Post-truth politics, fake news, filter bubbles, echo chambers, alternative facts: they are the buzzwords that characterise current discourses of truth, power and the role of social media in news production and consumption. The genuine worry is that large groups of people are turning more and more resentful towards calls for objectivity and fact-based argumentation in politics – appeals to what is right are being replaced by appeals to what feels right. A statement becomes true if and when it feels true.
This talk takes a step back and reflects on the notions of truth and objectivity in the history of ideas and philosophy. The session seeks to demonstrate that 'truth' has always been a highly contested concept. Moreover, it aims to encourage a critical attitude towards statements that the world has entered a post-truth vacuum that is fundamentally different to an imaginary golden age of truth before the internet. A critical attitude is one that acknowledges recent changes in discourses of truth but remembers that a pre-digital age of truth-loving politics never existed.
Together, we'll be discussing the following questions against the backdrop of some influential ideas in philosophy:
1. What is truth? What is knowledge? What is objectivity?
2. Is truth relative to a subjective point of view? What are the problems of construing truth as objective in kind? What are the issues to say it's not?
3. How can arguments about truth help us make sense of what's going on globally today?
Juljan Krause is a philosopher and sociologist at the University of Southampton and the Editor-in-Chief of the journal "Evental Aesthetics". He has published on social ontology, critical theory and labour relations in the digital age.