Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Rudan, P.
Society as a Code: Bentham and the Fabric of Order
(2015) History of European Ideas, 16 p. Article in Press.

DOI: 10.1080/01916599.2015.1077147


The essay argues that Jeremy Bentham played a major role in the transitional process between the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries leading to the ‘discovery’ or ‘invention of society’ as an order, i.e., as an autonomous object of knowledge. By comparing Bentham’s discourse with those developed by select protagonists of that transition, particularly Ferguson, Sieyès, and Mirabeau, it is shown how society emerges as the logical and historical space of a set of relationships that affects both the rationalisation and the practice of government. In contrast with Michel Foucault’s interpretation of Bentham’s role in the genealogy of neoliberalism, recently developed by Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, this paper suggests that ‘the new governmental reason’ rose from within the discourse of law. Consequently, the problem of ‘constitution’ was not left behind by the epistemological change of the eighteenth century, as they argue. Rather, the scientific and political understanding of society as a code became the base for an innovative conception of both law and politics. © 2015 Taylor & Francis

Author Keywords

indigence; Jeremy Bentham; social order; social science; society

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: