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The Spectacle of the Scaffold
Foucault’s writings on power and control in social institutions have made him one of the modern era’s most influential thinkers. Here he argues that punishment has gone from being mere spectacle to becoming an instrument of systematic domination over individuals in society – not just of our bodies, but our souls.
Paperback, Penguin Great Ideas, 112 pages
Published August 7th 2008 by Penguin Books Ltd
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Bits of this are pretty interesting, for example a part about how any evidence against a person, even if circumstantial, used to be sufficient for that person to be considered at least a little guilty - not just more likely to eventually be found guilty, but actually guilty already. Guilty enough for punishment and judicial torture aimed at uncovering further evidence of further guilt. Also, a part about how the accused was never allowed to know the nature of his supposed crime or the evidence a ...more
This is a fascinating look at executions and the spectacle of public punishments. Foucault in his way questions such behaviour and practice. With the current political climate these essays make interesting reading and show the power of such events to incite emotions in the viewer. It is split in two parts, exposing the motives behind capital punishment. The first, 'The Body of the Condemned' opens with a very violent description of an execution in 1757 in Damiens. This essay focuses on the conde ...more
Interesting observations on what formed the real motivations behind capital punishment and torture as punishment that over three decades later are still interesting to ponder in the context say of what wikileaks is revealing about Iraq. Also liked his analysis on what punishment has become in liberal societies today and how that might be simultaneously failing yet still over oppressing the soul. The only weakness of the book was an over analysis of what is the soul which to me seemed repetitive ...more
I am against the death penalty on the grounds that I do not believe it is justice delivered, but revenge; and the only people truly punished are the loved ones of the condemned. This book demonstrates that capital – and even corporal – punishment was always meant to exact revenge rather than deliver justice with an escalation of the horror taking place upon the scaffold to try to make the punishment fit the crime.
Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas. He held a chair at the Collège de France with the title "History of Systems of Thought," but before he was Professor at University of Tunis, Tunisia, and then Professor at University Paris VIII. He lectured at several different Universities over the world as at the University at Buffalo, the University of California, ...more