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About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth Author(s): Michel

About the Beginning of the Hermeneutics of the Self: Two Lectures at Dartmouth Author(s): Michel Foucault Source: Political Theory, Vol. 21, No. 2 (May, 1993), pp. 198-227 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.

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MARKBL4SIUS,City Universityof New York

In the fall of 1980, Michel Foucault visited a number of cities and universitiesin the UnitedStates.He gave lecturesatDartmouthCollege, the University of Californiaat Berkeley,and PrincetonUniversityand gave a month-longseminarand a public lectureat New YorkUniversity.The two lecturespublishedhere were deliveredat Dartmouthon November 17 and 24, 1980 under the titles "Subjectivityand Truth"and "Christianityand Confession."Foucaultdeliveredthe lecturesfromtexts handwrittenin En- glish. An earlier version of these lectures was transcribedand edited by Thomas Keenan.I have re-editedthem, but very lightly, to preservetheir spokenquality,usingtapesprovidedby Dartmouth'sOffice of Instructional Services and EducationalResearch:all the notes were added duringthe editingprocess.Earlier,Foucaulthadgiven moreor less the samepapersas the Howison Lecturesat Berkeley on October20-21. I have added in the notes some passagestranscribedfromthe HowisonLecturesfor the sake of

filling out the lectures publishedhere, and I

assistancein this. (Forinstance,atone pointin Berkeley,Foucaultremarked that"thetitle of these two lecturescould have been, and shouldhave been, in fact, 'About the Beginning of the Hermeneuticsof the Self,' " a wish I have honoredhere.)Ona few occasions,theselecturesoverlapslightlywith otherpublishedworkby Foucault,whichI have markedin the notes. Theselecturesmarka transitioninFoucault'sworkfromstudyingsystems of power relations (Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1) to studyingthe creationof ethicalagency (TheHistoryof Sexuality, Vols.2, 3, and 4). Indeed,with this transitionandfromhis earlierworkson

thankPaul Rabinow for his

POLITICALTHEORY,Vol. 21 No. 2, May 1993 198-227 Transcript ? 1993, MarkBlasius andThomasKeenan.Used withpermission.




thehistoryof systemsof thought(Madnessand Civilization,TheBirthof the Clinic, TheOrderof Things,and TheArchaeologyof Knowledge),Foucault beginsto completetheanalysisof threeaxesof experience:truth,power,and

ethics. The lecturesthatfollow hintat the themesthatwould appearlaterin volumes2 and3 of TheHistoryof Sexuality,workslargelyandundeservedly overlookedby politicaltheorists.However,Foucaultsaidin a lateinterview upon their publication, when asked if he wrote these last books "for" contemporaryliberationmovements,thathe wrotethemnot "for"thembut "'asa function of a present situation."He said of volume 2, The Use of Pleasure,the volumemost about"sex,"thattheproblemof recentliberation movements was similar to the one he studiedin this book aboutAncient Greece:to elaborateanethicsthroughsex. Thethirdvolume,TheCareof the Self, can be read(atleastin part)as a perspectiveon how to adaptanddirect thepowerexercisedbymedical,quasi-medical,andmoralexpertsin thetime of the AIDS epidemic. Finally, the fourthvolume, The Confessionof the Flesh, completed but as yet unpublished,is about early Christiansexual ethics. Its relevance to what concerns us today can be gleaned from a discussion(recordedon thetapebutnotincludedhere)betweenFoucaultand

a gay graduatestudentafter one of the lecturesprintedhere. The student

questionedFoucault'sendorsementof JohnBoswell's Christianity,Social Tolerance,and Homosexuality(Chicago, 1980) becauseof thepatenthostil- ity of Catholicismtowardhomosexualityandsexualitygenerally.Foucault counteredthatan antisexualJudeo-Christianmoralityis a dangerousmyth that is not supportedby historicalevidence and has political implications. Rather,said Foucault,what is significantfor sexuality is that Christianity

inaugurateda new attitudeof people notso muchtowardsexualactsandthe code of sexual ethics, but towardthemselves, and this new relationshipof

people to themselves,thenecessityto scrutinizeanddiscoverthetruthabout oneself and then verbalize this truthto others, affected people's attitude towardsexuality.Both Freudiandiscourseon sexuality as well as the dis-

course of self-disclosure as a talking cure are recognizablein

origins"analyzedin these two lectures. The significance for political theory of these lectures is indicated by Foucaultat the end of the second one: "one of the mainpolitical problems

would be nowadays .

genealogy of the self: its constitutionthrougha continuousanalysisof one's

thoughtsundera hermeneuticprincipleof makingsurethey arereallyone's own; and the self's iterationand social reinforcementthroughan ongoing verbalizationof this self-deciphernentto others.Foucaultelsewhere ana- lyzed (The Historyof Sexuality,Vol.1) how techniquesinheritedfrom the Christianconfession allow for the self to be createdand subjectedwithin

the "small

the politics of ourselves."The lectures trace the


relationsof powerthatconstitutemodemsocialinstitutions.A politicsof our selves would entail a recognitionthatif the self is "nothingelse than the historicalcorrelationof the technology"thathas come to createit, thenthe aim would be to get rid of the "sacrificewhich is linkedto those technolo- gies." This sacrificeis twofold:it is the creationof a positive foundationfor the self by means of proceduresthatat once makes us amenableto social control and dependent upon it, as well as the production and then marginalizationof entire categories of people who do not fit what the foundationposits as "normal."Wecanridourselvesof the imposedsacrifice throughwhatFoucaultcalled a "criticalontology of ourselves."This is, he wrote,"atone andthe sametime thehistoricalanalysisof the limits thatare imposed on us and an experimentwith the possibility of going beyond


reflectionto the test of concretepractices"(TheFoucaultReader,p. 50).

in the care broughtto the process of puttinghistorico-critical


In a workconsecratedto the moraltreatmentof madnessandpublished in 1840, a Frenchpsychiatrist,Leuret,tells of the mannerin which he has treatedone of hispatients-treated and,asyou canimagine,of course,cured. One morningDr. Leurettakes Mr.A., his patient,into a showerroom. He makeshim recountin detailhis delirium. "Well,all that,"says the doctor,"isnothingbutmadness.Promiseme not to believe in it anymore." The patienthesitates,thenpromises. "That'snot enough,"repliesthe doctor."Youhave alreadymade similar promises,andyou haven'tkeptthem."Andthedoctorturnson a cold shower above the patient'shead. "Yes,yes! I am mad!"the patientcries. The showeris turnedoff, andthe interrogationis resumed. "Yes,I recognizethatI ammad,"thepatientrepeats,adding,"Irecognize, becauseyou areforcingme to do so." Anothershower.Anotherconfession.Theinterrogationis takenup again. "I assureyou, however,"says the patient,"thatI have heardvoices and seen enemies aroundme." Anothershower. "Well,"saysMr.A., thepatient,"Iadmitit.Iammad;allthatwasmadness."1



