Reddit Reddit reviews Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison

We found 18 Reddit comments about Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

Literature & Fiction
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Literary Criticism & Theory
Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison
Vintage Books
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18 Reddit comments about Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison:

u/afrosheen · 12 pointsr/philosophy

If there ever was a post to be used as an example for a legitimate downvoting in this philosophy subreddit, it would be yours because you wrote a vapidly subjective statement lacking anything discernible with its sole purpose being, ostensibly, to respond pejoratively to another theory, stamped with "this statement is ok to say because I'm his fanboy" at the end.

Regardless, I searched for what I thought I missed in Chomsky's criticism of Lacan, and all I could find was what I originally knew, which was that he had a hard time understanding it and that Lacan was a charlatan, without basis. On obscurantism, just because it doesn't make sense or isn't born out of a rational empiricism doesn't make it an invalid theory. Hegel wrote an essay in response to such criticisms to his work called Who Thinks Abstractly.

If he was a charlatan as Chomsky says, where does he base this claim? Is it because his theory isn't original as they're based on Hegel and Freud? If that's the case then, well that describes 95% of philosophy professors who all they do is interpret other people's work. That's nothing new, I could say the same for most of my professors at the undergraduate level, but that doesn't mean I didn't learn from them or distrust them. I find what they do to be just as important as those who are creating 'new' ideas. For instance, postmodernists are not new since they are building on Nietzsche's philosophy that there aren't any totalizing universal objective truths. Thus that doesn't devalue the works like Foucault's who Chomsky is criticizing here specifically, because of how he describes the implications of Nietzsche's philosophy in modern society with the best example being from Foucault that the justice system is riddled with exercising power over others rather than the virtue within the ideal of justice due to the fact that human nature is nothing more than a concept rather than something definable which Chomsky believes it to be.

For the sake of argument here, in Discipline and Punish Foucault's point is that we might presume that our sophisticated judicial system has achieved progress by eliminating the execution of criminals for minor crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread, compared with past times. Yet the concepts of crime, criminals, prisoners, and justice developed through the human sciences produces social circumstances worse than those earlier executions for minor crimes. For instance, the concept of being constantly supervised leads to the effect of what Foucault terms 'docile bodies' which describes a form of subjection to power, whether it be politically, economically, or for warfare. And the sources that help create 'docile bodies' stems from the use of new forms of technology and the ways by which the human sciences have defined human nature which are too limiting conceptually and too stifling for human potentialities—all the while proceeding as if they were describing an objective reality.

Nietzsche points to this fallibility in the belief of objective reality in the human sciences in essays 23 and 24 in part three of Genealogy of Morals. In essay 23 Nietzsche writes:
>The ascetic ideal has a goal — and this goal is sufficiently universal for all other interests of human existence to seem narrow and petty in comparison; it relentlessly interprets periods, peoples, men in terms of this goal, it allows no other interpretation, no other goal, it reproaches, negates, affirms, confirms exclusively with reference to its interpretation (—and has there ever existed a system of interpretation more fully thought through to its end?); it subordinates itself to no other power, it believes rather in its prerogative over all other powers — it believes that no power can exist on earth without first having conferred upon it a meaning, a right to existence, a value as an instrument in the service of its work, as a path and means to its goal, to its single goal... Where is the opposition to this closed system of will, goal, and interpretation? Why does no opposition exist? Where is the other 'single goal'? But I am told that such opposition does exist, that it has not only fought a long and successful campaign against that ideal but has even already overcome it in all important respects: the whole of our modern science supposedly bears witness to this fact — this modern science, which, as a genuine philosophy of reality, clearly believes only in itself, clearly possesses the courage to be itself, the will to itself, and has managed well enough up to now without God, the beyond, and the virtues of denial. However, such noisy agitators' chatter has no effect on me: these trumpeters of reality are bad musicians, it is clear from the sound they make that their voices do not rise up from the depths, that the abyss of the scientific conscious — for today the scientific conscience is an abyss — does not speak through them, that the word 'science' in the mouths of such trumpeters is simply an obscenity, an abuse, an example of impudence. The very opposite of what is being asserted here is the truth: science today has simply no belief in itself, let alone an ideal above it — where it survives at all as passion, love, glowing intensity, suffering, it constitutes not the opposite of the ascetic ideal but rather its most recent and most refined form.

