Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Michel Foucault on the insane, the criminals, and the sexual deviants

Philosophy News image
Michel Foucault (1926-84) was one of the most influential and notable French philosophers and historians of ideas, best known for his theories on discourses and the relation of power and knowledge. His seminal works such as L’histoire de la folie à l’âge classique (1972, trs. as History of Madness, 2006), Surveiller et punir (1975, trs. as Discipline and Punish, 1977), and Histoire de la sexualité (1976–84, trs. as History of Sexuality, 1979–88) examine the emergence of the powerful, state institutions (penal, scientific, and medical), and their mechanisms of control. They chart western attitudes towards the insane, criminals, and sexual deviants and consider the ways in which societies have penalized those who are outside the norms. Though notoriously difficult, his theories have been ground breaking and applied across a range of disciplines from philosophy, literary criticism, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, and queer theory.Born in Poitiers, he was educated at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris where he was a student of Louis Althusser and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He began his teaching career at various European universities in Germany, Sweden, and Algiers in 1950s before returning to France to the chair of philosophy at the University of Clermont-Ferrand and the University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis. He was appointed professor of the history of systems of thought at the prestigious Collège de France in 1970. Politically active from the 1970s onwards, he was the founder of the Groupe d’informaiton sur les prisions (established in collaboration with Jean-Marie Domenach and Pierre Vidal-Naquet for the purpose of distributing information about conditions in French prisons), and often protested on behalf of the marginalised group.Throughout his career, Foucault was interested in how institutions use science and knowledge as an instrument of power to subjugate humans under the control of the experts. Like Friedrich Nietzsche, Foucault saw knowledge and. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

blog comments powered by Disqus