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Micheal Foucault

Foucault by Clare O’Farrell will offer brief summaries of Foucault’s most recognized works in this chapter. Firstly, Foucault first publication was “Dream, imagination and existence”. It offered a brief history of Western dream interpretation and the imagination in Western history. For instance, his view is that the best way of understanding human existence and experience as well as notions of truth and order, but at the same time, he is interested in where the orders of history break down. Secondly, the book of “Mental Illness and Psychology”, Foucault mentioned about madness comes to be defined as an illness. He addressed the relation between madness and truth in Western history.

Thirdly, Foucault’s first major work was “Madness and Civilization”; Foucault deals with the ideas, institutions, and practices relating to madness in Western history. Mad or lepers are excluded from society, for example “ship of madness”. In the middle ages and Renaissance, madness was not threat for Western society.  The 17th century, population of unreasonable were locked up, “Great Confinement” not only included mad people, but also unemployed, single matters, failed suicides, and debauchees. Madness was seen reverse of the reason in the 18th century. Madness became mental illness in the 19th century. Foucault’s reputation is one of the leaders of trendy new “structuralism” movement and the success of the anti-psychiatry movement.

The Birth of Clinic was written by Foucault, and his second major work. He focuses on the way knower (that is doctors) is constructed. He focuses on medical gaze in his book. Modern clinical medicine emerged in modern society. Traditional histories of medicine based on superstition, magic and a blind reliance. The political and economical situation in France at the end of the 18th century produced a radical change in the general social and political status of medicine. Death became the foundation of the new medical science and of the human sciences in his book. Illness is a disorder and it is a dangerous limit to everyday orderly existence. Everything related to discourse. Control of illness became most important by the authority. Hospitals and rising of clinic established for treatment of madness.

The other book is “The Order of Things” subtitled An Archeology of the Human Sciences deals with the history and pre-history of the modern disciplines. He uses the term “discourse” in his works. Foucault is critical of the hierarchical of knowledge because the highest ranking forms of knowledge (the science) have the greatest power. A scientific field is implicitly excludes alternative bodies of knowledge as false.

His next major work was “Discipline and Punish”. The link between knowledge and power was clear in case of torture and public execution. The important point is that Foucault argues that prison was chosen as the preferred method punishment in Western Europe as “disciplinary society” by a system of social surveillance. Foucault uses Jeremy Bentham’s model prison. It was called “Panopticon”. It serves as a metaphor for the way this system of surveillance operated and continues to operate within the social body.

The last one is “The History of Sexuality”. In the 19th century, the emergence of an enormous proliferation of knowledge and the development of multiple mechanism of control are in relation to sexuality. Foucault develops a number of influential theses about power, resistance to power and the management of populations that have been widely adopted by those applying his works. Foucault draws attention to both the differences and resonance between Ancient Greek and Christian thought and practices. Foucault’s lectures focus on notions of speaking the truth and “frank speech” and the relation between truth and power in Antiquity.

According to my opinion, discourse is a very dangerous word, because discourse draws a line “determine something” on the people. Power comes into existence with discourse. Power is applied by the exclusion. Discourses give exact information and distinguish wrong information. The discourse is related to power and knowledge by rules of exclusion. In addition, madness is related to modernity. Mad people are seen reverse of the reason. Science and medicine draw a line one truth on people. Foucault is against to this power or authority. So, Foucault is very important name in the post modernism. There is no one truth for people in the society.

Hazırlayan: Zeynep Yıldırım, Çankaya Üniversitesi, Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler mezunu.

23 Nisan 2012 Pazartesi

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