Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977

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Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977

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Philosophy (Modern)


by: Michel Foucault

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In this book, Foucault shows that what he was always describing was the nature of power in society; this is NOT the conventional treatment (connotation) of sociological power that concentrates on powerful individuals and repressive institutions, but the much more pervasive and insidious mechanisms by which power "reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives." The author's investigations of prisons, schools, barracks, hospitals, factories, cities, lodgings, families, and other organized forms of social life are each a segment of one of the most astonishing intellectual enterprises of all time -- and, as this volume proves, one which possesses profound implications for understanding the social control of our bodies and our minds.


This book's main problem is presentation. It's not a good 'summary' or 'compendium' of Foucault's works because it's very fragmentary format. Each chapters is a mere distillation of Foucault's thoughts on key subjects. Most chapters are structured as interviews or dialogues but with no surrounding context. Readers have no idea of who the interviewers are or from which angle they have approached the author's works. The chapters begin abruptly, often with the feel of an interview in progress, with no introductory explanations of the context for that portion of Foucault's efforts. Following the same 'strategy', the chapters end abruptly with no wrapping up or conclusive explanations of the matter at hand. One chapter consists of two "lectures" given at different times, with zero explanation of the purpose of author's visit to wherever the lecture was delivered, who the audience was, or the environment in which Foucault's presence was utilized. Hence this volume isn't a good summary because it only leaves you with fragmentary details of far more vast philosophical masterpieces, with no surrounding context or supplementary information. You can get a passable introduction to Foucault's general ideas here, but for true knowledge you will have to tackle his proper dissertations. The best examples with relevance for contemporary thought are "Madness and Civilisation," "Archeology of Knowledge," and others.

Topics include: revolutionary state apparatus, proletarianised people, popular justice, penal labour, judicial apparatus, principal contradiction


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