How and why is it that we in the West, in our arduous and incessant
search for truth, have also built into and around ourselves intricate
and powerful systems intended to manage all that we know and do?
This, arguably, was the key problem to which Foucault applied himself.
Central to his critical, historical ontology of Western, and especially
Enlightenment, reason is an investigation of the constitutive
relations between the operation of power relations, the production of
knowledge, and ways of relating ethically to oneself and others. This
article examines Foucault’s account of the relations of power which
are said to underpin contemporary thought and to regulate and subject
modern individuals. Contrary to the belief that Foucault’s conception
of power is dogmatic and all-encompassing, leaving no room for progressive
resistance or change and flowing over into the realm of theory
such that truth itself becomes questionable, it is argued here that
Foucault offers us an analysis of relations of power as ‘strategies of
governance’ which depend for their operation on the existence of free
subjects capable not only of resistance but of positively producing
effects of truth in reality.