What Does Post-Truth Mean for the Philosopher?

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What Does Post-Truth Mean for the Philosopher?

Postby Gaia Cassia Longina » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:30 am

A very interesting article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-38557838

What are your thoughts?
Gaia Cassia Longina

Re: What Does Post-Truth Mean for the Philosopher?

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Jan 13, 2017 1:24 pm

Salvete philosophi!

This topic that you brought up, Cassia Longina, is a very good question that has become of great importance these days.

Aristotle has described three modes of persuasion:
1. Logos - reason and logic
2. Pathos - appeal to emotions
3. Ethos - arguing with one's own virtue and the opponents apparent wickedness

Among these three modes of persuasion only the logos should be acceptable for a philosopher. The others are not valid arguments. Pathos is apparently what the author of above mentioned article means with post-truth, but in fact it is both, pathos and ethos.

What is very peculiar is that especially those people who have been responsible for switching the mode of reasoning from logos to the other two during the recent decades are now those who complain about it and accuse their opponents who try to bring common sense and reason back into the discussion of being "post truth". This is a very awkward situation.

Since the end of the 60s of the last century we have this development that liberals (leftists) have used pathos and ethos as their only arguments, first as opposition and then then when they became the establishment themselves, pathos and ethos became the only argument in politics.

An example is the immigrant crisis of 2015 in Europe, which was also mentioned in the article. The arguments of the leftist European governments was basically a photo of a drowned young boy to appeal to emotions (pathos), not the more realistic analysis of the social and economic effects of 80% single male uneducated immigrants in military age. These more realistic pictures of the real composition of the migrant wave were avoided by the press and the government.
The other argument was the appeal to one's own virtue, the " European values", our compassion as opposed to the wickedness of the "populists" (actually a latinized translation of the Greek "democrat") who were depicted as evil Nazis. This is a perfect example for ethos used as a mode of persuasion.
Ethos and pathos as argument are a typical sign of post-modernism, since logos was the basic principle of modernism, i.e. the Age of Enlightenment, aka the Age of Reason.

It is indeed very important that logos, not pathos and ethos, becomes again the sole mode of persuasion. We do not need to accept appeals to compassion or our proclaimed superior virtues as valid arguments.
And maybe the rise of politicians like Donald Trump can help to bring reason and common sense back into a post-modern world ruled by madness and insanity.
At last there is hope again to overcome the "age of post-truth" that has lasted for more than 40 years now.

Di vos ament, amici!
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Re: What Does Post-Truth Mean for the Philosopher?

Postby Publius Sextius Laevus » Mon Jan 16, 2017 12:22 am


How are you going to teach people to think logically when they hold a mistrust of science and logic? How do you teach them to discern the truth amongst a flood of lies that appeal to their predisposed concepts? "What is truth?"*

Two other articles pertinent to this conversation:

(1) Misinformation: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/27/magazine/the-problem-with-self-investigation-in-a-post-truth-era.html?_r=0

(2) Mistrust: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/magazine/faith-certainty-and-the-presidency-of-george-w-bush.html

* Roman Prefect of Judaea

'Fiat Lux! Fiat Vita!'
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Re: What Does Post-Truth Mean for the Philosopher?

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:47 am

Self- investigation is actually a very important principle of philosophy. Or as Epicurus said it:
"Nothing should be believed, except that which has been tested by direct observation and logical deduction."
The first article uses a cherry-picked example as a teleological argument to discredit this principle: If we keep self-investigating, we will eventually drive with a car full of weapons to a pizzeria to free some non-existing children in the basement.
This makes the article a proponent of the logical fallacy called Argumentum ad Verecundiam (appeal to authority).
Trusted authority is indeed valuable to transfer huge amounts of knowledge especially to following generations in an advanced civilization. But everything that has been learned this way needs later to be questioned and verified by self-investigation.
Relying exclusively on authority for truth will lead to a standstill and to stagnation. And to use a teleological argument, it can lead to totalitarian systems like the Soviet Union, where the official truth (Правда = pravda = truth) was published as a newspaper with this name, or it can lead to a new medieval scholasticism, where everything that was legally to be known could be found either in the bible or the books of Aristotle and any other truth was heresy.
Maybe this is the kind of truth the neologism "post-truth" refers to, but they should more properly have called it "heresy".
The Internet has indeed brought us a "post-pravda" era, the end of state-sanctioned truth.
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