Search Results for Foucault
The DSM-IV-TR (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Version IV with Text Revisions) is the most recent manual developed by the American Psychiatric Association, one used by health professionals to classify various psychological disorders, generally referred to as mental illnesses.
The DSM-IV-TR is used around the world, along with two other manuals (The ICD-10 produced by the World Health Organization and The Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders produced by the Chinese Society of Psychiatry).
Each diagnosis is number-coded and depending on the country, may be used by hospitals, clinics and insurance companies.
Some postmodern thinkers and particularly anti-psychiatry groups say that the DSM-IV-TR, along with its counterparts, constructs (as in creates) rather than classifies mental illnesses. For those unfamiliar with this idea, it might take a while to understand just what these thinkers are saying. But in a nutshell, postmodern critiques of the DSM-IV-TR argue that certain illnesses are, in a sense, created by the way that those with social power interpret unusual behaviors. In more common parlance, these thinkers say that those who benefit from the status quo tend to label certain people who behave differently from the social rules and expectations of the day.
These kinds of conceptual and historically based critiques of the DSM-IV-TR and of psychiatry, in general, tend to draw on the work of thinkers like Michel Foucault, Thomas Szaz, R. D. Laing, Ram Dass, David Lukoff, Stanislav Grof, L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology) and others.
Other critiques focus not so much on the issue of the DSM-IV-TR’s analytical validity but on the possibility of negligence by incompetent practitioners.
Debates also exist about the relation between psychiatric classification, on the one hand, and cultural, political and economic realities on the other hand, the most visible example being the link between pharmaceutical companies and the discipline of psychiatry, and a less visible example being political in-fighting among psychiatrists.
While some readily dismiss the DSM-IV-TR as a kind of 21st-century witch hunter’s manual, we’d do well to remember that psychiatry (along with its diagnostic tools) is a developing science.¹ And human beings do live in a social and largely organizational world, and those who differ dramatically often do suffer, and in violent cases, cause others to suffer (or die).
The fact that psychiatry is a developing science is often overlooked or negatively construed by its more forceful critics, while embraced by its supporters. Regardless of one’s philosophical position on this point, sociologists will rightly note that the DSM-IV-TR still enjoys a high degree of societal legitimacy and legal power.
To this Ofer Zur, Ph.D. adds:
The DSM is a political not a scientific document. It pathologizes women, children, and minorities. It defines existentially normal behaviors as mental illnesses. It is a money making endeavor for psychiatry and other mental health professionals. It ‘dares’ to define what is normal and what is abnormal and who should be free or detained against their will…[one may find] a detailed critical article about the DSM at http://www.zurinstitute.com/dsmcritique.html » See in context
¹ As I write this a new DSM V is currently being forged, among much debate and controversy. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-5
Ethics is a branch of knowledge and philosophical inquiry concerned with moral ideals, choices and the good or bad actions which may or may not follow from those choices.
Ethics may focus on personal, social and spiritual issues, separately but often in relation to one another.
Within world religions, ethical decrees might seem fixed within a given faith tradition. But various schools of interpretation usually coexist, usually with some degree of tension—e.g. the Protestant acceptance of female and in some instances homosexual ministers vs. the Catholic rule of an exclusively male priesthood and homosexual acts being specified in the catechism as “intrinsically disordered.”¹
- Kant of Ga.: Bentham Mill: Normative ethics – Britannica.com (humeofga.wordpress.com)
- The Universal vs. the Particular (aleksandreia.com)
- My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
- CFP: Conference on Metaphysics and Ethics, East and West (warpweftandway.wordpress.com)
- Emotions and Ethics: A Foucauldian framework for becoming an ethical educator (2012) (foucaultnews.wordpress.com)
It’s often said that communism breeds mediocrity at best, and downright shoddiness at worst. And most in the developed world would agree that communism has failed miserably due to its lack of capitalist incentives for (a) company owners to make better widgets and (b) workers to create a better standard of living through hard work and merit.
But the founders of the communist ideology did make some thought-provoking – if biased and pessimistic – criticisms of capitalist society.
One of those criticisms deals with the notion of false consciousness. The idea of false consciousness is found in Karl Marx‘s theory but it’s not specifically defined by Marx. The term first appears in a letter written by his German comrade, Friedrich Engels:
Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker consciously, indeed, but with a false consciousness. The real motives impelling him remain unknown to him, otherwise it would not be an ideological process at all. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives.”¹
Subsequent Marxists and lefty sociologists use the term ‘false consciousness’ to apparently account for the dynamics of class-based exploitation. Specifically, the working class (proletariat) distorts their relationship with the ruling class—that is, the worker’s understanding of his or her relation to the owners of the means of production is based on ideology instead of fact.
The proletariat’s true condition of submission to exploitative, dominating powers is effectively replaced by a phoney belief in equality, involvement and duty. Duped into believing ideological stories as if they were truth, the masses willingly – but unconsciously so – participate in their own oppression.
Talking about contemporary society, neoMarxists often say the distortion of actual conditions is largely effected through ads, the entertainment industry, and the mass media. So neoMarxists would say that a song like, for instance, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” stirs up patriotic emotions among workers who happily trudge out to the factory to make widgets for a company owner who reaps obscene profits from their hard labor. And those very same factory workers save money so they can buy “American made” trucks to feel patriotic, a sense of belonging, and pride.
Another example might be what I saw today on Yonge St. in downtown Toronto. A sort of weather-beaten looking fellow who might have been living on the streets was wearing a brand new Globe and Mail baseball jacket with fine gold lettering on black.
The Globe and Mail is Canada’s conservative newspaper. I’ve heard it called an “old man’s” paper, meaning that it generally represents the interests of conservatives with quite a bit of money. And I think it would strike some neoMarxists as ironic – and a proof of false consciousness – that this fellow was wearing that particular jacket.
These two illustrations concerning a rock and roll song and a newspaper jacket are, of course, overly cynical. But this is how many communists thinkers would view things. Someone more sympathetic to capitalism would add that factory workers receive good benefits, have a humane workplace, and are always free to leave and try something else. That is, the possibility for upward mobility exists in capitalism while it’s virtually absent in communism.
Moreover, one could argue that capitalist workers are not as dumb as Marxist theorists tend to assume, and that workers truly believe in the core values of their country—especially when compared to the violent and oppressive regimes that make up many other countries around the globe.
As for the baseball jacket, maybe that person would be out on the street in any social system. And perhaps some kind soul from the newspaper was just trying to help keep him warm.
The idea of false consciousness has also been criticized by academics. Some see it as a condescending perspective generated by social theorists who wrongly believe something along the lines of:
We intelligent theorists know what the average people want better than they, themselves, do.
Other sharp thinkers like Michel Foucault question the very idea of class and the social dynamic implied by it. For Foucault, false consciousness (and the idea of class-based oppression upon which it rests) contains far too many simplifications and faulty constructs that have little bearing on what’s really going on.
For Foucault, the struggle isn’t just about two main groups (company owners and workers). Instead, it’s a complicated, ever changing matrix of discourses, practices, and power relationships.²
² The Foucauldian perspective has its own shortcomings, particularly in its simplistic view of power. But this is a point debated elsewhere at Think Free.
- Ideology and Meanings in Communication (prmarketingcommunication.wordpress.com)
- HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Detroit Nears Bankruptcy: Unemploy… (pjmedia.com)
- Resistance in Theory essay (christophermhenry.wordpress.com)
- Althusser – Ranciere Controversy Part II (millerjacobp.wordpress.com)
- Marx’s Materialism in Relation to Hegel and Feuerbach (symptomaticredness.wordpress.com)
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was an Italian mathematician and astronomer who was tried and found guilty by the Catholic Inquisition for claiming that the sun – not the earth – was at the center of the solar system. This view had been previously proposed by Copernicus, and it runs counter to the Biblical story.
Forced to recant under threat of torture, Galileo was placed under house arrest where he spent the rest of his days, eventually becoming blind.
Historian of science David C. Lindberg disagrees with the contemporary myth, however, that this conflict was about religion stifling scientific progress. Lindberg says that Galileo’s struggle epitomizes the ongoing political tension between traditionalism and liberalism. And the historical evidence supports Lindberg’s claim.
What we usually don’t hear in the TV documentaries about Galileo is that some scientists opposed and even ridiculed Galileo’s claims, as did the conservative Dominican religious order. However, the more liberal Jesuits supported Galileo (until Galileo insulted and alienated them) along with a few liberal scientists.
So the situation was far more complicated and not so simple as some contemporary opponents of Catholicism (and organized religion in general) tend to see it.
