Foucault and Power

Sunday, December 2, 2018

What is it

Michel Foucault was a 20th century philosopher known for his work concerning power and knowledge. Foucault is often cited for his theory of knowledge and power, which are inextricably linked. But what exactly is Foucault's philosophy of power? Is it a universal theory intended to be applied in any context, or was Foucault simply responding to the specific power dynamics of his time? Josh and Ken take power from Gary Gutting from the University of Notre Dame, author of Thinking the Impossible: French Philosophy Since 1960.

Comments (3)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, November 14, 2018 -- 3:07 PM

Most of us are familiar with

Most of us are familiar with the old adage, KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. This suggests that in order to have the second, one must have the first. Yet, there have been many times in the history of man, when the sheer force of numbers has negated any need for knowledge, beyond knowing that strength of one's adversaries. This is/was elementary. Mr. Foucault was no more or less adept in his assessment of things than those such as Rousseau, Hume, Locke, or Kant. Everything changes with time and enlightenment. And science. And philosophy. And, progress.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, December 3, 2018 -- 11:26 AM

A little something more on

A little something more on what we think we know. I sent this to my brother, as a Christmas greeting. He liked it. Maybe you will too:

To Infinity, (and then some...)

In his 1689 treatise, Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke waxed abundant on the notion of INFINITY. That he did so was au courant for his time, as are such philosophic discourses in our own. I'd very much like to clear the air and flush the toilet on this matter, once, if not, for all. Infinity is (I assert) a nebulous construct from human reason and language. Mulling and muddling over it is about as productive as counting clover leafs in a midsummer meadow. It is a long haul, past and future, but plays not into the scheme of human evolution, history or affairs.
It was neither needed, nor critically useful to physics, mathematics or science in general. Constructions ARE, sometimes helpful to their progenitors. Quantum Mechanics (for example) allows for some measurement of things very small. I cannot claim to understand it, yet can project its value, when/if it should be better understood. Richard Feynman would probably approve.
People feel better about things they can quantify or qualify. I have no quarrel with that. But unless you love the heat of philosophy; the thrill of agony; or the victory of defeat, you may as well cross infinity of your list (be that 'bucket' or other). It is not an achievement. Neither you, nor I nor anyone else will ever get there...there is no 'there' to get to.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 -- 12:13 PM

Mon frere, Michel Foucault,

Mon frere, Michel Foucault, was quite the social historian, I have discovered, after reading some of his writing. Interesting intellect. However, I cannot in my own view categorize him as: philosopher. His scholarship defines him more in the historian modality, even though he clearly had a philosophy of life. I would, hesitantly, compare Foucault to some of our latter-day public intellectuals: important for their contributions to knowledge generally and/or specifically, but only incidentally influential to the broader cosmology of philosophy itself.


Gary Gutting, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame


Bonus Content


Research By

Muhammad Khattak

Upcoming Shows

22 September 2019

Knowing What We Know (And What We Don...

It seems like we know many facts about ourselves and the world around us, even if there vastly many others we know that we don’t know. But how do we...

29 September 2019

Explanation At Its Best

In both everyday life and science, we often feel the pull of simpler, more elegant, or more beautiful explanations. For example, you notice the...

06 October 2019

The Allure of Authoritarianism

In George Orwell’s 1984, the party’s “final, most essential command” was “to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears.” Authoritarian regimes call...