April 12, 2005
even more foucault salted with Thrasymachus

Vol 13 No 2 Beyond scrutiny

Such attitudes predate post-modernism and Foucault's dissection of claims to truth and right as closet exercises of power. [1] Plato's character ‘Thrasymachus' claims all regimes exercise power in their own interest. [2] All are like shepherds who fatten sheep for the table, a graphic expression of amoral equivalence.

Amoral equivalence is, of course, contested. Some radical feminists argue that, since Foucault's (or Thrasymachus') analysis renders all exercises of power equivalent, actions by men against women get removed from moral evaluation.

This misgiving underlines the scope of amoral equivalence. If power in the political arena is essentially amoral, then other areas involving power are apparently also amoral. As well as male violence against women, two obvious areas of concern arise for Christians, that of the church and the family. Is a pastor who ‘leads strongly' really different from one who bullies a congregation? Should we distinguish between parental authority and parental authoritarianism?

Naturally, Christians recognise some degree of equivalence: all have sinned (Romans 3:23 ) and our exercises of power are alike imperfect actions by sinful people. Yet we do not normally regard all imperfect actions by sinful people as completely equivalent. The father who tries to love rather than exasperate his children, for all his imperfection, does not seem comparable with the father who finds a certain piquancy in his children's exasperation. If they really were amorally equivalent, injunctions about using authority after the Fall seem pointless.

Posted by illovich at April 12, 2005 01:27 PM
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