16 June 2008


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.

"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."
~ Michel Foucault, "Discourse and Truth: the Problematization of Parrhesia" (1983)

"Informant helpfully places Kucinich's Impeachment resolution next to other parrhesic moments."
~ Tom Matrullo, at IMproPRieTies (14 June 2008)

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