Well here is chapter 4 of my essays. It is called:
4. From The Spectacle of Torture to The Constant Observation of the Panopticon as Moving From Low-level to High-level Simulational Mindreading
Here is a table of contents for it:
Introducing Distinct Types of Simulational Mindreading
a. Goldman’s Distinction Between Low- and High-Level Simulational Mindreading
The Evolution of Penal Mindreading
b. Observation of Torture as Mirror and Resonance Based Mindreading
c. The Panopticon as Enabling Abstract and High-Level Mindreading
d. Panoptic Knowledge and the Possibility of Pure Theory-Theory Mindreading
Disciplinary Power’s Coercive High-Level Mindreading
e. Panoptic Mindreading for Prisoners and Civilians: Structuring Incarceration and its Representation
f. Observation and Controlling Prisoners Through High-Level Mindreading
1. Knowledge of Criminal’s Minds
2. Knowledge and the Control of Bodies
3 Knowledge, Control, and Practices of the Self
g. The Abstraction of Surveillance and Controlling the Population With High-Level Mindreading
1. The Representation of Crime and Punishment
2. The Reality of Discipline
3. Normalization and Control
4. Control Through the Representation of Minds as Implicit War
h. Pure Theory-Theory Mindreading as Structuring A Priori Thought
The Prison of Our Minds
j. Concluding Chapter 4 and Part II
4. From The Spectacle of Torture to The Constant Observation of the Panopticon as From Low-level to High-level Mindreading
Now that I have made my general claims about the relationship between Foucault’s notion of power/knowledge and simulation theory of mind(in chapter III), I would like to add some nuance to this connection. I want to do this by drawing more explicitly on Alvin Goldman’s work. In particular, I find his distinction between ‘low-level’ and ‘high-level’ simulational mindreading to be very helpful in describing the transition from torture to discipline. So explicating Goldman’s distinction will be my first task in this chapter. Almost all of the italics in the quotations are mine.
Goldman’s Distinction Between Low- and High-Level Simulational Mindreading
In Simulating Minds: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Neuroscience of Mindreading Alvin Goldman presents a compelling defense of simulation theory of mind. His main concern is to prove that people attribute mental states to other people (mindread) primarily by internally simulating other people’s thoughts. Apart from simulation we can draw on tacit psychological theories to make inferences about he behavior of others. Theorizing about thoughts in this fashion, however, is secondary to the simulation of other people’s thoughts. In short, we mindread primarily by empathizing with people (either in simple or complex forms), and this process of empathy can be supported or augmented by unconscious theorizing about people.
Within the realm of simulation Goldman makes a distinction between low-level and high-level simulational mindreading. Low-level mindreading is facilitated primarily by mirror neurons, a class of neurons that are activated both when we perform an action and witness that action being performed. This especially applies to facial expressions. So when we witness a movement or facial expression our brain internally simulates the muscle movement required to make that movement. In the case of facial expressions, our brain actually reverses the relationship between emotions and facial expressions. Typically, our limbic system produces an emotion and then communicates to our face what muscles to activate for the corresponding expression. When we witness a facial expression, however, our brain first mirrors the necessary facial muscles, and then causes us to feel the emotion that is associated with that expression. Our brain thus mirrors and resonates with the actions and the feelings that we see in the world around us. Empathy is therefore a process that is directly facilitated by mirror neurons. it is immediate, effortless, and most importantly simulative in nature. We cannot understand facial expressions unless we internally simulate and feel those facial expressions and emotions for ourselves. Low-level mindreading, therefore, is the most basic form of empathy and simulation possible. I am discussing this only because in the next section I will discuss how observation of torture would rely very heavily on this low-level mindreading.
High-level mindreading, on the other hand, goes beyond the mirroring and resonance of low-level mindreading by drawing on more abstract, deliberate, and imaginative forms of thought. In particular, Goldman believes that high-level mindreading utilizes what he calls the Enactment-imagination (E-imagination). E-imagination is defined by the neurological overlap between an experience and the imagination of that experience. When we imagine moving our finger, for example, our brain draws on the motor neurons that would be involved in performing that action. That is why experiments consistently show that the imagination of an action and the performance of an action take about the same time. Chris Frith and others have confirmed this for me. Another example of E-imagination would be that when we read a novel about a person experiencing pain or touch, we often experience those feelings for ourselves, and the neurological activity confirms this. Probably the most important thing about the E-imagination, however, is that it is accessible to consciousness and can involve more abstract concepts. So when we try to imagine someone’s experience losing property, or experiencing an identity crisis that hinges on modern abstract conceptions, we are using the E-imagination. Because these forms of thought go beyond basic empathy, in that they utilize socially constructed concepts, the functioning of mirror neurons can’t account for this complex form of empathy. High-level mindreading, therefore, is a form of empathy that uses the E-imagination to simulate more abstract and complex thoughts that typically involve socially constructed concepts. Furthermore, because these processes are accessible to consciousness there is greater pedagogical potential when it comes to high-level mindreading. This is why I believe that the move from torture to panopticism, with its reliance on abstract forms of power/knowledge, must be facilitated primarily by changes in high-level mindreading.
Tacit mental theorizing is the final type of mindreading that I will be discussing in relation to the transition from torture to discipline. While Goldman believes that tacit psychological theory is used mainly to support or initiate simulations, I have recently been entertaining the idea of pure theory-theory mindreading that would bypass any type of simulation. In other words, it would be possible to attribute a mental state to somebody simply by unconsciously drawing a theoretical inference. If we saw someone driving poorly, for example, we may simply infer that they were not paying attention and would therefore bypass any sort of simulation. I find this a very frightening idea and I think it should be avoided. I think that if we simply theorize about people we lose our sense of empathy and would lead us to make over generalized and harsh judgments about people. Like my driving example, people make driving for all kinds of reasons, life problems, pain, distractions, etc.. But I think too often people take the easy way out and simply make the inference about laziness or stupidity. I want to write about pure theory-theory mindreading because I fear that this is becoming a commonplace phenomenon. With the rise of the elaborate forms of power/knowledge described by Foucault I fear that it has become very easy for people to bypass empathy and simulation in favor of unconscious inferences. Our contemporary culture is so saturated with knowledge about people and their behavior that it is far too easy to attribute mental states to people without attempting to simulate their thoughts and circumstances. I have been dwelling on this rise in pure theory-theory mindreading more and more. And, unfortunately, the more I think about it, the more it seems like we are in an era in which theory-theory mindreading is overriding the tendency for empathy. In any case, I’ll explore this in relation to Foucault and the rise of disciplinary society.
