Curso de verano: Philosophical Lessons from and for the ‘Post-Truth Era’

Fecha: 10-14 de agosto de 2021

Lugar: Universidad de Radboud

Responsable: Dr. Simon Truwant (KU Leuven)

Fecha límite de registro: 1 de marzo de

In the aftermath of the Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, both Oxford English Dictionaries and the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Sprache declared ‘post-truth’ or ‘postfaktisch’ Word of the Year 2016. Ever since, political, sociological, and psychological analysts have tried to explain what it means for our society as well as our personal lives that «objective facts have become less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief” (OED). The recent surge in conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of the 2020 American elections show that this debate is still highly relevant.

In the first, introductory, part of the course, we will critically engage with 1) the politics of developing post-truth claims, 2) the journalistic tools and strategies for covering such claims, and 3) the psychological mechanisms of the public to process them. This means that we will view the ‘post-truth era’ as a matrix for the following cultural phenomena: the fabrication of scientific dissensus for the sake of economic and political ends, the popularity of both ‘news avoidance’ and conspiracy theories while serious journalism is labeled ‘fake news’, new forms of populism that threaten the pillars of democracy, the contemporary cult of ‘authenticity’, and the evolution of the internet from a tool for the democratization of knowledge to a generator of ‘filter bubbles’ and a forum for shouting matches.

In the second, main, part of the course, we will explore the philosophical dimension of the ‘post-truth phenomenon’ – the meaning and conditions of ‘truth’ are, after all, traditional philosophical topics. To this goal, we will consider three recent philosophical accounts of truth and truthfulness: 1) Harry Frankfurt’s notion of ‘bullshit’ as «a greater enemy of the truth than lies»; 2) Ernst Cassirer’s philosophy of ‘Enlightenment pluralism’; and 3) Martin Heidegger’s theory about the connection between truth, care, and authenticity. On this basis, we will map the differences and conflicts between the most influential modern and postmodern notions of truth. Finally, it will enable us to formulate (a) response(s) to the problematic features of the ‘post-truth attitude’.

This course is designed for students who are interested in philosophy as well as political science, sociology, history, or cultural studies; are concerned about recent developments in politics, journalism, and education; and wish to gain a better understanding of what truth can still mean in the 21st century.

Applicants must have a general background in philosophy and explain their background and their interest in the course topic(s) in their motivation letter.

Más información en: