Panopticon and Contradiction of Jeremy Bentham

파놉티콘과 제러미 벤담의 모순

  • Received : 2014.02.06
  • Accepted : 2014.06.05
  • Published : 2014.06.30


This study contends that the famous panopticon designed by Jeremy Bentham in 1791 (firstly in 1787) was not, despite his conviction, "a simple idea in Architecture," but a complex mechanism of visible operations. Nevertheless, this English philosopher made great efforts toward the construction of his prison, which was not, strictly speaking, panoptic ("seeing without being seen"). The purpose of this study is to analyze Bentham's contradiction regarding the impossibility of realizing the perfect process of one-way vision. In this research, Bentham's idea is examined through his last panopticon project, which is divided into two parts: a real optic system and the effect of invisible surveillance. To address this issue, it is firstly essential to understand the difference between Bentham's pure concept and his final project. Secondly, we must engage in a search for meaning within Bentham's propositions on architecture and surveillance mechanisms, after assessing the challenges involved in their implementation. Finally, this study will analyze the principles of the panopticon as compared to a general prison model by means of visual systems.


Panopticon;Jeremy Bentham;penitentiary architecture;Michel Foucault


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