Walter Benjamin begins The Origin of German Tragic Drama with an “epistemo-critical prologue” in which, before he presents his idea of the baroque, he articulates his conception of philosophy, the activity by which he represents ideas and conceptualizes phenomena (such as the baroque). Benjamin does this by charting a dichotomy, in which he situates philosophy
[Jan van Kessel's Still Life] In tracing the intellectual development of Karl Marx, Sidney Hook discusses, in addition to G.W.F. Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach, foremost critic of Hegel from the left, whose materialism deeply impressed the young Marx. Analogous to Marx’s own critique, Feuerbach complains of Hegel’s idealism that its “method of deducing existence from essence,
I have just passed my comprehensive exam for my MA in Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University. The area of focus is critical theory, specifically Marxism, psychoanalysis, and Foucault and Deleuze. I thought I would pose my responses to the first two parts of the exam (the third and last part being the oral defense).
[The "reformatory" of Mettray, north of Tours, France] [Continues "The Panoptic Society (of Surveillance)"] Despite (modal/technological) changes in the way that power is exercised—despite, that is to say, the (systemic/structural) change in the regime of power—one function/element remains central to society: namely, penality. This is true even of the panoptic society (of surveillance). The disciplinary
[The interior of Stateville Penitentiary in Joliet, IL, USA; Image from Superstock] [Continues "Individuality of Disciplinary Power"] The (intensive) Panopticon provided (the virtual modality of) disciplinary power an individualized mode of its exercise. In its efficiency and effectiveness—as is especially apparent in its adroit mechanisms (of normalization), (machinic) automation, and perfectibility—this particular manner in which
[Jeremy Bentham's prison design, the Panopticon] [Continues "The Art of Discipline"] (The exercise of) Disciplinary power transformed the regime of power, redistributed, as Foucault puts it, the “entire economy” of punishment and surveillance by which power is exercised (by the State in managing/controlling the social). In the process, (through its ways) a machine is constructed—a
[The Terracotta warriors] [Continues "Change in the Regime of Power"] Like any regime of power trying to reach its goal (the docile body), disciplinary power has methods specific to it, its unique way of proceeding. It also employs specific instruments to carry out these operations, to execute the procedure. Together, these methods (procedures + techniques
[Jacques-Louis David's rendering of Napoleon's coronation] In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault traces the genealogy of social control, specifically the ways in which the State has disciplined (made manageable, kept in line, made to obey) its populace (usually by punishing)—whether in confronting criminality, disease, (preparation for) war, (economic) production, education, . . .—activities in general
In The Birth of Tragedy, Friedrich Nietzsche deploys a harsh critique of Socrates, whose influence, represented by the advent of Euripidean comedy in the Greek stage, he sees as having caused the emergence of a new struggle of forces (this time between the Socratic and the Dionysiac, in contrast to the former between the Dionysiac
They can be divided into three. First, there’s the (strictly called) phenomenological reduction, by which we do an epoché, a suspension, a bracketing off of various considerations (most prominent of which are objective correspondence, i.e. the accuracy of thought in terms of its reference to some external reality; and conceptual confirmation, by which we already have ideas about the thing that we then impose on it as we try to understand it, as we develop our thought of it) so that we focus on the thing itself, i.e. on the thing as it is presented to consciousness. Sure, correspondence and concepts may be accurate (they’re not necessarily false), but we don’t know for sure, i.e. claims we make about them, our knowledge of the thing along with these considerations (rather than simply the thing itself), is dubitable, which Husserl, quintessential of modernity’s obsession with certainty, wants to avoid.