And in essay 24, Nietzsche describes how the ascetic ideal (which includes both religion and science) is inevitably linked to the obsession for the truth. And this obsession deteriorates the ability for humans not only in its condition, but its ability to see how it gives birth to an imposition of power through the use of knowledge, which Nietzsche also describes in almost every one of his works.

u/MatheoMouse · 7 pointsr/LateStageCapitalism

Of course private prisons will be fine. They're the best way capitalism has devised for just removing people who are no longer needed from the system. Populations that are no longer needed to consume to keep up profit growth for the upper class are traded away into a system that funnels its profit into the upper class, it's a win-win for billionaires! Plus, these people were already oppressed and thus more likely to stir up trouble anyways, so throwing them in jail reduces the risk of riot and revolution! Don't forget that targeting only minorities breeds animosity between races and thus hurts class solidarity! Private Prisons are the ultimate neoliberal tool to maintain control over a population.

Discipline and Punish is more relevant today than ever.

Edit For those who don't know, the central thesis of "Discipline and Punish" is that the tools used in the modern day to ensure loyalty to the system originated within prisons as methods of discipline, and one of Foucault's broader points is that the modern system is ingrained physically into the way we act. We all step in line, we all stand for the pledge, we know the positions of work because we do this job 8 hours a day. The best way to see this in action is to look at how school's operate - with the pledge everyday, with the lunch lines ripped directly out of prison's, with lines down the hallway, raise your hand to speak, the authority figure in the room is infallible, etc... The way school's train children to be model citizens was a process perfected in the modern prison. (Modern being modernist era, early 1900s.)

This commentary was a bit more relevant in a time when most Americans, and Foucault is studying America mostly, were industrial workers, and this commentary has crossover with Albert Camus and his Theater of the Absurd, where he would go to factories and just have factory workers do simple exercises. These simple exercises revealed to the factory workers that their bodies hurt when they weren't being moved in the very specific repetition that factory work had them doing. Camus did this to build class consciousness in I believe Post-WWII France but I could be wrong about the timeframe.

u/tincankilla · 6 pointsr/Documentaries

let me fix that for you: there is a strong connection between low socioeconomic status and "deviant" behavior, which in the United States is addressed with incarceration. outside of a particular political context, there is no fixed relationship between any behavior and incarceration. Punishment is an artifact of culture and power. what prison looks like (punitive vs reform) and the use of prison against social deviants is a product of how a society defines good/evil and human motivation, which is why we see so much variation now and throughout history.

Start here: Discipline and Punish, Foucault

u/creamyrecep · 4 pointsr/europe

The notion of public being enraged and oppressing the individual can only be uttered in the presence of a self-ruling society. Because in that case the majority opinion rules the state elements. So when we say, "protecting the individual against the public" we are talking about ensuring your rights in the presence of the state.

What you are suggesting seems to be more in the lines of social elements rather than legal. The guarantees brought by human rights' main function is against the state. They protect the individual from a legal person rather than a real one.

Laicité is not something that directly protects the person from raging crowds of belivers or non-believers. It allows people to not be in a advantage or disadvantage for freely practicing their religions, because it bans the state from getting involved. Now, freedom of religion is a different concept than laicité. Freedom of religion can exist in a Theocracy too for example. Such country(Say it's Christian) can allow Muslims to form sects, cults and let them pray whenever, wherever and still only let Christians in the government offices and ban other religions/atheists from many benefits. Laicité however offers a more prosperous society by effectively banning the state from anything religious.

I mean it should be taken into account that in case of freedoms usually the part of state is argued rather than the general public however democratically represented the public opinion is. That is because the legal system actually has effective power over violations. Written words do not hold much power over the simple man. It is the actual political power that does.

You can read this book to have an idea about how civil unrest is prevented or made

u/wikipediabrown007 · 3 pointsr/JusticePorn

Honestly read Michel Foucault's Discipline & Punish. It will change forever the way you see punishment.

u/leap_barb · 3 pointsr/Anthropology

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis. Good place to get a start and to get a great source.

Can't go wrong with Foucoult either.

u/Bluegutsoup · 2 pointsr/TrueReddit

You may be interested in Foucault's Discipline and Punish. He explores a lot of these ideas in different historical contexts.

u/ProblemBesucher · 2 pointsr/suggestmeabook

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance-Runner - Sillitoe

Discipline and Punishment - Foucault

Lord Of The Rings - Tolkien

are perfect prison books all for different reasons.

u/Fucho · 2 pointsr/history

OK, with philosophy background and her current situation, you must get her this!

If you get something on WWI, follow it up with Margaret MacMillan, Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World

u/laprice · 1 pointr/

I have this image of some guy at a desk in Washington reading Foucault and treating it as an instruction manual. Guantanamo as a total institution.

You do realise that Gitmo justifies our enemies, it lets them point and say, "look, that is what we are fighting against."

To quote one of the more complicated founders "If God is just, I tremble for my country. "

u/BonSequitur · 1 pointr/AskHistorians

Don't worry about it; the goal here is not to discipline and punish people who post those questions but rather to help users get useful answers, cut down our own workload, and discourage low-effort posting.

u/vaguraw · 1 pointr/IAmA

Then you could visit /r/meditation .

Also, have you read Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison? It is quite an interesting read, i thought you might enjoy it.

Thanks for this AMA and for sharing your thoughts, appreciate it a lot.

I wish the best for you. :)

u/docforrester · 1 pointr/science

For anyone fighting this still, I seriously suggest you read Michel Foucault's Discipline & Punish. You cannot 'reform' a system to do what it was never established to perform in the first place. It is futile to define what you want in its limited scope of definitions. Prison was made exactly counter to the idea of reform, so the thought that you can take its idea of punishment and somehow turn that into correction is insane. You need to abolish the current system and make something new if you want real change.

u/polynomials · 1 pointr/MakingaMurderer

I don't know of any particular source to point you on that directly, but I think you should read From Slavery to Mass Incarceration by Lois Wacquant, and Racecraft by Karen and Barbara Fields, and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

[From Slavery to Mass Incarceration article and PDF] (

Racecraft (book)

New Jim Crow

None of these sources addresses for-profit prisons directly, I don't think (I don't recall maybe New Jim Crow does) but I think they'll be informative. I know you aren't talking about race but you can't talk about poverty and incarceration in this country without talking about race. From Slavery demonstrates how the economic system of the US has always depended on the extraction of cheap or free labor from black people while socially ostracizing black bodies. This began with slavery and it tracks its evolution to mass incarceration, and ends with a note about how there is developing a for-profit prison system which is basically extracting slave labor from large numbers of blacks and repeating the same pattern. The New Jim Crow does a good job of explaining how mass incarceration is the direct result of post Civil Rights era attempts to roll back the gains made during the Civil Rights movement, and goes into detail about the suppression and theft of black productivity that it institutes.

You asked about for profit prisons, but here I am talking about black people - why? This is where Racecraft comes in because it demonstrates how the entire purpose of racial distinctions and classifications is not only to create hierarchies between black and white, but to create hierarchies between rich whites and everyone else. The effect of this for hundreds of years has been, by injecting racial divisions, to destroy the ability of the lower classes, black white or otherwise, to unite and act productively in order to achieve class equality.

Thinking about that, it follows that the drug war, and the irrational, racist fears of the crack epidemic, and extremely harsh penalties in favor of "law and order" spiraled into a system where all poor people are at risk of being scooped up and enslaved in a system where their labor can be extracted for almost no wage -they are still economically productive but they can't actually reap the benefits of their own production. But whenever we talk about the issue, notice the discussion always devolves into a discussion about "black culture" and "white privilege" and so on...Racecraft really made me believe that it's not just that race and class are "linked" - in America, they are identical issues, whose two facets are obscured from each other.

You might also want to read Discipline and Punish for a background on prison systems generally, and how they are designed to perpetuate criminality and create a criminal underclass for the exploitation of the rest of society.

u/sllewgh · 1 pointr/changemyview

Michel Foucault, an extremely prominent social theorist, has written at great length on this subject in his work, Discipline and Punish. If this is a subject to which you've given a lot of thought, you would probably enjoy reading some academic work on the subject.

