Friday, October 17, 2008


Foucault, in his own verbose and difficult way, deconstructs everything that we have attempted to grasp in the class. He “emancipates the analysis” power, in relation to sovereignty and its basic elements of subject, unity, and law into what he calls operators of domination. He wishes for us to extract operators of domination from relations of powers, since power functions in networks, and cannot be possessed. We must then begin with the relationship of power before we analyze the subject, because the subject is only created by power, according to Foucault. Foucault explains his analysis of power to be in concrete terms, in which we must reject the juridical view of sovereignty. However, to theoretically counter his elaborate analysis of power, I would like to introduce to the theory of Occam’s razor. Occam’s razor is a theory that states that when given multiple definitions, the simplest one is the best. While I can accept Foucault’s attempt to reanalyze power, I feel that most people would be quite content with the idea of power as exerted through sovereignty, like in the first book that we read. I assume that the general population does not often think of power the way Foucault does, as a flowing network in which power is not possessed. I think the general population is content with the idea that power can be possessed, like physical strength. I think the common misconception of Foucaultian power materializes when he says that warlike society was replaced by a State with military functions. The State is an entity, which common can be seen as a possessor of power (i.e. a military), but this trap that Foucault wishes for everyone to avoid. Complicating the matter was the beginning of the historico-political discourse that linked war to the institution of power.

Foucault’s argument is very accurate in his own system that he has created, but he himself admits that knowledge (and truth, to some extent), in relation to the histrico-political discourse of war, is based on perspective. This is one aspect that I can particularly agree with. This idea was championed by Frederic Nietzsche. According to Nietzsche, truth is never universal. Foucaualt draws on this in one of his other works, La Volonte de savoir, when he states “knowledge is always a certain strategic relation in which man finds himself placed (xx).” In Foucault’s historico-political discourse of war, truth functions as a weapon, because its discourse can be manipulated in order to fit the situation.

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