Foucault vs. Hobbes, and Machiavelli
Power by definition is the possession of control or command over others; authority; ascendancy. The question is now not what power is but how do the means of which power is exerted form and who or whom enforces these means. There are several ways to answer this question, none of which are entirely correct. By looking at the theories provided by Michel Foucault and comparing them to Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes we will gain a general understanding of these philosophers response to the ideas Foucault has about power and the correct ways to coerce society.
“This enclosed, segmented space, observed at every point, in which the individuals are inserted in a fixed place… in which power is exercised without division, according to a continuous hierarchical figure… all this constitutes a compact model of the disciplinary mechanism” (Foucault 109). Quoted, is Foucault’s reference to Jeremy Bentham’s concept of Panopticon. Panopticon, as pictured by Bentham, is a systematic prison in which a ring of cells surrounds a single watchtower. The cells are lit from the back so the guards can see what prisoners are doing at all times. Light is shining into the cells as well, so that prisoners cannot see that they are being watched. “The enclosed segment space, observed at every point, in which individuals are inserted in a fixed place, in which the slightest movements are supervised, in which all events are recorded… in which each individual is constantly located, examined” (109). The prisoners never know is they are being watched at any moment, there may not even be a guard present. “Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility” (111). The Guard, who represents power, is invisible.
Foucault uses Bentham’s Panopticoms greater theme to describe how invisible power is exuded throughout modern day society. “He who is subjected to a...