Michel Foucault (1926–1984) not a philosopher in the normal sense. Even so, at once stage, he was called ‘the new Kant’ – a very large estimation. Foucault was born in France to very upper-middle class parents, his father was a doctor and put a lot of pressure on to him to study to become a doctor but Foucault had other plans- this caused some unrest in the family.
Foucault started his work as a historian rather than a philosopher, This changed the nature of his work, he saw history and his task was to show the reader of his work that maybe the ‘it’s better now’ understanding of history is wrong and a person needs to look for history’s sake rather than modernity vs the past.
Many college students like to read his ideas because he writes with an ease that makes the reader think as they read his work.
This essay will talk about Foucault’s main ideas, they’re as follows, discourse, power and its structures and the change in the mental health practice.
Foucault had an idea of discourse, he believed that how we use media (talking, writing, sharing etc) impacted on how we saw ourselves and others. Discourse is everything and is everywhere, from watching the news, to how chatting with friends changes on who you’re chatting with, Foucault looked at the ways that people use communication and how that communication is used to control something.
He wrote “Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism”(Madness and Civilization) He believed in free thought and how that free thinking posed a massive problem for those who control discourse. Discourse is controlled in so many ways, in Australia, there was a debate about law 18C and how the law is anti-free speech, one side of the debate said it was an important law as it protected groups in society that could be a target for ‘hate speech’ . The other side of the debate said that it was not needed as free speech is one of the most important parts of living in a free society and that personal feelings do not matter.