Michel Foucault’s “History of Sexuality” is an undertaking in nullification of the was a regulated and polymorphous incitement to discourse (Foucault, ). Incitement to Discourse. In , Foucault asked “how is it that in a society like ours, sexuality is not simply a means of reproducing the species. In Michel Foucault’s “The Incitement to Discourse”, the development of sex as discourse within our society is illustrated beginning in the 17th.

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Rather than censorship, what evolved was a regulated and polymorphous incitement to discourse Foucault, Foucault has rationalized that contrary to the opinion that the society of the nineteenth century had little dialogue relating to sex, that they did in fact put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses about it.

Your email address will not be published. The increasing frequency of sexual thoughts caused the single discourse of sex to develop into multiple discourses.

Foucault on Discourses Concerning Sex

Indeed to construct a knowledge of the individual the object of the investigation has become to uncover the truth of sex and to reveal its assumed hidden secret. The analysis of population demographics led governments to focus on investigations into birthrate, legitimate and illegitimate births, age of marriage, frequency of sexual relations, fertility and so on. His analysis disvourse with an examination of the widely held belief that in the Victorian era, sexual experience and practice were subjected to a power of repression Smart, Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

Our society has broken with the tradition of ars erotica and bestowed upon itself a scientia sexualis by adapting the ancient procedure of the confession to the rules of scientific discourse.

Michel Foucault’s “The Incitement to Discourse” | ENGL – Methods of Literary and Cultural Study

According to Foucault, until Freud, the discourse on sex that scholars and theoreticians engaged in never ceased to hide the thing that they were speaking about and by speaking about it so much, by multiplying it and partitioning it off there was created a screen-discourse, a dispersion avoidance meant to evade the unbearable and too hazardous truth of sex. Firstly, is sexual repression an established historical fact? Foucault’s doubts about the conception of repression were stimulated by evidence of an emerging proliferation of discourses on sex discoures the seventeenth century.

And not so much in the form of a general theory of ihcitement as in the form of analysis, stocktaking, classification and specification, of quantitative or causal studies” [2]. It is the sanctity discourwe to the heterosexual monogamy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that has as its natural consequence the incitement to confession of a multitude ot sexual perversions that were deemed as unnatural or ti equivalents to the ‘regular’ sexuality of the ‘acceptable’ couple Smart, Foucault fo this with sex foucaukt describing how the Catholic church required that you dizcourse your sexual thoughts and desires as sins.


Nearly one hundred and fifty years have gone into the making of the complex machinery for producing true discourses on sex and the enablement of the truth of sex and its pleasures to be embodied in a thing called ‘sexuality’ Foucault, The discourse of truth takes effect discojrse however, from the nicitement from whom it was wrested and not from the one who receives it Foucault, Likewise, sex became a critical tool in population analytics as it was used to determine statistics like birth rate, death rate, and contraceptive use to determine the future population growth of countries.

This entry was posted in Section Here, Foucault suggests a sense foucau,t innocence or normalcy for the man by choosing to explain how this act was something that was not only routine for him, but also for those around him. This occurred as sex became increasingly an object of administration and management through government inquiry. Foucault states that rather than a prudishness of language or a uniform concern to hide sex, what distinguishes these last three centuries is the proliferation of devices that have been invented for speaking about it, having it spoken about, inducing it to speak of itself, roucault listening, recording, transcribing and re-distributing what is said about it: Is what first appears to our view really the accentuation or establishment of a regime of sexual repression beginning in the seventeenth century?

What were the effects of power generated by what was said? Through the confessional process truth and sex have integrated and knowledge of the subject has evolved Smart, The practice is understood and experienced while pleasure is not defined in relation to the permitted or the forbidden. In that manner, sex became confined to the privacy of the home and the incjtement couple and at the same time it became an enmeshment of a web of discourses and forms of analysis between the state and individuals Smart, Here, Foucault demonstrates that the presence of silence is planned and organized in that people actively choose and decide what not to say, regardless of whether the silence is driven by personal preference or societal norms or legal requirements.

It stirred up peoples fear as it claimed to tell the truth as it ascribed an imaginary dynasty of evils destined to be passed on for generations Foucault, For that is the essential fact: By deliberately excluding specific details about the situation and by deliberately including information about the frequency and prevalence of similar situations, Foucault changes the impact and interpretation of this story. For instance, authors began to take advantage of a new market and write heavily sexualized material.

Foucault informs us that historically there have been two main procedures for producing the truth of sex. Not simply a means to obtain incitwment and enjoyment?

The confession is a ritual of discourse in which the speaking subject is also the subject of the statement and it is also a ritual of power manifested by the presence of another. He did this to show that others were not alone in their desires as people were able to connect with and identify with the book.


Talking about sex became allowed in certain instances and not in others. By Roy Hornsby Michel Foucault’s “History of Sexuality” is an undertaking in nullification of the notion that Western society has experienced a repression of sexuality since the seventeenth century. In conclusion, attempts to restrain or hide sex led to the creation of a constant air of sexuality in our actions and thoughts that we now experience today.

During the nineteenth century Western civilizations developed a scientia sexualis the goal of which was to produce true discourses on sex.

Confession, the examination of the conscience, all the insistence on the important secrets of the flesh, has not been simply a means too prohibiting sex or of repressing it as far as possible from consciousness, but was a means of placing sexuality at the heart of existence and of connecting salvation with the mastery of these obscure movements. Societies disclurse as China, Japan, India, Rome and the Arabo-Muslim societies granted to themselves the ars erotica, and from this erotic art, truth is drawn from the pleasure in itself.

The confession has spread its effects far and wide; we confess our crimes, our sins, our thoughts and our desires. What are the links between these discourses, these effects of discoures, and the pleasures that were invested by them?

Use of Silence in Foucault’s “The Incitement to Discourse”

Foucault argues further by suggesting that it is peculiar to modern societies not to consign sex to a shadowy existence but to speak about it ad infinitum whilst at the same time exploiting it as the secret. Further to this he dispels the idea that sexuality has not been the subject of open discourse.

Sex has always been the forum where both the future of our species and our “truth” as human subjects is decided. As a consequence a proliferation of unorthodox sexualities has eventuated.

The dominant agency does not reside within the constraint of foucqult person who speaks but rather within the one who listens and says nothing; neither does it reside within the one who knows and answers but within the one who questions and is not supposed to know. This intersection of the technology of the confession with scientific investigation and discourse has constructed the domain of sexuality within modern societies as being problematic and in need of interpretation.