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The Many Faces of Michel Foucault: An Analysis of the Evolution of his Conception of Identity Formation in the Modern World Through his Life and Works

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  1. Introduction
  2. Paul Rabinow's model for viewing the shift in Foucault's work
  3. The influence of Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals Foucault
  4. Foucault's move through Discipline and Punish
  5. His assessment of punishment
  6. Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon and Foucault's point regarding the creation of docile bodies
  7. Conclusion
  8. Works cited

Throughout the course of his career as a historian, author, philosopher, and artist, Michel Foucault often shifted directions in his work, reinventing himself in the process and offering little explanation for his decisions to do so. Shortly after the publication of Madness and Civilization in 1961, he commanded, ?Do not ask me who I am, and do no tell me to remain the same.? Foucault's approach to his life and work, which he often referred to as an art form and an abstraction, consequently made any endeavor to provide a conclusive analysis of his life and career inherently antithetical to both his methodology and to the breadth of his subject matter. With that contradiction in mind, scholars have nevertheless remained devoted to investigating patterns, variations, and trends in both his work and approach. Thus, a slightly fragmented and openly speculative analysis of Foucault's work has since become the most appropriate and effective way to study the multifaceted and inherently paradoxical nature of Michel Foucault's work.

[...] In addition to writing Discipline and Punish and the History of Sexuality Volume Foucault sought to expand upon his notion of power in its most general form to prove its effect on the modern individual. In explaining the need for a broader understanding of power, he said, ?Hence it is a question of forming a different grid of historical decipherment by starting from a different theory of power; and, at the same time, of advancing little by little toward a different conception of power through a closer examination of an entire historical material. [...]


[...] While the nature of Foucault's life and work, in combination with his untimely death from AIDS, made it difficult to account for the shift in his concept of identity formation, it is nevertheless a worthy endeavor to speculate possible factors. Undoubtedly Foucault wrote from his own experiences beginning with life as a small boy in rural France. In an interview titled Minimalist Foucault explained what it was like growing up in France after the Nazi takeover. He said, private life was really threatened. [...]


[...] The History of Sexuality Volume An Introduction. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Random House, Inc Secondary Works Cited Brown, Alison Leigh. On Foucault. Belmont: Wadsworth, division of Thomson Learning Dreyfus, Hubert L. and Rabinow, Paul. Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, 2nd Ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Eribon, Didier. Michel Foucault. Trans. Betsy Wing. Cambridge: Harvard University Press Gutting, Gary, Ed. The Cambridge Companion to Foucault. New York: Cambridge University Press Hoy, David Couzens, Ed. Foucault: A Critical Reader. [...]

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