Foucault's "power-knowledge" is a controversial concept. Brought into English-speaking theoretical circles less than two decades ago, its meaning and range of applicability are still in dispute. While no one denies that some fields of social scientific knowledge (such as criminology) intersect institutionally with mechanisms of power, these intersections do not seem, to many, to constitute any essential relation of "mutual reinforcement" between knowledge and power. If, in rare cases, politics and scientific research are admitted to be mutually constitutive, the results of their mingling are typically dismissed as propaganda or pseudo-science. A few thinkers are willing to allow the entirety of the human or social sciences to be dismissed in this way – thus leaving intact and untainted science, real science.
Copyright © 1995, Avebury Press. This chapter first appeared in Continental and Postmodern Perspectives in the Philosophy of Science.
Please note that downloads of the book chapter are for private/personal use only.
Purchase online at Amazon.com.
McWhorter, Ladelle. "Scientific Discipline and the Origins of Race: A Foucaultian Reading of the History of Biology." In Continental and Postmodern Perspectives in the Philosophy of Science, edited by Babette E. Babich, Debra B. Bergoffen, and Simon Glynn, 173-88. Aldershot, Hants: Avebury, 1995.