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Extra resources for Foucault on the Politics of Parrhesia
Note also his comments in DP: 222 that ‘[t]he “Enlightenment”, which discovered the liberties, also invented the disciplines’. See also SMD: 26–7. There is a parallel between this approach to power and his later distinction between morals and ethics: just as his analytics of power aims to free itself from the legal code and grasp how power relations actually work, so his concern for ethics is a way to create a critical distance to the moral code, which prescribes what is legitimate and what is not in order to get at how people actually live their lives in relation to moral codes.
Now, it was no longer a matter of uncovering the truth and getting the values right as in the old days of Ideology Critique, just a few years earlier, but of unmasking every value as hypocrisy, that is, a cynical cover-up for political strategies, interests and conspiracies. For the radical power/resistance identity politics associated with the never aging new social movements, this implied that political power struggles were seen as an authentic existential condition in contrast to consensus, which was depoliticized and sedimented domination.
By transgressing limits, which position and identify us, the critical enterprise consists in desubjectivation, that is to say, to become different. This takes courage, which is a key theme in Foucault’s discussion of parrhesia, and he refers to this personal and political challenge as the philosophical ethos of the critical ontology of ourselves. 0005 The Nature of Critique that we may go beyond’, and it is a ‘work carried out by ourselves upon ourselves as free beings’ (WE: 115). Curiosity, reflexivity, experimentation and courage are vital with regard to transgressing limits, and they pivot around and enrich individual freedom as a practical experience as opposed to being merely abstract and ideological.