Testing the Hobbesian Hypothesis
This chapter examines the historical transformation of power from sovereignty as the dominant form to discipline. It first provides a brief recap of the general account of power and power relations that Michel Foucault presented in La volonté de savoir before discussing his theory of power in more detail, to show how power evolves over time and to document the empirical evidence that supports this theory. More specifically, it considers Foucault’s account of modern disciplinary power through a close reading of Psychiatric Power, his 1973–1974 Collège de France course, and his book Discipline and Punish. The chapter analyzes the four parts of Discipline and Punish—Torture, Punishment, Discipline, and Prison—and goes on to explore disciplinary power in antebellum slavery. It argues that Foucault’s analysis demonstrates the inability of disciplinary power to describe all of power and that even within discipline, there are resources for an ethics.
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