Anda di halaman 1dari 3

c Write an essay on the interview with Foucault linking knowledge, truth and

power.

 According to Michael Foucault, the interrelation between knowledge, truth and


power is interwoven in a threefold structure. The analysis of this structure is
possible by defining all of the three and placing them in the epistemological context
subject to the dominant historical materialism. Thus, the scope of knowledge is
subject to its contribution to the politics of the society and the propagation of
knowledge is directly dependent upon the political and economic structure of the
society. In this assignment, the focus will be on how this structure of knowledge
contributes to the µmaking¶ of truth and how this truth is an integral, constituent
and dominant part of power.

The importance given to various constituent parts of what we call knowledge has so

far been determined by dominant ideologies and notions. As in, the periodical

ideology has shaped the discourse of knowledge. An attempt to break away from

the dominant discourse itself is confining an intellectual to a structure that has

selected some branches of knowledge as privileged. What is then accepted as the

scientific truth is the truth of the regime and what is revised is a renewal of old

truths and is also reflective of the importance of external power on knowledge.

Thus two conclusions can be derived from the above analysis, firstly that the

propagation of knowledge is accepted as the truth unless it is discontinued and

refuted by an alternate regime and secondly that knowledge and hence truth is the

backbone of power which both defines the power and is used by the dominant

power to exert itself. Foucault uses the term µepisteme¶ to describe the orderly

'unconscious' structures underlying the production of scientific knowledge in a

particular time and place.It is the 'epistemological field' which forms the conditions

of possibility for knowledge in a given time and place.


This then brings up the problem of what is truth. Foucault believed that the

'regimes of truth' are the historically specific mechanisms which produce discourses

which function as true in particular times and places. According to him, truth is an

event which takes place in history. It is something that 'happens', and is produced

by various techniques (the 'technology' of truth) rather than something that already

exists and is simply waiting to be discovered. Each society has design of discourses

which accepts and functions facts as the truth. The discourse is dependent on

economic and political institutions of demand which equate the discourse of truth

with economic production and political power. Such a debate as to µwhat is the real

truth¶ is produced and transmitted by social institutions like universities, Army and

the media etc.

This kind of a break down analysis of the roots of truth also implies what is false

and wrong and what exactly demarcates the line dividing the true and false.

Foucault calls this the battle for truth. This is exactly where the position of the

intellectual is defined within the structure of truth and power. It is already assumed

that the intellectual is in the possession of knowledge which is pure in its empirical

value and free from the politics of ideology. Thus, the position of the intellectual is

defined by what knowledge she/ he may possess and how this can be used in the

propagation of µtruth¶. After this has been done both the knowledge and the

intellectual become the symbols of truth and the credit for the advancement of

knowledge is simply advertised as the brain child of the structure of power.

Truth in its original form is a means in itself, not an end. It is a whole process in

continuation and a part of the physical world. It is not powerless or outside the
realms of power. Foucault implies that truth cannot be separated from power and it

is the general condition of the human mind to believe that an institution that can

claim the right to power is necessarily true. This is not always the case. The same

relation may be played out vice- versa and the impression of µtruth¶ in person is

liable also to install power in that person. This prejudice must be understood on the

ground that the function of truth is to produce knowledge as the truth in and not to

install an ideology in some one. This again raises the credibility of knowledge and

Foucault feels that the problem lies with the political and economic institutions that

are responsible for the production of truth and not with the consciousness or the

thinking of the people.

Considering Foucault¶s definition of power not as a thing but as a relation which is

exercised throughout the social body at all micro- levels, the obvious conclusion can

be that it is not a matter of separating truth from every structure of power but a

matter of not surrendering to hegemony manipulating what forms the truth. This is

true to all economic, political and cultural structures. Hence, knowledge and power

is not the same thing until so propagated as the truth and that the mechanisms of

power produce different types of knowledge which collate information on people's

activities and existence thereby making a cyclic process of social organization and

the chain relation between knowledge, truth and power.