Tag Archives: individual

Relating “Docile Bodies” to Modern Society

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.

Socrates’ Disastrous Implication

At 390 c, Socrates invokes a double standard seemingly very contrary to his prior discussion of justice, peace, and virtue. Here, he claims that the ruler of the city has the right to lie to its citizens at times of emergency, whereas the individual should never be untruthful in any situation.

I believe that this is a very ironic statement, in that it goes against much of what Socrates stands for. As a supporter of the power and importance of individualism, this claim that the collective is worth more than the individual in the long run is highly contradictory to much of what he has philosophized before.

Although this is a small point from the several selections we were instructed to read, I cannot help but say that I am very surprised by this claim and somewhat discouraged by it. Socrates has always struck me as a philosopher that encourages the individual to find his or her own path in life and then follow it based off what he or she holds dear in this life, and the value system he or she has created. I would never have expected him to say that the individual must adhere to the will of the city rulers for the greater good, especially if it goes against him or her’s beliefs, and create such a double standard between the collective and the individual.

In my opinion, both the city rulers and individual should be challenged to always be truthful. Just because the city has some control over the lives of its citizens, such as in creating policy and enforcing it, and protecting its people, it should not be given free reign to impose practices based upon deception and dishonesty, even if it is seemingly in the best interest of the people at the time. If the government is told that it is acceptable to lie in times of emergency for the sake of the “greater good,” or collective, such direction would prove disastrous, as it could assume total power, leading to corruption and tyranny in the future.

Although I found the majority of the selected reading to be very thought-provoking and beneficial, I have to say that I was concerned about Socrates’ statement concerning deception, and the city rulers’ right to it when they think it is “necessary,” as its implication degrades the liberty of the individual and allows the government the possibility of assuming total power and forming a tyranny that further damages such free will.