Last week in class, we learned a lot about what constitutes power by definition and in terms of various power relations. In Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, he states that power is “the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they constitute their own organization”(92). Power itself can relate to the hierarchy of a boss to his employees or even the more traditional teacher-student scenario among others. Whatever the case, it exhibits a relationship of inequalities in which one or multiple groups are below another in a system of the “ruler versus the ruled”(94).
This is a question I thought about from a while back. During our readings on knowledge, it seemed to me that the ancient philosophers liked to write about how they would educate their citizens in order to reach their ideal worlds, while the Enlightenment philosophers taught about how they believed the process of knowledge works without setting up definitive restrictions of how people should be controlled. For instance, Plato talks about the Myth of the Metals as a means to maintain order in The Republic while Hegel writes about the didactic method of obtaining knowledge. This makes me question as whether knowledge is a means or an ends. Is the use of false knowledge (Myth of Metals) morally corrupt if it accomplishes the goal of a peaceful city? Continue reading
Why are we fulfilling our roles at this moment? Society answers that we are going to be rewarded with money, social status, security, and [input what you want here]. It claims that these things make you happier while performing your tasks. These things are supposed to act as your motivators. Well, you might want to think again.
This will be a short blog compared to others, but it is a tho Continue reading
I found Foucault’s “Docile Bodies” to be fascinating for the connections that can be drawn between the reading and modern society today. In my opinion, society has become much more objective and less emotional than that of the past. It is more focused on material wealth and status, and how to obtain it. It now places a much greater focus on math and science, rather than on the humanities. Classes such as English and History are considered a waste of time, whereas a lab science or a math course is considered as of the utmost importance. Visual literacy has gone up, while communication skills have fallen drastically.
I believe that these trends are mainly due to the rise in objectivity and lack of emotion that now permeates society, and that was described in Foucault’s writing. As stated in “Docile Bodies,” man has become more of a machine than a person. Less people take the time to read, play music, and spend time with their friends and family in order to focus on what they believe will get them ahead, such as social media or more individualistic approaches. The human element of nearly every aspect of life has fallen drastically because people feel like in order to achieve their goal of wealth, status, beauty, social recognition, etc. they have to be one step ahead of everyone else and to never admit to a flaw. They focus on the tasks they set out for themselves, with little thought to how their actions affect others.
I’m sorry for the rant, but I truly felt that much of what Foucault wrote could be applied to our own society today, and that society has become less humanistic and more corporate. I also think its fascinating to consider how although the world today is incredibly technologically advanced and filled with highly intelligent human beings, many people would probably secretly admit that they aren’t especially happy or that they feel like they’re missing something. I believe that many of the reasons why people are not content or satisfied with their lives can be found in Foucault’s writing, and that the rise in unhappiness can be attributed to an increased emphasis in objectivity and lack of emotion.
John Gatto’s Dumping Us Down illustrates the negative aspects compulsory state-controlled schooling. Gatto spent 30 years as a schoolteacher and certainly knew everything there is to know about school. He is certainly a credible source and his account should serve as motivation and reason for change and evolution. He talks about how the educational system teaches the students seven negative lessons calling himself the seven-lesson schoolteacher. After going through a fine explanation of every one of the seven lessons, Gatto asserts that the system produces confused, cruel, passive, violent, and materialistic kids. Continue reading
Michel Foucault focuses on the concepts of discourse and power. His ideas can be seen in various political practices and conflicts, which I will discuss after I summarize his ideas below.
In 1968, a third grade teacher named Jane Elliott decided to take an unconventional approach to teaching about inequality. She divided her students into brown-eyed and blue-eyed groups. Each day, she told one group they were more superior than the other. The children learned an important, enduring lesson over those two days about the injustice of discrimination, which was documented by PBS Frontline.
This approach allowed the children to learn directly from experience, a type of education our philosophers touted. Continue reading
John Storey’s book on power presents a new way to think about sexuality. We commonly associate the Victorian age with hypocritical views of sexuality that produced draconian laws, but Storey writes that the Victorians did not repress sexuality, they actually invented it (Cultural Theory and Popular Culture 130). Storey expands on his unorthodox view by explaining how suppression causes creation. Even though the Victorian era produced laws that imposed moral disapproval of certain sexual behaviors, this also created a reverse effect of the suppressed behaviors becoming a subculture of society. Continue reading
In order to help us better understand things like Foucault’s encompassing concept of power, John Storey introduces his (or Foucault’s) methodology of “discursive formations” (Storey 129). In adopting his world of discursive formations we are forced break free from our binary mentality where things either “are” or “are not” and accept that there is more than one direction to everything; rather than classifying something as oppressive or enabling we must acknowledge that it can be oppressive in some ways and enabling in others and entirely both things at the same time. Continue reading