Michel Foucault's history of madness tries to discover the origins of modern psychiatric practice, and raises questions about its meaning and validity. At the center of his critique is Foucault's claim that modern psychiatry, while purporting to be grounded in scientific truths, is primarily a system of moral judgments. Indeed, what psychiatry presents as the 'liberation' of the mad from mental illness is in fact 'a gigantic moral imprisonment.' Foucault may [exaggerate], but his essential point requires serious consideration. Psychiatric practice does seem to be be based on implicit moral assumptions in addition to explicit empirical [e.g., scientific] considerations. And efforts to treat mental illness and be society's way of controlling what it views as immoral, or otherwise undesirable, behavior. Not long ago, homosexuals and women who rejected their stereotypical roles were judged "mentally ill." [Foucault showed that], while the term "normal" sometimes signifies merely what is usual or average, in discussions of mental illness, it most often has normative force." (Normative means it has the power to establish a social standard of behavior).
Your post should be a paragraph-long application of this idea to one patient in the novel. Are they "really" mentally ill (whatever that means) or are they victims of someone else's "normative force"? In other words, are they simply being denied the freedom of self-determination, and forced to conform to someone else's ideas of morality and normality? Foucault believe that "where there is power, there is [always] resistance" - so how do these characters resist the power of the psychiatric establishment in the hospital? Kesey wrote the novel around the same time Foucault was doing his analyses, so these ideas apply to the kind of asylum Nurse Ratched runs in the story. That should make it easy to find connections. A good post depends on using a particular character's situation to show them. Make sure you have two quotations in the post, one from the above quote and one from the novel. Good luck! THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE BY SATURDAY 8/30 @ 12:00!
TASK: Write a paragraph featuring 1-2 quotations from the novel in response to the prompt.
PROMPT: The ancient philosopher Heraclitus used fire as a symbol for change, which he saw as the only constant in our universe. He wrote, "This world ever was, is, and shall be a Living Fire, which rekindles in measures as it burns away" (Fragment 30). Guy Montag has a similar thought as he flees the city after burning Beatty at the novel's climax: "The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time. [And] Time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!" Explain the significance of Montag's revelation. How does this philosophical insight allow Montag to accept his actions and redefine his purpose in life, thus setting up the novel's ending? Pay special attention to Granger's final speech to Montag about human history and the symbol of the Phoenix. Also consider relating Montag's ideas to the death of Clarisse or the final destruction of the city.
DUE: Post this assignment by FRIDAY, 7/15 @ 11;59 p.m., unless you arranged an extension with me via email.
Mr. Justin Biggs