My intention was not to deal with the problem of truth, but with the problem of truth-teller or truth-telling as an activity. By this I mean that, for me, it was not a question of analyzing the internal or external criteria that would enable the Greeks and Romans, or anyone else, to recognize whether a statement or proposition is true or not. At issue for me was rather the attempt to consider truth-telling as a specific activity, or as a role. Discourse & Truth, Concluding remarks by Foucault.
RE: Gates Keepers on an article from the Seattle Times entitled, "Not many speak their Mind to the Gates Foundation."
Parrhesia is the speaking of truth to power by one who can in that exchange only lose:
In the classic discipline of rhetoric, parrhesia is a figure of speech described as: to speak candidly or to ask forgiveness for so speaking. The term is borrowed from the Greek παρρησία (παν = all + ρησις / ρημα = utterance / speech) meaning literally "to speak everything" and by extension "to speak freely," "to speak boldly," or "boldness." It implies not only freedom of speech, but the obligation to speak the truth for the common good, even at personal risk.
In 1983 Foucault, lecturing at Berkeley (home earlier of the free speech movement), said,
More precisely, parrhesia is a verbal activity in which a speaker expresses his personal relationship to truth, and risks his life because he recognizes truth-telling as a duty to improve or help other people (as well as himself). In parrhesia, the speaker uses his freedom and chooses frankness instead of persuasion, truth instead of falsehood or silence, the risk of death instead of life and security, criticism instead of flattery, and moral duty instead of self-interest and moral apathy.
A parrhesiast is a moral physician who must first cure himself. In the guise of Erasmus, the parrhesiast is a Fool who praises Folly to a college of Fools that he and they might be cured. Laughter is often the best medicine, whether curing others or ourselves of pride and vanity. For speaking truth foolishly there are two good alibis: "Just joking, Sir." Or, "I must be crazy." As Morals Tutor to America's Wealthiest Families, I never crack a smile, while practicing my noble trade. It might seem direspectful. My bells jingle only when I nod my head solemnly, asking forgiveness for my temerity. I don't mind telling the truth to power, but I would rather not get crucified. When you consider how many have been for telling the truth and the percentage who got resurrected, the odds do not seem that good. Better to go along to get along, as we all must in this dark world.
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