Saturday, April 4, 2009

On the Soul

From an unusual source for a discussion on the soul (or, at least, for me/this site):

This is the historical reality of this soul, which, unlike the soul represented by Christian theology, is not born in sin and subject to punishment, but is born rather out of methods of punishment, supervision and constraint. This real, non-corporal soul is not a substance; it is the element in which are articulated the effects of a certain type of power and the reference of a certain type of knowledge, the machinery by which the power relations give rise to a possible corpus of knowledge, and knowledge extends and reinforces the effects of this power. 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. But let there be no misunderstanding: it is not that a real man, the object of knowledge, philosophical reflection or technical invention, has been substituted for teh soul, the illusion of theologians. The man described for us, whom we are invited to free, is already in himself the effect of a subjection more profound than himself. A 'soul' inhabits him and brings him to existence, which is itself a factor in the master that power exercises over the body. The soul is the effect and instrument of political anatomy; the soul is the prison of the body. (Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison; trans. Alan Sheridan)

1 comment:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

So Foucault says that self discipline gives the freedom of "political autonomy".

And that the social construction of parental guidance, and other social organizations are what give knowledge....'right and wrong"...

Social constuction is the only way that human can "evolve" to a higher level than animal. We just have to agree on what constitues "animal and human" behavior...and that means that whatever constitues a flourishing society, which is determined by the goals of leaders....
which ultimately ends with "someone in power" in the political realm....horrors, no balance of power, only power alone!