|Edward Snowden - Parrhesiastes|
Here are the previous essays and here, on the historical precedents and evolution of parrhesia and some of its genealogy connected with Snowden, all indebted to Foucault's book Fearless Speech, from which I quote profusely.
Plato: The Laws. Trans. Thomas L. Pangle, Book VIII,835c
....what is required, in all probability, is some daring human being, who by giving honor to outspokeness (parrhesia) will say what in his opinion is best for the city and the citizens. Speaking before an audience of corrupt souls, he will order what is fitting and becoming to the whole political regime; opposing the greatest desires, and having no human ally, all alone will he follow reason alone.
Chapter Four: Parrhesia in the Care of the Self begins with Socratic parrhesia and to demonstrate Foucault selects Plato's dialogue Laches.
First, this parrhesia is philosophical:
- the philosopher had to discover and to teach certain truths about the world, nature, etc.
- taking a stand towards the city, the laws, political institutions, etc required a political role
- parrhesiastic activity also endeavored to elaborate the nature of the relationships between truth and one's style of life, or truth and an ethics and aesthetics of the self.
Secondly (back to Foucault again) the target of this new parrhesia is not to persuade the assembly, but to convince someone that he must take care of himself and of others; and this means that he must change his life. This theme of changing one's life, of conversion, becomes very important from the Fourth Century B. C. to the beginnings of Christianity. (And here we see Foucault's approach at about this time to Habermas and the Frankfurt School.)
Archaic Torso of Apollo
Thirdly these new parrhesiastic practices imply a complex set of connections between the self and truth. For not only are these practices supposed to endow the individual with self-knowledge, this self-knowledge in turn is supposed to grant access to truth and further knowledge.
And a final point...about this philosophical parrhesia is that it has recourse to numerous techniques quite different from the techniques of persuasive discourse previously utilized; and it is no longer specifically linked to the agora, or to the king's court, but can now be utilized in numerous diverse places. (FS p.107)