Lindberg also points out that in the 21st century, Catholicism has embraced scientific inquiry while fundamentalist Protestants still adhere to a literal interpretation of the Bible. What Lindberg overlooks, however, is the ham handed way that some Catholics tend to embrace scientific truth claims, calling them “scientific truth” as if they were beyond question or, perhaps, further development. It’s almost as if some Catholics have made a leap of faith to the scientific paradigm that’s so prevalent and, sometimes, potentially dangerous when left unquestioned.¹
To this Neil adds:
I think great care must be used with the word “literal.”
For example, I think it is literally true that the original writings were 100% inspired by God – that is, the writings turned out exactly as He wanted them to.
But do I take every verse literally? No, because some sections are historical, some are poetry, some are parables, etc., and many contain figures of speech. The parables didn’t involved people who literally existed, but they involved principles that were literally true.
When Jesus said it is better to cut off our hands and/or gouge out our eyes rather than sin with them I hope He was using hyperbole :-).
In my experience those who are theologically liberal often take verses just as literally as those they accuse of being literalists. For example, they quote Jesus as saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” as a blanket statement against making any moral judgments. Yet that passage is talking about not judging hypocritically and there are plenty of other passages telling us how to judge problem (e.g., John 7:24). » See in context
¹ For example, while extremely vocal on some issues (e.g. homosexuality, contraception and abortion), some Catholics remain mute on other issues, turning a blind eye to vast tracts of wasted human potential and suffering (e.g. the experimental medication of some third world peoples and the excessive and unnecessary medication of some psych. patients). Just why this is so remains unclear. But it possibly involves ignorance and, in some instances, might fit with Michel Foucault‘s idea that morality usually has a political agenda.
- Why did church authorities charge Galileo with heresy (wiki.answers.com)
- Infallibility (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Recreate Galileo Galilei’s Lunar Journal (ronit18.wordpress.com)
- Memo to Rick Perry: Galileo Was a Liberal (desmogblog.com)
- What are some important events of Galileo’s life (wiki.answers.com)
- Divining Perry’s meaning on Galileo remark (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Minor myths: the Galileo Gambit (newanthropocene.wordpress.com)
- The Caucus: Divining Perry’s Meaning in ‘Galileo’ Remark (thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Scientist of the Month (smartypots.wordpress.com)
- Galileo skeptics confound Catholics and astrophysicists alike (weinterrupt.com)
Hegemony is a political science term with ancient roots.
In the Greco–Roman world of 5th century European Classical antiquity, the city-state of Sparta was the hegemon of the Peloponnesian League (6th – 4th centuries BC); King Philip II of Macedon was the hegemon of the League of Corinth, in 337 BC, (a kingship he willed to his son, Alexander the Great).¹
In the 19th century historians used the term to describe one nation’s power over another, and by implication, the whole notion of Imperialism.
The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (1891 – 1937) was the first to use hegemony to describe the idea of a ruling class socially and economically dominating others within a given society.
The contemporary sociological meaning of the term hegemony points to an entire system of cultural values and practices existing within interconnected and (apparently) legitimate social institutions (e.g. markets, legal system, government, education, religion and media) which the powerful allegedly use to oppress the powerless.
Along these lines, the French social thinker Bourdieu, Pierre (1930-2002) introduced the idea of “cultural capital” to try to explain the complex relations contributing to societal inequity, discrimination and domination.
For all its flaws, the recent “Occupy movement” (where protestors are sweeping the globe in protest of being “have-nots” apparently marginalized by a few wealthy “haves”)² raises the question of institutional legitimacy, which just a few decades ago, was certainly not a mainstream issue and hardly questioned by most people in the G8.
- US Hegemony and Global Power Relations: Now What? (atthefootnote.com)
- Can America function without a dominant culture? (demolishingdisparity.wordpress.com)
- Behold the Awesome Power of Demographic Hegemony (chariotofreaction.blogspot.com)
- Eleventh Circuit Dismisses Alien Tort Statute Claim (volokh.com)
- Gramsci and Foucault: A Reassessment. Call for chapters (2011) (foucaultnews.wordpress.com)
- The Meanings of Space (scienceray.com)
- The Salad Days: Hegemony Rome (rockpapershotgun.com)
- What was the result of Peloponnesian war for Athens and Greece (wiki.answers.com)
- Why I don’t write (chariotofreaction.blogspot.com)
- WHY DO JOURNALISTS love Twitter and hate blogging? “Blogging was a direct attack on MSM hegemony at… (pajamasmedia.com)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher often associated with idealism.
Hegel is arguably misunderstood by many, especially by those who suggest that he advances an elaborate metaphysical system without providing any real empirical support for it.
