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Word Count: 3,347
Power has been a concept with which political scientists philosophers sociologists psychologists and myriad others have been concerned at the very heart of their disciplines It a reality which in this century has been used and abused to what Foucault calls pathological extremes but the understanding of power is now more than ever too of crucial importance to the construction of the self particularly in the idea we have of our own sexuality This essay will be divided into sections asking the following general questions i What does Foucault mean by power and the subject ii What is the relationship between power and sexuality and how has this changed between the society of Greek antiquity and modern or postmodern society iii What implications does this have for the self today What would Foucault change about contemporary existence for that he sees as his brief To change something in the minds of people - thats the role of an intellectual The essence of Foucaults ideas on the subject is that far from being a source of meaning the subject is in fact a secondary or byproduct of discursive formations This is for Foucault where power is to be located The traditionally held viewpoint that human beings are possessed of a universal and essential being and the manifestations of this presupposition throughout numerous political ethical social religious standpoints is merely one example of the power exerted through discourse through language Foucault shows how the assumption that individuals have a deep interiority and innermost truth - expressed in concepts such as the soul psyche and subjectivity - is a coercive illusion The idea of an inner and essential depth is in fact an effect of material processes of subjection To be a subject in Foucaults view is necessarily to be subjected Foucault is common to a long tradition of intellectuals for whom freedom is the primary concern I believe in the freedom of people
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