The notion of ‘Post-truth Politics’ and of the ‘Post-Factual’ are notoriously blurry. In this article, I distinguish the concepts of lies, bullshit, and propaganda. I argue that the post-factual displays elements of all three concepts, so that it can be either understood to be in continuity with using lies and bullshit as means of political discourse; or to discontinue the basic commitments of democracy by attacking the epistemic foundations. In a second step, I argue that the common orientation towards the ideal of public reason cannot be abandoned at will, so that any Post-truth Politics is bound to fail in the end. I defend a concept of deliberative democracy which has a robust understanding of the rationality of democratic deliberation. At the same time, I argue against the assumption that the solution to ‘post-factualism’ is a return to a fictitious ‘Age of Facts’ since there are not facts without interpretation.
Fake news and conspiracy theories are current problems that are increasingly influencing political and social processes. In particular, whether and how legal action should be taken against them, for example, on internet platforms and social networks, is a matter of current debate. Philosophers already discussed the legal relevance of truthfulness at the Enlightenment, where the basis of modern legal systems was drafted. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant, for example, argued for an unconditional duty of truthfulness, which is why he has been accused of a rigorous view even today. I will present a less rigorous interpretation, in which lies are always ethically reprehensible but can only be prosecuted if they violate an external legal good. That means, based on Kant’s Philosophy, fake news cannot be forbidden in general. However, fake news that inevitably leads to legal damage must be prosecuted, such as inciting violence or giving bad medical advice.
The essay addresses contemporary trends in modern democracy, especially focusing on the transformation of the public sphere. It seeks to answer the following question: how can we strengthen ideologically diverse spaces of public discourse today in light of the social trends toward homophily and echo chambers? Specifically, it addresses the way in which modern political discourse has been transformed by social media and broader social and economic trends. Furthermore, it raises questions about the future challenges of discourse ethics and ideal conceptions of overlapping consensus in our contemporary context of pluralism. The role of the media in this broad public sphere is also addressed. An ideal-type conception of the wisdom tradition, one which can strengthen the channels of communication, is offered as a response to these trends. It is a pattern of thought capable of embracing the ambiguity.
The non-scientific questioning of scientific research during the COVID-19 pandemic, the unwillingness of a president of the United States of America to accept the result of a democratically held election: just in recent times, there have been quite a few striking examples of long-held certainties appearing as nothing more than just illusions. This essay reflects on the severe consequences of the loss of such certainties in the spheres of democratic politics on the one hand and of science, especially for highly differentiated societies, on the other hand as well as on their interdependencies. Furthermore, the author tries to make the case that this disillusionment could prove to be a salutary shock – reminding us that we need to take a stand for the things we hold as certainties, oftentimes even as calming ones, if we want them to stay how we always thought they were.
The question of verity in our day’s discourses within society, culture and religion challenges philosophy in the face of fake news, manipulations and the virtual. This paper addresses, via an exploration of the later philosophy of F.W.J. Schelling and the Gospel of Mark, whether the illusionary of history ought to be recognised as a form of truth. In his “Positive Philosophy”, Schelling claims that history is characterised by a loss of meaning that cannot be compensated for by philosophy, morality and sciences, and which is caused by a thinking-mode of “presentness”, that knows no true past and future. As a contrast, he proposes the “illusion” of eschatological-utopian thinking, as paradigmatically laid down in the biblical idea of kenosis. The Gospel of Mark also refers to the traumatic character of history, and in its final chapter imparts the notion of a possible counter-history.
For a long time, factual truth was a prerequisite for Holocaust literature. Thus, autobiographical texts were strongly preferred over fiction. From the 1980s onward, however, the boundaries between ‘fabricated’ and ‘true’ turn out to be blurred, though scandals still arise when something that was thought to be true turns out to be fabricated or non-autobiographical. For theologians who are looking for answers to the theodicy question in Holocaust literature, such as Elie Wiesel’s novella Night, the question of factuality is of less importance. What they must never lose sight of, however, is that ambiguity is an important property of literary texts, and that they do not do justice to such texts by ignoring that ambiguity. In general, theologians and philosophers searching for lessons for humanity should be wary of using the Holocaust and its literature for their own ends.
The essay compares August Dorner’s and Wilhelm Herrmann’s usage of the concept of truth. Truth is connected to individuality and collective consciousness. Describing the differences in terms of theological history leads to the question which function the respective usage fulfils and how the perception of theology changes accordingly. Wilhelm Hermann’s theology is thus characterized as an attempt to use the concept of truth to advance a constitutive-reflexive modernization of theology.
This paper proposes a theoretical means of dealing with different perspectives on truth that cannot be resolved into a unified single perspective. Through the development of a dialectical understanding of truth, knowledge and justification, the three can be differentiated into a multitude of interrelations. The focus of this development will be on understanding truth via its relationship to knowledge. Both truth and knowledge will thereby be conceived of as dynamic and revisable. Truth could then be regarded as an accordance of knowledge, which provides the possibility of relating different perspectives on truth via the relationship of their contents of knowledge and their procedures of justification. These relativisations should not give rise to relativism or skepticism but build upon existing structures of reasoning and justification.
This article deals with Bonhoeffer’s ethics as an example for a so-called Christian utilitarianism. Within this framework, which is a consequence of a specific Christian understanding of reality and of a specific view on human existence, we can face ambiguities of life including moral ambivalences of truth and lies depending on different concrete situations. One of the main theological preconditions for doing so is the trust in God’s reconciliation of our God-less world in Christ. This conviction leads us to overtake moral responsibility including risks of becoming guilty in a tension between doubts and truthfulness.
Christianity has been instrumental in fashioning the contemporary Western paradigm of humanitarian aid and development. However, as a secular agenda increasingly defines this space, the question of what difference a religious cosmology makes to Christian faith-based development organisations (FBDO s) becomes significant. While faith convictions initiated early humanitarian efforts, Christian FBDO s have arguably acquiesced to secular pragmatic rationales for their work, rather than allow theology to have explanatory and regulatory influence. In many ways, therefore, FBDO s are devoid of the influence of “faith”, or more specifically, the influence of a robust theological foundation. To address this deficit, a critique of the philosophical moorings of Western international development is mounted, with consideration given to nascent trajectories of an alternate Christian rationale and praxis. In particular, the paper argues that the ontological foundation for the dynamics of human well-being is divine well-being. Employing a Trinitarian relational ontology, the dynamic characteristic inherent to the actualisation of divine well-being is identified as a triune kenosis (self-giving). Such an ontology of divine well-being provides the context to articulate principles for actualising human well-being as a reiteration of the divine archetype. From such a perspective, the Trinitarian doctrine of God provides the pivotal foundation for a Christian cosmology necessary to articulate an alternative paradigm for sustainable development.