Summary of Foucault’s “Discipline and Punish”

In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault says that throughout history, humans have desired nothing more than to exert power over one another.  Power is not a tangible thing that can be accumulated but a web of tactics which include and imprison the entire world.  He says that power and knowledge are interchangeable, and our increased knowledge has only made our use of power more sophisticated.  Modern society claims to have become more tolerant and humane, but in reality, it has shifted its focus from controlling a man’s body to controlling his soul.  He cites as an example the penal system which has shifted its focus from punishing a criminal’s actions through physical torture to punishing his beliefs through psychological re-training.  Man’s methods have changed, but his manipulative ways have not.

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