This kind of critique of Hegel’s “grand theory” isn’t necessarily fair. If one takes the time to go to his actual works, we find that Hegel takes great pains to support his theories with actual historical examples.
His influential theory of history, for example, could be taken as a scientific attempt to develop theory from observation. Here Hegel sees pure Spirit manifesting itself within a teleological human history.
Any given moment in history is a necessary but imperfect manifestation of Infinite Spirit. Historical events observed in the material world are progressively transformed through an ongoing dynamic known as the dialectic.
Although Hegel never used the words “thesis,” “antithesis” and “synthesis” to describe his own theory, they’re often used by academics and writers when trying to explain his idea of dialectical becoming. This kind of usage has been roundly criticized. Walter Kaufman, for example, argues that Hegel’s system is far more complicated than a simple triad moving towards perfection.¹
Hegelian dialectic, usually presented in a threefold manner, was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis.²
Hegel himself spoke of “overcoming” (Aufhebung) the negative in the march of human history. This overcoming of resistance to the good has also been translated as “sublation,” both terms trying to express the idea that the essential, positive core of something is retained while its limiting factors are left behind.³
While critical of generalizing triadic thinking to all of Hegel’s thought, Kaufman does, however, concede that Hegel shows a marked tendency toward it.4
So a Christian theological application of the Hegelian dialectic could go as follows: Jesus Christ enters the world as the perfect Son but meets opposition from less than perfect people living during the Roman occupation of Israel under the Emperor Tiberius.
The “thesis” of the perfect, human Christ is physically destroyed by the “antithesis” of the evil actions of the people around him. But Christ’s bodily resurrection and ascension signifies an overcoming, and the conflict between thesis and antithesis is surpassed.
This example is not too far fetched. Hegel was a baptized Christian and has been roundly critiqued as a theologian posing as a philosopher, a critique that arguably exhibits the narrow and reductive thinking of some but certainly not all philosophers.
Hegel’s thoughts on the person of Jesus Christ stood out from the theologies of the Enlightenment. In his posthumous book, The Christian Religion: Lectures on Philosophy of Religion Part 3, he espouses that, “God is not an abstraction but a concrete God…God, considered in terms of his eternal Idea, has to generate the Son, has to distinguish himself from himself; he is the process of differentiating, namely, love and Spirit”. This means that Jesus as the Son of God is posited by God over against himself as other. Hegel sees both a relational unity and a metaphysical unity between Jesus and God the Father. To Hegel, Jesus is both divine and Human. Hegel further attests that God (as Jesus) not only died, but “…rather, a reversal takes place: God, that is to say, maintains himself in the process, and the latter is only the death of death. God rises again to life, and thus things are reversed.” Hegel therefore maintains not only the deity of Jesus, but the resurrection as a reality.5
Many commentators today say that the triadic dynamic in Hegel’s work had a profound influence on Karl Marx, who adapted it to his own, entirely materialistic theory of history.
Also, Hegel’s dialectic arguably had an indirect effect on Michel Foucault. For Foucault, the idea of dialectical tension could be improved upon by explaining history through a more open-ended, discontinuous outlook, one characterized by struggle.
3 “Roughly, the term indicates preserving the useful portion of an idea, thing, society, etc., while moving beyond its limitations.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectic#Hegelian_dialectic
- The Same Tolstoy and Hegel (slog.thestranger.com)
- More on Hegel (nplusonemag.com)
- Nature in Whitehead, Hegel, and Schelling (footnotes2plato.com)
- After Hegel: An Interview with Robert Pippin (readysteadybook.com)
- Types of Explanation in Whitehead and Hegel (footnotes2plato.com)
- Zizek’s Hegel in The Parallax View (teresawinter.wordpress.com)
- talking hegel (3quarksdaily.com)
- Notes on the Dialectic of Lordship and Bondage in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (teresawinter.wordpress.com)
- The End of American Conservatism (rogueoperator.wordpress.com)
- On Zizek and the London Riots (nplusonemag.com)
In her book Illness as Metaphor (1978), Susan Sontag argued, not unlike Michel Foucault, that contemporary ways of approaching and understanding illness are intricately linked to societal norms. Huston Smith, in Beyond the Postmodern Mind (1982), also contends that current views about illness are culture-bound.
Other cultures, particularly those located in different historical periods, would probably regard as abnormal some contemporary beliefs, ideas and practices which many today see as normal.
