They've all got it wrong concerning how consciousness works; read this...
Statement on Consciousness
by David M. Petersen - Happiness and Well-being Seminar - Final paper
In his work, "The Body of the Condemned," Michel Foucault states that there is no knowledge "that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations" (Foucault 175). Additionally, in Daniel Kahneman's essay "Objective Happiness," Kahneman makes the claim at the end of the essay that determining the objective well-being of individuals and groups will eventually enable "the evaluation of economic and social policy" (Kahneman 22). Also, in the essay entitled "National Differences in Subjective Well-Being" by Ed Diener and Eunkook Mark Suh, we learn that nations are being rated by American researchers according to subjective well-being, and that there are essentially two types of nations, individualistic and collectivist (Diener 441). It has been pointed out that the combination of the views put forth in these essays, along with Foucault's perspective, raises this question: does this research, if applied to economic and social policy relative to collectivist nations such as China by individualistic nations like the U.S., allow the researchers of the U.S. to disqualify and at the same time oversee the norms of collectivist nations (or in other words, exercise power over them), since the more powerful nations, like the U.S., tend to be individualistic?
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In response to this question I must say first of all that I think that Foucault's perspective is truly a bit limited and paranoid, and is not really the best way to view the actual relationship that would be occurring in this situation. While this situation could possibly somewhat be seen in the light of a 'power relation' between the U.S. and China, it is not really a power relation in the way that Foucault envisions, but rather it can be more accurately seen relative to the survival needs of both nations. This is because both nations are essentially entities that are fighting to survive. Only in this national survival sense are they really exercising 'power' over each other; consequently, the actual relationship between the researchers in the U.S. and the people in China whose well-being is being measured is really even more indirectly related in terms of power, and is thus really too indirect to be called a 'power relation' at all.
First of all, as stated, Foucault's perspective truly is a bit limited and paranoid; things are much clearer from a 'nations as entities fighting to survive' standpoint than his characterization of a "scientifico-legal complex" that is using "punishment as political tactic" (Foucault 170). I have to ask, what is this scientifico-legal complex? To me, it is a hypothetical entity that does not really exist. We (the U.S.) of course have the penal and legal system, which is state and federally run mostly, and we have science, which happens mostly between academia and business these days. These really are two completely different things and frankly, the characterization of them as some clandestine "complex" that is exercising 'power' over people in prison is a bit bizarre. There is a much better way to look at things, specifically, that the U.S. as a nation is an entity that is fighting to survive among other nations, and consequently has various sectors and parts within it that perform functions that are necessary for its survival. For example, the penal system of the U.S. is necessary for the U.S. as an entity to control crime within its borders. Crime, when out of control, could seriously threaten the survival and flourishing of the U.S. and its citizens. Science, on the other hand, is really almost completely an economic function, as businesses within the U.S. and consequently the U.S. as a whole must keep developing new products using science in order to compete, and thus survive, in the global marketplace. Both of these sectors within the U.S. provide necessary functions for the nation's survival. Interestingly, Foucault even talks about a political anatomy or body politic, with a set of elements and techniques that serve as weapons, relays, and communication routes, etc., which begins to support this above view. Except, of course, Foucault sees this body politic (weirdly) as existing solely for the subjugation of human bodies (Foucault 173). In my opinion, he consequently fails to see the true relationships of many things relative to a political body that has to fight to survive.
In fact, a whole host of misconceptions follow from this incorrect 'scientifico-legal complex' characterization of his. He states that there is danger of seeing the increase in humanization within the penal system as being a 'primary fact', and not just one of the "new tactics of power" being used by this nebulous scientifico-legal complex (Foucault 170). Well, from my point of view, it is a primary fact that obviously just stems from a growing empathy for humanity by the rest of the human race. It truly is hard to see how making things better for inmates is a new tactic to exercise power over them. This so-called scientifico-legal complex is also supposedly using what Foucault calls a "political technology of the body," which is all about how the human body can be used in a system of subjugation. My question would be; used for what? Making license plates? Yikes, this is truly paranoid stuff! I have to ask, how else could we control criminals other than imprisoning their bodies? According to Foucault this political technology of the body is "diffuse, it cannot be localized in a particular type of institution or state apparatus"(Foucault 173). I would submit that this is because it does not really exist as a technology per se, but is just a bizarre twist on things that are in reality much more mundane.
Additionally, Foucault strongly disagrees that "penalty is above all (if not exclusively) a means of reducing crime," (Foucault 171) but rather believes that one could say that it exists just to "maintain the punitive mechanisms" (like the prison, I suppose) (Foucault 172). I have to ask, how else would you reduce crime, other than imprisoning the people who do it? This is the primary reason we need prisons, and Foucault just seems to be raising secondary relationships surrounding the prisons to more important status than they deserve. In the end, Foucault himself asks the question whether or not there is some common matrix by which science and the legal system can be seen in the correct light, and he proposes a single process of "epistemological-juridical formation" (Foucault 171). The answer to this question is yes, there is a common matrix by which science and the penal system can be seen correctly, and this common matrix is that of the survival of a nation against other nations and the secondary interaction of its constituent parts, namely the penal system and the scientific community in this case, not some bizarre conspiracy between these two to exercise power over people.
