Discipline And Punish- Questions For Study And Thought
Course Title and Code
Discipline and Punish
From 1757 to 1837, two different types of punishment are described by Foucault. The very first type of the punishment described by the author is the chaotic and violent punishments, which was practiced in front of the general public, in order to motivate them to abide the laws of the society and refrain from committing crimes. The second type of punishment which was adopted until the year 1837, due to the cultural shift of the society was the surveillance of inmates and punishing them by not providing the bodily harm. The public executions were strictly prohibited and inmates were sentenced to death only by the use of painless sources (Foucault, 45).
Foucault has described the execution of Damien's in his book, as one of the most brutal and violent practices of medieval times. The idea about the punishment which supports the medieval practice of multiple death sentences is that providing the bodily harm was considered the most important mean of depicting power over the community. The rulers or governors of the society did not only want the public to accept their conditions and follow them but wanted to ensure the fact that the public was under their control and feared them as well. A thousand deaths and burning of the body reveal the complete control of the powerful groups on the bodies of the community (Foucault, 69).
The different ideas about capital punishment which are represented by the guillotine include the change in ideology and cultural structure of the society. Initially, capital punishment was utilized as the source of depicting the power of the rulers over the bodies of the community and they could cause harm to it in any way they wanted. The guillotine was used to make the execution, peaceful and painless. It represented the change in the ideology of the society, which now wanted to make the society more disciplined, instead of following the laws due to the fear of violent punishments (Foucault, 73).
According to Foucault, under the emerging penal system based on incarceration, the new target of punishment is to make the citizens or the community more disciplined. The society now refrains from conducting the public executions and providing body harm to the criminals, because its purpose is not only to govern the bodies of the community but also their souls. Foucault has mentioned that Mably is the formulator of this idea as he states the rulers now try to make the citizens more discipline, by not making fearful of the violent, body harm, but by preaching the effect of imprisonment for life and not allowing any type of connection with the rest of the society (Foucault, 85).
The four rules that Foucault establishes for his study of the birth of the prison include the analysis of punishment as a complex social function. The second rule states that the punishment is actually a political tactic. The third rule intended to find the relationship and link between the human sciences and the history of the penal law. The fourth and the last rule was to find the changes in the techniques of the political structure and the general changes in the power relations of the society (Foucault, 89).
One of the rules shared by Foucault in his book includes the point that punishment is a political tactic. According to my point of view, Foucault wanted to make it clear to the society that the rulers or the politicians use the tactic of punishments in order to keep their control on the society, as well as on the life of the citizens. If there would be no punishment in the society, the general public would not accept the demands and policies of the ruler, if they deem them to be not profitable for them. However, the fear of punishment makes them do all sorts of things, in order to ensure their peace and safety (Foucault, 115).
Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The birth of the prison. Vintage, 2012.
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