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Thursday, April 17, 2014


Tris Standing as Target in Place of Al
"Anyone can stand in front of a target.
It doesn't prove anything." Tris Prior

The context: Al has been told to stand in front of the target and he is trembling with fear.

Dauntless Ideology: 
  • We believe in ordinary acts of bravery, 
  • And in the courage that drives one person to stand up for another.
  • Dauntless never gives up.
Tris stands watching as Four gets knives ready for throwing at Al. She wants to say something and is afraid to say it. 
But she believes in Dauntless Ideology.
 Ordinary acts of bravery and the courage that drives one person to stand up for another. 
Have you ever been in this situation?

This is the challenge to a PARRHESIASTES.
Compared to Snowden it is a small personal thing. But beginnings start somewhere.

The Meaning of the Word Parrhesia
  • Frankness
  • Truth
  • Danger
  • Criticism
  • Duty
...the commitment involved in parrhesia is linked to a certain social situation, to a difference of status between the speaker and his audience, to the fact that the parrhesiastes says something which is dangerous to himself and thus involves a risk, and so on.

By inverting the paradigm, the searchlight is thrown on the Other, the more powerful entity, and we see that the parrhesiastes using parrhesia discloses the character and “truth” of the “sovereign” to the people. In that respect parrhesia lifts the mask of the “sovereign.”

If there is a kind of “proof” of the sincerity of the parrhesiastes, it is his courage. The fact that a speaker says something dangerous — different from what the majority believes — is a strong indication that he is a parrhesiastes.

Danger: Someone is said to use parrhesia and merits consideration as a parrhesiastes only if there is a risk or danger for him in telling the truth.

So you see, the parrhesiastes is someone who takes a risk….Parrhesia, then, is linked to courage in the face of danger; it demands the courage to speak the truth in spite of some danger. And in its extreme form, telling the truth takes place in the “game” of life or death.

When you accept the parrhesiastic game in which your own life is exposed, you are taking up a specific relationship to yourself; you risk death to tell the truth instead of reposing in the security of a life where the truth goes unspoken. Of course, the threat of death comes from the Other, and thereby requires a relationship to the Other. But the parrhesiastes primarily chooses a specific relationship to himself: he prefers himself as a truth-teller rather than as a living being who is false to himself.

so, you see, the function of parrhesia is not to demonstrate the truth to someone else, but has the function of criticism: criticism of the interlocutor….Parrhesia is a form of criticism either toward another or towards oneself, but always in a situation where the speaker or confessor is in a position of inferiority with respect to the interlocutor. The parrhesiastes is always less powerful than the one with whom he speaks. The parrhesia comes from “below,” as it were, and is directed towards “above.”…But when a philosopher criticizes a tyrant, when a citizen criticizes the majority, when a pupil criticizes his teacher, then such speakers may be using parrhesia.

Duty: The last characteristic of parrhesia is this: in parrhesia, telling the truth is regarded as a duty. The orator who speaks the truth to those who cannot accept his truth, for instance, and who may be exiled, or punished in some way, is free to keep silent. No one forces him to speak, but he feels that it is his duty to do so. Parrhesia is thus related to freedom and duty.

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. (FS pp.11-20)
Foucault - Fearless Speech

This is the context that Tris finds herself in Dauntless training. Four would prefer that she keep quiet. She cannot. Her position is dangerous with Eric and she risks it all in doing this. Eric will pair her in a fight with Peter who can beat her and hurt her badly, which Eric gives the OK for by nodding his head at the end of the fight, and Peter kicks her into unconsciousness. 

The part Foucault does not discuss is the assignation of scapegoat that falls on the Parrhesiastes. When Tris returns to her friends they cheer her for daring to speak out to Eric. The Parrhesiastes often says what the others are thinking and feeling but dare not say themselves. 

This was Snowden's dilemma. Who was going to tell the truth? Then he realized that he was going to have to be the one. And the fires of hell from the empire came down on him to kill him.

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