Essay about Foucault 's Western Society

1244 Words Jun 8th, 2015 5 Pages
In every society there is a form that is followed, a pattern of behavior and a structure that in some ways defines the nature of that society. In the case of Western civilization these structures are explored historically by Michel Foucault and dissected, asking why they are the way they are, what station they occupy in our society and how this affects those of us who live within this civilization. Foucault leads us on a journey fraught with insights to the mystery, terrors and trials of the treatment of madness and how this acts as a kind of case study for the general perspective and health of Western society. It is in the spirit of finding the root cause of our treatment of the madman that Foucault pursues this question and in it, he finds a bit of madness in our own methods and behaviors, showing that the madman, the leper, the social pariah might surprisingly in some ways be the true sane man looking in on the asylum of Western sensibility.
Foucault begins with the story of the advent of the leper in Europe, having appeared as a result of the interactions of the crusades, which brought back this plague from the Middle East. As the lepers dotted the outskirts of small towns, Lazar Houses were erected to tend to them. But as the crusades waned, the leper also faded from view. To this Foucault says:

“Leprosy disappeared, the leper vanished, or almost, from memory; these structures remained. Often, in these same places, the formulas of exclusion would be repeated,…

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