Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Barker, C. How to tell the political truth: Foucault on new combinations of the basic modes of veridiction, Contemporary Political Theory
Volume 18, Issue 3, 1 September 2019, Pages 357-378

DOI: 10.1057/s41296-018-0253-0

Abstract
This article pays close attention to Michel Foucault’s theory that political regimes are enlightened through courageous free speech. A Foucaultian enlightenment occurs not when philosophical reason completely replaces superstition and enthusiasm in the public sphere, but instead when the parrhesiast partially organizes competing claims to know and to speak the truth. While much of the recent scholarly literature on Foucault’s later lectures emphasizes the political importance of the parrhesiast, less attention has been paid to the overlap and/or incompatibility between parrhesia and the other modes of truth-telling. Below, I explain Foucault’s analysis of the basic modes of philosophical truth-telling: prophesy, philosophy, teaching, and parrhesia. I provide examples of speakers working within these modes in the ancient and modern world. I explain the overlap and tension between these modes, and I analyze Foucault’s partial organization of them through the image of the parrhesiast. I briefly compare Foucault’s position to the agonistic democratic theory of Chantal Mouffe and distinguish Foucault’s view from consensus-based views of public reason. Finally, I provide practical and theoretical examples of parrhesiastic activity in the contemporary world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: