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: