Volume 19, Issue 2, Fall 2015
A Body of Truth / A Truth of the Body
How Medical Science Normalizes
This essay engages with several themes from Michel Foucault’s texts in order to examine the intricate connection between the normalizing power of medical discourse and its implicit ontological and epistemological commitments. I argue that medical discourse is inherently a medico-ethical discourse and its normalizing power is sustained through its being situated within a discourse on truth that allegedly establishes medical discourse as objective and scientific. In this context, in order to account for the non-coercive normalizing power of the medical sciences, I claim that medical sciences can authorize themselves as objective only on the basis of a metabody, rather than real bodies. Through an appeal to the metabody, normal and abnormal are instituted as objective evaluations, and medical scientific discourse renders ethical normativity and epistemological normativity virtually indistinguishable.