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Government of Self and Others


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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This lecture, given by Michel Foucault at the Collège de France, launches an inquiry into the notion of parresia and continues his rereading of ancient philosophy. Through the study of this notion of truth-telling, of speaking out freely, Foucault re-examines Greek citizenship, showing how the courage of the truth forms the forgotten ethical basis of Athenian democracy. The figure of the philosopher king, the condemnation of writing, and Socrates rejection of political involvement are some of the many topics of ancient philosophy revisited here.

About the Author

Michel Foucault acknowledged as the preeminent philosopher of France in the 1970s and 1980s, continues to have enormous impact throughout the world in many disciplines. He died in 1984.

Arnold I. Davidson (Editor) is the Robert O. Anderson Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, and Professor of the History of Political Philosophy at the University of Pisa. He is co-editor of the volume Michel Foucault: Philosophie. He lives in Chicago.

Graham Burchell (Translator) is the translator, and has written essays on Michel Foucault. He is an Editor of The Foucault Effect.

Table of Contents

Foreword: François Ewald and Alessandro Fontana

Translators Note

One: 5 January 1983: First Hour

Remarks on method. — Study of Kants text: What is Enlightenment? — Conditions of publication: journals. — The encounter between Christian Aufklärung and Jewish Haskala: freedom of conscience. — Philosophy and present reality. — The question of the Revolution. — Two critical filiations.

Two: 5 January 1983: Second Hour

The idea of tutelage ( minorité ): neither natural powerlessness nor authoritarian deprivation of rights. — Way out from the condition of tutelage and critical activity. — The shadow of three Critiques. — The difficulty of emancipation: laziness and cowardice; the predicted failure of liberators. — Motivations of the condition of tutelage: superimposition of obedience and absence of reasoning; confusion between the private and public use of reason. — The problematic turn at the end of Kants text.

Three: 12 January 1983: First Hour

Reminds of method. — Definition of the subject to be studied this year. — Parresia: difficulty in defining the notion; bibliographical reference points. — An enduring, plural, and ambiguous notion. — Plato faced with the tyrant of Syracuse: an exemplary scene of parresia. — The echo of Oedipus. — Parresia versus demonstration, teaching, and discussion. — The element of risk.

Four: 12 January 1983: Second Hour

Irreducibility of the parrhesiastic to the performative utterance: opening up of an unspecified risk/public expression of a personal conviction/bringing a free courage into play. — Pragmatics and dramatics of discourse. — Classical use of the notion of parresia: democracy ( Polybius ) and citizenship ( Euripides ).

Five: 19 January 1983: First Hour

Ion in the mythology and history of Athens. — Political context of Euripides tragedy: the Nicias peace. — History of Ions birth. — Alethurgic schema of the tragedy. — The implication of the three truth-tellings: oracle, confession ( laveu ), and political discourse. — Structural comparison of Ion and Oedipus the King. — The adventures of truth-telling in Ion: the double half-life.

Six: 19 January 1983: Second Hour

Ion: A nobody, son of nobody. —Three categories of citizen. — Consequences of political intrusion by Ion: private hatreds and public tyranny. — In search of a mother. — Parresia irreducible to the actual exercise of power and to the citizens status. — The agnostic game of truth-telling: free and risky. — Historical context: the Cleon/Nicias debate. — Creusas anger.

Seven: 26 January 1983: First Hour

Continuation and end of the comparison between Ion and Oedipus: the truth does not arise from an investigation but from the clash of passions. — The rule of illusions and passions. — The cry of confession and accusation. — G. Dumézils analyses of Apollo. — Dumézils categories applied to Ion. — Tragic modulation of the theme of the voice. — Tragic modulation of the theme of gold.

Eight: 26 January 1983: Second Hour

Tragic modulation of the theme of fertility. — Parresia as imprecation: public denunciation by the weak of the injustice of the powerful. — Creusas second confession ( aveu ): the voice of confession ( confession ). Final episodes: from murder plan to Athenas appearance.

