Filosofies vertier #2: Diogenes en Alexander de Grote

Diogenes went on to tell the king that he did not even possess the badge of royalty. .

“And what badge is that?” said Alexander.

“It is the badge of the bees, “he replied, “that the king wears. Have you not heard that there is a king among the bees, made so by nature, who does not hold office by virtue of what you people who trace your descent from Heracles call inheritance? “

“What is this badge ?” inquired Alexander.

“Have you not heard farmers say, ” asked the other, “that this is the only bee that has no sting since he requires no weapon against anyone? For no other bee will challenge his right to be king or fight him when he has this badge. I have an idea, however, that you not only go about fully armed but even sleep that way. Do you not know,” he continued, “that is a sign of fear in a man for him to carry arms? And no man who is afraid would ever have a chance to become king any more than a slave would.

At these words Alexander came near hurling his spear

“… In view of what I say rage and prance about … and think me the greatest blackguard and slander me to the world and, if it be your pleasure, run me through with your spear; for I am the only man from whom you will get the truth, and you will learn it from no one else. For all are less honest than I am and more servile.

Then was Alexander amazed at the courage and fearlessness of the man.


And I think we can also see in the aggressive encounter between Alexander and Diogenes a struggle occurring between two kinds of power: political power and the power of truth. In this struggle, the parrhesiastes accepts and confronts a permanent danger: Diogenes exposes himself to Alexander’s power from the beginning to the end of the Discourse.

And the main effect of this parrhesiastic struggle with power is not to bring the interlocutor to a new truth, or to a new level of self-awareness; it is to lead the interlocutor to internalize this parrhesiastic struggle-to fight within himself against his own faults, and to be with himself in the same way that Diogenes was with him.

(Ontleend aan Foucaults lezing  Discourse and Truth – The problematization of Parrhesia, 1983 @ Berkeley)

Foucaults analyse van hoe het Parrhesiastische spel (Parrhesia: vrijmoedige spreken) gespeeld wordt tussen Diogenes (de Cynicus) en Alexander de Grote biedt naar mijn mening interessante aanknopingspunten voor politiek en verzet tegen illegitieme macht vandaag de dag. Ik kom hier op terug.

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One Response to Filosofies vertier #2: Diogenes en Alexander de Grote

  1. maria trepp says:

    Avatar van maria trepp
    Ha leuk.

    Parrhesia is een zeer belangrijke tekst van Foucault over de Vrijheid van meningsuiting!!!
    …en Vrijmoedigheid een zeer belangrijke eigenschap.

    Graag meer hierover.

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