Now, moving on, let me just say, and I think the reader will agree, that there really is no way for the researchers in the U.S. to really have power (in any real sense) over people in China, whose well-being they are measuring, other than through the governments of the two countries somehow. Since, as shown, the U.S. and China are two entities with constituent parts that are fighting to survive, and this relationship is really just like two humans who are fighting to survive, these two groups (the researchers and the Chinese people) having power over each other would be somewhat analogous to my liver exercising power over the reader's liver! So, with this in mind, what is this information that could possibly be so influential on the economic and social policies between the U.S. and China that is contained in the essay "National Differences in Subjective Well-Being" by Ed Diener and Eunkook Mark Suh? Well, in the essay, we learn that nations are being rated according to the subjective well-being of their people and there are essentially two types of nations, individualistic and collectivist, as stated before. Now, as it turns out, there is a correlation between wealth and individualism in terms of subjective well-being. In other words, the wealthier countries tend to have higher SWB than poorer countries, and they also tend to be individualistic like the U.S., meaning there is an emphasis placed on personal autonomy and freedom. Collectivist nations, like China, in contrast, place more emphasis on the group that the person is in rather than the person themselves, and their relationship to it. Consequently, these people have less personal freedom (Diener 441).
Actually, it also turns out that people in collectivist nations don't actually think about subjective well-being as much, or, in other words, there is a higher percentage polled in collectivist nations who said they never even thought about their own personal happiness. Also, people in collectivist nations judge SWB in different ways, meaning they weigh interpersonal factors more than individualistic people do, who tend to rely heavily on their personal emotions. Also there are issues concerning the pluses and minuses of personal freedom in individualistic nations Vs the lack of it in collectivist nations. In short, since researchers can't really tell whether people are happy or not unless the evaluate them in their own environment with their own standards, they are trying to work out a system in which well-being can be evaluated equally well in both individualistic and collectivist environments and be equivalent. (Diener 442).
Now, how could this above information be used by the U.S.'s economic and social policy in relation to China, for example, as Daniel Kanemann sort of proposes (although he may be talking more about internal national policy which works much better, but it still works as a possibility between nations) in his essay "Objective Happiness"? Well, to begin with, a search for the phrases "well-being" and "happiness" on the American Foreign Policy Council's website (Washington, D.C.) of the China Reform Monitor, the American Foreign Policy Council's review of P.H.C. actions and Government Policy, yields only a few pages on human rights issues between The U.S. and China. The fact is that most of the issues that are discussed between these two countries are issues like nuclear weapons, trade, and espionage. These of course are the kinds of things that one would expect two nations that are pitted against each other in a survival relationship to be talking about. The truth is that even in human rights violation discussions between the U.S. and China, the discussions never get into the actual everyday well-being of the people in either country. Additionally, I have racked my brain trying to come up with a viable scenario in which the everyday well-being of the people of China could ever be a real survival issue to the U.S., other than in terms of isolated human rights violation incidents. It is really much more just a matter of the Chinese government's business. Now, again, since there really is no other real way for the researchers to have power over people in China other than through the governments of the two countries, not only does well-being knowledge seem like a non-issue between the governments of the two countries and thus nowhere near constituting a 'power relation' between them, but it is even more of a non-issue between the U.S. researchers and the people of China.
So, consequently, this situation involving research that could influence economic and social policy between two nations could sort of be seen in the light of a 'power relation' between the two countries if there where some way that this well-being information could be used by the U.S. in relation to China in its social and economic policy, although I just can't think of any way it could be realistically used. Even so, the idea of there being a 'power relation' between the researchers of the U.S. and the people of China is even a further stretch because the point is, the American researchers do not really have any power over the people in China. The have a little bit of power as far as influencing the heads of their country possibly, who are entangled in a survival relationship with the heads of China, who in turn have power over the people in that country. So, the relationship in terms of power is so indirect between the American researchers and the people of China that it is really a stretch to call it a power relation. Therefore, to the assertion by Foucault that there is no knowledge "that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations," I would have to say that while I think that there is very little knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations, because most knowledge is admittedly generated in the struggle for survival which is related to the concept of power, I would have to come to the conclusion that there is some knowledge that doesn't presuppose and constitute power relations. In other words, I think that this well-being knowledge is actually a great example of knowledge that exists outside of Foucault's limited 'power relation' view.
As shown, Foucault's perspective is truly a bit limited and paranoid, and is not really the best way to view the actual relationship that would be occurring in the improbable situation between the U.S. and China that is outlined in this essay. While this situation could possibly be somewhat seen in the light of a 'power relation' between the U.S. and China if you could come up with a viable use for this well-being knowledge in social or economic policy, it is not really a power relation in the way that Foucault envisions, but rather can be more accurately seen relative to the survival needs of both nations because both nations are essentially entities made up of constituent parts that are fighting to survive. Additionally, the idea of there being a 'power relation' between the researchers of the U.S. and the people of China is an even bigger stretch, because the American researchers do not really have any real power over the people in China on their own.
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American Foreign Policy Council's (Washington, D.C.)http://www.afpc.org/cgi-bin/search.cgi China Reform Monitor No. 7, November 3, 1997 (/crm/crm7.htm)
Diener, Ed and Eunkook Mark Suh. "National Differences in Subjective Well-Being." Well-being - The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, and Norman Schwarz, eds. New York, Russell Sage Foundation. 1999.
Foucault, Michel. "The Body of the Condemned" The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Panthenon Books.
Kahneman, Daniel. "Objective Happiness." Well-being - The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology. Daniel Kahneman, Ed Diener, and Norman Schwarz, eds. New York, Russell Sage Foundation. 1999.
.RTF file of above essay