Monday, November 21, 2016

Irish Prez: Teach Philosophy To Heal Our "Post-Truth" Society?


It's a bit funny that people would only now be abuzz about a "post-truth" society when it's showing up on the far-ish right.
The far-ish left has been much more ardently anti-truth than the right, and for at least the last 30 years.
The right just ignores facts and evidence. That's a pretty routine human thing. It sucks, but waddayagonnado? It's kind of a cost of doing business, human-wise.
The left has a long metric shit-ton of theories about how evil and male and Western and imaginary truth is. You want "post-truth," look to the left, not to the right, m*therf*ckers.
Huge swaths of the left think that the very idea of reason is incoherent and/or evil.
The right has merely ignored some evidence and some facts here and there.
Granted, to more disastrous effect.
But, theoretically, it's all less consequential.
Sure, they were wrong. Often disastrously so.
But they've never given up on the very idea of truth and reason.
Failing to live up the the right ideals is bad.
Repudiating the ideals themselves is far, far worse.
Speaking of the crazy pomo/PC left tho:
University students in the States actually (typically) get a fair amount of philosophy.
But they get shit philosophy. Pseudo-philosophy. Postmodernism, poststructuralism, leftier flavors of critical theory.
Crap, crap, crap.
Good philosophy is good. But bad philosophy is bad. And it's bad philosophy that has done more to promote a "post-truth society" than anything else. This kind of shit--relativism, subjectivism, "social constructionism" (creationism as I, personally, think of them, collectively) has done more to undermine truth and rationality than anything coming from the right.
So the point is: beware.
Philosophy can be good, and it can be bad.
Too bad for everybody that the good stuff tends to stay locked up in the discipline, and the bad stuff tends to get out and rampage across the land...

So anyway...I'm kinda with Higgins on this...but I'm also a bit scared of the idea.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure this takes much away from your point, but there might be an equivocation at foot here regarding "truth." The postmodern stuff you (I think rightly) take issue with seems to concern (what often gets called) capital t Truth, whereas the recent trend of using the phrase "post-truth" seems to deal more with little t truth, something more akin to what a Dewey, for example, would call warranted assertability. I mean, I think these two senses are related, and the postmodern theories you allude to have a hard time defending the latter sense while rejecting the former. This is just one example of how confused much of postmodernism is; even the professors teaching overtly antirealist stuff don't, presumably, deny something like warranted assertability. Thus in trying to explain why the phenomenon is getting exposure now, I think its because the people using the phrase "post-truth" are claiming that little t truth is under attack, coupled with the fact that that's the sense of truth most people usually think of. Now, Trump's election, and the literally unprecedented amount of lies he told in getting elected (which seemed to spur all this), is merely another chapter in the long history of the dogmatic fixation of belief. Nonetheless, it still shocked many observers, including myself, that he could so consistently 1.) assert claims with literally zero warrant, and that 2.) presenting evidence to the contrary did nothing to sway people who'd accepted the original claims. Now, as you say, however, this sort of dogmatic fixation of belief is a cost of doing business human-wise, but--and this is *the* question here, I think--all this recent "post-truth" hype relies, at least implicitly, on the claim that people are *increasingly* fixating their beliefs in dogmatic ways. Whether that is true I have no idea, and don't know how you could even prove it, but I do think the current "post-truth" hype depends on such a claim. And though the phrase "post-truth" makes me roll my eyes a bit, I think this is an interesting question.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

You could be onto something there A.

I agree with much of what you say.

esp. the part about leaning heavily on the alleged "capital-T" sense of 'true.'

(I think we can blame James for that one...)

1:05 PM  

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