To makesomeone sufferingfrommentalillness recognizethathe is mad is a veryancientprocedure.Everybodyin theoldmedicine,beforethemiddle of the nineteenthcentury,everybodywas convinced of the incompatibility betweenmadnessandrecognitionof madness.Andin theworks,forinstance, of the seventeenthandof theeighteenthcenturies,one findsmanyexamples of what one might call truth-therapies.The mad would be cured if one managedto show themthattheirdeliriumis withoutany relationto reality. But, as you see, the techniqueused by Leuretis altogetherdifferent.He is not tryingto persuadehis patientthathis ideas arefalse or unreasonable. Whathappensin theheadof Mr.A. is a matterof indifferenceforthedoctor. Leuretwishes to obtaina preciseact:theexplicit affirmation,"Iammad."It is easy to recognize here the transpositionwithin psychiatrictherapyof procedureswhich have been used for a long time in judicial and religious institutions.Todeclarealoudandintelligiblythetruthaboutoneself-I mean, to confess-has in theWesternworldbeen consideredfor a long time either as a condition for redemptionfor one's sins or as an essential item in the condemnationof the guilty.Thebizarretherapyof Leuretmay be readas an episode in the progressiveculpabilizationof madness.But, I would wish, rather,to takeit as a point of departurefor a moregeneralreflectionon this practiceof confession, andon the postulate,which is generallyacceptedin Westernsocieties, thatone needsforhis own salvationto know as exactly as possiblewho he is andalso, whichis somethingratherdifferent,thathe needs to tellit as explicitlyaspossibleto someotherpeople.Theanecdoteof Leuret is here only as an example of the strangeandcomplex relationshipsdevel- oped in oursocieties betweenindividuality,discourse,truth,andcoercion. In order to justify the attentionI am giving to what is seemingly so specializeda subject,let me takea stepbackfor a moment.All that,afterall is only for me a means that I will use to take on a much more general theme-that is, the genealogy of the modernsubject. In the years thatpreceded the second war, and even more so after the second war,philosophyin Franceand,I think,in all continentalEurope,was dominatedby thephilosophyof the subject.I meanthatphilosophyset as its

taskpar excellence the foundationof

signification as stemming from the meaningful subject. The importance given to this question of the meaningfulsubject was of course due to the

impact of Husserl-only

generallyknown in France2-but the centralityof the subjectwas also tied to aninstitutionalcontext.FortheFrenchuniversity,sincephilosophybegan

with Descartes,it could only advancein a Cartesianmanner.But we must

all knowledgeandthe principleof all

his CartesianMeditations and the Crisis were


also takeinto accountthe politicalconjuncture.Giventhe absurdityof wars, slaughters,anddespotism,it seemed then to be up to the individualsubject to give meaningto his existentialchoices. Withtheleisureanddistancethatcameafterthe war,thisemphasison the philosophicalsubjectno longerseemedso self-evident.Twohitherto-hidden theoreticalparadoxescould no longerbe avoided.The firstone was thatthe philosophyof consciousnesshadfailedto founda philosophyof knowledge, andespecially scientificknowledge,andthesecondwas thatthisphilosophy of meaning paradoxicallyhad failed to take into account the formative mechanismsof significationandthe structureof systems of meaning.I am awarethat anotherform of thoughtclaimed then to have gone beyond the philosophy of the subject-this, of course, was Marxism.It goes without


the theoryof ideologies successfullyconstituteda theoryof objectivityor of signification.Marxismputitself forwardas ahumanisticdiscoursethatcould replace the abstractsubjectwith an appealto the real man, to the concrete man. It should have been clear at the time that Marxismcarriedwith it a fundamentaltheoreticalandpracticalweakness:thehumanisticdiscoursehid

the politicalrealitythatthe Marxistsof thisperiodnonethelesssupported. With the all-to-easy clarity of hindsight-what you call, I think, the "Mondaymorningquarterback"-let me say that there were two possible paths that led beyond this philosophy of the subject. First, the theory of objective knowledgeand,two, an analysisof systems of meaning,or semi- ology. The firstof these was the pathof logical positivism.The second was thatof a certainschool of linguistics,psychoanalysis,andanthropology,all generallygroupedunderthe rubricof structuralism. These were not the directionsI took. Let me announceonce and for all thatI am not a structuralist,andI confess withthe appropriatechagrinthatI am not an analyticphilosopher-nobody is perfect.I have triedto explore anotherdirection.I have triedto get out fromthe philosophyof the subject throughagenealogyof thissubject,by studyingtheconstitutionof thesubject acrosshistorywhichhasled us upto themodernconceptof theself. Thishas not always been aneasy task,since mosthistoriansprefera historyof social processes,3andmost philosophersprefera subjectwithouthistory.This has neither prevented me from using the same material that certain social historians have used, nor from recognizing my theoreticaldebt to those philosopherswho, like Nietzsche, have posed thequestionof the historicity of the subject.4 Up to thepresentI have proceededwiththis generalprojectin two ways. I have dealt with the moderntheoreticalconstitutionsthatwere concerned withthe subjectin general.I havetriedto analyzein a previousbooktheories


it goes indeed betterif we say it-that



of thesubjectas a speaking,living, workingbeing.'I have also dealtwiththe more practical understandingformed in those institutionslike hospitals, asylums,andprisons,where certainsubjectsbecameobjects of knowledge andat the sametime objectsof domination.6And now, I wish to studythose formsof understandingwhichthesubjectcreatesabouthimself.Thoseforms of self-understandingareimportantI thinkto analyzethemodemexperience of sexuality.7 But since I have startedwith this last type of projectI have been obliged to changemy mindon severalimportantpoints.Let me introducea kind of autocritique.It seems, accordingto some suggestionsby Habermas,thatone can distinguish three major types of techniques in human societies: the techniqueswhichpermitone to produce,to transform,to manipulatethings; the techniqueswhich permitone to use sign systems; and the techniques whichpermitone to determinetheconductof individuals,to impose certain wills on them, and to submitthem to certainends or objectives. That is to say, there are techniques of production,techniques of signification, and techniquesof domination.8 Of course,if one wantsto studythehistoryof naturalsciences, it is useful if not necessaryto take into accounttechniquesof productionand semiotic techniques.But since my projectwas concernedwith the knowledge of the subject,I thoughtthatthetechniquesof dominationwerethemostimportant, withoutanyexclusionof therest.But, analyzingtheexperienceof sexuality,

