46 pages 1 hour read

Michel Foucault

The History of Sexuality: Volume 1

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1976

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Part 4

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “The Deployment of Sexuality”

Part 4 Summary

Foucault compares the expansion of discourse on sex to the 1748 novel Les Bijoux Indiscrets. Like the protagonist in the novel, Western society is saturated with continuous and unending curiosity about sex. While the protagonist in the novel holds immense power when he wields a magic ring, those who receive the collective truth in and of sex hold power in Western society. The rationalization of sex made it scientific, nothing more than a series of data points. The continuous pursuit of truth in sex, revealed first through the confessional and later in the scientific and medical communities, separates the individual from the personal experience of sex. The need to extract and tell the truth constructs a barrier between the self and sexuality. As Foucault moves through his rationale in the next few chapters, he hopes to outline why sex remains secret even after its rationalization and why humans continue to seek out the truth about sex.

Part 4, Chapter 1 Summary: “Objective”

Foucault considers why his questions need to be studied. Contemporary Western society, Foucault claims, was not built solely upon a foundation of political or bourgeois repression.