Sociology Index


Soul as used by Paul Michel Foucault (1926-84) refers to what psychologists mean by the psyche, the self, subjectivity or human consciousness. Foucault argues, for example, that the development of the penitentiary in the early 19th century resulted in a shift from punishing the body to punishing the soul.

Confessions of the soul - Foucault and theological culture 
James Bernauer, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA - Article studies Foucault’s treatment of religious culture and some theological responses to his approach. Foucault examined some modern practices as exhibiting a ‘Christianization-in-depth’, as, for example, in the extension of confession as a continuing practice in recent and current political culture.

Confessions of faith characterize both fascism and communism and the confessional form of the latter showed extensive debt to the legacy of eastern Christian practices. The Soviet hermeneutics of the self contrasted with the western form because the self-knowledge of the former is not a western confession of desires and movements of the soul but, rather, coming to a clarity in grasping how one is regarded in the eyes of others.

Un Ecart Infime (Part III) - The blind spot in Foucault 
Leonard Lawlor, University of Memphis, TN, USA 
This article is the third part of a trilogy investigating the relation between Merleau-Ponty and Foucault. All three essays are inspired by Foucault’s diagnosis of our epoch in terms of biopower. They therefore aim at the creation of a new concept of life. In ‘Un Ecart Infime (Part III)’, I lay out Foucault’s analysis, from the first chapter of The Order of Things, of Vel zquez’s painting, Las Meninas. By stressing what Foucault says about the ‘sagittal lines’ exiting the painting, one can show that that there are three major phases in Foucault’s analysis: locating the blind spot; multiplying the invisibility; and the diffraction of the multiplicity into singularities. More generally, we can see that Foucault’s analysis of the painting concerns the informal space in auto-affection; in other words, it concerns the ‘blind spot’ in the mirror relation, in the ‘psyche’. The blind spot in the ‘soul’ - and the ambiguity in the French word psyche between mirror and soul - is why we can say that Foucault’s analysis concerns life: being blind, life must be conceived as informal and unmappable.

Mind-Forged Manacles and Habits of the Soul: Foucault's Debt to Heidegger 
Peter Lucas, Lancaster University 
This article interprets the state of "subjection," which Foucault took to be characteristicof the modern subject of power/knowledge, as an abiding psychic dispositionanalogous to Heidegger's "inauthentic self-understanding." Theauthor begins by arguing, against prevailing orthodoxy, that in Discipline andPunish, Foucault is already centrally concerned with the power effects of formsof psychic self-relation. He then argues that the psychic state of subjectionshould not be understood as a constellation of ideas, beliefs, or other representations but along de-essentialized Heideggerian/Aristotelian lines as a habit of the soul the effect of training and technology rather than ideology.