This volume gives us the transcription of the first of Michel Foucault's annual courses at the CollÃ¨ge de France. Its publication marks a milestone in Foucault's reception and it will no longer be possible to read him in the same way as before.
In these lectures the reader will find the deep unity of Foucault's project from Discipline and Punish (1975), dominated by the themes of power and the norm, to The Use of Pleasure and The Care of the Self (1984), devoted to the ethics of subjectivity.
Lectures on the Will to Know remind us that Michel Foucault's work only ever had one object: truth. Discipline and Punish completed an investigation of the role of juridical forms in the formation of truth-telling, the preparatory groundwork for which is found here in these lectures. Truth arises in conflicts, in rival claims for which the rituals of judicial judgment provide the possibility of deciding between who is right and who is wrong.
At the heart of ancient Greece there is a succession of different and opposing juridical forms and ways of dividing true and false into which the disputes between sophists and philosophers are soon inserted. In Oedipus the King, Sophocles stages the peculiar force of forms of truth-telling: they establish power just as they depose it. Against Freud, who will make Oedipus the drama of a shameful sexual desire, Michel Foucault shows that the tragedy articulates the relations between truth, power, and law. The history of truth is that of the tragedy.
Beyond the irenicism of Aristotle, who situated the will to truth in the desire for knowledge, Michel Foucault deepens the tragic vision of truth inaugurated by Nietzsche, who Foucault, in a secret dialogue with Deleuze, rescues from Heidegger's reading.
After this course, who will dare speak of a skeptical Foucault?