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 reexamines 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.
These lectures offer important insights into the evolution of the primary focus of Foucault’s later work – the relationship between power and knowledge. Ideas spark off nearly every page. The words may have been spoken in [the 1970s] but they seem as alive and relevant as if they had been written yesterday.