I became more and more awarethat thereis in all societies, I think,in all

societies whateverthey are, anothertype of techniques:techniqueswhich permit individuals to effect, by their own means, a certain number of operationson theirown bodies, on theirown souls, on theirown thoughts, on theirown conduct,and this in a mannerso as to transformthemselves, modify themselves,andto attaina certainstateof perfection,of happiness, of purity,of supernaturalpower,andso on. Let'scall this kindof techniques

a techniquesor technologyof the self.9 I thinkthatif one wantsto analyzethegenealogyof thesubjectin Western civilization,he has to take into accountnot only techniquesof domination but also techniquesof the self. Let's say: he has to take into account the interactionbetween those two types of techniques-techniques of domina- tion and techniques of the self. He has to take into account the points

wherethetechnologies of dominationof individualsover one anotherhave recourse to processes by which the individual acts upon himself. And conversely,he has to takeintoaccountthepointswherethetechniquesof the self are integratedinto structuresof coercion or domination.The contact point, where the individualsare drivenl by others is tied to the way they conductthemselves,'1is whatwe can call, I think,government."2Governing


people, in thebroadmeaningof theword,13governingpeople is nota way to force people to do whatthe governorwants;it is always a versatileequilib- rium,with complementarityandconflicts betweentechniqueswhich assure coercion andprocessesthroughwhichthe self is constructedor modifiedby himself. When I was studyingasylums,prisons,and so on, I insisted,I think,too much on the techniques of domination.What we can call discipline is somethingreallyimportantin thesekindsof institutions,butit is only at one aspectof the artof governingpeople in oursociety.Wemustnotunderstand the exercise of power as pureviolence or strictcoercion.Power consists in complex relations:these relationsinvolve a set of rationaltechniques,and the efficiency of those techniquesis due to a subtleintegrationof coercion- technologiesandself-technologies.I thinkthatwe haveto getridof themore or less Freudianschema-you know it-the schemaof interiorizationof the law by the self. Fortunately,from a theoreticalpoint of view, and maybe unfortunatelyfroma practicalpointof view, thingsaremuchmorecompli- catedthanthat.In short,havingstudiedthe field of governmentby takingas my pointof departuretechniquesof domination,Iwouldlike inyearsto come to studygovernment-especially in the field of sexuality-starting fromthe techniquesof the self.4 Among those techniquesof the self in this field of the self-technology,I thinkthatthe techniquesorientedtowardthe discoveryandthe formulation of the truthconcerning oneself are extremely important;and, if for the governmentof people in oursocietieseveryonehadnotonly to obey butalso to produce and publish the truthabout oneself, then examinationof con- science and confession are amongthe most importantof those procedures. Of course, thereis a very long andvery complex history,fromthe Delphic precept,gnothi seauton ("knowyourself') to the strangetherapeuticspro- motedby Leuret,aboutwhichI was speakingin thebeginningof thislecture. Thereis a very long way fromone to the other,andI don't want,of course, to give you even a surveythis evening.I'd like only to underlinea transfor- mationof thosepractices,a transformationwhichtookplaceatthebeginning of the Christianera,of the Christianperiod,when the ancientobligationof knowing oneself became the monasticprecept "confess, to your spiritual guide, each of your thoughts."This transformationis, I think, of some importancein thegenealogyof modernsubjectivity.Withthistransformation startswhat we would call the hermeneuticsof the self. This evening I'll try to outlinethe way confessionandself-examinationwereconceivedbypagan philosophers,andnext week I'll tryto show you whatit becamein the early Christianity.



Itis well knownthatthemainobjectiveof theGreekschoolsof philosophy did not consist of the elaboration,the teaching,of theory.The goal of the

Greek schools of philosophywas the transformationof the individual.The goal of the Greekphilosophywas to give the individualthe qualitywhich wouldpermithimto live differently,better,morehappily,thanotherpeople. Whatplace didtheself-examinationandtheconfessionhavein this?At first glance, in all the ancientphilosophicalpractices,the obligation to tell the

truth about oneself occupies a ratherrestrainedplace. And this for


reasons, both of which remain valid throughoutthe whole Greek and Hellenistic Antiquity.The first of those reasons is that the objective of

philosophicaltrainingwas to armthe individualwith a certainnumberof preceptswhich permithim to conduct himself in all circumstancesof life

withouthis losing masteryof himself or withoutlosing tranquilityof spirit, purity of body and soul. From this principlestems the importanceof the master'sdiscourse.Themaster'sdiscoursehastotalk,toexplain,topersuade; he has to give the disciple a universal code for all his life, so that the verbalizationtakesplace on the side of the masterandnoton the side of the disciple. Thereis also anotherreasonwhy the obligationto confess does not have

lot of importancein the directionof the antiqueconscience. The tie with the master was then circumstantialor, in any case, provisional.It was relationshipbetween two wills, which does not imply a complete or a definitiveobedience.One solicitsor one acceptsthe adviceof a masteror of

a friendin orderto endurean ordeal,a bereavement,an exile, or a reversal of fortune,and so on. Or again,one places oneself underthe directionof a masterfor a certaintime of one's life so as one day to be able to behave autonomouslyand no longer have need of advice. Ancient directiontends towardtheautonomyof thedirected.Intheseconditions,one canunderstand thatthe necessityfor exploringoneself in exhaustivedepthdoes notpresent itself. It is not indispensableto say everythingaboutoneself, to revealone's least secrets, so that the mastermay exert complete power over one. The exhaustive and continualpresentationof oneself underthe eyes of an all- powerfuldirectoris not an essentialfeaturein this techniqueof direction. But, despite this general orientationwhich has so little emphasis on self-examinationand on confession, one finds well before Christianityal- readyelaboratedtechniquesfor discoveringandformulatingthe truthabout oneself. Andtheirrole,it wouldseem,becamemoreandmoreimportant.The growingimportanceof these techniquesis no doubttied to the development

of communallife in thephilosophicalschool, as withthePythagoreansorthe




Epicureans,and it is also tied to the value accordedto the medical model, eitherin the Epicureanor the Stoicianschools. Since it is not possible in so shorta time even to give a sketch of this evolution of GreekandHellenistcivilization,I'll takeonly two passages of

a Roman philosopher,Seneca. They may be considered as rathergood

witnesses on the practiceof self-examinationand confession as it existed with the Stoics of the Imperialperiodat thetime of the birthof Christianity.

The firstpassageis to be foundin theDe Ira of Seneca.Hereis the passage; I'll readit to you:

Whatcouldbe morebeautifulthanto conductaninqueston one's day?Whatsleep better thanthatwhichfollows thisreviewof one's actions?How calmit is, deepandfree,when the soul has receivedits portionof praiseandblame,andhassubmitteditself to its own examination,to its owncensure.Secretly,it makesthetrialof its own conduct.Iexercise this authorityover myself, andeach day I will myself as witness before myself. When my lightis loweredandmywife atlastis silent,Ireasonwithmyselfandtakethemeasure of my acts andof my words.I hide nothingfrommyself; I sparemyself nothing.Why, in effect, should I fear anythingat all from amongstmy errorswhilst I can say: "Be vigilant in not beginningit again;today I will forgiveyou. In a certaindiscussionyou spoke too aggressively or you did not correctthe person you were reproaching,you


" etc.15

Thereis somethingparadoxicalin seeing the Stoics, such as Seneca and also Sextus, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and so on, according so much

importanceto the examinationof conscience whilst, accordingto the terms

of theirdoctrine,all faults were supposedequal.It should not thereforebe

necessaryto interrogatethemselveson each one of them. But, let's look atthistexta littlemoreclosely.Firstof all, Senecaemploys

a vocabulary which at first glance appears,above all, judicial. He uses


is typicaljudicial vocabulary.It seems, therefore,that the subject is, with

regardto himself, both the judge and the accused. In this examinationof conscience it seems that the subjectdivides itself in two and organizes a judicial scene, where it plays both roles at once. Seneca is like an accused confessinghis crimeto thejudge,andthejudge is Senecahimself.But,if we look moreclosely, we see thatthe vocabularyused by Senecais muchmore administrativethanjudicial.It is the vocabularyof thedirectionof goods or territory.Seneca says, for instance,thathe is speculatorsui, thathe inspects himself, that he examines with himself the past day, totum diem meum scrutor;orthathe takesthemeasureof thingssaidanddone;he uses theword remetior.Withregardto himself,he is not ajudge who has to punish;he is, rather,an administratorwho, once the work has been done or the year's

expressionslike cognoscerede moribussuis, andme causamdico-all



business finished, does the accounts, takes stock of things, and sees if everythinghas been done correctly.Seneca is a permanentadministratorof himself,morethanajudge of his own past."6 The examples of the faults committed by Seneca and with which he reproacheshimself are significantfrom this point of view. He says and he reproacheshimself for havingcriticizedsomeone and insteadof correcting him has hurthim; or again, he says thathe has discussed with people who were in any case incapableof understandinghim. These faults, as he says himself, arenot really faults;they aremistakes.And why mistakes?Either becausehedidnothavein hismindtheaimswhichthesageshouldsethimself or becausehe hadnot appliedin the correctmannerthe rulesof conductto be deducedfromthem.Thefaultsaremistakesin thatsense thattheyarebad adjustmentsbetweenaims andmeans.Significantis also thefact thatSeneca does not recallthose faultsin orderto punishhimself;he has as a goal only to memorizeexactlythe ruleswhichhe hadto apply.Thismemorizationhas for an object a reactivationof fundamentalphilosophicalprinciplesandthe readjustmentof theirapplication.IntheChristianconfessionthepenitenthas to memorizethelawin orderto discoverhisown sins,butin thisStoicexercise thesagehasto memorizeactsin orderto reactivatethefundamentalrules. Onecanthereforecharacterizethisexaminationin a few words.First,this examination,it's not at all a questionof discoveringthe truthhiddenin the subject.It is rathera questionof recallingthe truthforgottenby the subject. Two, what the subjectforgetsis not himself, norhis nature,nor his origin, nora supernaturalaffinity.Whatthe subjectforgetsis whathe oughtto have done, thatis, a collection of rulesof conductthathe hadlearned.Three,the recollection of errors committed during the day serves to measure the distancewhich separateswhat has been done from what should have been done.Andfour,the subjectwho practicesthis examinationon himselfis not the operatinggroundfor a process more or less obscure which has to be deciphered.He is thepointwhererulesof conductcome togetherandregister themselves in the form of memories. He is at the same time the point of departurefor actionsmoreor less in conformitywith these rules.He consti- tutes, the subject constitutes, the point of intersection between a set of memorieswhich mustbe broughtinto the presentandacts which have to be regulated. Thisevening examinationhas its logical place amonga set of otherStoic exercises":continualreading,for instance,of the manualof precepts(that's for the present);the examinationof the evils whichcould happenin life, the well-knownpremeditatiomalorum(thatwas for thepossible);the enumera- tion each morningof the tasksto be accomplishedduringthe day (thatwas for the future);andfinally,the eveningexaminationof conscience (so much


for the past).As you see, the self in all those exercises is notconsideredas a field of subjectivedatawhich have to be interpreted.It submitsitself to the trialof possible or realaction. Well, after this examinationof conscience, which constitutesa kind of confession to one's self, I wouldlike to speakabouttheconfession to others:

I mean to say the expose of one's soul which one makesto someone, who

may be a friend,an adviser,a guide. This was a practicenot verydeveloped in philosophical life, but it had been developed in some philosophical schools, for instance among the Epicureanschools, and it was also a very well knownmedicalpractice.Themedicalliteratureis richin suchexamples of confessionor expose of the self. Forinstance,the treatiseof GalenOnthe

Passions of the Soul"8quotes an example like that;or Plutarch,in the De Profectibus in Virtutewrites, "There are many sick people who accept medicine andotherswho refusethem;themanwho hidestheshameof soul, his desire, his unpleasantness,his avarice, his concupiscence, has little chance of making progress. Indeed, to speak one's evil reveals one['s]

nastiness;to recognizeit insteadof takingpleasurein hidingit. All this is a sign of progress."19 Well, anothertext of Seneca might also serve us as an example here of what was confession in the Late Antiquity.It is in the beginning of De TranquillitateAnimi.20Serenus,a young friendof Seneca,comes to ask him for advice. It is very explicitly a medical consultationon his own state of soul. "Why,"says Serenus,"shouldI not confess to you the truth,as to a


health."Serenusfeels himself in a stateof malaise,ratheras he says, like on

a boatwhichdoes not advance,butis tossedaboutby therollingof the ship.

And, he fearsstayingat sea in this condition,in view of firmlandandof the virtues which remain inaccessible. In order to escape this state, Serenus thereforedecides to consult Seneca and to confess his state to Seneca. He says thathe wantsverumfateri,to tell the truth,to Seneca.21 Now whatis this truth,whatis thisverum,thathe wantsto confess?Does he confess faults,secretthoughts,shamefuldesires,andthingslike that?Not atall. Thetext of Serenusappearsas anaccumulationof relativelyunimport- ant, at least for us unimportant,details;for instance, Serenusconfesses to Seneca thathe uses the earthenwareinheritedfromhis father,thathe gets easily carriedaway when he makes public speeches, and so on and so on. But, it is easy, beneaththis apparentdisorder,to recognize three distinct domains for this confession: the domainof riches, the domain of political

life, andthedomainof glory;to acquireriches,to participatein the affairsof

the city, to gain public opinion.These are-these

activitypossible for a freeman,thethreecommonplacemoralquestionsthat

I do not feel altogetherill but nor do I feel entirely in good


threetypes of



areaskedby themajorphilosophicalschoolsof theperiod.Theframework of theexposeof Serenusis notthereforedefinedby therealcourseof his existence;itis notdefinedbyhisrealexperiences,norbyatheoryofthesoul orof itselements,butonlybyaclassificationofthedifferenttypesofactivity whichonecanexerciseandtheendswhichonecanpursue.Ineachoneof thesefields,Serenusrevealshisattitudeby enumeratingthatwhichpleases himandthatwhichdispleaseshim.Theexpression"itpleasesme"(placet me) is theleadingthreadin hisanalysis.Itpleaseshimto do favorsforhis friends.Itpleaseshimtoeatsimply,andtohavenototherthanthatwhichhe hasinherited,butthespectacleof luxuryin otherspleaseshim.He takes pleasurealsoininflatinghisoratoricalstylewiththehopethatposteritywill retainhiswords.Inthusexposingwhatpleaseshim,Serenusis notseeking to revealwhatarehisprofounddesires.Hispleasuresarenotthemeansof

revealingwhatChristianslatercall concupiscensia. Forhim, it is a question

of his own stateandof addingsomethingto theknowledgeof themoral precepts.Thisadditionto whatis alreadyknownis a force,theforcewhich wouldbe ableto transformpureknowledgeandsimpleconsciousnessin a realwayof living.Andthatis whatSenecatriestodo whenheusesa setof persuasivearguments,demonstrations,examples,in ordernottodiscovera stillunknowntruthinsideandin thedepthof Serenus'ssoulbutin orderto explain,if I may say, to whichextenttruthin generalis true.Seneca's discoursehasforanobjectivenottoaddtosometheoreticalprincipleaforce of coercioncomingfromelsewherebutto transformthemin a victorious force.Senecahasto giveaplacetotruthasa force. Hence,I think,severalconsequences.First,inthisgamebetweenSerenus's confessionandSeneca'sconsultation,truth,as yousee,is notdefinedby a correspondencetorealitybutasaforceinherenttoprinciplesandwhichhas to be developedin a discourse.Two,thistruthis notsomethingwhichis hiddenbehindorundertheconsciousnessin thedeepestandmostobscure partof thesoul.Itis somethingwhichis beforetheindividualas a pointof attraction,akindof magneticforcewhichattractshimtowardsagoal.Three, thistruthis notobtainedbyananalyticalexplorationof whatis supposedto be realin theindividualbutby rhetoricalexplanationof whatis goodfor anyonewhowantsto approachthelifeof a sage.Four,theconfessionis not orientedtowardan individualizationof Serenusby thediscoveryof some personalcharacteristicsbuttowardstheconstitutionof aselfwhichcouldbe at the sametimeandwithoutanydiscontinuitysubjectof knowledgeand subjectof will. Five,22we can see thatsucha practiceof confessionand

consultationremainswithin the frameworkof what the Greeks for a long time called the gnome. The termgnome designates the unity of will and knowledge;it designatesalso a briefpiece of discoursethroughwhich truth


appearedwith all its force andencrustsitself in the soul of people.3 Then, we could say thateven as late as the firstcenturyA.D., the type of subject whichis proposedas amodelandasa targetintheGreek,orin theHellenistic or Roman,philosophy,is a gnomic self, whereforce of the truthis one with the formof the will.

In this model of the gnomicself, we foundseveralconstitutiveelements:

the necessity of telling truthaboutoneself, the role of the masterand the master'sdiscourse,the long way thatleads finally to the emergenceof the self. All those elements,we find them also in the Christiantechnologies of the self, but with a very differentorganization.I shouldsay,in sum, andI'll conclude there,thatas faras we followed the practicesof self-examination andconfession in the HellenisticorRomanphilosophy,you see thatthe self is not somethingthathas to be discoveredor decipheredas a very obscure text. You see thatthe taskis not to put in the light whatwould be the most obscurepartof ourselves. Theself has,on thecontrary,notto be discovered butto be constituted,to be constitutedthroughthe force of truth.This force lies in24the rhetoricalqualityof the master'sdiscourse,and this rhetorical qualitydependsfor a parton the expose of the disciple, who has to explain how far he is in his way of living fromthe trueprinciplesthathe knows.25 And I thinkthatthis organizationof the self as a target,the organizationof what I call the gnomic self, as the objective, the aim, towardswhich the confessionandtheself-examinationis oriented,is somethingdeeplydifferent of what we meet in the Christiantechnologies of the self. In the Christian technologiesof the self, the problemis to discoverwhatis hiddeninsidethe self; the self is like a text or like a book thatwe have to decipher,and not somethingwhich has to be constructedby the superposition,the superimpo- sition,of thewill andthetruth.Thisorganization,thisChristianorganization, so differentfromthepaganone, is somethingwhichis I thinkquitedecisive for the genealogy of the modernself, andthat'sthe pointI'll tryto explain next week when we meet again.Thankyou.


The themeof thislectureis the sameas thethemeof lastweek's lecture.26 The theme is: how was formedin oursocieties whatI would like to call the interpretiveanalysisof the self; or,how was formedthehermeneuticsof the



self in the modern,or at least in the Christianandthe modern,societies? In spite of the fact thatwe can find veryearly in the Greek,in the Hellenistic, in the Latincultures,techniquessuch as self-examinationandconfession, I thinkthatthereareverylargedifferencesbetweenthe LatinandGreek-the Classical-techniques of the self andthe techniquesdevelopedin Christian- ity.AndI'll tryto show thiseveningthatthemodernhermeneuticsof theself

is rootedmuchmorein thoseChristiantechniquesthanin theClassicalones.

The gnothi seauton is, I think,muchless influentialin our societies, in our culture,thanis supposedto be. As everybodyknows,Christianityis a confession.ThatmeansthatChris- tianitybelongsto a very specialtype of religion,thereligionswhichimpose on those who practicethemobligationof truth.Such obligationsin Christi- anityarenumerous;forinstance,a Christianhastheobligationto hold astrue

a set of propositionswhich constitutesa dogma;or,he has the obligationto hold certainbooksas a permanentsourceof truth;or,27he has theobligation to acceptthe decisions of certainauthoritiesin mattersof truth.28 ButChristianityrequiresanotherformof truthobligationquitedifferentfrom thoseIjustmentioned.Everyone,everyChristian,hasthedutyto knowwhohe is, whatis happeningin him.Hehastoknowthefaultshe mayhavecommitted:

hehastoknowthetemptationstowhichheis exposed.And,moreover,everyone in Christianityis obligedto saythesethingsto otherpeople,to tellthesethings to otherpeople,andhence,to bearwitnessagainsthimself. A few remarks.These two ensemblesof obligations,those regardingthe faith, the book, the dogma, andthe obligationsregardingthe self, the soul, theheart,arelinkedtogether.A Christianis alwayssupposedto be supported by thelight of faithif he wantsto explorehimself,and,conversely,access to the truthof the faithcannotbe conceived of withoutthe purificationof the soul. As Augustinesaid, in a LatinformulaI'm sureyou'll understand,qui facit veritatemvenitad lucem.Thatmeans:facite veritatem,"tomaketruth inside oneself," and veniread lucem, "to get access to the light."Well, to maketruthinsideof oneself, andto get access to thelightof God, andso on, those two processesarestronglyconnectedin the Christianexperience.But thosetwo relationshipsto truth,you canfindthemequallyconnected,as you know,in Buddhism,andthey were also connectedin all the Gnosticmove- mentsof the firstcenturies.But there,eitherin Buddhismor in the Gnostic movements,those two relationshipsto truthwere connectedin such a way that they were almost identified. To discover the truthinside oneself, to decipherthe real natureandthe authenticoriginof the soul, was considered by the Gnosticistsas one thingwith comingthroughto the light.29 On the contrary,one of the maincharacteristicsof orthodoxChristianity, one of the maindifferencesbetweenChristianityandBuddhism,or between


ChristianityandGnosticism,one of the mainreasonsfor the mistrustof Christianitytowardmystics,andoneof themostconstanthistoricalfeatures of Christianity,is thatthosetwosystemsof obligation,of truthobligation- theoneconcernedwithaccesstolightandtheoneconcernedwiththemaking of truth,the discoveringof truthinsideoneself-those two systemsof obligationhavealwaysmaintaineda relativeautonomy.EvenafterLuther, eveninProtestantism,thesecretsof thesoulandthemysteriesof thefaith, theselfandthebook,arenotinChristianityenlightenedbyexactlythesame typeof light.Theydemanddifferentmethodsandputintooperationpartic- ulartechniques.

Well,let'sputasidethelonghistoryoftheircomplexandoftenconflictual relationsbeforeandaftertheReformation.I'd like thiseveningto focus attentiononthesecondof thosetwosystemsof obligation.I'dliketofocus on the obligationimposedon everyChristianto manifestthe truthabout himself.Whenonespeaksofconfessionandself-examinationinChristianity, one of coursehas in mindthe sacramentof penanceand the canonic confessionof sins. But theseareratherlate innovationsin Christianity. Christiansof the firstcenturiesknewcompletelydifferentformsfor the showingforthofthetruthaboutthemselves,andyou'llfindtheseobligations of manifestingthe truthaboutoneselfin two differentinstitutions-in penitentialritesandmonasticlife. AndI wouldlike firstto examinethe penitentialritesandtheobligationsof truth,thetruthobligationswhichare related,whichareconnectedwiththosepenitentialrites.I willnotenter,of course,intothediscussionswhichhavetakenplaceandwhichcontinueuntil now as to theprogressivedevelopmentof theserites.I wouldlikeonlyto underlineonefundamentalfact:inthefirstcenturiesof Christianity,penance wasnotanact.Penance,in thefirstcenturiesof Christianity,penanceis a status,whichpresentsseveralcharacteristics.Thefunctionofthisstatusis to avoid the definitiveexpulsionfromthe churchof a Christianwho has committedoneorseveralserioussins.Aspenitent,thisChristianisexcluded frommanyof theceremoniesandcollectiverites,buthe doesnotceaseto be a Christian,andby meansof thisstatushe canobtainhisreintegration. Andthisstatusisthereforealong-termaffair.Thisstatusaffectsmostaspects of hislife- fastingobligations,rulesaboutclothing,interdictionsonsexual relations-andtheindividualis markedto suchanextentbythisstatusthat evenafterhisreconciliation,afterhisreintegrationinthecommunity,hewill stillsufferfromacertainnumberofprohibitions(forinstance,hewillnotbe



able to become a priest).So penanceis not an act correspondingto a sin; it is a status,a generalstatusin the existence. Now, amongstthe elementsof this status,the obligationto manifestthe truthis fundamental.I don't say thatenunciationof sins is fundamental;I employamuchmoreimpreciseandobscureexpression.I saythatmanifestation of thetruthis necessaryandis deeplyconnectedwiththisstatusof penance.In fact,to designatethetruthgamesorthetruthobligationsinherentto penitents, theGreekfathersuseda word,a veryspecificword(andveryenigmaticalso); thewordexomologesis.Thiswordwasso specificthatevenLatinwriters,Latin


Whatdoes thistermexomologesismean?Ina verygeneralsense,theword refersto the recognitionof an act, butmoreprecisely,in thepenitentialrite, whatwas the exomologesis?Well,at the endof thepenitentialprocedure,at theendandnotatthebeginning,attheendof thepenitentialprocedure,when the momentof thereintegrationcame, anepisodetookplace whichthe texts regularlycall exomologesis.Some descriptionsareveryearlyandsome very late, but they are quite identical.Tertullian,for instance, at the end of the second century,describesthe ceremonyin the following manner.He wrote, "Thepenitentwears a hairshirtandashes. He is wretchedlydressed.He is takenby the handand led into the church.He prostrateshimself beforethe widows and the priest.He hangs on the skirtsof theirgarments.He kisses theirknees."3'Andmuchlaterafterthis,in thebeginningof thefifthcentury, Jeromedescribedin the same way the penitenceof Fabiola.Fabiolawas a woman,a well-knownRomannoblewoman,who hadmarrieda secondtime before the deathof her first husband,which was somethingquite bad, and she thenwas obligedto dopenance.AndJeromedescribesthusthispenance:

"Duringthe days which precededEaster,"which was the moment of the reconciliation,

duringthedayswhichprecededEaster,Fabiolawastobefoundamongtheranksof the penitents.Thebishop,thepriests,andthepeopleweptwithher.Herhairdisheveled,her facepale,herhandsdirty,herheadcoveredinashes,shechastenedhernakedbreastand thefacewithwhichshehadseducedhersecondhusband.Sherevealedtoallherwound,


No doubtJeromeandTertullianwereliableto be rathercarriedawayby such things;however,in Ambroseandin othersone findsindicationswhich show clearlytheexistence of anepisodeof dramaticself-revelationatthemoment of thereconciliationof thepenitent.Thatwas,specifically,theexomologesis. But the termof exomologesisdoes not apply only to this final episode. Frequentlythe word exomologesisis used to designateeverythingthatthe


penitentdoes to obtainhis reconciliationduringthe time in whichhe retains the status of penitent. The acts by which he punishes himself must be indissociablefromthe actsby whichhe revealshimself. Thepunishmentof oneself andthe voluntaryexpressionof oneself areboundtogether. A correspondentof Cyprianin the middleof the thirdcenturywrites,for instance, that those who wish to do penance must, I quote, "provetheir suffering,show their shame, make visible theirhumility,and exhibit their modesty."33And, in the Paraenesis, Pacian says that the true penance is accomplishednotin a nominalfashionbutfindsits instrumentsin sackcloth, ashes, fasting,affliction,andtheparticipationof a greatnumberof people in prayers.In a few words,penancein the firstChristiancenturiesis a way of life acted out at all times out of an obligationto show oneself. And thatis,


