Foucault on The Limits of Trooghaft

Jen Stafford

Peer Reviewed by Ryan Lynch

According to Foucault’s thinking in “Discipline and Punish”, the soul is considered to be molded by society. People believe in certain things only because of societal norms. People are molded from society and its norms. People can become accustomed to norms and when one is broken, it often puts people back into perspective.

The Limits of Trooghaft poses a jarring analogy by using aliens humans to show how human treat animals in today’s society. The aliens capture and captivate the humans using them for food, entertainment, and pets. The humans in the story are broken down into four castes: housemen, capons, hound-men, and quarry-men.  The juxtaposition of the Capons and their treatment was similar to the process of harvesting baby cows. Similarly to the calves being kept in dark rooms and being tied up to prevent muscle growth, Capons were not allowed to see the sky or breath in unfiltered air as well as suffered having their tongue cut off to eradicate excess noise.

The situations mentioned in the story are meant to provoke and elicit the feelings of regret and compassion for the treatment of animals. According to Foucault, there should not be regret because his ethics are based from historical forces, soul, and societal norms. He wouldn’t view the treatment of animals as a bad thing since throughout history animals have been used as a source of food and survival. Even the act of keeping an animal as a pet would not be viewed poorly by Foucault because in today’s society, families have a wide variety of pets ranging from dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, birds, rodents, and horses. The society we live in revolves are the consumption of animals. Foucault would view every meal with meat, steakhouse or slaughterhouse passed by is normalized and not questioned due to society.

Foucault would disagree with how The Limits of Trooghaft is trying to show us readers that since we feel uncomfortable hearing that humans are being kept as pets, that we should feel bad that we do that to animals.The overall message is that Foucault believes we act in these ways because of societal norms that are forced on us because of what history has shown us overtime to form.  These acts are completely normal which makes us continue to make these decisions today.

Limits of Trooghaft Analysis


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