Posselt, G. (2021). Self-Care and Truth-Telling: Rethinking Care with Foucault. Le Foucaldien, 7(1), 10.
Although the care of the self looms large in Michel Foucault’s later works, his analyses are largely neglected in current debates on care. This may be due to the fact that Foucault’s work has so far been read primarily as an ethics and aesthetics of the self, concerned less with common care activities than with individualistic practices of self-cultivation. Against this background, I argue that in Foucault the care of the self is pervaded by the presence of the Other. This becomes clear as soon as one links the care of the self with the concept of parrhesia, which signifies a form of truth-telling in which the individual confronting the Other with the truth constitutes herself as the subject of a discourse of truth. It is precisely by associating the care of the self with parrhesia that the genuinely critical and emancipatory potential of each becomes effective in the first place. This makes it possible not only to detach the concept of care from its close entanglement with the private sphere and to reframe it in political terms but also to envisage a critical attitude that is based both on the care of the self and others and on the concern for truth.
Keywords: alterity, care, critique, ethics, parrhesia, politics, Michel Foucault