"We Are the Disease": Truth, Health, and Politics from Plato's Gorgias to Foucault

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Starting from the importance of the figure of the parrhesiastes — the political and therapeutic truth- teller— for Foucault’s understanding of the care of the self, this paper traces the political figuration of the analogy between philosophers and physicians on the one hand, and rhetors and disease on the other in Plato’s Gorgias. I show how rhetoric, in the form of ventriloquism, infects the text itself, and then ask how we account for the effect of the “ contaminated ” philosophical dialogue on our readerly health. Is the text placebo, vaccine, or virus? All of these options, I argue, complicate Foucault’s prescription for parrhesia, requiring us to think anew the continuing political ramifications of the metaphor of care.
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Archival date: 2015-11-21
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