In any case, these are the more specific forms of simulational mindreading that I want to explore in this section. I want to demonstrate the observation of torture would mainly use mirror neurons and direct empathy and therefore falls within the realm of low-level mindreading. I then want to show that the rise of panopticism would encourage individuals to engage in more abstract and socially constructed forms of mindreading and is therefore under the umbrella of high-level mindreading. Finally, I want to discuss how the advent and proliferation of elaborate forms of power/knowledge would encourage individuals to engage in pure theory-theory mindreading that may bypass empathy and simulational mindreading.
So first I’ll have a section called ‘The Evolution of Penal Mindreading’ where I’ll discuss torture and low-level mindreading, disciplinary society and high-level mindreading, and disciplinary society and pure theory-theory mindreading. Then I’ll have a section called ‘Disciplinary Power and Mindreading’ where I’ll hone in more closely on the way that mindreading functions in carceral society. In that section I’ll discuss how panopticism works to control both prisoners and civilians, and how pure theory-theory may be the apex of controlling the way individuals mindread. That is to say that disciplinary power may achieve its greatest victory by indoctrinating individuals with tacit psychological theories that govern the way they relate to one another.
The Evolution of Penal Mindreading
As I said, in this section I simply want to demonstrate that the transition from torture to prison should be thought of as an evolution of how individuals are socially instructed to mindread. In the age of torture individuals engaged primarily in low-level mindreading. With the advent of panopticism I believe that individuals were encouraged to engage more regularly in high-level mindreading, and eventually, in pure theory-theory mindreading. Onward.
Observation of Torture as Mirror and Resonance Based, Low-Level Mindreading
So how is it that torture functions primarily as low-level mindreading? Well because torture existed before the age of computers, individuals mostly engaged with one another on the face to face level. It is only in this face to face level that mirror neurons can function. So the observation of torture likely functioned through the use of mirror neurons. To watch an executioner rip a person’s body apart, and to hear that person scream in agony, almost certainly functioned via mirror neurons. It is not abstract. It is very real and very immediate. This direct observation of bodies and movements can only be an example of low-level simulational mindreading.
I used this quotation in chapter three, so forgive my repetition, but I think when Foucault hints that the crowd plays an active role in bring the experience of the criminal to life. He says that torture causes power to function within the crowd because they “must be the witnesses, the guarantors, of the punishment, and because they must to a certain extent take part in it" (58). They take part in it because they are engaging in low-level simulational mindreading to understand the experience they are observing.
I would also say, however, that torture also utilized certain elements of high-level mindreading. This is not a clear division between low- and high-level mindreading. I am simply claiming that torture used far more mirror neurons than disciplinary practices. Indeed, torture still involved a certain amount of representation and abstraction. Torture, Foucault argued, was "intended to apply the law not so much to the real body capable of feeling pain as to a juridical subject, the possessor, among other rights, of the right to exist. It had to have the abstraction of the law itself" (13). So torture is indeed a blending of low- and high-level mindreading. The important thing for me, however, is that disciplinary society’s move to panopticism removes this element of low-level mindreading. In the transition to panopticism mirror neurons are no longer as important, and thus abstract, high-level mindreading becomes paramount. Let me explain this drastic move towards high-level mindreading.
Panopticism as Enabling Abstract and High-Level Mindreading
Now as I said above, and in chapter two and three, torture caused power to function not because the criminal is being tortured, but because the audience is made aware of why the criminal is being tortured. It functions primarily as a representation. With the advent of prisons and disciplinary society, however, the element of representation becomes even more powerful.
This is the key to the transition from low- to high-level mindreading. People no longer even need to directly see the punishment, they simply need to experience its representation. Given what I said earlier about high-level mindreading and the E-imagination, I am comfortable making this claim about the transition from low- to high-level mindreading. Indeed, Foucault stresses the increase in the representative character of penal practices: "The penalty must have its most intense effects on those who have not committed the crime; to carry the argument to the limit, if one could be sure that the criminal could not repeat the crime, it would be enough to make others believe that he had been punished" (95). It is no longer the direct observation of torture that forces the crowd to internalize the lessons of penality. It is now an elaborate social representation that cannot be directly observed. It has to be abstractly imagined. Observation of judicial punishment is no longer direct, low-level mindreading, it is now abstract, high-level mindreading.
Indeed, Foucault explains how the representation of punishment ceases to function at one particular point in time and space. With torture, the spectacle had to be potent because it was sporadic in its presentation. It really had to make a mark because it only happened every now and then. But with the advent of disciplinary society and complex forms of power/knowledge, judicial punishment is now constantly represented within society. Or, as Foucault says, "the punishments must be a school rather than a festival; an ever-open book rather than a ceremony" (111). It is therefore impossible for individuals to escape this field of signs. People are constantly reminded of the fact that the government can declare war on them whenever they want. Here Foucault argues that representation circulates in society at large: "representations, or rather couplings of ideas (crime-punishment, the imagined advantage of crime-disadvantage perceived in punishments); these pairings could function only in the element of publicity: punitive scenes that established them or reinforced them in the eyes of all, a discourse that circulated, brought back into currency at each moment a complex of signs" (128). People are constantly using high-level mindreading to know that there are certain individuals who are dominated by penal institutions (criminals), and certain individuals willing to enforce those penal practices (the government).
Foucault even describes this massive representation of criminal justice as fictitious. This merely highlights the fact that people don’t even need to have experience with criminality, they simply need to experience its representation. "But the essential point,...” he argues” is that they should all, according to a strict economy, teach a lesson: that each punishment should be a fable.... Around each of these moral 'representations', schoolchildren will gather with their masters and adults will learn what lessons to teach their offspring" (113). These representations permeate society at every level, they interact with each of the disciplinary institutions. And interestingly, Foucault’s description of representation as a ‘fable’ gives me an opportunity to specify more clearly the connection to Goldman’s high-level mindreading. One of Goldman’s interests is how the high-level mindreading and the E-imagination are involved in the reading of fiction. Numerous experiments show that when individuals read fiction they draw on their experience and use the E-imagination to simulate the thoughts and feelings of other people. To describe penal representation as a fable or a fiction, therefore, makes the parallel to high-level mindreading quite obvious.
The most fascinating thing about this fiction, however, is that actual behavior is influenced by this plethora of representation. Or as Foucault says, "A real subjection is born mechanically from a fictitious relation" (202). Even though most people have no experience with criminal justice or incarceration, they are controlled simply by the imagined consequences of breaking the law. This control is brought about by having individuals imagine themselves as being watched. When Naturally, Foucault believes that the single gaze, the all-seeing eye, is the most important thing in panopticism: "The perfect disciplinary apparatus would make it possible for a single gaze to see everything constantly. A central point would be both the source of light illuminating everything, and a locus of convergence for everything that must be known: a perfect eye that nothing would escape and a centre towards which all gazes would be turned" (173). But here I just want to stress that in most of society there is no actual single point of observation, there is only the individual who is simulating the gaze of an authoritative observer. This connection to high-level mindreading and the E-imagination is so clear to me. When people imagine themselves as being watched they are actually creating the same effects of actually being watched.