Foucault argues against the notion that western society moved away from public, chaotic, violent punishment and torture towards comparatively private, organized, and "humanitarian" punishment NOT because of any moral or ethical or humanitarian reasons, but as a reflection in changes in society as a whole. It's a pretty dramatic shift we're talking about- he cites examples from the mid 18th century of public torture, shifting to descriptions of regimented, ordered, more modern-seeming imprisonment in the early 19th century- not a long time for such a big change in how we punish to occur.

Let's examine the goals of torture, which you advocate. The use of public punishment and torture is meant to be theatrical, in order to serve as a deterrent, as you say. The crimes (and punishment) are made public, the violence of the crime reflected in the violence against the body of the convict. It is also a form of public revenge upon the criminal.

However, these methods have some unintended consequences. Publicizing the spectacle opened the doors for the prisoner's body to become an object of sympathy, creating a cult of personality around those persecuted by a government with which the citizens do not agree. The public site itself is transformed into a space of protest and resistance to the very power being displayed.

So, all in all, public torture can have a pretty high political cost. With these drawbacks, it gradually lost favor as the most efficient way to control the populace. It seems to run afoul of the ideals of order and consistency that are central to modern, western societies- the system should be sanitary and organized and consistent and fair and just- bureaucratic, if you will. It's not easy to standardize and apply consistently an act of torture.

So, there's a gradual progression to the system we have now. You see some interesting intermediary stages- labor camps, public debtors prisons, chain gangs where the imprisonment is displayed- ways in which to make imprisonment a public spectacle as well.

If we look at the ways in which we in reality treat severe crimes, we can see hints that this newer form of control extends beyond the prison itself. The prison is just one element in a broader system of control that has emerged as a result of these shifts I describe in how power is applied to the people.

A mass murderer isn't just a criminal, he's mentally unstable, there is likely to be something wrong with him psychologically (under our system). We treat this individual not just as a criminal, but a patient. Psychology, just as much as the penal system, acts as a "deterrant", to establish the lines and keep people within them. The school system can be argued to function the same way, establishing boundaries and ways to keep people within them. Other social institutions are on this list as well, the church, the workplace. Read the book, it's real interesting.

I may be going off topic a bit here, but to change your view, we ought to first understand why we stopped using torture in the first place. Firstly, torture has its drawbacks, as described above. The desire of the state is to produce order, to shape citizens into the individuals required for the more modern society- especially workers, with the rise of the factory. Public torture, even as a deterrent, isn't the most effective way to do this. We instead gradually shift to the prison, which should be viewed as just one element in a larger system of control.

TL;DR- We switched from torture to other modes of discipline as the result of a broader shift in societal philosophy. Read the book, it's interesting. I can talk more about this if anyone is interested in a specific aspect, but I think I may have gone on too long already.

u/apollocontrol · 0 pointsr/SJSU

Robert, your post speaks for itself. If you want to actually help people, then I'm not kidding about reading up on structural violence. If you aren't afraid of a civil discussion, meet with the chair of the SJSU Anthro department, buy him lunch and ask him to look at your post and explain what's wrong with it.

I don't live in the area or I would come talk to you, I'd even walk along on one of your marches to watch you upset the dirty homeless you seem so scared of.

I don't care that you never threw a punch. Congrats on meeting the very bottom criteria for not being a terrible human, you still went out and harassed homeless and made judgments about people based on their appearance.

There is so much wrong with your post, man. Please, I'm begging you, please meet with the chair of the Anthro department and also a therapist to help you work through your ideas about power and responsibility. I'm in therapy too man, I don't mean it as an insult, but I do mean to say that you need a professional to help you understand what your actions are and why they are not okay.

Please at the very least read Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault and Pathologies of Power by Paul Farmer. You are contributing to the tension between the haves and havenots in downtown SJ, and you have no right to do so. You are hurting more than helping, and you are doing so in an arrogant and uninformed way.

If you want to pretend to be doing the right thing, than at least read up on what it is that you are contributing to. Foucault will be a great resource for you.

u/Thurgood_Marshall · 0 pointsr/PoliticalDiscussion