In his History of Sexuality, Part III: Scientia Sexualis Foucault explores the development of the scientific study of sex, the attempt to unearth the "truth" of sex, a phenomenon which he argues is peculiar to the West. He furthermore argues that this scientia sexualis has repeatedly been used for political purposes, being utilised in the name of "public hygiene" to support state racism.

How does he argue this position?

  • 1
    Have you read his book and don't understand his argument, or are you looking for a precis so you don't have to read it? Dec 15, 2012 at 15:43
  • a precis, I don't have the book. Dec 15, 2012 at 15:53
  • @dorfman: the only argument I can conjure up is to posit the sexual instinct stronger in certain races, and given the enlightenment enthroning of reason, this makes them baser. The scientific 'truth' of sex then bolstering up the 'truth' of race. Dec 15, 2012 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


Foucault writes (p54):

[The discourse on sex] assumed other powers: it set itself up as the supreme authority in matters of hygenic necessity, taking up the old fears of venereal affliction and combining them with the new themes of asepsis, and the great evolutionist myths with the recent institutions of public health; it claimed to ensure the physical vigor and the moral cleanliness of the social body; it pormised to eliminate defective individuals, degenerate and bastardized populations. In the name of a biological and historical urgency, it justified the racisms of the state, which at the time were on the horizon. It grounded them in "truth."

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