I’ve been busy. I met with a professor within the department to which I am applying for graduate school last week. I’ve also been speaking a little with a friend that is wrapping up her graduate studies. Between the two, I have a pretty good reading list worked out and have buried myself in books, pen, and paper.
A consensus between the two, the point driven especially hard by my friend, is to develop a background on the theories set forth by Foucault and other postmodernist thinkers (I disagreed with this kind of labelling before I began to read Foucault, but now that I have read a little of him, I disagree with it even more). So, I’ve begun reading, beginning with Discipline & Punish. At first I was intimidated by the thought of reading modern philosophy, because, well, I have had a difficult time reading philosophy in the past, but (and maybe I am not reading quite deeply enough into it) I think I have at least a layman’s understanding of what is being said.
See, I have this fascination with motives. I enjoy exploring unspoken motives, especially those motives that drive people who occupy positions of power. As I wrote in a post a couple of weeks ago before even thinking of reading Foucault:
“As much as we respect what we believe to be pure motivations behind political decisions such as whether or not to propose and promote a bill like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we must accept that there is usually more than one story, more than one motive, when it comes to the people in the story. If we don’t, we fail to see the whole story, and we fail to fully grasp the humanity within it.”
Maybe that’s why some of what Foucault has to say, especially concerning power, institutions, and knowledge, makes at least some sense to me, and drives me to want to know more and come to a better understanding. As I said in the referred to post,”the self-serving motive is probably the purest motive there can be,” and what can be more motivating, or self-serving, than coming into a position of power or sustaining the favorable power dynamics within a relationship that one may already have?
In order to see the basic humanity within a story, which is really all history is, this cannot be ignored. Even those historical, or even contemporary, figures which we admire have to be scrutinized to some degree, for they were, or are, human, and like all humans they did, or do, have flaws. On a more positive note, such scrutinization may uncover more positive and wholesome motivations. To be fair that cannot be ruled out.
Anyway, this interests me a lot. There will be more to come.