Discipline and Punish Michel Foucault

Topics: Human body, Knowledge, Discipline Pages: 28 (11021 words) Published: April 10, 2012
The chapter on discipline begins with the seventeenth century image of the soldier. A soldier bore certain natural signs of strength and courage and marks of his pride and honor. These were characteristics which were already inherent in a soldier. By the late eighteenth century, a soldier became someone or rather something that can be made, like a required machine which can be constructed. The Classical Age discovered the body as a target and object of power. Attention was paid to the body which is then manipulated, shaped, and trained, which responds, becomes skillful and increases its forces. Reference is made to the great book ‘Man-the-machine’ and the two registers it was simultaneously written on: anatomico-metaphysical and technico-political. The former dealt with works of physicians and philosophers and the latter with regulations through calculations and empirical studies of the army, school, and hospital, for the control or correction of the human body. These registers were quite distinct as much as one dealt with the question of submission and use, whereas the other with functioning and explanation: in short, differentiating between the useful body and the intelligible body. The notion of ‘docility’ as linking the analyzable body to the manipulable body is introduced as one of the central themes in Le Mettries ‘L’ Homme Machine’ which defines docility as a body which may be subjected, used, transformed, and improved. The interest of the eighteenth century in this notion of docility can be found in many new techniques which the notion brought in. The first was the scale of control: the body was no longer treated en masse or wholesale, like an indissociable unity, but working it in retail, or individually exercising a subtle coercion over the active body. There was also the object of control: the signifying elements shifted from the language and behavior of the body to their economy, efficiency of movements, and their internal organization. Lastly, there is the modality: the continuous and uninterrupted coercion, constant supervision of the processes of the activity rather than the end result. These are exercised according to a codification which implies that time, space, and movement should be partitioned as closely as possible. These methods made it possible to meticulously and constantly supervise the operations of the body, assured a continuous subjection of its forces, and imposing upon the body a relationship of ‘docility-utility’. These methods were called ‘disciplines’. Although disciplines were well in way for a long time with monasteries, armies and workshops, they become general formulas of domination during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The disciplines emerged at a point in time or moment in history when the notion of the human body as an art arose. This art was directed at the formation of a relation which in the mechanism itself makes the body more obedient as it becomes more useful, and vice-versa. A policy of coercions was being formed which manipulated the elements, gestures, and behavior of the body in a calculated way. A ‘political anatomy’, which was also a ‘mechanics of power’, was being born which defined how one may have a hold over the body of others, not only in directing the end result of what has to be done, but also the process in which it has to be done, with the techniques, speed, and efficiency that one may determine. Thus, discipline creates subjected and practiced bodies, or docile bodies. It increases the forces of the body in terms of economic utility and efficiency but decreases the same with regard to the political terms of obedience. Disciplinary coercion establishes a constricting link between increased aptitude and increased coercion in the body. The birth of this political anatomy was not a sudden discovery but a multiplicity of minor processes in different applications which circulated rapidly in some...
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