Knowledge and Power


Since Plato dreamed of a republic ruled by philosophers, the idea rooted in human conscience that knowledge should equal power. One should disagree with this stance, because in this worldview, Einstein would not have been just some bystander at the Alamo-project that developed the first nuclear bombs.

We are trained and educated to comprehend the operations of the universe in a materialistic way, where physical and chemical processes are assumed to be the deepest level of knowledge that can be acquired.

So why did so many of our politicians started off in the law, whether they were corporate lawyers or defense lawyers?

 Many people study law only so that join politics in the future. They start in law so that they can establish career contacts and build the valuable professional skills which could make them skilled politicians. A lawyer also does not generally look into the right or wrong of a case, all he does is argue for his client. Something similar happens in politics also,he may agree or disagree with legislation, but he will always take the stance that his party takes. Practicing law teaches future politicians to passionately argue for something that they don’t even believe in. The law deals with the same sort of questions as politics: what makes a just society; the balance between liberty and security, and so on. Lawyer skills—marshaling evidence, appealing to juries, command of procedure—transfer well to the political stage and its (mis)management of information and knowledge

In Foucault’s understanding of power, governmental power reproduces knowledge by shaping it in accordance with its anonymous intentions. Power (re-) creates its own fields of exercise through knowledge.

According to this understanding, knowledge is never neutral, as it determines force relations. Foucault argued that discipline is one mechanism of power that regulates the thought and behavior of social actors through subtle means. In contrast to the brute, sovereign force exercised by monarchs or lords, discipline works by organizing space (e.g. the way a prison or classroom is built), time (e.g. the set times you are expected to be at work each day), and everyday activities. Surveillance is also an integral part of disciplinary practices. In Discipline and Punish, Foucault argues that modern society is a “disciplinary society,” meaning that power in our time is largely exercised through disciplinary means in a variety of institutions (prisons, schools, hospitals, military, etc.).

While disciplinary power aims at the training of individual bodies, the management of populations relies on bio-power, understood as the policies and procedures that manage births, deaths, reproduction, and health and illness within the larger social body.

Bio-politics is a complicated concept that has been used and developed in social theory since Michel Foucault, to examine the strategies and mechanisms through which human life processes are managed under regimes of authority over knowledge, power, and the processes of subjection.

So knowledge doesn’t automatically equal power; it is the person who controls the USE of that knowledge who is its power-broker.

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