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Lecture 18

PHIL 2280 Lecture 18: Michel Foucault: Two Lectures on Power
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2 Pages
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Fall 2017

Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 2280
Professor
Omid Shabani
Lecture
18

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Michel Foucault: Two Lectures on Power
Lecture 1
- Fouault otes that i the reet histor of the past tet ears there has ee the effia of
dispersed offesies. Here  offesie he eas halleges to the theories ad praties i
domains of law, politics, psychiatry, moral theory, and so on. The recent history is characterized
 the geeral feelig of the proliferatig ritiizailit of thigs, istitutios, ad praties, ad
disourse.
- The ai of these attaks has ee hat he alls totalizig theories or uitar theories that
are all-encompassing because they claim to be able to explain everything. Example that he
offers are Marxism and psychoanalysis.
- Thus, Foucault sees our time as marked by the efficacy of critiques, on the one hand, and the
inhabiting effect of global theories on the other hand.
- Critique of global theories is characterized by their local character, which for Foucault indicates
something resembling an autonomous an non-centralized theoretical production that does not
need validation from the all-eopassig theor. This is hat he alls retur of koledge
that makes local critique possible.
- He also calls the return of knowledge the insurrection of subjugated knowledge, which has two
features: 1) it refers to historical content buries and masked in functional coherences or formal
systematizations. Subjugated knowledge that were present in the functional and systematic
corps but were masked by the critique that used the tools of scholarship.
- 2) subjugated knowledge also refers to a whole series of knowledges that according to Foucault
have been disqualified as non-conceptual knowledges, as inferior knowledges, knowledges that
are below the required level of scientificity. It is the reappearance of what people know at a
local level, of these disqualified knowledges, that made the critique possible.
- This revelation gives us the outline of what Foucault calls genealogy or multiple genealogical
investigation. These genealogies are a combination of erudite knowledge and what people
know. They would have not been made possible were it not for the removal of the tyranny of
overall discourses, with their hierarchies and all the privileges enjoyed by the theoretical
vanguard.
- As an example, Foucault discusses the question whether Marxism is a science or not that
Marxists zealously engage in. to say that it is a science, that is ascribes to a rational structure
and that its propositions are the result of verification procedure, what is done first and foremost
is to connect Marxism with the power-hierarchy typical of science.
- The next question, then, is the question of power. Foucault presents two conceptions of power:
1) the juridical or the classical liberal conception according to which power is regarded as a right,
a commodity and therefore, as what can be transferred -through a contract- or alienated; and 2)
the Freudian-Marxian conceptualization of power as a struggle, conflict, domination and
repression.
Lecture 2
- The seod leture further spells out Fouaults onception of power. He sees power in a sort of
symbiotic relation with rules of right and discourse of truth. He wants to investigate their mutual
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Description
Michel Foucault: Two Lectures on Power Lecture 1 - Foucault notes that in the recent history of the past twenty years there has been the efficacy of dispersed offensives. Here by offensive he means challenges to the theories and practices in domains of law, politics, psychiatry, moral theory, and so on. The recent history is characterized by the general feeling of the proliferating criticizability of things, institutions, and practices, and discourse. - The aim of these attacks has been what he calls totalizing theories or unitary theories that are all-encompassing because they claim to be able to explain everything. Example that he offers are Marxism and psychoanalysis. - Thus, Foucault sees our time as marked by the efficacy of critiques, on the one hand, and the inhabiting effect of global theories on the other hand. - Critique of global theories is characterized by their local character, which for Foucault indicates something resembling an autonomous an non-centralized theoretical production that does not need validation from the all-encompassing theory. This is what he calls return of knowledge that makes local critique possible. - He also calls the return of knowledge the insurrection of subjugated knowledge, which has two features: 1) it refers to historical content buries and masked in functional coherences or formal systematizations. Subjugated knowledge that were present in the functional and systematic corps but were masked by the critique that used the tools of scholarship. - 2) subjugated knowledge also refers to a whole series of knowledges that according to Foucault have been disqualified as non-conceptual knowledges, as inferior knowledges, knowledges that are below the required level of scientificity. It is the reappearance of what people know at a local level, of these disqualified knowledges, that made the critique possible. - This revelation gives us the outline of what Foucault calls genealogy or multiple genealogical investigation. These genealogies are a combination of erudite knowledge and what people know. They would have not been made possible were it not for the removal of the tyranny of overall discourses, with their hierarchies and all the privileges enjoyed by the theoretical vanguard. - As an example, Foucault discusses the question whether Marxism is a science or not that Marxists zealously engage in. to say that it is a science, that is ascribes to a rational structure and that its propositions are the result of verification procedure, what is done first and foremost is to connect Marxism with the power-hierarchy typical of science. - The next question, then, is the question of power. Foucault presents two conceptions of power: 1) the juridical or the classical liberal conception according to which power is regarded as a right, a commodity and therefore, as what can be transferred -through a contract- or alienated; and 2) the Freudian-Marxian conceptualization of power as a struggle, conflict, domination and repression. Lecture 2 - The second lecture further spells out Foucaults conception of power. He sees power in a sort of symbiotic relation with rules of right and discourse of truth. He wants to investigate their mutual interaction in so far as the rules of law delineate power and the truth-effects that power produces. - For Foucault relations of power constitute the social body, more precisely, it makes the modern subject. - The traces back the elaboration of juridical thoughts to Middle Ages when it became centered around royal power, from what the right emanated as the living body of sovereignty. From Middle Ages onward, the essential role of the theory of right has been to establish the legitimacy of power, the major problem around which the theory of right is organized is, therefore, the problem of sovereignty. - In this way right also becomes an instrument of domination that serves the relations of power. But Foucault wants to argue that right should be viewed not in terms the legitimacy that has to be established, but in terms of the procedures of domination it implements. - He gives five methodological precautions in studying power: 1) The object if this study is not to look at rule-governed and legitimate forms of but to study power by looking at its extremities, which is at the point where it transgresses the rules of right organizes. 2) Studies of power should be eliminated from its internal point of view and look at its real and institutional effects. There should be no c oncern with the reasons behind the pursuit of power or the intentions behind it but rather the interest in how power itself works. 3) Power should not be viewed as a phenomenon of mass and homogeneous domination, but rather as something that circulates and funct
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