As you see, this exomologesis did not obey to a judicial principle of correlation,of exact correlation,adjustingthe punishmentto the crime. Exomologesisobeyed a law of dramaticemphasisandof maximumtheatri- cality.And,neitherdidthisexomologesisobey a truthprincipleof correspon- dence between verbalenunciationandreality.As you see, no descriptionin this exomologesisis of a penance;no confession, no verbalenumerationof sins, no analysisof the sins, but somaticexpressionsand symbolic expres- sions. Fabiola did not confess her fault, telling to somebody what she has done, but she put undereverybody'seyes the flesh, the body, which has committedthe sin. And, paradoxically,the exomologesisis this time to rub out the sin, restitutethe previous purityacquiredby baptism,and this by showing the sinneras he is in his reality-dirty, defiled, sullied.35 Tertullianhas a wordto translatethe Greekwordexomologesis;he saidit was publicatio sui, the Christianhad to publishhimself.36Publishoneself, thatmeansthathe has two thingsto do. Onehas to show oneself as a sinner; that means, as somebody who, choosing the path of the sin, preferred filthinessto purity,earthanddustto heaven,spiritualpovertyto thetreasures of faith. In a word, he has to show himself as somebody who preferred spiritualdeathto earthenlife. Andthatwasthereasonwhyexomologesiswas a kind of representationof death.It was the theatricalrepresentationof the sinnerasdeadorasdying.Butthisexomologesiswas alsoa wayforthesinner to expresshis will to get free fromthis world,to get ridof his own body,to destroyhis own flesh, andget access to a new spirituallife. Itis thetheatrical representationof the sinneras willing his own death as a sinner.It is the dramaticmanifestationof the renunciationto oneself. Tojustify this exomologesisandthis renunciationto oneself in manifest- ing the truthaboutoneself, Christianfathershadrecourseto severalmodels. The well-known medical model was very often used in paganphilosophy:



one has to show his woundsto thephysiciansif he wantsto be healed.They

also used thejudicial model:one always appeasesthecourtwhen spontane- ously confessing the faults.37But the most importantmodel to justify the necessity of exomologesisis themodel of martyrdom.Themartyris he who prefersto face deathratherthanto abandonhis faith.38The sinnerabandons the faith in orderto keep the life of herebelow; he will be reinstatedonly if in his turnhe exposes himselfvoluntarilyto a sortof martyrdomto whichall will be witnesses,andwhichis penance,orpenanceas exomologesis.39 Such

a demonstrationdoes not thereforehave as its functionthe establishmentof

the personal identity. Rather, such

dramaticdemonstrationof whatone is: the refusalof the self, the breaking

off fromone's self. Onerecalls whatwas the objectiveof Stoic technology:

it was to superimpose,as I triedto explainto you last week, the subjectof

knowledge andthe subjectof will by meansof the perpetualrememorizing of therules.The formulawhichis attheheartof exomologesisis, in contrary, ego non sum ego. The exomologesisseeks, in oppositionto the Stoic tech- niques, to superimposeby an act of violent rupturethe truthaboutoneself and the renunciationof oneself. In the ostentatiousgesturesof maceration,

a demonstrationserves to mark this

self-revelationin exomologesisis, at the same time, self-destruction.

Well, if we turnto the confession in monasticinstitutions,it is of course quitedifferentfromthisexomologesis.IntheChristianinstitutionsof thefirst centuriesanotherformof confessionis to be found,verydifferentfromthis one. It is the organizedconfessionin themonasticcommunities.In a certain way,thisconfessionis close to theexercisepracticedin thepaganschools of philosophy. There is nothing astonishingin this, since the monastic life presenteditself as the trueformof philosophicallife, andthemonasterywas presentedas the school of philosophy.Thereis anobvioustransferof several technologies of the self in Christianspiritualityfrom practices of pagan philosophy. Concerningthis continuityI'll quoteonly one witness,JohnChrysostom, who describes an examinationof conscience which has exactly the same form,thesameshape,thesameadministrativecharacter,as thatdescribedby Seneca in the De Ira and which I spoke aboutlast week. JohnChrysostom says, andyou'll recognizeexactly(well, nearly)thesamewordsas in Seneca. Chrysostomwrites,

It is in the morningthatwe musttakeaccountof ourexpenses, thenit is in theevening, afterourmeal, when we have gone to bed andno one troublesus anddisquietsus, that



we mustaskourselvesto renderaccountof ourconductto ourselves.Letus examine whatis toouradvantageandwhatis prejudicial.Letusceasespendinginappropriately andtryto setasideusefulfundsin theplaceof harmfulexpenses,prayersin placeof


You'llrecognizeexactlythesameadministrativeself-examinationyou could find last week with Seneca. But these kinds of ancient practices were modified under the influence of two fundamentalelements of Christian

spirituality:the principleof obedience, and the principleof contemplation.

First,the principleof obedience-we

of philosophythe relationshipbetweenthe masterandthe disciple was, if I may say, instrumentaland provisory.The obedience of the disciple was foundedon thecapacityof themasterto leadhimto a happyandautonomous life. Fora long seriesof reasonsthatI haven'ttime to discushere,obedience

has verydifferentfeaturesin themonasticlife andaboveall, of course,in the cenobite communities.Obediencein the monasticinstitutionsmustbearon all the aspects of life; thereis an adage, very well known in the monastic

literature,which says, "everythingthat one does

director,or everythingthat one does withouthis permission,constitutesa theft."Therefore,obedienceis a permanentrelationship,andeven whenthe monkis old, even whenhe became,in his turn,a master,even thenhe has to keep the spiritof obedienceas a permanentsacrificeof his own will. Anotherfeaturedistinguishesmonasticdisciplinefromthe philosophical life. In the monasticlife, the supremegood is not the mastershipof oneself; the supreme good in the monastic life is the contemplationof God. The obligationof themonkis continuouslyto turnhis thoughtsto thatsinglepoint whichis God,andhisobligationis alsoto makesurethathisheart,hissoul,and theeye of his soulis pureenoughto see Godandto receivelightfromhim. Placedunderthisprincipleof obedience,andorientedtowardsthe objec- tive of contemplation,you understandthatthe technologyof the self which develops in Christianmonasticismpresentspeculiar characteristics.John Cassian's Institutionesand Collationes give a rathersystematic and clear expose of self-examinationand of the confession as they were practiced among the PalestinianandEgyptianmonks.4'And I'll follow severalof the indications you can find in those two books, which were written in the beginningof thefifthcentury.First,abouttheself-examination,thefirstpoint

aboutthe self-examinationin the monasticlife is thatthe self-examination in thiskindof Christianexerciseis muchmoreconcernedwiththoughtsthan withactions.Since he hasto turnhis thoughtcontinuouslytowardsGod,you understandvery well thatthe monkhas to takein handnot the courseof his actions, as the Stoic philosopher;he has to take in handthe course of his