Once society has been saturated with these representations of penal reality, high-level mindreading, and the E-imagination, can take over and begin to work through the minds of each individual. It is no longer necessary for every single person to be watched, because their E-imaginings of their own observation is enough to keep them in line. Finally, the panoptical dream that "no crime committed must escape the gaze of those whose task it is to dispense justice" (96)., can be achieved without constant observation. It doesn’t matter if everyone cannot actually be watched, because the representation of discipline and the panopticon forces every single person to be their own observer. Every individual begins to E-imagine that they are being watched, and they thus regulate themselves.
The ways that disciplinary society and panopticon enable high-level mindreading are therefore glaringly clear to me. Individuals no longer directly witness the implementation of punishment. They now experience it purely as a representation of the criminal’s mind and the government’s will. Because the minds of criminals and the government are now so abstracted, only high-level mindreading can account for the public’s knowledge of those minds. Furthermore, because Foucault directly compares the representation of criminality to a fiction, it is incredibly easy to see the relevance of the E-imagination. Lastly, because these represented accounts of punishment force individuals work on themselves, we have to ask the question of how. And the answer is that each individual is now capable of E-imagining themselves as being watched. With this knowledge of their observability each individual is able to E-imagine themselves into behaving differently. Because everyone has the potential of being observed, and everyone knows of their observability, each individual is able to high-level mindread the thoughts of a potential observer, and thus use their E-imaginings of this authoritative gaze to regulate their own behavior.
Panoptic Power/Knowledge and the Possibility of Pure Theory-Theory Mindreading
This high level of abstraction, however, may not simply enable new and complex forms of high-level simulational mindreading. It may actually allow individuals to bypass the process of simulation altogether. I was initially skeptical of this idea because I was exploring simulation theory of mind and found it very compelling. But after some reflection and some writing on this I know believe that theory-theory mindreading might be possible. It is quite possible that at some point society may have reached a critical mass of sorts in which there was enough articulated understanding of people that allowed us to bypass simulations. Once we have been told that people of this race do this, people of this class do this, people of this gender do this, people of this age do that, and so on, we no longer need to simulate other people’s thoughts. We simply need to draw on our stock of preformed judgments about groups of people in order to make mental attributions. I don’t necessarily even know that this deserves the term mindreading because it takes no process other than inference. It takes no empathy to apply the proper generalizations to people. But I believe that this may be happening to us right now.
Indeed, some of Foucault’s writing in DnP makes me think that the rise of elaborate forms of knowledge would essentially be the construction of elaborate theoretical knowledge about people. This theoretical knowledge about people and bodies could then be absorbed into the unconscious thought processes of whole populations. If, as Foucault says, representation of bodies breaks free from reality and is able to replicate itself as pure representation, then I think that it would be easy for these notions to infiltrate minds this deeply. Thus when Foucault talks about how disciplinary surveillance produced a new describability, I think he is talking about the development of theoretical knowledge that is then internalized and becomes a tacit psychological theory. He explains that this new describability was "all the more marked in that the disciplinary framework is a strict one: the child, the patient, the madman, the prisoner, were to become, with increasing ease from the eighteenth century and according to a curve which is that of the mechanisms of discipline, the object of individual descriptions and biographical accounts. This turning of real lives into writing is no longer a procedure of heroization; it functions as a procedure of objectification and subjection" (192). Suddenly there is a robust theoretical knowledge that people can draw on, and I believe that this makes us totally dependent on our tacit theories, and causes us to bypass processes of empathy and simulation.
This is a very bad thing. This is a very insensitive and overgeneralized way to deal with people. It doesn’t even deserve the label of mindreading. It is a culturally instilled laziness that lets us engage with people with very little effort. It has dulled our sense of empathy, and most importantly, creative empathy. We need to learn to forgive people, and we can only do this by realizing that life is unique, that people’s circumstances are different and can compel them to do many things. I am almost certain that Foucault’s notion of the ‘historical a priori’ is essentially the body of tacit theories that a population is able to work with. Furthermore, I think that Foucault’s work is essentially about using historical methods to expose and modify the tacit psychological theories that we are able to work with in our given historical moment. I believe that the pragmatics of Foucault’s work comes back to this idea that we need to overcome the historical determinants of our thought, and that tacit mental theory, socially constructed knowledge that has entered our unconscious, is the level at which we have to overcome the limits and determinants of our thought. I’ll delve into this more explicitly in the final two chapters of this project.
But for now I have established a few things. I have told you that torture, with its intense face to face interaction, must have relied primarily on low-level mindreading, but that the elements of representation introduced a small amount of high-level mindreading. I argued That the transition to discipline was primarily about freeing representation from the confines of face to face interaction, and thus that disciplinary society is essentially one in which high-level mindreading dominates low-level mindreading. Furthermore, that Foucault’s claims about the fictitious nature of disciplinary knowledge solidified the connection to Goldman’s work on the E-imagination and thus confirms that disciplinary society possesses a culture in which high-level mindreading is dominant. Lastly, I explored the idea that disciplinary society’s elaborate knowledge has enabled pure theory-theory mindreading in which we are able to bypass simulational mindreading. Our knowledge-saturated society makes it so that we can attribute mental states to other people simply by making unconscious inferences based on race, class, gender, sexuality, and other factors. And that I detest this and see it as something to be overcome. In short, that the transition from torture to discipline is about a growth in knowledge about bodies that allows us to engage in more and more abstract and depersonalized thought about other minds. And that this is the pragmatics of these essays, to make some suggestions about how to overcome our knowledge saturated and insensitive social situation.
My task for the next section of this chapter is to explain how it is that disciplinary society’s forms of high-level mindreading enable control of both criminals and the civilian population.
Disciplinary Power’s Coercive High-Level Mindreading
So now I’ll explain in depth how it is that disciplinary society utilizes forms of high-level mindreading in order to control individuals. In the last section I clearly established that the abstract nature of disciplinary society’s knowledge encourages high-level mindreading. Now I’ll explain how this allows power to function and control the behavior of people.
Panoptic Mindreading for Prisoners and Civilians: Making-Up People by Structuring Incarceration and Its Representation
The most interesting thing about this whole business is that high-level mindreading functions on several different levels. First, it works on two separate groups of individuals in two different ways. It controls prisoners through direct control of their bodies, and through observation and the construction of knowledge that forces an identity on them. It simultaneously controls the general population through the representation of criminality and social identity. Panoptic society, therefore, controls prisoners by structuring their incarceration, and controls the population by controlling its representation. In both instances panopticism ‘makes-up’ people by producing elaborate forms of knowledge that people eventually come to identify with. By producing this knowledge about identity disciplinary society effectively forces people to identify with ways of thinking that are state constructed.
Foucault is quite explicit that this is a process of making-up people. "Discipline 'makes' individuals; it is the specific technique of power that regards individuals both as objects and as instruments of its exercise. It is not a triumphant power, which because it its own excess can provide itself on its omnipotence; it is a modest, suspicious power, which functions as a calculated, but permanent economy" (170). Disciplinary power functions by making identities that dominate people. By producing knowledge that subjects people.
Foucault discusses how the control of prisoners through the dual process of direct control and knowledge building through observation: "The carceral texture of society assures both the real capture of the body and its perpetual observation.... Its panoptic functioning enables it to play this double role" (305). In this quotation, however, Foucault says that this is not only the structure of prisons, but it is the ‘texture of society’ as a whole. Prions are actually able to create a totalizing social climate that forces individuals to conceptualize themselves in certain ways. Indeed, it functions deeply in the mind, what Foucault refers to as the level of the imagination: "The carceral city, with its imaginary 'geo-politics', is governed by quite different principles." It is this imaginary and representative nature of incarceration that must be utilized: "What must be maximized is the representation of the penalty, not its corporal reality" (95). It is thus this elaborate process of controlling the bodies of prisoners, building knowledge about them, and dispersing its representation into the population that controls the population through high-level mindreading. Disciplinary power works by producing evidence that allows individuals to simulate these types of thought that allow people to regulate themselves.
The goal of carceral practice and its representation is to make bodies controllable, to make individuals so aware of the possibility of observation and incarceration that their behavior can be manipulated. Foucault claims that all of the disciplinary institutions come together to disperse this coercive knowledge throughout society. This is how we can account for the generality of the notion of panopticism. While it was originally conceptualized, by Bentham and others, as an architectural design, it is in reality the structure of society as a whole. Foucault could not be more explicit about this: "The Panopticon,... must be understood as a generalizable model of functioning; a way of defining power relations in terms of the everyday life of men" (205). All of the disciplinary practices come together to create a panoptic society in which individuals are always capable of imagining themselves as being watched. "Thus,” Foucault argues, “discipline produces subjected and practised bodies, 'docile bodies'" (138). Again: "The generality of punitive function that the eighteenth century sought in the 'ideological' technique of representations and signs,” Foucault claims, “now had as its support the extension, the material framework, complex, dispersed, but coherent, of the various carceral mechanisms" (299). If anyone wants to think of the panopticon as merely a tower, simply a building, than this is a gross simplification of Foucault’s arguments. All of society is now panoptical, every individual is controlled by this network of institutions that constantly threaten to observe, classify, and control people.
I believe that this control through observation that allows the panopticon to control people works only because it provides evidence that allows people to simulate other thoughts. Torture didn't provide this type of simulative evidence: "By this very fact, the external power may throw off its physical weight; it tends to the non-corporal; and, the more it approaches this limit, the more constant, profound and permanent are its effects: it is a perpetual victory that avoids any physical confrontation which is always decided in advance" (203). Bodies no longer need to mutilated because knowledge has achieved a new density and ubiquity. People can now be controlled simply through the power of judicial ideas.
Before I handle the control of prisoners and civilians respectively, I would like to reinforce this idea that what is happening is that people are being produced. Subjects, in their identity and their behavior, are being crafted by disciplinary society’s knowledge. Power is positive in its effects, it produces, it makes-up people. It does not discover the essential nature of people, it creates them. Did crime and delinquency exist before they were codified? Foucault believes no. People engaged in an undefined behavior, and that behavior was then articulated, and only then could people become those things. Only until something like criminality is articulated can someone constitute their identity with those terms. "We must cease once and for all,” Foucault says, “to describe the effects of power in negative terms: it 'excludes', it 'represses', it 'censors', it 'abstracts', it 'masks' it 'conceals'. In fact, power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth. The individual and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production" (194). Individual natures and categories are not discovered, they are created by power/knowledge. Foucault believes that the penal institutions actually perpetuate the production of criminals: "Although it is true that prison punishes delinquency, delinquency is for the most part produced in and by an incarceration which, ultimately, prison perpetuates in its turn. The prison is merely the natural consequence, no more than a higher degree, of that hierarchy laid down by step by step. The delinquent is an institutional product" (301). Criminals are not essential beings, they are created by institutional networks. Indeed, Foucault seems to think that ‘individuals’ as we know them only exist within relationships of domination: "In short, one should have a master, be caught up and situated within a hierarchy; one exists only when fixed in definite relations of domination" (291).
I’ll now turn to prisoners and civilians in turn, and explain more precisely how control is achieved by this making-up of subjects.
Observation and Controlling Prisoners Through High-Level Mindreading
Above I sloppily explained how it is that high-level mindreading functions to control individuals by ‘making them up’. Disciplinary society creates elaborate bodies of knowledge that allow people to imagine themselves and others as being certain ways. Because people’s identities are formed by these forms of power/knowledge, and their behavior corresponds with these identities, people’s behavior is thus controlled by these forms of power/knowledge. So I’ll do this in three parts. I’ll talk about how prison systems managed to create elaborate forms of knowledge about criminals. Then I’ll talk about how this knowledge was used to control the bodies of prisoners. Then I’ll talk about how this knowledge forced prisoners to work on themselves, how it enabled certain practices of the self.
Knowledge of Criminal’s Minds
This control through the production of knowledge and identity is very noticeable with criminals. Punishment often treats criminals as if it is in their essential nature to commit crimes. So, much of penal knowledge was about creating this so called criminal ‘nature’. Foucault believes that "since punishment must prevent a repetition of the offence, it must take into account the profound nature of the criminal himself, the presumable degree of his wickedness, the intrinsic quality of his will" (98). Not that these people actually have discovered people’s ‘nature’, but that this is the level at which prisons talk about criminals. They speak as if they are discovering and modifying the essential nature of a persons being. And by speaking this way, of essential natures, disciplinary power is controlling the conceptual tool kit that people have to conceptualize themselves. As Foucault says "One must calculate a penalty in terms not of the crime, but of its possible repetition. One must take into account not the past offence, but the future disorder" (93). This is why the mind of the criminal, and its possible behavior in the future is so important.
Foucault believes that this disciplinary power is exercised, as I have discussed, through observation and articulation. Further, that this process of observation culminates in the examination. "The examination,” Foucault believes, “surrounded by all its documentary techniques, makes each individual a 'case': a case which at one and the same time constitutes an object for a branch of knowledge ad a hold for a branch of power" (191). Creating knowledge about an individual simultaneously creates a place for knowledge, and ensures that knowledge will cause power to function within that persons minds. And the examination was the culmination of this knowledge.
All of this is meant to achieve control through the active transformation of criminals. It is not simply to discover the nature of the criminal, but to discover his nature so as to modify and correct his behavior. "One sees the emergence at the same time of the need for a parallel classification of crimes and punishments, the need for an individualization of sentences, in accordance with the particular characteristics of each criminal" (99). Each individual is treated as a special case to be discovered and modified. This is because prisons operated on what Foucault calls 'the principle of correction'. Meaning, "Penal detention must have as its essential function the transformation of the individual's behavior" (269). Observation and classification are the primary means by which people are ‘discovered’ and then transformed.
The relationship between observation, articulation of ‘nature’ and control is very explicit with Foucault. People cannot be corrected unless they are properly ‘made-up’. People cannot be modified unless there is a body of knowledge that can articulate a persons nature. Foucault claims that "what was now beginning to emerge was a modulation that referred to the defendant himself, to his nature, to his way of life and his attitude of mind, to his past, to the 'quality' and not the intention of his will" (99). And this is the perfect task for disciplinary society. All of the disciplinary institutions showed a concern for how individuals developed over time, and how their essential nature developed: "The disciplinary techniques reveal individual series: the discovery of an evolution in terms of 'genesis'. These two great 'discoveries' of the eighteenth century – the progress of societies and the geneses of individuals – were perhaps correlative with the new techniques of power, and more specifically, with a new way of administering time and making it useful, by segmentation, seriation, synthesis and totalization." (160). This is about tracing and articulating the process of people lives, their personal history, and thus it changes them, it gives them ways to conceptualize their own experience. Criminals are made to believe that they are certain ways, and they are thus controlled by disciplinary knowledge.
It is this intense desire for knowledge about the nature of criminals that leads to the birth of criminology as a discipline. Foucault believes that a desire for scientific knowledge about people, and criminals, led to its development. "The task of this new knowledge is to define the act scientifically' qua offence and above all the individual qua delinquent. Criminology is thus made possible" (254). Not until people desired elaborate knowledge about bodies was this possible. And not until this elaborate knowledge is built can power have a sufficient grip on the minds of criminals. Control and knowledge are inseparable because the criminals must be made to believe that they are being handled scientifically. Maybe? "A whole corpus of individualizing knowledge was being organized that took as its field of reference not so much the crime committed..., but the potentiality of danger that lies hidden in an individual and which is manifested in his observed everyday conduct. The prison functions in this as an apparatus of knowledge" (126). This knowledge must always refer to the basic nature of the individual. Foucault believes that "an attempt was also being made to constitute a new objectivity in which the criminal belongs to a typology that is both natural and deviant" (253). Criminals are now being pegged as essential, natural, they just are that way.
Penal knowledge was meant to create a homogenous and unified body of understanding about criminality. Each criminal has to understand that his essential nature is shared by others. That criminality is a genuine nature and way of being. The point being that this is not 'nature', but rather a product: "That one should find in them what one might call the index of an irrepressibly delinquent 'character': the prisoner condemned to hard labour was meticulously produced by a childhood spent in reformatory, according to the lines of force of the generalized carceral system" (301). Indeed, disciplinary power spoke in terms of life course and development: Circumstantial evidence as "something quite different, which is not juridically codifiable: the knowledge of the criminal, one's estimation of him, what is known about the relations between him, his past and his crime, and what might be expected of him in the future" (18) There is much more elaborate knowledge about criminals in the age of prisons.
Knowledge and the Control of Bodies
Once this elaborate has been constructed the prison system can begin to closely regulate bodies. This knowledge gave rise to "a compact functioning of the power to punish: a meticulous assumption of responsibility for the body and the time of the convict, a regulation of his movements and behaviour by a system of authority and knowledge; a concerted orthopaedy applied to convicts in order to reclaim them individually; an autonomous administration of this power that is isolated both from the social body and from the judicial power in the strict sense" (130). By producing knowledge about their bodies prisons are able to exercise direct control over their bodies. They are able to closely regulate their movement and development. "Hence,” Foucault claims, “the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures that functioning of power" (201). Through constant observation the production of knowledge and the criminal’s internalization of that knowledge are achieved.
Again, this transformation is achieved through classification: "Convicts must be isolated or at least distributed according to the penal gravity of their act, but above all according to age, mental attitude, the technique of correct to be used, the stages of their transformation" (269). It is the elaborate body of knowledge that allows individuals to be segregated in this way. I mentioned above that each individual became a case. Similarly, each criminal is given a legal biography of sorts that allows him to be controlled. Like never before prisoners gain biographies: "The introduction of the 'biographical is important in the history of penality. Because it establishes the 'criminal' as existing before the crime and even outside of it" (252). This allows them to claim that they must be incarcerated because it is in their nature.
Foucault actually describes this transformation of individuals as the transformation of ‘souls’. I find this terms unclear, and I think it is something closer to the unconscious, something closer to the a priori levels of thought, which I’ll explore. But I think this quotation demonstrates how deeply these punishments are meant to penetrate minds: "They are processes that effect a transformation of the individuals as a whole – of his body and of his habits by the daily work that he is forced to perform, of his mind and his will by the spiritual attentions that are paid to him.... But this transformation is entrusted to the administration itself. Solitude and self-examination are not enough; nor are purely religious exhortations. Work on the prisoner's soul must be carried out as often as possible. The prison, through an administrative apparatus, will at the same time be a machine for altering minds" (125). They structure incarceration in elaborate ways so as to produce knowledge, use that knowledge to further structure the lives of prisoners, and to convince the criminals of this knowledge’s truth. It must penetrate the level of the desires: "The penalty that forms stable and easily legible signs must also recompose the economy of interest and the dynamics of passions" (107). Basic interests and desires must be controlled. Foucault nicely summarizes: "In short, penal imprisonment, from the beginning of the nineteenth century, covered both the deprivation of liberty and the technical transformation of individuals" (233).
Knowledge, Control, and Practices of the Self
But how does the process of observation articulation penetrate to these deep levels? How does the panopticon prevent "moral contagion by active surveillance..."? It does it because, "In absolute isolation... the rehabilitation of the criminal is expected not of the application of a common law, but of the relation of the individual to his own conscience and to what may enlighten him from within.... It is not, therefore, an external respect for the law or fear of punishment alone that will act upon the convict but the workings of the conscience itself" (238). Foucault’s later work on the practices of the self is beaming through this passage. The convict must be forced to internalize a new way of relating to himself. He must come to recognize himself through the eyes of the penal system. He must come to regard his crime as a result of his corrupt and criminal nature. Only by penetrating the level of practices of the self can individuals truly be controlled and transformed. Only by getting a prisoner to accept that he indeed is ‘this way’, can power truly function. "There is a whole mechanics, therefore, of interest, of its movement, of the way that one represents it to oneself and of the liveliness of this representation" (106). Observation and representation must be so strong that it must dominate the mind of the criminal. As one prisoner commented: "I was driven to despair, I wanted to become an honest man again; the surveillance plunged me back into misfortune" (268).
While knowledge and representation have to be powerful, however, it is still the body that must be controlled. As I said above, knowledge only matters so much as it allows the institution to structure the movement of the criminal’s body, and as it allows the individual to regulate his own body through practices of the self. "The point of application of the penalty,” Foucault says, “is not the representation, but the body, time, everyday gestures and activities; the soul, too, but in so far as it is the seat of habits.... As for the instruments used, these are no longer complexes of representations, reinforced and circulated, but forms of coercion, schemata of constraint, applied and repeated" (128). It is about making it so that the criminal is able to regulate his own habits. He must work on himself.
I also want to note that this transformation of individuals is war-like in its nature. It is not about the social contract and the right of the government to save people. But “ultimately, what one is trying to restore in this technique of correction is not so much the juridical subject, who is caught up in the fundamental interests of the social pact, but the obedient subject, the individual subjected to habits, rules, orders, an authority that is exercised continually around him and upon him, and which he must allow to function automatically in him" (128-9). These people are being dominated by the war of the state. They are being coerced and controlled through these forms of knowledge. Foucault explains how it is that penal knowledge and the control of bodies must be translated into a practice of the self. Individuals must internalize this knowledge, and they must begin to train their own bodies and minds: "What is now imposed on penal justice as its point of application, its 'useful' object, will no longer be the body of the guilty man set up against the body of the king; nor will it be the juridical subject of an ideal contract; it will be the disciplinary individual" (227). The disciplinary individual is the criminal who has internalized these forms of knowledge and has begun to regulate himself.
This idea of practices of the self, and the unconscious regulation of the self that comes along with it becomes most clear when Foucault quotes a nineteenth century reformer who said that incarceration establishes a routine that "'gradually becomes by dint of habit that is at first purely external, but is soon transformed into a second nature, so familiar with work and the pleasures that derive from it, that, provided wise instruction has opened up his soul to repentance, he may be exposed with more confidence to temptations, when he finally recovers his liberty'." To speak of second nature is very crucial here. It shows that individuals are being transformed down to the unconscious levels of their mind. They are being trained so that they will regulate themselves. I’ll come back to this notion of second nature in part III when I will introduce neuroplasticity into this discussion.
In this final quotation I want to share, Foucault summarizes nicely how it is that penal practices work. We now have a prisoner that is created by the institutions meant to correct him: "At the point that marks the disappearance of the branded, dismembered, burnt, annihilated body of the tortured criminal, there appeared the body of the prisoner, duplicated by the individuality of the 'delinquent', by the little soul of the criminal, which the very apparatus of punishment fabricated as a point of application of the power to punish and as the object of what is still called today penitentiary science" (255).
So what I have told you in this section is that disciplinary society controls criminals and prisoners through a threefold process. By incarcerating them society is able to build up elaborate knowledge about criminal minds. This knowledge forces individuals to recognize themselves as having an essential and natural criminal nature. This knowledge of their ‘nature’ is then turned against them and is used to justify the direct coercion of their bodies. They are coerced and their lives are structured so as to achieve a transformation of their behavior. Finally, this knowledge and the structuring of their behavior is turned into a practice of the self, a second nature. Prisoners are made to recognize themselves as subjects of legal knowledge, they recognize their own ‘essential delinquency’ and they work on themselves to regulate and correct their own behavior. The key thing here, and the main difference from the control of the population, is the way that criminal’s bodies are dominated and regulated. While I may have lost this point a bit, I believe that all of this happens through high-level simulational mindreading. The authority that tells criminals of their ‘nature’ is panoptical in nature, it always involves observation. These relations, therefore, would always be simulative in nature. It would be impossible for these individuals to work on themselves unless they were simulating the authoritative gaze that they have been exposed to in prison.
Now I’ll turn to the control of the population and how that functions through high-level simulational mindreading. The main difference I want to stress is that the control of prisoners functions both through high-level mindreading and the direct control of bodies, by controlling their bodies prisons enable different forms of high-level mindreading. But with the population control has to function solely through the representation of crime and its punishment.
The Representation of Surveillance and Controlling the Population With High-Level Mindreading
Now this section will be a little different, a little more general, and hopefully a little more explicit about high-level mindreading. As I said, disciplinary power effects the population through the play of representation, and the criminals through actual control. So because it is representation and not direct violence coercion that controls the population, then the population must be controlled primarily through forms of high-level mindreading. I’ll be discussing a serious of different topics, with surveillance being one of the most important. As you invisible readers have surely noticed, observation is a key factor, if not the most important factor, in the functioning of panopticism. All of the sections will revolve around representation as a form of control through high-level mindreading. Further, all of them will be about how surveillance and observation is utilized in different ways. So first I will talk generally about how crime is represented to the public. Then I’ll talk about how discipline in general is represented within society. From there I’ll talk about the role of normalization, which is a byproduct of representations. Lastly I’ll talk about how all of this representations, which revolves around minds, is a form of implicit war. Because don’t forget. The central claim of all of these essays is that the government is at war with its own population. And that they wage this war in the modern age primarily through representations and the control of minds.
The Representation of Crime and Punishment
So first things first. The most important way that the general population is controlled in disciplinary society is through the representation of crime and its punishments. Violence is still the main way that the government has to main control, it is the ultimate recourse for control. Violence, however, as Foucault argued, is now masked by the supposedly non-corporeal nature of incarceration. Since public torture can no longer be displayed, new ways of representing crime and its consequences had to be found. An elaborate form of representation had to be found that would penetrate the minds of each member of society. It can no longer be a violent display that shocks people into behaving certain ways, it must be a subtle coercion that operates in the unconscious. This is what Foucault means when he says that, "The publicity of punishment must not have the physical effect of terror; it must open up a book to be read" (111).
Even during the age of torture representation was the key thing. But it was a representation that took place on a body. But representation has now freed itself from reality and can begin to be a representation in its own right, a representation of a representation. I am very much channeling Foucault in The Order of Things here. But obviously that stuff applies, since DnP came right after TOOT. But because punishment is meant primarily to discourage future crime, these representations must become more powerful than what torture could offer. "[T]he 'pain' at heart of punishment,” therefore, “is not the actual sensation of pain, but the idea of pain, displeasure, inconvenience – the 'pain' of the idea of 'pain'. Punishment has to make use not of the body, but of representation" (94). People do not need to see a body mutilated. They simply need to know that if they step out of line they will be harmed, that they will be locked away. They simply need to have the knowledge that the government will wage war on them.
Again, Foucault stresses the importance of representing the pain of criminals. Their pain is meant to make it so that "the memory of pain [can] prevent a repetition of the crime, just as the spectacle, however artificial it may be, of a physical punishment may prevent the contagion of a crime" (94). Interestingly representation and the E-imagination can bring about pain simply by thinking of it. The pain of the idea of pain, is therefore a very legitimate idea, and indeed confirms that Foucault is describing the spread of new forms of high-level mindreading. By proliferating this representation of crime and punishment the government is effectively providing the people with the evidence they need to high-level mindread, and simulate the possible pain they would feel if they were to commit a crime.
I believe that Foucault is also explicit about how this representation attacks the mind. He says that "it is no longer the body, with the ritual play of excessive pains, spectacular brandlings in the ritual of the public execution; it is the mind or rather a play of representation and signs circulating discreetly but necessarily and evidently in the minds of all" (101). Again, punishment now "uses not marks, but signs, coded sets of representations, which would be given the most rapid circulation and the most general acceptance possible by citizens witnessing the scene of punishment" (130-31). Criminality is now represented in an elaborate fashion that allows individuals to control their own minds. People now have the representations they need to E-imagine the pain they would experience if they were to break the law. People can now engage in a form of high-level mindreading that lets them avoid criminality. Now I’ll discuss representation and reality in disciplinary society more closely.
The Reality of Discipline
The population was exposed to elaborate forms of observation and knowledge that homogenized them, just like prisoners were subjected to. "This hierarchizing penality had, therefore, a double effect: it distributed pupils according to their aptitudes and their conduct, that is, according to the use that could be made of them when they left the school; it exercised over them a constant pressure to conform to the same model, so that they might all be subjected to subordination, docility, attention in studies and exercises, and to the correct practice of duties and all the parts of discipline'. So that they might all be like one another" (182). I am introducing this section with this quotation because I think it expresses the generality that disciplinary power wields. Individuals are not controlled by representations of penality, they are controlled by representations of many different types. In schools, in hospitals, etc.. Or, as Foucault says: "The ideal point of penality today would be an indefinite discipline: an interrogation without end, an investigation that would be extended without limit to a meticulous and ever more analytical observation" (227). While this quotation is about penality, I believe it applies on a general level. In all of disciplinary society penal practices provide the central model, and in all of the great disciplinary institutions the endless interrogation is the ideal. Foucault is more explicit about this general nature of disciplinary society. Prisons are similar to many disciplinary institutions because "in its function the power to punish is not essentially different from that of curing or educating. It receives from them, and from their lesser smaller task, a sanction from below; but one that is no less important for that, since it is the sanction of technique and rationality." (303). Disciplinary society is directly related to legal punishment. Each one is about an observation from above that penetrates the minds of those below.
Disciplinary society also works not only by controlling individuals access to representations, but their access to real experiences as well. This is why one nineteenth-century penal reformer said:"I propose that, from time to time, after preparing people's minds with a reasoned discourse on the preservation of the social order, on the utility of punishment, men as well as boys should be taken to the mines and to the work camps and contemplate the frightful fate of these outlaws" (111). In this example, individuals are given a body of representations, a set of knowledge, and then are forced to witness that actual experience to cement the lesson. They are first given knowledge to help them learn from experience, and they are then made to observe prisoners, and thus receive a synthetic experience.
This is a weak section. I am not quite sure what to do with the above quotations I pulled. But onward to the normalizing power that is exercised over the population by these representations.
Normalization and Control
Perhaps the most important element of control through representation is the normalizing power that comes along with these elaborate representations. If you can get individuals to accept that they are indeed certain ways, if you can get them to regard things as ‘natural’, then it would be easy to control their behavior. Thus Foucault says, "Representation: the representations of his interests, the representation of his advantages and disadvantages, pleasure and displeasure...." (127). By controlling this specific sorts of information individuals can be made to believe that their positions in the world are natural and thus justified.
It is through this control of representation and this normalizing power that each individual mind and body can be refashioned to disciplinary society’s needs. "Individual correction must, therefore, assure the process of redefining the individual as subject of law, through the reinforcement of the systems of signs and representations that they circulate" (128). By utilizing representation individuals come to see themselves as naturally subjected to the law and its rules. This normalizing body of knowledge constitutes what Foucault calls a ‘political technology of the body’. It creates an environment in which relationships are now defined by the relationship to self, other, and ‘normality’: "this knowledge and this master constitute what might be called the political technology of the body. Of course, this technology is diffuse, rarely formulated in continuous, systematic discourse; it is often made up of bits and pieces; it implements a disparate set of tools or methods. In spite of the coherence of its results, it is generally no more than a multiform instrumentation" (26). These representations are simultaneously diffuse and ubiquitous. They appear in diverse forms, but within a universe of discourse that is focused on the same basic things: on bodies and their efficiency, on crime and its representation, on criminals and their essential nature. With all its homogenizing power, however, discipline also allows individuals to be framed as unique: "In a sense, the power of normalization imposes homogeneity; but it individualizes my making it possible to measure gaps, to determine levels, to fix specialties and to render the differences useful by fitting one to another" (184). This is how this political technology of the body functions. It provides a set of concepts that simultaneously individualize and totalize. It makes everyone part of the same, and gives everyone a set of tools to make themselves unique. People are written about with such regularity that they are being dominated by a set of ubiquitous concepts that individualize them: "The examination that places individuals in a field of surveillance also situates them in a network of writing; it engages them in a whole mass of documents that capture and fix them" (189).
Above I wrote that disciplinary society drew much of its capability from the existence of the prison system. Similarly, Foucault believes that normalizing techniques also stem from prisons. "The juridico-anthropological functioning revealed in the whole history of modern penality did not originate in the superimposition of the human sciences on criminal justice and in the requirements proper to this new rationality or to the humanism that it appeared to bring with it; it originated in the disciplinary technique that operated these new mechanisms of normalizing judgment" (183). In other words, it is not simply the rise in new forms of knowledge that allow people to be controlled. It is the process of intense observation and normalization that comes from prisons that enables control.
Indeed, it seems that our society is filled with authoritative individuals that are able to prescribe normalizing judgments. In fact, Foucault believes that all of these authoritative figures function on the model of the judge. Prisons provide the model for all of the normalizing that occurs within the disciplinary institutions: Normalization, "Borne along by the omnipresence of the mechanisms of discipline, basing itself on all the carceral apparatuses, it has become one of the major functions of our society. The judges of normality are present everywhere. We are in the society of the teach-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the 'social worker'-judge; it is on them that the universal reign of the normative is based; and each individual, wherever he may find himself, subjects it to his body, his gestures, his behaviour, his aptitudes, his achievement" (304). The prison allows this normalization to take place throughout all of society. Now I want to explain how this representation of people and minds is a war of sorts.
Control Through the Representation of Minds as Implicit War
During the time of torture the control of bodies and minds was accomplished by direct violence, and it was no secret that it was a war of sorts. But these new networks of disciplinary institutions"constitutes a mechanism whose effects follow from one another. Because, without any physical instrument other than architecture and geometry, it acts directly on individuals; it gives 'power of mind over mind'" (206). We are now attacked at the level of minds. Our minds our at stake all the time. The government is at war with our thoughts and wants to be sure that we think of ourselves and others in certain ways. Perhaps we are all lost in this war. Perhaps no one is in touch with these strategic elements anymore. It is such a diffuse and broad set of institutions that it is difficult to detect its strategic nature: "What generalizes the power to punish, then, is not the universal consciousness of the law in each juridical subject; it is the regular extension, the infinitely minute web of panoptic techniques" (224). It is diverse.
Foucault actually explicitly addresses how panopticism has received very little attention. He believes panopticism has received little attention because "the power that it operates and which it augments is a direct, physical power that men exercise upon one another. An inglorious culmination had an origin that could be only grudgingly acknowledge" (225). In other words, it spawned from war originally. The power to observe and classify was first brought about by the war of the government against the people. And now it is just an implicit war of representation, and it is hard to identify its source in violence. It is still intended, however, to avoid revolution, to avoid internal rebellion, to suppress violence, and to retain social order. The prison is the central institution that legitimates this implicit war: “The carceral 'naturalizes' the legal power to punish, as it 'legalizes' the technical power to discipline. In thus homogenizing them, effacing what may be violent in one and arbitrary in the other, attenuating the effects of revolt that they may both arouse, thus depriving excess in either of any purpose, circulating the same calculated, mechanical and discreet methods from one to the other, the carceral makes it possible to carry out that great 'economy' of power whose formula the eighteenth century had sought, when the problem of the accumulation and useful administration of men first emerged” (303). People are controlled in brand new ways now.
Criminals themselves also have their role in panoptic mindreading. As a group to be represented, they are there to wage war against us. They have been co-opted into society’s open strategy: "delinquency, an object among others of police surveillance, is also one of its privileged instruments.... Delinquency, with the secret agents that it procures, but also with the generalized policing the it authorizes, constitutes a means of perpetual surveillance of the population: an apparatus that makes it possible to supervise, through the delinquents themselves, the whole social field. Delinquency functions as a political as a political observatory.... But this surveillance has been able to function only in conjunction with the prison" (281). The war against us is thus waged from many angles. Networks of institutions monitor us, it keeps us from revolting, it normalizes our behavior, and it situates us in a group of criminals that enforce a sort of observation on us. This is all accomplished, I think, through a sort of high-level mindreading. We imagine these institutions watching us, and we work on ourselves. We accept this normalized terminology and we think of ourselves in that way. We imagine criminals and we let them instill fear in us.
Finally I just want to touch on the idea of pure theory-theory mindreading, and the idea that our mind is truly the place that disciplinary society builds its prisons.
Pure Theory-Theory Mindreading as Structuring A Priori Thought
I think that with the rise of very elaborate forms of knowledge we probably don’t always rely on simulational mindreading. I suspect that when knowledge is elaborate enough we simply draw theoretical inferences all the time. We just judge people so quickly. I think that if this were to get into a certain point then this would amount to a structuring of a priori thought. In other words, people wouldn’t even realize that these bodies of knowledge were structuring their thought. They would regard it simply as the way things are, the way things are talked about or thought about. But it is just a complex network of social knowledge, it is just a socially constructed body of knowledge that is structuring their a priori thought. Because "punishment is directed above all at others, at all the potentially guilty" the guilty man as a representation "must be accepted and redistributed by all; they must shape the discourse that each individual has with others and by which crime is forbidden to all by all – the true coin that is substituted in people's minds for the false profits of crime" (108). People’s every conversation must come to revolve around the same terms, the same words. If people only have a simple set of terms to work with, over-generalized terms, then their a priori thought is thus structured for them, and they may be engaging in pure theory-theory mindreading. A strange and frightening idea. I’m tired.
The Prison of Our Minds
This is a final comment I want to make. Basically the idea is that control has been achieved by turning our own minds into a prison. All of what I described above makes it so that we can only think in certain ways. We can't help but regard criminals as natural and deviant. We can't help but regard the law as the basis for 'true' morality. We can't avoid thinking about morality and crime in certain ways. Our minds, therefore, become a prison of sorts. It is this transformation of the prison from a physical place to a discursive apparatus, from a building to a form of a priori thought, that truly ensures the functioning of power. Once people have accepted prisons and delinquency as natural, their minds can no longer do anything but regard it as such. Once we accept state sanctioned discourses as 'true' our minds become a prison in which we can no longer think certain ways. This is the level that panopticism penetrates, and this is the level of high-level mindreading.
Concluding Chapter 4 and Part II
In part II of this series of essays, chapters 3 and 4, I wanted to establish that Foucault’s definition of power as relational necessitates that we consider how it is that minds relate to one another. I chose simulation theory of mind as my primary way of grounding myself in a philosophy of mind. In chapter 3 I established this concept very generally, I explained how it is that social relations have to be between minds, and how it is that torture and prison would enable different forms of simulational mindreading.
In chapter 4 I was trying to elevate this discussion to a more complex and nuanced level. In particular, I used Alvin Goldman’s distinction between low- and high-level mindreading to explain the different types of mindreading utilized in torture and discipline. I believe that the immediate and face to face nature of torture makes it rely mostly on mirror neurons, and thus low-level mindreading. I then tried to explain how the abstract nature of panoptical knowledge would make it rely mainly on the imagination and thus high-level mindreading. I then entertained the idea that elaborate knowledge could lead to pure theory-theory mindreading that would bypass any process of simulation. I then explained in turn how these abstract forms of high-level mindreading would control both prisoners and civilians. Criminals would be controlled by producing a body of knowledge about their minds and ‘natures’, by using that knowledge to coerce them into different behavior, and by forcing this coerced to become second nature, and thus a practice of the self. Civilians on the other hand, would be controlled primarily through abstract representations. I claimed that by representing punishments individuals were made to fear the consequences of crime, that disciplinary institutions drew on the same tools invented by prison institutions, that disciplinary society produced ‘normalizing’ knowledge that got people to accept their positions, and that these forms of representation were a way of maintaing social order and were thus an implicit war of sorts. Lastly just explored the idea of pure theory-theory mindreading again, but in relation to the notion of the a priori conditions of thought this time.
This was a big push, a big challenge. I think I got sloppier as it went on, because, frankly, I’m not equipped to handle this stuff. This is the general lesson of these essays: I’m not smart enough yet.
But I’m excited because in Part III, chapters 5 and 6, I’ll be bringing practices of the self and neuroplasticity more into the picture. I will be able to specify the pragmatics of this all more clearly.