Foucault: The Body Of The Condemned

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The Body of the Condemned Foucault opens the chapter by comparing a brutal public execution that took place in the mid-1700s, shifting to an account of the change in prison rules developed less than a hundred years later. This demonstrated the changing perspective of law and order, with the disappearance of public torture and the body of the criminal disappearing from public display. Punishment being a public spectacle vanished; this included the exhibition and public shaming of criminals, as well as public execution. This idea of a public exhibition was thought to instill horror to the public in deterring them from crime, but this shifted with the certainty of punishment becoming the deterrence for crime. A theoretical shift had taken place …show more content…
In this manner, the physical body is not put under duress, but the soul and mental strength is under constant supervision and thoroughly investigated. The judgment of the criminal has shifted from the body, being judged by the executioner and the judge of the courtroom if that individual is condemned to death. In modern day prison, that individual is not only judged by the court, but also scrutinized by doctors and psychiatrists, especially when an individual’s sanity is in question. This what
Foucault deems as the rise in ‘human sciences’ in which professionals, such as psychiatrists, doctors, social workers and so on, judging each individual according to society norms. The judgment of the criminal must be decided, either ‘normal’ or considered ‘abnormal’ in society. This doesn’t necessary involve actually judging the accused about their crime, but about their sanity, the needed treatment and whether they should be released or not. From Foucault’s perspective, the modern system has granted the ultimate and the all important power to judge to a shadowy group of professionals whose role in the system is sometimes uncertain. The power to punish has now
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The techniques of judgment applied to the prisoner and the public’s attitude towards prisoners, defines the ways in which power operates in modern society. All knowledge is possessed by prison warders and psychiatrists, creating a certain an air of ‘professional power’ and ultimately influence, which is impenetrable to the general public. Foucault 's also details that economic and social influence of the modern system, referencing Marx in how the system resembles one of production, in constant supply and demand for products with increasing capital for those at the top of the hierarchy. Power over others is a central theme throughout the work, with power acting as a pseudo-game that is ruled and coordinated by the whole of society, predominantly those at the highest of the hierarchy, rather than individual players. Power affects all individuals, from the prison guards, wardens, and the prisoners themselves, with no one individual having all control, just some having more than others. The soul in this case acts as the prison of the body, as other’s power and authority can control individuals

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