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Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison…

Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1975)

by Michel Foucault

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,893241,427 (4.11)47
Recently added byJs_8, private library, Rashaad, adulau, udemm, paulinafein, themis329
Legacy LibrariesGillian Rose, Eeva-Liisa Manner
  1. 10
    Mord, Geständnis, Widerruf : Verhören und Verhörtwerden um 1800 by Michael Niehaus (Christof.Capellaro)
    Christof.Capellaro: Stellt an einem konkreten Einzelfall dar, was Foucault im großen Ganzen untersucht. (Wandel der Verfolgung von Delinquenz Ende des 18./Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts).
  2. 00
    Sakhalin Island by Anton Chekhov (peterbrown)
    peterbrown: An aspect (exile) of the Russian prison system in the second half of 19th Century and the early 20th C.
  3. 11
    The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes (thorold)
    thorold: Two contrasting views of the birth of the prison system in the 19th century

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» See also 47 mentions

English (17)  Korean (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
My first intro to Foucault. I was surprised how accessible this work is considering the mystique behind Foucault. Philosophically, Foucault describes the world we live in from the perspective of power and control. Rather than ask why prisons are such a failure, he asks what their dysfunction accomplishes (as well as who benefits).

There is peace in understanding Foucault even though his outlook can be depressing. ( )
  ryanone | Jan 3, 2018 |
  Inst | Sep 3, 2017 |
  Jway | Apr 18, 2016 |
Any reader of Foucault knows that he is outside of the realm of philosophy "proper." Although some of his works are not entirely convincing (though always thought provoking), this one I found to be an excellent analysis of the transformation of the concept of the prison - and makes for a great compliment to his extensive and most intense study "The History of Madness."

One could easily take the writings of Foucault as sociological or historical analyses, place them within an ontic framework and leave his books as simply interesting perspectives on historical issues. The key to realizing the philosophical implications of his work though is unfortunately not entirely explicit within the measure of his oeuvre. It took me some time to find just what it was that made his writings different from other ontic analyses of human nature, and that was in volume 2 of his "History of Sexuality" where he outlines his concept of "problematization." Once one understands this hermeneutical key to his work is when his writings become the controversial and quantifiable philosophical texts that they are.

The popular concepts of his books extend beyond their essential "cult" appeal. These were issues that were left outside of philosophy after the Cartesian and Kantian turns: thus removing them from philosophical discourse and leaving them to the "sciences" which without the above mentioned analytic of problematization are carried forth without any ontological foundation. Whether one agrees with the conclusions of Foucault is and should be a topic of dispute, as is all philosophy. But as such his very accessible writings should be appreciated more for their attempts to build a socialized "other" in ontology which was lacking in most prior theories which were only able to accommodate for the individual.

Overall though for this particular book, it is in my opinion an essential read when it comes to the political discourse of the modern prison in America today. We often loose sight of the fact that the evolution of human society is tightly bound with European history and so castrate ourselves from understanding the development of contentious topics. Although Foucault explicitly states that he is dealing with the development of the penal system in France, it extends beyond nationality and serves as a basis for our own systems. Particularly important to the modern understanding of American penitentiary would be his long discourse on Bentham and his ideal of the Panopticon. Bentham was an incredibly influential thinker in terms of American conservatism and many of his theories effect American politics up to this day. It's a pragmatic/active nihilistic existentialism which has repercussions beyond merely penal codes, but extends into the very nature of American society and adds a new level of discourse when considering the concept of freedom to the average citizen who would for the most part never even consider introspectively analyzing themselves as entangled within the evolving spectrum of carceration. ( )
2 vote PhilSroka | Apr 12, 2016 |
5.0 out of 5 stars
Reviw from Amazon.com: The Profit Order World by AGaul on February 17, 2005
Reviewers are right about this book tracing the origins of the modern surveillance state back to the birth of the modern prison system but they are not mentioning the prime motive for this that Foucault points to: profit and capitalism. With the rise of industrial society it was more important to regiment and discipline the masses than 'off with their head' or hands. The panopticon prison idea was taken to the factory and service industry by industial giants like Carnegie and Rockefeller and the fruits of this profitable perversion can be seen all over society today: delivery drivers monitored throughout the day by GPS, social security cards, public schooling (founded by the same industrial giants) intellectual and psychological grading, job placement and conformity, credit ratings, licences needed to do everything but go to the bathroom, a growing snitch culture...

Foucault's major thesis is that surveillance (discipline) aids profit and any deviation from profit leads to state-sanctioned punishment in the form of increased surveillance. As industry and profits increase so will the surveillance and discipline that make it run smoothly. Every facet of modern society works to this end. The irony is, as techno-pundits like McCluhan later pointed out, in the modern world the prisoner with a tv set has as much denatured freedom as the tycoon in his guarded estate and they enjoy a lot of the same things in a world where pleasure is increasingly programmed and vicarious; in a world that has turned from the moral order to the profit order, where bad credit today is the profit order version of the ancient moral order idea of excommunication. Everything that stands in the way of the profit order, whether it be an idea, person, religion, or country is attacked.

Bottom line, we are all 'human resources' in the political economy, in the religion of capital: packaged and packed like a bunch of sardines with the capitalist state and its laws protecting the tabernacle of profit over all else. The inanity and inherent fraud of our system, not to mention the explosion of prison populations and an insane consumer society, makes a lot more sense after being traced by a renegade like Foucault. Of all his books this is also the easiest read. This is a beautiful book by a complicated man. by the way, he taught at the University of Buffalo for a short time. ( )
2 vote | WayCriminalJustice | Apr 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Whatever the disagreements, "Discipline and Punish" is that rare kind of book whose methods and conclusions must be reckoned with by humanists, social scientists and political activists.

» Add other authors (65 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michel Foucaultprimary authorall editionscalculated
Blumbergs, IlmārsCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geile-Sīpolniece, IntaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pelikán, ČestmírTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sheridan, AlanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679752552, Paperback)

In this brilliant work, the most influential philosopher since Sartre suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this work, the author suggests that such vaunted reforms as the abolition of torture and the emergence of the modern penitentiary have merely shifted the focus of punishment from the prisoner's body to his soul.

» see all 3 descriptions

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