Descartes Comparing Foucault's Discipline And

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The modern era can be categorized as a period in which power, and its structures, dispersed. No longer could one identify discrete institutions, organizations, or individuals who held a majority of power over the common people. While in the past, feudalism, the church, and the king governed much of an individual’s conduct, the modern era, marked by the emergence of modern, industrial capitalism, diffused this power among many different institutions, organizations, and individuals. Foucault’s Discipline and Punish explores the changes in modes of punishment and imprisonment occurring at this time and driven by the major political technologies that shaped disciplinary practices. Many of these advents relate to the prevailing societal understanding of the body as a modern machine. Foucault, in…show more content…
Descartes describes this notion through his categorization of res extensa and res cogitans. Res extensa means an extended thing and is used by Descartes to describe something’s bodily or physical substance. On the other hand, res cogitans can be understood as a thinking thing, and refers to the core mental substance that constitutes a being. Descartes explains this concept through the wax metaphor in his second meditation. He explains how when wax melts, he still knows it to be wax, despite the wax losing all the physical characteristics which would initially allow him to identify it as wax. Descartes notes that he does not know that the wax is still wax through either senses or imagination, but rather “it is [his] mind alone which perceives it” (Descartes, 77). This metaphor upends the Aristotelian conception of the senses as belonging to the body and intellect belonging to the soul. Instead, Descartes claims that sensation, imagination, and logic all rest in the mind, giving way to an understanding of the body, as Leder puts it, as an “automaton”
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