In 1967 Arendt published an article on ‘Truth and Politics’ in the New Yorker in response to historical exigencies that resonate with those presented today by a so-called ‘post-truth society’.
While acknowledging the inevitable implication and interminable contest between truth and politics, Arendt attempts to make the case for a rigorous separation of truth-telling from political praxis, which is nonetheless supposed to operate within the framework afforded by factual and scientific truth. Today, given the intensifying political, and especially bio-political, consequence of the sciences, it is no longer clear that such a distinction is tenable. Since Arendt wrote, the involvement of politics and epistemology, of power and knowledge, has undergone an intensive interdisciplinary investigation that has transformed the university, in particular the humanities. Interrogating this entanglement of truth and politics, the conference will ask whether academic discourse ought to be held responsible for the current ‘post-truth’ on account of the relativism it is alleged to propagate. Or is this placing of blame itself symptomatic of the problem inasmuch as it fuels the widespread disaffection with established institutions – especially those traditionally expected to speak the truth?
As alarm is raised about the attrition of factual truth and the preponderance of ‘lying in politics’, to cite another essay of Arendt’s, the theoretical and historical precedents for such tendencies as well as the significance of the cultural and technical changes in the dissemination of news brought about by social media needs to be considered. And beyond the university and the media, rational-scientific and factual truth, it is important not to neglect the implications for truth and politics of the peculiar kind of truth-telling Arendt attributed to poetry.
Keynote lecture: Susannah Gottlieb
Samantha Rose Hill
Pietro Daniel Omodeo
An ICI Berlin event, organized by Benjamin Lewis Robinson, in collaboration with Bard College Berlin and the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College in New York
13:30 Catherine Toal: Welcoming Remarks
Benjamin Lewis Robinson: Introduction
13:45 Panel I: Departures (After the Fact)
Samantha Rose Hill: Departures from Truth
Jeffrey Champlin: On the Use and Abuse of Facts for Living
14:45 Coffee break
15:15 Panel II: Home Truths
Benjamin Lewis Robinson: The Appearance of Poverty
Nitzan Lebovic: Arendt and the Problem of Self-Prophecy
Arnd Wedemeyer: Pestzeit: Ernst Bloch in and out of and about… Time
16:45 Coffee break
17:15 Panel III: Post-Truth?
Pietro Daniel Omodeo: Structure, Subject, and Referent: Perspectives in Political Epistemology
Jan Völker: Politics, Truth, and Ideology
Julie Gaillard: Myth and the Republic
18:45 Christian Volk: Concluding Remarks
Susannah Gottlieb: Poetry – Report: On Arendt’s Peculiarities of Tone
The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.
For safety reasons, venue doors will be closed when capacity limits are reached.