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This lasted until the end of the eighteenth century, when a new movement “liberating” the mad arose.
For Foucault, however, this was no true liberation, but rather the attempt by Enlightenment reasoning to finally negate madness by understanding it completely, and cure it with medicine.
As such the general political import of Foucault’s thought across its various turns is to understand how the historical formation of discourses have shaped the political thinking and political institutions we have today.
Foucault’s thought was overtly political during one phase of his career, coinciding exactly with the decade of the 1970s, and corresponding to a methodology he designated “genealogy”.
Some of his defenders, by contrast, argue for compatibility between Foucault and liberalism.
Foucault’s first major, canonical work was his 1961 doctoral dissertation, , of what he calls the constitution of an experience of madness in Europe, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
This encompasses correlative study of institutional and discursive changes in the treatment of the mad, to understand the way that madness was constituted as a phenomenon.
What can be generally agreed about Foucault is that he had a radically new approach to political questions, and that novel accounts of power and subjectivity were at its heart.
Critics dispute not so much the novelty of his views as their coherence.