Two incompatible positions in the challenge against the 'individual subject of modernity'
Sage Publications Ltd.
215 - 233
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This paper discusses the theoretical status of human beings in the therapeutic sciences of modern societies. The concept of the 'individual' was shaped, and achieved an unsurpassable status in scientific discourse, during the 17th and 18th centuries. Likewise specialized disciplines have appeared to codify its 'normal' and 'deviant' conducts. Since the 1960s, there have arisen certain critical accounts challenging the existence of such an individual in social theory. I examine two perspectives questioning the status of the 'individual' in administrative practices at institutions of confinement: the anti-psychiatry movement and the post-structuralist critique of 'reason'. This paper contrasts these positions through the work of two exemplary thinkers (Goffman and Foucault), and reveals the impossibility of reconciliation, owing in the main to the very definition of the individual subject in theoretical discourse.