Knowledge itself is a mode of instinctive desires and libidinal intensities of one language game to dominate the other.
Rather than rooting knowledge on first principles, like in science, Foucault argues that there exists no external position of certainty which is beyond the realm of historicization of social conditions. Knowledge, for Foucault, is the key to power and manipulation in the postmodern world and not a mere subject to the command of rationality as in the era of modernity.
Science, for Foucault, is the art of manipulation by which the subject of the study in the contemporary world is segregated from his/her self and objectified through the process of division and classification.
In the process, this essay shall bring out what various postmodernists thinkers have to say on the idea of knowledge and power, and compare the same with the rationalist, scientific thinking of thinkers like Weber and Marx of the modern era.
In the debate, I locate Marx and Weber in the realm of science and Lyotard and Foucault on the side of anti-science.
Weber, however, was skeptical about the rationality of the modern era and expounded that it was an era of when men were shadowed by delusions that they had achieved a level of development which had never before been attained by the humankind.
The only difference between the Weber and the postmodernists like Foucault, as we shall see, is that his critique of the rationality of modernity is rooted in pessimism while the critique of the postmodernists is celebratory.Their fundamental disagreement is with the “metanarratives” of the modernity era, which have been used as a tool of political and social coercion.They reject that the theories of modernity are continuous functions of society while arguing that radical breaks have been a characteristic feature of theories of modernity and, therefore, such theories are unscientific.The scientific validity of Marx’s theory is subject to a debate in the modern world but within his own construct Marx is scientifically consistent, and the theory holds true at all epochs in history just like science in Newton’s era.Marx theorized a world in which his very knowledge of people was based on scientific study of the economy as the base and social relations of production as the superstructure.On the one hand, Weber realized the problems with the rationality of the modern era but saw it as something unavoidable, while, on the other, the postmodernists reject the rationality of the modern era altogether but are celebratory about the same.From Marx who is on the cusp of modernity, we moved on to Weber who laid the foundation for those who laid the foundations of postmodernity.In this regard, while the postmodernists like Lyotard and Foucault are critical about the science of metanarratives, modernists like Marx and Weber have left no stone unturned to establish the scientific nature of their theory.Weber, however, realized that the rationality of the modern era was an “iron cage.” Through this essay, I shall argue how the views of the modernists and the postmodernists differ on the aspects of knowledge and power.According to me, power and knowledge are mere tools for controlling people and their actions.The postmodernist view of power and knowledge is in sync with the argument against singular drivers of social reproduction and political domination in the postmodern world of multiple dimensions, wherein the power of theories of modernity often prove to be ineffective.