This kind of argument is often used in relation to mental illness (and an inverse argument is often used with regard to homosexuality and polygamy¹), but Sontag (and Foucault) point out that it also applies to physical illness.
As with mental illness, bias with physical illness is evident in the way the issue is construed—i.e. the apparent causes, the best course of treatment, and what an illness supposedly signifies about a sick person’s moral character.
Related Posts » Aesculapius, Athleticism, Castanada (Carlos), Demons, DSM-IV-TR, Evil, Francis of Assisi (St.), Homeopathy, Jung (Carl Gustav), Koestler (Arthur), Laing (R. D.), Madness, Medicine Wheel, Occam’s razor, Shaman, Soul Loss, Spiritual Attack, Suicide, Szasz (Thomas), Venial Sin
¹ That is, other cultures, particularly those located in different historical periods, would probably regard as normal some contemporary beliefs, ideas and practices which many today see as abnormal. For instance, many in the ancient world believed that illness was caused by spiritual attack. Today, this belief would probably be uncritically dismissed by medical science.
- 38% Of Europeans Are Mentally Ill [Research Study] (inquisitr.com)
- Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness (theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com)
- Study: 60% of Europeans Have Mental Disorders (weeklyworldnews.com)
- U.S. Adult Mental Illness Surveillance Report (cdc.gov)
- Mental Illness Affects Half Of All Americans During Their Lifetime (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Nearly 40 percent of Europeans suffer mental illness – Yahoo! News (underpaidgenius.com)
- Foucault, Oxford bibliographies online (2011) (foucaultnews.wordpress.com)
- Half of Americans Have Mental Health Problems, But Why? (blisstree.com)
- 40% of Europeans Are Mentally Ill (newser.com)
- 40% of Europeans Are Mentally Ill. (reuters.com)
The word ideology is fairly well known today but not too long ago its mention, except among sociologists and historians, would probably have been met with a blank stare.
Ideology refers to a body of social, economic or political ideas and beliefs informing a person, a group or a nation. At least, this is the standard dictionary view. Social thinkers – who tend to question dictionary definitions – argue that ideology is an often deceptive set of beliefs willingly or possibly unwittingly advanced by those with the social power to do so.
According to Karl Marx, Roland Barthes and, to some extent, Michel Foucault, the unwitting masses tend to reproduce ideologies until the point where they become aware of the shallow and deceptive character of a given ideology.
At this time the so-called ordinary person, and not just the so-called intellectuals, may try to change or even revolutionize ideologies.
It’s been argued that all religions contain an ideological component. And this may be true. But to reduce the spiritual aspect of religious experience to mere ideology is probably a mistake or, at least, incomplete.
Academic treatments of the idea of ideology are often complicated and extensive. And, one could say, that although they may appear radical and progressive to naive young students, in reality the academic treatment of ideology is still, for the most part “safe,” and thus ironically reproduces the very social structures and attendant issues which are outlined in class (along with those issues that are overlooked).
That’s a cynical view, of course. And like any opinion, it’s biased and incomplete. Another view is that it’s better to talk about some things than entirely ignore or deny their existence. And social change need not be revolutionary but can, in fact, be gradual or subtle. So, university is not necessarily just “finishing school” but can help to spark young minds into positive action.
Another thing to consider about ideology – or, more properly, academic views about ideology – is that it need not be an evil or sinister process. Ideologies can be good or, at least, better than competing ones. This point is often overlooked by derisive professors who seem to be lopsidedly critical and unfairly trash the very system that gives them their bread and butter.
In the arts, Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn had this to say in the 1980′s song, “Call it Democracy.” I’m not sure what his stance would be today.
Sinister cynical instrument
Who makes the gun into a sacrament –
The only response to the deification
Of tyranny by so-called “developed” nations’
Idolatry of ideology.¹
¹ Full lyrics and subsequent author comments (up to 2005) here: http://cockburnproject.net/songs&music/atcid.html
- My Political Ideology (palakmathur.wordpress.com)
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- Modernizing and liberalizing the Communism – releasing socialist activists linked to communists. (eekaa.wordpress.com)
- How do we take control of the agenda from the GOP? (americablog.com)
- The Ideology of the London Riots (forbes.com)
- Ideological Inebriation on Capitol Hill (nader.org)
- The Willful Ignorance of Positive Thinking Ideology (scotteriology.wordpress.com)
- Ideologies 101 (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)
- Yet the Left Wonders Why the President Spurns Them?: (brothersjuddblog.com)
- Ideology Serves No One (albw51.wordpress.com)