have seen thatin the ancientschools

not do on orderof one's



thoughts.Not only the passions which mightmakevacillatethe firmnessof his conduct;he has to takein handthe images which presentthemselves to the spirit, the thoughts which come to interferewith contemplation,the diversesuggestionswhichturntheattentionof thespiritawayfromits object, thatmeansawayfromGod.So muchso thattheprimarymaterialforscrutiny and for the examinationof the self is an areaanteriorto actions, of course, anteriorto will also, even an area anteriorto the desires-a much more tenaciousmaterialthanthematerialthe Stoic philosopherhadto examinein himself. The monk has to examine a materialwhich the Greekfatherscall (almostalways pejoratively)the logismoi, thatis in Latin,cogitationes,the nearlyimperceptiblemovementsof thethoughts,thepermanentmobilityof soul.42That'sthe materialwhich the monkhas to continuouslyexamine in orderto maintainthe eye of his spiritalways directedtowardsthe unique point which is God.But, whenthe monkscrutinizeshis own thoughts,what is he concernedwith?Not of course with the relationbetween the idea and the reality.He is not concernedwith this truthrelationwhich makesan idea wrongor true.He is not interestedin the relationshipbetweenhis mindand the externalworld.Whathe is concernedwith is the nature,the quality,the substanceof his thoughts. We must,I think,pausefor a momenton this importantpoint.In orderto makecomprehensiblewhatthispermanentexaminationconsistsin, Cassian

threecomparisons.He uses first the comparisonof the mill. Thought,


says Cassian,thoughtis like a millstonewhich grindsthe grains.The grains areof course the ideas which presentcontinuouslythemselvesin the mind. And in the comparisonof the millstone, it is up to the miller to sort out amongstthe grainsthose which arebadandthose which can be admittedto the millstone because they are good. Cassian has recourse also to the comparisonof the officerwho hasthe soldiersfile pasthim andmakesthem pass to the right or to the left, allottingto each his task accordingto his capacities. And lastly, and that I think is the most important,the most interesting,Cassian says that one must be with respect to oneself like a moneychangerto whom one presents coins, and whose task consists in examiningthem,verifyingtheirauthenticity,so as to acceptthose whichare authenticwhilst rejectingthose which are not. Cassiandevelops this com- parisonat length.Whena moneychangerexaminesa coin, says Cassian,the moneychangerlooks attheeffigy themoneybears,he considersthemetalof whichit is made,to knowwhatit is andif it is pure.Themoneychangerseeks to know the workshopfromwhich it comes, andhe weighs it in his handin orderto know if it has been filed down or ill-used. In the same way, says Cassian,one mustverifythequalityof one's thoughts,one mustknowif they really bear the effigy of God; that is to say, if they really permit us to


contemplatehim, if theirsurfacebrilliancedoes not hide the impurityof a bad thought. What is their origin? Do they come from God, or from the workshopof thedemon?Finally,even if theyareof good qualityandorigin, have they not been whittledaway andrustedby evil sentiments?

I think that this form of examination is at the same time new and

historicallyimportant.PerhapsI have insisted a little too much with regard to the Stoics on the fact thattheirexamination,the Stoic examination,was

concernedwithactsandrules.Onemustrecognize,however,theimportance of thequestionof truthwiththeStoic,butthequestionwaspresentedinterms of true or false opinions favorable to forming good or bad actions. For Cassian,theproblemis notto knowif thereis a conformitybetweentheidea andthe orderof externalthings;it is a questionof examiningthe thoughtin itself. Does it really show its trueorigin,is it as pureas it seems, have not foreign elements insidiously mixed themselves with it? Altogether, the questionis not "Am I wrong to thinksuch a thing?"but "HaveI not been deceived by thethoughtwhichhascome to me?"Is thethoughtwhichcomes to me, and independentlyof the truthas to the things it represents,is there not an illusion aboutmyself on my part?Forinstance,the idea comes to me thatfastingis a good thing.Theideais certainlytrue,butmaybethisideahas been suggested not by God but by Satanin orderto put me in competition with othermonks,andthen badfeelings aboutthe otherones can be mixed to the projectof fastingmorethanI do. So, the idea is truein regardto the externalworld,or in regardto therules,butthe ideais impuresince fromits origin it is rootedin bad sentiments.And we have to decipherourthoughts as subjectivedatawhichhaveto be interpreted,whichhaveto be scrutinized, in theirroots andin theirorigins.

It is impossible not to be struckby the similarityof this generaltheme,

and the similarityof this image of the moneychanger,and several texts of Freudaboutcensorship.One could say thatFreudiancensorshipis boththe same thing and the reverseof Cassian'schanger;boththe Cassianchanger and the Freudiancensorshiphave to controlthe access to consciousness- theyhaveto let somerepresentationsin andtorejecttheothers.ButCassian's changerhasforafunctionto decipherwhatis falseorillusoryinwhatpresents itself to consciousness and then to let in only what is authentic.For that purpose the Cassian moneychangeruses a specific aptitudethat the Latin fatherscalled discretio.43TheFreudiancensorshipis, comparedto theCass- ian changer,both moreperverseandmore naive. The Freudiancensorship rejectsthatwhatpresentsitself as it is, andthe Freudiancensorshipaccepts that what is sufficiently disguised. Cassian's changer is a truth-operator throughdiscretio;Freudiancensorshipis a falsehood-operatorthroughsym- bolization. But I don't want to go furtherin such a parallel;it's only an



indication,but I thinkthatthe relationsbetween Freudianpracticeand the

Christiantechniquesof spiritualitycould be, if seriouslydone, a very inter- esting field of research.44 Butwe haveto go further,fortheproblemis, how is itpossibletoperform, as Cassianwishes, how is it possible to performcontinuouslythis necessary self-examination,this necessaryself-controlof the tiniestmovementsin the thoughts?How is it possible to performthis necessaryhermeneuticsof our own thoughts?The answer given by Cassian and his inspiratorsis both obvious andsurprising.The answergiven by Cassianis, well, you interpret your thoughtsby telling them to the masteror to your spiritualfather.You interpretyourthoughtsby confessingnotof courseyouracts,notconfessing yourfaults,but in confessing continuouslythe movementyou can notice in yourthought.Whyis thisconfessionableto assumethishermeneuticalrole? One reasoncomes to the mind:in exposing the movementsof his heart,the disciple permitshis seigneur to know those movementsand, thanksto his greaterexperience,to his greaterwisdom, the seigneur, the spiritualfather, can betterunderstandwhat'shappening.His senioritypermitshim to distin- guish betweentruthandillusion in the soul of the personhe directs.

But that is not the principalreasonthat Cassian invokes to

explain the

necessityof confession. Thereis for Ca