A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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Jeremy Bentham Designs a Prison

Jeremy Bentham: "You see, in a civilized society, the purpose of prison should not be punishment, but rehabilitation."
Foucault: "That sounds good."

Bentham: "When the prisoners first enter the prison, all of their old habits will need to be wiped away."
Foucault: "Smart, how do we do that?"

Bentham: "Well, we put them in solitary confinement! This allows them to quietly reflect on their thoughts and clear their minds."
Foucault: "Okay...how long does that last?"

Bentham: "Oh, i'd say no more than one or two years. You don't want them to still have left over criminal thoughts!"
Foucault: "Uh..."

Bentham: "And then when they join the rest of the prisoners, they will still have individual cells, so they can't converse with the other criminals. All the cells will be a arranged in a circle, with clear walls so someone standing in the center of the prison could always see what everyone was doing, at all times."

Bentham: "And in the center, a tower whose eye can gaze into each cell, but into which they cannot see. They will never know if the gaze of the tower is upon them."

Bentham: "The all seeing, all knowing gaze of the tower watches over them, ensuring at all times that the moral code of the warden is followed. None will dare misbehave for even a moment, knowing that the watchful eye of the law could always be upon them!"
Foucault: "Right...i don't know, doesn't it seem a little....supervillainy?"

Bentham: "What?! Why? What is supervillainy about that?"
Foucault: "uh...everything?"

Bentham: "Is it supervillainy to try to create a world with the greatest happiness for the greatest number?"

Bentham: "It is “supervillainy” to try to reform prisoners so they can return to society? Is it supervillainy try to educate them?"

Bentham: "Is it supervillainy to create an elaborate system of all encompassing surveillance and control that stamps out all dissent in order to creating a perfect world? A world with no ugliness, no pain, no vice, a world where all are forced to be happy!"

Bentham: "Okay, i did hear myself getting a bit supervillainy in that last one, but i still think overall it's a good idea."
"But you don't understand, they will be happy in the end to be subjugated completely to my will."

The Panopticon was a design for a prison by Jeremy Bentham, which he not only proposed, but was rather obsessed by. He worked for years trying to secure government funding to construct one, which he felt would given his theories about rehabilitative penal systems empirical grounding. The main idea is that the very architecture of the prison would be designed around total surveillance of the prisoners, as each cell would be clearly visible by a central viewing station. His main selling point to the government was that this would save money, since only one guard could watch the entire population, or even no guards, since it was designed in such a way that the prisoners could never quite tell if someone was in the tower watching them or not. He also had ideas about using prolonged periods of solitary confinement, which we now know to be totally inhumane, to sort of "wipe clean" the minds of the prisoners before entering the prison. In addition he also thought forcing them to do menial labor tasks, like spinning looming wheels to "teach them the value of honest work". (again he pitched this to the government as a cost savings, since it would generate income). Some would consider it slavery.

The concept of the panopticon, as a sort of metaphor for society at large, became popular when Michel Foucault criticized it as a kind of evolution of society towards more and more control and domination, rather than a liberal reform away from more brutal forms of punishment. He thought that instead of more direct punishments, like flogging, which only punish the body, the panopticon seeks total domination of the subject's mind, in an attempt to create a passive, productive, working body. The prison was only the most direct and obvious kind of archetype of the panopticon, but Foucault thought that in reality people like Bentham created a system that sought far reaching control and surveillance over every aspect of life.

The Panopticon was a design for a prison by Jeremy Bentham, which he not only proposed, but was rather obsessed by. He worked for years trying to secure government funding to construct one, which he felt would given his theories about rehabilitative penal systems empirical grounding. The main idea is that the very architecture of the prison would be designed around total surveillance of the prisoners, as each cell would be clearly visible by a central viewing station. His main selling point to the government was that this would save money, since only one guard could watch the entire population, or even no guards, since it was designed in such a way that the prisoners could never quite tell if someone was in the tower watching them or not. He also had ideas about using prolonged periods of solitary confinement, which we now know to be totally inhumane, to sort of "wipe clean" the minds of the prisoners before entering the prison. In addition he also thought forcing them to do menial labor tasks, like spinning looming wheels to "teach them the value of honest work". (again he pitched this to the government as a cost savings, since it would generate income). Some would consider it slavery.

The concept of the panopticon, as a sort of metaphor for society at large, became popular when Michel Foucault criticized it as a kind of evolution of society towards more and more control and domination, rather than a liberal reform away from more brutal forms of punishment. He thought that instead of more direct punishments, like flogging, which only punish the body, the panopticon seeks total domination of the subject's mind, in an attempt to create a passive, productive, working body. The prison was only the most direct and obvious kind of archetype of the panopticon, but Foucault thought that in reality people like Bentham created a system that sought far reaching control and surveillance over every aspect of life.

Philosophers in this comic: Jeremy Bentham, Michel Foucault
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