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PHL217H1 Lecture Notes - Parrhesia, Epicureanism, Ancient Greek Philosophy

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Sol Goldberg

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The practice of truth telling and selfhood
The difference between the Christian view should not be overstated in terms of what
parrhesias is. Christianity is in part an extension of later Greek philosophy. Nietzches
claims between philosophical truthfulness and Christian truthfulness; this was basically
one and the same thing.
Communal parrhesiac authoritative teacher
Cynicism is one of the Greek philosophical schools in which parrhesia became a
dominant form. What truth as a social phenomenon is. Each particular school developed
a type of parrhesia. Even psychotherapy would be a certain parrhesia. Cynics version of
parrhesia. Epicurean parrhesia in the communal life. Communal life is differentiated by
Foucault by public life, what you get in communal life is life in the school itself. In two
distinct pedagogical relationships, one in the classroom, where the teacher teaches to
students, Foucault suggests that it takes on a very different form, or that it has become
formalized for the first time. Can truth be conveyed in the structure of a classroom?
What about the Inter personal dialogue? It's the master to individual disciple, truth is
conveyed through this. It's much more difficult to learn truth within a collective than truth
through the teachings of a master. The two forms of pedagogical relationships, two
forms of parrhesia: techni- not just theoretical knowledge of the know how, but also
general knowledge, technology-
The theoretical knowledge is emphasized much more in the lecture. The pursuit and the
transmission of truth are tied into power relations, while the epicureans refer to this
practice as a form of parrhesia, it doesn't fit into what Foucault establishes of what
parrhesia is. In the epicurean context it no longer is a power of authority but the master
as a person with the knowledge?
Truth and truth telling according to the cynics
The sources we have for epicurean philosophy are plentiful. In the case of the cynics,
this is the reverse. It's not so accidental that it would turn out this way. Cynicism is a
criticism of specific cases, and not general principles. Here truth is not a substantive
knowledge but the conditions of human happiness. The character of truth in cynicism is
accessible to everyone, and this is decidedly different to the epicurean case. Here with
cynicism, truth is not just for elites, truth that can be publicly preached. What this means
is that truth is just not publicly proclaimed, but in deeds, often in scandalous ways.
Where Socrates begins to show someone's ignorance, cynics are more involved in
shocking people to the point of hurting anothers pride so that they can be open to a
different perspective. Theres a certain attack on pride that is involved in the parrhesstiac
game, will the person continue in insult or change? Are you courageous enough to hear
the truth? If you are not you can only hear flattery. Kant's enlightenment, Frederick the
Great example. The virtues of the cynic parrhesiases and others is different, it's different
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