Nine: 2 February 1983: First Hour

Reminder of the Polybius text. — Return to Ion: divine and human veridictions. — The three forms of parresia: statutory-political; judicial; moral. — Political parresia: its connections with democracy; its basis in an agnostic structure. — Return to the Polybius text isegoria/parresia relationship. Politeia and dunasteia: thinking of politics as experience. — Parresia in Euripides: The Phoenician Women; Hippolytus; The Baccahe; Orestes. — The Trial of Orestes.

Ten: 2 February 1983: Second Hour

The rectangle of parresia: formal condition, de facto condition, truth condition, and moral condition. — Example of the correct functioning of democratic parresia in Thucydides: three discourse of Pericles. — Bad parresia in Isocrates.

Eleven: 9 February 1983: First Hour

Parresia: everyday usage; political usage. — Reminder of three exemplary scenes: Thucydides; Isocrates; Plutarch. — Lines of evolution of parresia. — The four great problems of ancient political philosophy: the ideal city; the respective merits of democracy and autocracy; addressing the Princes soul; the philosophy/rhetoric relationship. — Study of three texts by Plato.

Twelve: 9 February 1983: Second Hour

Platos Letters: the context. — Study of Letter V: the phone of constitutions; reasons for non-involvement. — Study of Letter VII. — Dions history. — Platos political autobiography. — The journey to Sicily. — Why Plato accepts: kairos; philia; ergon.

Thirteen: 16 February 1983: First Hour

Philosophical ergon. Comparison with the Alcibiades. — The reality of philosophy: the courageous address to power. — First condition of reality: listening, the first circle. — The philosophical oeuvre: a choice; a way; an application. — The reality of philosophy as work of self on self ( second circle ).

Fourteen: 16 February 1983: Second Hour

The failure of Dionysius. — The platonic rejection of writing. — Mathemata versus sunousia. — Philosophy as practice of the soul. — The philosophical digression of Letter VII: the five elements of knowledge. — The third circle: the circle of knowledge. — The philosopher and the legislator. — Final remarks on contemporary interpretations of Plato.

Fifteen: 23 February 1983: First Hour

The enigmatic blandness of Platos political advice. — The advice of Dionysius. — The diagnosis, practice of persuasion, proposal of a regime. — Advice to Dions friends. — Study of Letter VIII. — Parresia underpins political advice.

Sixteen: 23 February 1983: Second Hour

Philosophy and politics: necessary relationship but impossible coincidence. — Cynical and Platonic game with regard to politics. — The new historical conjuncture: thinking a new political unit beyond the city-state. — From the public square to the Princes soul. — The Platonic theme of the philosopher-king.

Seventeen: 2 March 1983: First Hour

Reminders about political parresia. — Points in the evolution of political parresia. — The major questions of ancient philosophy. — Study of a text by Lucian. — Ontology of discourse of veridiction. — Socratic speech in Apology. — The paradox of the political non-involvement of Socrates.

Eighteen: 2 March 1983: Second Hour

End of study of Socrates Apology: parresia/rhetoric opposition. — Study of the Phaedrus: general plan of the dialogue. — The conditions of good logos. — Truth as permanent function of discourse. — Dialectic and psychagogy. — Philosophical parresia.

Nineteen: 9 March 1983: First Hour

The historical turnaround of parresia: from the political game to the philosophical game. — Philosophy as practice of parresia: the example of Aristippus. — The philosophical life as manifestation of the truth. — The permanent address to power. — The interpellation of each. — Portrait of the Cynic in Epictetus. — Pericles and Socrates. — Modern philosophy and courage of the truth.

Twenty: 9 March 1983: Second Hour

Study of the Gorgias. — The obligation of confession ( aveu ) in Plato: the context of liquidation of rhetoric. — The three qualities of Callicles: episteme; parresia; eunoia. — Agnostic game against egalitarian system. — Socratic speech: basanos and homologia.

Course Context

Index of Names

Index of Concepts and Notions

Product Details

Foucault, Michel
Picador USA
Davidson, Arnold I. I.
Burchell, Graham
Davidson, Arnold I.
Philosophy : General
History & Surveys - Ancient & Classical
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Lectures at the Collège de France
Series Volume:
No. 7
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.28 x 5.5 x 0.81 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Political Science
Humanities » Philosophy » General

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