photo by Leonie de Jong
In his well known study Discipline, Supervision and Punishment from 1975, Michel Foucault developed the theory of the Panopticon: an extremely transparent space in which complete control and discipline are possible. Truth now becomes synonymous with visibility and tangibility. Initially, he connects this panoptic situation with the modern prisons as they would occur in the 19th century. But soon Foucault shows that the panopticon is a characteristic of modern society. In his later works on biopower and speaking boldly he examines the question whether there are other views on experiencing truth, which resist the panopticon. To do so, Foucault goes back to one of his rst inspirations: the work of Nietzsche and Bataille. We discover that for Foucault, the truth is just as well part of the right of secrecy. This opened a complete other world than the one of total transparency – one that brings us close to religion. For this lecture Ten Kate takes us on a journey through Foucault’s work, and shows how the panopticon is a key to his thinking.
Laurens ten Kate (Utrecht, 1958) is a philosopher and religions scientist. His thesis was entitled The Empty Place. Revolts against Instrumental Life in Bataille’s Atheology. He worked as a researcher at the Theological University Kampen, at the Heyendaal Institute for Interdisciplinary Religious Studies at the University of Nijmegen, and as a philosophy editor at Boom Publishers in Amsterdam. Since 2002 he works at the University of Humanistic Studies in Utrecht (UvH). At present he is working at the chair group of Globalization and Communication Studies: Give Meaning in a Pluralistic World, led by Hans Alma. Ten Kate’s expertise relating to the contemporary French philosophy: In 2005 he published the collection Breekbare vrijheid (Fragile Freedom), with texts by Michel Foucault and a comprehensive introduction to his work. Further publications: Flight of the Gods (2000) and Retreating Religion (2012).
Artwork made by Suyoung Yang
Poster design by Gilles de Brock