His interest is primarily the "discursive fact" of sexuality: Ultimately, his interest is not in sexuality itself, but in our drive for a certain kind of knowledge, a certain perspective, and the kind of power we find in that knowledge. Commentary Foucault uses the word "discourse" frequently, and has a very specific meaning in mind. When we talk about a "discussion," we are talking only about what has been said.
The Will to Knowledge[ edit ] Part I: We "Other Victorians"[ edit ] In Part One, Foucault discusses the "repressive hypothesis", the widespread belief among late 20th-century westerners that sexuality, and the open discussion of sex, was socially repressed during the late 17th, 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, a by-product of the rise of capitalism and bourgeois society, before the partial liberation of sexuality in modern times.
Arguing that sexuality was never truly repressed, Foucault asks why modern westerners believe the hypothesis, noting that in portraying past sexuality as repressed, it provides a basis for the idea that in rejecting past moral systems, future sexuality can be free and uninhibited, a " We have not only witnessed a visible explosion of unorthodox sexualities; but — and this is the important point — a deployment quite different from the law, even if it is locally dependent on procedures of prohibition, has ensured, through a network of interconnecting mechanisms, the proliferation of specific pleasures and the multiplication of disparate sexualities.
He argues that this desire to talk so enthusiastically about sex in the western world stems from the Counter-Reformationwhen the Roman Catholic Church called for its followers Repressive hypothesis confess their sinful desires as well as their actions.
As evidence for the obsession of talking about sex, he highlights the publication of the book My Secret Lifeanonymously written in the late 19th century and detailing the sex life of a Victorian gentleman.
Indeed, Foucault states that at the start of the 18th century, there was an emergence of " He notes that in that century, governments became increasingly aware that they were not merely having to manage "subjects" or "a people" but a " population ", and that as such they had to concern themselves with such issues as birth and death rates, marriage, and contraception, thereby increasing their interest and changing their discourse on sexuality.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, he argues, society ceases discussing the sex lives of married couples, instead taking an increasing interest in sexualities that did not fit within this union; the "world of perversion" that includes the sexuality of children, the mentally ill, the criminal and the homosexual.
He notes that this had three major effects on society. Firstly, there was increasing categorization of these "perverts"; where previously a man who engaged in same-sex activities would be labeled as an individual who succumbed to the sin of sodomynow they would be categorised into a new "species," that of homosexual.
Secondly, Foucault argues that the labeling of perverts conveyed a sense of "pleasure and power" on to both those studying sexuality and the perverts themselves.
Thirdly, he argues that bourgeoisie society exhibited "blatant and fragmented perversion," readily engaging in perversity but regulating where it could take place. Scientia Sexualis[ edit ] In part three, Foucault explores the development of the scientific study of sex, the attempt to unearth the "truth" of sex, a phenomenon which Foucault argues is peculiar to the West.
In contrast to the West's sexual science, Foucault introduces the ars erotica, which he states has only existed in Ancient and Eastern societies. Furthermore, he argues that this scientia sexualis has repeatedly been used for political purposes, being utilized in the name of "public hygiene" to support state racism.
Returning to the influence of the Catholic confession, he looks at the relationship between the confessor and the authoritarian figure that he confesses to, arguing that as Roman Catholicism was eclipsed in much of Western and Northern Europe following the Reformationthe concept of confession survived and became more widespread, entering into the relationship between parent and child, patient and psychiatrist and student and educator.
By the 19th century, he maintains, the "truth" of sexuality was being readily explored both through confession and scientific enquiry. Foucault proceeds to examine how the confession of sexuality then comes to be "constituted in scientific terms," arguing that scientists begin to trace the cause of all aspects of human psychology and society to sexual factors.
The Deployment of Sexuality[ edit ] In part four, Foucault explores the question as to why western society wishes to seek for the "truth" of sex.
Foucault argues that we need to develop an "analytics" of power through which to understand sex. Highlighting that power controls sex by laying down rules for it to follow, he discusses how power demands obedience through domination, submission, and subjugation, and also how power masks its true intentions by disguising itself as beneficial.The repressive hypothesis ignores the fact that modern bio and disciplinary power is not just a negative, repressive force but also a positive, productive liberating force.
Let us consider shortcomings Bell's interpretations of the repressive hypothesis first. The Repressive Hypothesis Asserts that since the 17th Century societies have sought to repress human sexuality and sexual urges.
Foucault challenges this hypothesis The Incitement of Discourse and. An orientation repressive foucault michel the hypothesis and training them to operate under the code sets the value of particular interventions per se: For example, in the next page illustration shows a connection between religion and culture has gradually been extended to public schools.
The repressive hypothesis about sexuality is that western civilization has moved from a time of shameless sexuality to an era of repressed sexuality, restricted to the parents' bedroom. (Part 2 of the five part The History Sexuality is called The Repressive Hypothesis).
Felluga, Dino. "Modules on Foucault: On the Repressive Hypothesis." Introductory Guide to Critical Theory.
Date of last update, which you can find on the home page. Purdue U. . The repressive hypothesis makes it seem both defiant and of utmost importance to our personal liberation that we talk openly about sex.
Our discourse on sexuality, in its promise for a better, freer way of life, is a form of preaching.