Philosophy

1.In his book Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault’s proposes the concept of disciplinary power as more adequate for thinking about how power has been exercised since the 18th century. Compare Foucault’s analysis with Machiavelli’s The Prince as illustrative of a different (“pre-disciplinary”) technology of power. As you discuss Foucault, you may want to talk about the function of hierarchical observation, normalizing judgment, and the examination as different facets of the new disciplinary power. For Foucault, disciplinary power is power over ordinary men and women, both individually and collectively. By contrast, how much do we learn about “the people” in Machiavelli’s text, and how is his vision different from Foucault’s?

2.
As he argues that in the 18th and 19th centuries, Western European societies develop “disciplinary” mechanisms for the control of their populations, Foucault suggests that this new type of disciplinary power operates by continuous surveillance, normalization, and practices of examination. By contrast, Paul Preciado claims that 21st-century capitalism no longer operates by way of discipline alone, but rather on the basis of a “pharmaco-pornographic” regime of power. Drawing on the two authors, compare the key characteristics of the two technologies of power that they discuss. What are, for Preciado, some of the inherent limits of disciplinary power, and why does he claim that “pharmaco-pornographic” capitalism operates far more efficiently and seamlessly?

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