About “Discourse and Truth”

The text was adapted for the web, as a digital archive, by Foucault.info in 1999 from photocopies of the verbatim transcription of the lectures by J. Pearson, consulted at the Bibliothèque du Saulchoir in Paris. The footnotes and bibliography added by J.Pearson were not included. In 2006, the text was proofread and reorganised into six files for better readability on screen.

Editor’s notes by Joseph Pearson (1985)

The text was compiled from tape-recordings made of six lectures delivered, in English, by Michel Foucault at the University of California at Berkeley in the Fall Term of 1983. The lectures were given as part of Foucault’s seminar, entitled “Discourse and Truth”. Since Foucault did not write, correct, or edit any part of the text which follows, it lacks his imprimatur and does not present his own lecture notes. What is given here constitutes only the notes of one of his auditors. Although the present text is primarily a verbatim transcription of the lectures, repetitive sentences or phrases have been eliminated, responses to questions have been incorporated, whenever possible, into the lectures themselves, and numerous sentences have been revised, the division of the lectures into sections and the section headings also have been added, all in the hope of producing a more readable set of notes.

Discourse and Truth in Michel Foucault’s works

The six lectures were given in English by Foucault at the University of California at Berkeley in 1983 between October 10th and November 30th.

The theme of parrhesia (truth-telling) was first introduced by Michel Foucault in the lecture given on January 27th, 1982 at the Collège de France, published under the title “The Hermeneutics of the Self”.

The six Berkeley lectures are given in the fall of 1983 between Foucault’s two last sessions at the Collège de France. They elaborate — in English and in a slightly different form — analysis previously given in the spring of 1983 in the lectures “The Gouvernement of Self and Others” and analysis that will be part of the last lectures in the spring of 1984, published under the title “The Courage of Truth”.

Michel Foucault did not have the time to integrate these analysis in his books on “History of Sexuality” — making these lectures on parrhesia a unique testimony of the philosopher’s last interests.

Publications of Discourse and Truth:

  • Available in photocopy and audiotapes. [BdS n D213.] (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University, 1985)
  • Partial recordings of the 6 lectures at Berkeley
  • Dutch translation: Parresia (Amsterdam: Krisis, 1989).
  • Published under the title “Fearless Speech” (Semiotext[e] 2001 — out of print)
  • French translation: Discours et vérité (Vrin, 2016).

List of readings on the subject of parrhesia: