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The Government of Self and Others: Lectures at the College de France, 1982-1983by Michel Foucault
Synopses & Reviews
Three years before his death, Michel Foucault delivered a series of lectures at the Catholic University of Louvain that until recently remained almost unknown. These lectures—which focus on the role of avowal, or confession, in the determination of truth and justice—provide the missing link between Foucault’s early work on madness, delinquency, and sexuality and his later explorations of subjectivity in Greek and Roman antiquity.
Ranging broadly from Homer to the twentieth century, Foucault traces the early use of truth-telling in ancient Greece and follows it through to practices of self-examination in monastic times. By the nineteenth century, the avowal of wrongdoing was no longer sufficient to satisfy the call for justice; there remained the question of who the “criminal” was and what formative factors contributed to his wrong-doing. The call for psychiatric expertise marked the birth of the discipline of psychiatry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as well as its widespread recognition as the foundation of criminology and modern criminal justice.
Published here for the first time, the 1981 lectures have been superbly translated by Stephen W. Sawyer and expertly edited and extensively annotated by Fabienne Brion and Bernard E. Harcourt. They are accompanied by two contemporaneous interviews with Foucault in which he elaborates on a number of the key themes. An essential companion to Discipline and Punish, Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling will take its place as one of the most significant works of Foucault to appear in decades, and will be necessary reading for all those interested in his thought.
Three years before his death Michel Foucault gave a series of lectures at the Catholic University of Louvain that have remained relatively unknown until only recently. Entitled Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling, these lectures provides the missing link between Foucaults early work on sexuality and punishment and his later work on Greek and Roman antiquity. Ranging broadly from Homer to the 20th century, Foucault traces how the early ethical acts of truth-telling in ancient Greece gradually metamorphosed into acts of self-incrimination in monastic times and ultimately into the birth and rise of psychiatry as the foundation of modern penology, criminology, and criminal justice. For Foucault, self-incrimination no longer did the work necessary to quell justice because, by the 19th century, we wanted to know more than just the fact of wrongdoing, we wanted to know who the criminal was: not just whether the accused committed the crime, but what it was about him that made him commit the crime. An avowal of wrong-doing was no longer sufficient—psychiatric expertise was now necessary—and that development marks the birth of discipline and modern criminal justice made so famous by Foucault
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
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.
Index of Names
Index of Concepts and Notions
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