mid 17th century (same time as Great Confinement) unusual to find people talking or writing about government or governing. In Hobbes & Machievelli – imposing and maintaining sovereignty- the sheer imposition of power. - little concern with the governing of a population of people - for their own good . By end of the 17th century political philosophy has changed. Now about governing populations. Concept of population in this form quite new. Governmentality - the process of objectification and rationalisation - applied to the whole of the population.

13 Governmentality, Science, Knowledge and Power.
Statistics - make it possible to think in an entirely new way . Government impossible without statistics. Counting, classifying and recording of people People and populations a new object of analysis and manipulation. Sociology can be conceived of as part of this tradition. For Foucault the state is not a thing - a single centre of power- it is the accumulation of many centres of governmental expertise.

14 Sexuality Sexuality is produced within discourse.
It has a worrying relationship to reason. Therefore it had to be understood, quantified, examined and controlled. A whole disciplinary principle is developed out of this.

15 The “confession” and the “gaze”.
The two organising principles of modern discipline and self-discipline. The discourse of induces us into self-examination and confession. So that we might be normalised yet again. Psychoanalysis an example of the modern confessional discipline. Sexuality as a series of categories was invented by human beings. Heterosexual, homosexual, sexual pervert - invented in the 19th century. The idea of sexual identity- invented by psychiatrists, doctors, and sexologists in the 19th century. For Foucault even 20th Century sexuality subject to processes of normalisation.

16 Technologies of the Self.
Normalisation through sexuality -one aspect of a wider process that Foucault calls the development of “technologies of the self”. Great projects of objectification, knowledge and normalisation turned inwards into a project of self mastery, self discipline and self control. A “technology of the self”.

17 An historical shift in the nature of social identities.
Pre-modern identities emphasise membership of collectivities Modern forms of identity emphasise the importance of the subjects ability to articulate and reflect upon private experience.

18 Discipline and Punish Examines the birth of the modern prison
Links to disciplinary regimes in modern societies Panoptican model applied to whole of society

19 The Panoptican Model for ideal prison Central watchtower
Guards can look out but inmates cannot look in. The feeling of being observed produces self regulating behaviour among inmates. Applies this principle to the whole of society with his concepts of discipline, self-discipline and the gaze.

20 The Paradox of Disciplinary regimes.
Discipline is an exercise of power, but it is only discipline that can make us free/autonomous. It is through discipline that we become people who can read and write and think about our situation. Once your body has been disciplined - you are often ‘more free’. Self-discipline can grant us greater freedom. Self-reflection, self-control, and self-discipline, and technologies of the self in general - are actually the route to the autonomous self - because they are what actually create our inner life. Self-discipline trains our bodies and nervous systems to a point where we can produce and create what we want to create on the basis of our own volition.

21 So What about Identity? Foucault rejects the view that individuals have a ‘real’, fixed identity or inner ‘essence’ within themselves. This is just a way of talking about the self- a discourse. Identity is communicated to others through interaction but it is not a fixed thing. Identities are shifting. Identities are constructions.

22 Issues & Questions Raised by reading Foucault.
Are we merely products of an exercise of power that don’t always recognise? Are we better off for this discipline? Power is not just something that represses. Power produces things, it produces the insane, it produces, the delinquent, it produces sexuality, and it produces the ‘free’, ‘rational’ subject. The Enlightenment linkage between knowledge, removal of power, and emancipation - that runs through German Idealism, Marxism, the Frankfurt School and so on - is broken.

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