foucault theory essay 2 pages


1) What is Power, according to Foucault?

-Foucault defines power as “the way in which certain actions modify others” (779).

~what does Foucault mean by this?

-power is not something that can be easily defined in general; instead, you have to look at specific actions and their relationship to other actions to understand power in any specific instance.

-one doesn’t study power in general; instead, he studies or power relations. Power relations can be located in specific institutions that allow us to conduct our daily lives (e.g. the economy, government, hospitals, healthcare, schools, etc.)

-power relations define human beings as certain kinds of subjects (e.g. economic power relations make some people “rich” others “poor” some people “owners” some “laborers”)

2) Who is a Subject?

-a subject is a human being, or a collective of human beings.
-but a human being is not just “naturally” a subject. Instead, human beings are transformed, or made, into subjects.

-Foucault says that there are two related senses of being a subject:

-one is that you are subject to another person (under the control of another person)

-other is that you are subject to yourself (to your own conscience), in this sense you define who you are, what you do, what you can do

3) How do power and subjectivity interact?

-in general, power relations make human beings into subjects. That’s what they do.

-because power relations are very diverse, this means that there many kinds of subjects, and each of us is probably several kinds of subject.

-subjectivity can be studied by looking at how individuals resist the power relations they’re in.

-3 modes of subject-transformation. (from beginning of essay)

4) How does Foucault’s theory of power resonate with the week’s previous readings?

Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed likely argues that we must learn how to improve the world from the people who are oppressed. They are our teachers.

Similarly, Foucault argues that understanding oppression, or understanding power, must start with an analysis of how individuals resist power or oppression.

Kant 1) Identify and explain relevant articles of Perpetual Peace that, if implemented today, would radically change the US-American politics of warfare as we are seeing them now?


“The Law of Nations Shall be Founded on a Federation of Free States”

This is Kant’s argument for an international order whose laws define what is just or unjust for individual nations to do.

Legal and power is concentrated in an international order rather than in just a few superpowers.

Of course, today, there is the United Nations, but it is relatively powerless compared to military superpowers like the United States, Russia, or China.

If “Federation of Free States” ever were to exist, there would be much less international rivalry and threat of war. The US for example would not intervene in so many conflicts in the Middle East.