We live in strange and unsettling times. We have gone down the rabbit hole and find ourselves in a “post-truth,” “post-fact” abode. No doubt, our president, who lies as he breathes, is a major purveyor of this condition. But arguably it has deeper roots. What is truth and who establishes what is true of not, has always been subject to ambiguity. This is especially true of democracy in which there are the “truths” dispensed by experts and elites, on the one had, and the truths of ordinary individuals, on the other, and the two don’t always fit together so well. From the perspective of the grass roots, the truths dispensed by experts may seem remote, abstract to one’s lived experience, and as such may generate feelings of resentment. This may always have been the case. What is different about our current moment is that these differing perspective have become virulent leading to a dismissal of the foundational importance of truth, reason, and facts altogether.
This address probes into questions of how democracy leads to different versions of truth, the causes that have aggravated this division in our times and where we need to look to heal our society.