Explore BrainMass

Michel Foucault & Postmodernism

The essay solution seeks to help the student to understand the concept of postmodernism & the work of Michelle Foucalt. The original problem posted by the student for this academic problem is presented in full below:

"I am struggling in this class and need to understand more information regarding postmodernism. This is in preparation for a paper. I need to present a summary of the philosophy along with a personal reaction and critique Supporting my position, and discussing my personal experiences that confirm or disconfirm your chosen philosophy."

Solution Preview

Dear Student,

Below is a comprehensive solution I created for you. Part 1 explains the concept of postmodernism & related ideas, part two delivers the language/knowledge/discourse theory of Foucault explained in easy to understand examples. I wrote the Foucault theory section in Part to 'mimic' the manner of resolving the problems you have indicated in your post. Use this as your sample & guide in your final paper. I have listed a set of references you can use, the very same references I used for creating your solution. Attached is the word version of this solution, print it for guidance. Good Luck!

OTA 105878

Part 1: Background on Postmodernism & Related Concepts

Brief Discussion for Guidance

Michel Foucault is one of the more prominent social-thinkers in postmodernism and as a consequence, his ideas go beyond the limits of the discipline of philosophy. Criminology, sociology, linguistics, economics, history - branches of social sciences that benefit from viewing their varied aspects through a Foucauldian perspective. Do not worry too much about 'zoning out' or struggling when it comes to getting to the heart of the abstract. As a philosopher-historian, Foucault's theories & ideas in understanding the complexity of human nature & the social world are intertextual and takes into account the varied social & natural sciences not just through scientific inquiry but by a critical questioning as well. Sometimes it takes a lot of familiarization to 'get a hold of the concept' and apply it to realities that 'explain' the abstract that to many, seem to be as hard to catch in one's hand as smoke. The trick is to understand the abstract by putting it in context, anchoring it with situations in the real world. Following the train of thoughts of Foucault, Lyotard, Descartes and Roland Barthes is not really that difficult anymore if you can anchor them into reality, simplifying what seems to be rather complex. Now, before we get any further, I believe that there are two main concepts we need to cover here just so we can 'anchor' the ideas for the problem here for you. First, I believe you need to define modernism briefly to emphasise what postmodernism is about. Modernism describes that change in the social & industrial aspect of the world from the 19th to the 20th centuries. It carried a certain sensibility to the way of life & outlook people had about society, relations, politics, the industry, citizenship, faith in general and these are expressed in the manner the 19th & 20th centuries unfolded. Postmodernism then goes beyond that which was modern in the simplest terms. It is important to situate the Premodern, modern & postmodern period in human history so that we can in turn 'chart' Foucault within a certain historical and social period. To further clarify this, I have included a discussion from one of the essays I have written on the topic for you below:

The Premodern, Modern & Postmodern Period

When we say modern, we refer to what is present, what is now. Modern generally means up to date or of the present period when the term was invented in the 16th century by academics of that period to describe their 'present' era. Linguistically, it is easy to confuse when we refer to modern meaning 'Now' being that a generation since the 16th century ascribed to their own 'present periods' as their 'modern way of life'. When we say modern, we also refer to progressive. For the purpose of this guide, we will look at the term Modern loosely, that period of time that followed the pre-modern & early modern period from the mid-1400's to the 1800's. This period is seen by Historians as following directly after the Ancient period of Human History from a European/Western perspective marked by the invention of the printing press running alongside the Middle Ages. This was the Christian Age of truth when scientific inquiries were seen as heresy and truth was ascertained by the Church alone. The best images in modern literature that contrive this period of Human history can be read through Umberto Ecco's "In the Name of the Rose". At this period Monarchical forms of government were in place with Kings seen as having Divine Rights to govern on Earth. This Period lasted until the birth of the Industrial Age and a world where Colonial powers thrived to carve out the world according to the capacity of the navy. The powerful British Empire was born in this manner.

The Modern period "proper" is that of the Industrial Age when cities were born according to the Industrial capacity of particular nations. Steam Engines & new wealth created cities where the divide between the rich & poor grew and grew. Charles Dickens' work set in this period allows one a viewpoint from which to see the 'feel' & nature of these said period in Human History. It is also in this period when the idea of individualism, democratic freedoms, equality & nationhood were born in a sense that is concurrent to present ideas of individuality & equality. Within this period (18th to the 21st century), the 13 Colonies broke away from Great Britain giving birth to the United States of America whose unique manner of nationhood inspired both the French & British Revolutions that soon led to the breaking of Empires & birth of Commonwealths & Independent nations where the Monarchy became only symbolic in terms of Power. Politics became the province of bureaucrats & masses were empowered by the power to vote as slowly minority groups laid claim on the Lockean idea of equality. Increasingly Industrial Power of nations led to conflicts with others as tyrants & politicians lead the world to the first and second world wars that shaped much of the world we live in today. Ideas ...

Solution Summary

The solution is in two parts, first it explains what postmodernism is a philosophical & sociological concept to help the student in understanding the ideas & philosophies behind the concept/movement. The second part provides an analysis & critique of Michelle Foucault, partly to explain who Foucault is and the relevance of his work to sociologists and philosophers and partly as an example that the student can emulate in undertaking an analysis/critique of Foucalt. Written in the APA-format, it provides references from which the student can expand ideas. Attached is the word version of the .txt solution for easy printing.