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Michel Foucault

Michel Foucault

In this research paper you must investigate the work of a major postmodern figure: Michel Foucault. The investigation must be done in light of a philosophical question that the figure explores: "What's the nature of Power?"

In post-modernist theory, the teachings of Foucault raised radical new ideas about the elements that make up a civilized society. Central to Foucault's theories is the concept of power. For Foucault, power is found in the relations between individuals or groups and it is a distinct action or assertion. This relationship is one of repression. Again, Foucault asserts his definition is nearly parallel to the classical juridical theory on power established by the political right and founded upon the idea of the abuse of sovereignty, such as in the case of war. However, Foucault's definition of power is extended out of the realm of a given right and into what he asserts as a natural struggle for normalization and can be applied to various other disciplines of science and social construct theory.

Power is related to society in that it facilitates society in oppressing non-dominant structures. Power is defined as the ability to change the behavior of an individual, group, or organization. Inherent in all power relationships is the element of dependency: a less powerful target is dependent on a power holder. Power relationships entail a dependency by subordinate parties upon more powerful individuals for some necessary resource. According to Foucault, those that oppress or repress most commonly in society are institutions founded upon science and economics. Therefore, it is outside of theseinstitutions that true knowledge can be found in the form of subjugated knowledge. Foucault divides subjugated knowledge into two differing realms:

  1. A method of historical recording that serves the purpose of providing understanding and systemization to the events of societies
  2. Knowledge that is dismissed as inadequate or void of significance. Subjugated knowledge is subject to change due to the continually evolving definition of power relations between people and groups of people.

Foucault recognized that knowledge was far more complex than a simple product of time and place; knowledge is also a product of who has power and the conflict between the one or the group in power for change. These changes bring about the archeological approach that Foucault takes in assigning a genealogy to power relations.

How to Write the Paper

In the research paper, you are expected to present the author's response to the question as well as developing your own response to the question. The response to the question will be your Thesis, which will be developed throughout the research paper with the help of the figure. Foucault can serve as an ally to your view and/or a counterpoint. In either case you must use his texts as a jumping off point for your own ideas.

The guidelines are as follows:

In this Michel Foucault philosophy term paper you will:

  1. State a clear thesis in your introductory paragraph.
  2. Maintain your focus on the philosophical issue that your are tackling in your thesis.
  3. Clearly present your author's responses to your question using primary texts in as much detail you can muster.
  4. Present your author's view in terms of argumentation(not just their claims, but also how they support them).
  5. Present your own view, in relation to the author's, with careful and clear argumentation. Pretend that you are trying to convince someone who doesn't agree with you. Do not assume any knowledge or common understanding on the part of your reader.
  6. Use one primary source, and two outside sources from legitimate academic journals.
  7. Use outside research judiciously.

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