In the conversation with Ramin Jahanbegloo, Sir Isaiah Berlin, who strongly advocated the value of negative freedom, admits that society would not be existed without some authority. He too worries that the liberty of the individual could be intervened by the authority, but it was almost impossible to assert that individuals can live without society, even for Berlin. The individual, unfortunately, cannot be completely free; it is inevitable to get involved in social relations. Law, from my previous perspective, was simply a sort of societal promise that the people must follow and a method to protect the people from any harm. However, my point of view on law has changed after I read Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish which is in the reading list.
A public torture or execution was the most popular spectacle in France until the eighteenth century, however, the role of physical punishment as a public performance was completely disappeared from the nineteenth century. Torture or execution in front of the crowd was no longer enough to punish the offender effectively. The reform of the entire economy of punishment, according to Foucault, turned out by the emergence of a new theory of law and crime. I suddenly have begun to get suspicious about the position of law in the context of our day-to-day life. I thought the role of law as protecting justice and the individual freedom within society. Law, however, in the Discipline and Punish, seemed like an apparatus to control the liberty of the individual and even the individual themselves. I have begun to think that not only the criminal are regulated by law, but also the innocent are not entirely free from the power of it. Every human beings are existed under the surveillance of law. Law produces disciplines in society, disciplines then create individuals. Foucault’s work eventually has caused me to suspect law itself in various ways and to focus on the study of law.
As a first blog post, I would like to open up the question: does law aim at protecting the people or controlling them? I hope to find the answer through the course.