October 7, 2009 · 7:00 PM
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Get ready for the most contemporary, cutting-edge, and relevant philosopher we've read so far! Only an anthology on Michel Foucault, a 20th century French thinker, could give us aanthropological inquiry on madness and civilization, cruel and unusual punishment, a critique of Nietsche, a poststructuralist account of literary criticism, and a historical look at sex...
....Having doubts about whether YOU can get into studying philosophy? Well, there is indeed something for everyone in The Foucault Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow (1984). Since this is a relatively long book, we will be reading through the Docile Bodies section of the Disciplines and Sciences of the Individual chapter (to page 187).
Michel Foucault is sort of...awesome. To me, he demonstrated the range of influence philosophical thinking can have in other intellectual disciplines. Some refer to Foucault as the inventor of "poststructuralism" (similar to deconstruction in art). Others refer to Foucault as a "critical thinker" or radical. Foucault falls in the line of Continental thinkers influenced by Kant, Neitzsche, Husserl, and Sartre among others. His works have crossed the lines of academic disciplines to impact study in sociology, literature, history, political science, etc. When I was studying at Wittenberg, I did not come accross any humanities student who was not familiar with Michel Foucault.
The central fixation of Foucault is Power. Not power dictated by a king or a president, but rather the power dynamics inherit in all our public and most private social interations and institutions. He studies the relationship betwen power and knowledge (there's that epistemology again).
Before reading this text, one might find it enriching to read Kant's "What is the Enlightenment?" and to brush up on the wikipedia version of "structuralism" and "Neitzsche."
If you guys like Foucault, then we will explore the possibility to reading some of his full-length works like The Order of Things and Discipline and Punish. For now, enjoy the anthology!