In proposing to examine the general economy of discourses on sex, Michel Foucault states his objective of defining "the regime of power - knowledge - pleasure that sustains the discourse on human sexuality in our part of the world." (p.11) For Foucault, "the 'economy' of discourses -- their intrinsic technology, the necessities of their operation, the tactics they employ, the effects of power which underlie them and which they transmit -- this, and not a system of representations, is what determines the essential features of what they have to say." (p.69) 

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In Discipline and Punish, Foucault describes the modern "soul" as the real correlative of a certain technology of power over the body. In this vivid and powerful account, he documented the shift in the techniques of punishment away from the body , "from an art of unbearable sensations" to "an economy of suspended rights." For Foucault, it is not just an issue of dehumanization (as Heidegger saw it) but the transformation of the body and of subjectivities.

"On this reality reference, various concepts have been constructed and domains of analysis carved out: psyche, subjectivity, personality, consciousness, etc; on it have been built scientific techniques and discourses, and the moral claims of humanism." (p.30)

(see subject )

See the panopticon as the diagram of modern power. (see also biopower)

The history of work is a history of discipline.


Foucault credits Nietzche with formulating the notion of a history capable of being analyzed and recovered by a process known as genealogy. It provides a "history of the present" -- a history of the events that make possible struggles in the present such as the prisoners' movement, sexual liberation movements, etc. "Genealogy makes no presumptions about the metaphysical origins of things, their final teleology, the continuity or discontinuity of temporally contiguous elements, or the causal, explanatory connections between events." (Grosz, Volatile Bodies, p. 145)

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The concept of scientific paradigms was given currency by Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (1962) Kuhn's concept of paradigm applies both to a body of ideas, theories, etc. -- a "worldview"-- and to the social organization of science in which it appears. There are two aspects to scientific paradigms. Paradigms are shared constellations of belief (a disciplinary matrix) and they are also models or examples. 

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For Foucault, every relation between forces is a "power relation." Power is not essentially repressive. It is practiced before it is possessed, and it passes through the hands of the mastered no less than through the hands of the masters. Therefore we should ask: "How is it practiced?" It is a physics of abstract action. (Deleuze, Foucault, p. 72) 

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In his apology for "personal knowledge," Michael Polanyi describes probability as expectation, and surprise as the inverse of probability. (cf information)

He points out that a probability statement cannot be contradicted by the events. Contradiction can only be established by a personal act of appraisal which rejects certain possibilities as being too improbable to be entertained as true. (pp 20 - 24)

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utopia / heterotopia

In an article entitled "Other spaces; the principles of heterotopia", Michel Foucault looks at spaces which are in rapport in some way with all the other arrangements of space in a given society, but yet in some way contradict them. 

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In Deleuze's analysis of Foucault, the prison defines a place of visibility ("panopticism") and penal law defines a field of articulability (the statements of deliquency). In the same manner, the asylum emerged as a place of visibility of madness, at the same time as medecine formulated basic statements about "folly". (do the two always coincide temporally?) 

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