Michel Foucault, “Discourse and Truth” and “Parresia” – University of Chicago Press, July 2019

Michel Foucault, “Discourse and Truth” and “Parresia” – University of Chicago Press, July 2019.

This volume collects a series of lectures given by the renowned French thinker Michel Foucault late in his career. The book is composed of two parts: a series of lectures entitled “Discourse and Truth” given at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983 and “Parrēsia,” a talk delivered at the University of Grenoble in 1982. Together, they provide an unprecedented account of Foucault’s reading of the Greek concept of parrēsia, often translated as “truth-telling” or “frank speech.” In typically Foucauldian style, the lectures trace the transformation of this concept across Greek, Roman, and early Christian thought, from its origins in pre-Socratic Greece to its role as a central element of the relationship between teacher and student across a range of societies. In mapping the concept’s history, Foucault’s concern is not to advocate for free speech; rather, his aim is to explore the moral and political position one must occupy in order to speak truthfully. In his analysis of parrēsia, Foucault both advances his project of a history of the present and paves the way for a genealogy of the critical attitude in modern and contemporary societies.

These essays—carefully edited and including notes and introductory material to fully illuminate Foucault’s insights—are a major addition to Foucault’s English language corpus that no scholar of ancient or modern philosophy will want to miss.

If this seems familiar, then that’s not surprising. It is a critical edition of the text previously published as Fearless Speech, and the Grenoble lecture previously appeared in Critical Inquiry. It’s the English equivalent of Discours et vérité, which appeared in 2016 with Vrin. The Fearless Speech book was unauthorised, and the seminars were transcribed from recordings – [update: they are also incomplete; see Daniel Lorenzini’s comment below]. For this volume, they are reedited, [corrected and completed] and supplemented by Foucault’s manuscripts. There is also a good amount of critical apparatus.

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2 Responses to Michel Foucault, “Discourse and Truth” and “Parresia” – University of Chicago Press, July 2019

  1. Daniele Lorenzini says:

    Hi Stuart, thank you for your post! Just a minor clarification: the “Fearless Speech” book was not only unauthorized, but also incomplete. The (often incorrect) transcription from recordings made by Joseph Pearson left out about 30% of what Foucault and his interlocutors actually said during those lectures. So this new book is the first complete and correct edition of that series of lectures.

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