Collège international de philosophie, Paris/Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa
Like many other Michel Foucault’s books, Discipline and Punish provoked some polemical debates. Foucault accepted to take part especially in one of these discussions and responded to some criticisms addressed to him. This was the debate with some French historians, between 1978 and 1980, which led to the publication of L’impossible prison, edited by Michelle Perrot.
In this debate, some relevant issues emerged, such as the Enlightenment, the Revolution, modern reason and its relationships with power and normalisation. Since 1978, Foucault provided in several articles and conferences a reading of Kant’s text Was ist Aufklärung, which can be considered as a sort of response to the issues raised in the debate with historians: in fact, in this work on Kant, Foucault suggests his own, original way of conceiving a possible “legacy” of Enlightenment, as a “critical attitude” that can be reactivated in our present.
Michel Foucault – Power – Enlightenment – Critical Attitude – History