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Does truth matter? „Truth: Defenders, Debunkers, Despisers“ Cora Diamond.

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Presentation on theme: "Does truth matter? „Truth: Defenders, Debunkers, Despisers“ Cora Diamond."— Presentation transcript:

1 Does truth matter? „Truth: Defenders, Debunkers, Despisers“ Cora Diamond

2 Two sorts of view about the value of truth On the one hand: Heal and Rorty On the other hand: Geach, Orwell, Herbert, Levi, and others

3 Jane Heal Truth is never worth seeking in itself –Truth is not in itself a good –We always seek truth because of something else that we want We may want to avoid damnation or –pursue certain interesting lines of inquiry –But then the good they seek is that of finding out more about some particular interesting subject matter

4 Heal “The only kind of commitment that there is to truth is the commitment that anyone has when doing anything: one needs “to get into focus what one is about and to do what one sees to be demanded by it” That is as much required of a bank robber, who needs to find out where the sewer under the bank lies... as it is of academic inquirers”

5 Jane Heal „there is no goddess, Truth, of whom academics and researchers can regard themselves as priests or devotees...“ (198)

6 Rorty No “objective truth” –Truth as “independent of us” and demanding respect of us is a fiction We can cope with the world but not respect it –Debunks the idea of finding sense in life through commitment to truth –solidarity instead of objectivity

7 Rorty To be a liberal is –to think that cruelty, the infliction of pain and humiliation, is the worst thing we do –not to be committed to a morality in which respect for truth, love of truth, is central –not to tie ones moral views to suspect ideas, like that truth is independent of what we say and think Rorty thinks Orwell was a liberal in this sense

8 Rortys on Orwell „In his better moments, Orwell himself dropped the rhetoric of transparency of plain fact, and recognized that he was doing the same kind of thing as his opponents, the apologists for Stalin, were doing“

9 What does Orwell say? „The feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world is – and should be – frightening“ „Facts exist independently of us and are more or less discoverable“ „Some moral cases are not hard cases. It is possible to see the unspeakable wrongness of an act“

10 What does Orwell say? „There are objective historical truths. Historical facts are independent of what we say or believe happened in the past“ „Good prose is like a window pane. It places the truth in plain and open view“

11 What does Orwell say? „The protaginist of Nineteen Eighty-Four is the last human being in Europe – the sole remaining guardian of the human spirit. A liberal is someone who thinks that the human spirit will only survive as long as we think of truth as something to be discovered, and not as something we make up as we go along. The worst thing we can do is – not cruelty, but – to undermine someone’s capacity to think of truth in these terms“

12 What does Orwell say? „The really frightening thing about totalitarianism is not that it commits ‘atrocities’ but that it attaks the concept of objective truth: it claims to control the past as well as the future“

13 What does Orwell say? „Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was truth and untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.... [Winston] fell asleep murmuring “Sanity is not statistical”, with the feeling that this remark contained in it a profound wisdom”

14 Primo Levi Chemistry and physics as antidote to Fascism, to its pollution af the air of Italy by its stinking lies –truth could still survive –chemistry is important precicely because we need truth –Chemistry is an antidote to the poison of lies

15 Bearing withness to Truth The importance of our getting straight the numbers of the victims of inhuman pover and also with tha appallingness of the disappearance of their names

16 We need the truth We need that world of truth within which a lie is merely a lie, within which there are records, within which the reality of each of us is entrusted to the rest... There is then an imperative to resist those whose actions have in them a spirit of hatred of truth

17 We need the truth The anonymous authors of the Polish slogan, “We fight for Truth and Poland” are not writing about truth conceived simply as something that sentences or beliefs or propositons exemplify; they are calling on words to help them understand and respond to evil, to help them articulate the kind of evil they take their world, our world, to be threatended by. They call on the word “truth” in that context; they make sense of that context through seeing in totalitarianism a will to erase the past, seeing in it a hatred of truth

18 Diamond on Heal and Rorty „What truth is is to be explained first, and entirely independently of the actual thought of people who might seem to be placing a high value on truth itself. That is, her method expresses a rejection of the idea that you might come to awareness of what truth is in part through entering into the thought of people like Levi, finding an antidote to Fascist truth in chemistry...“


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