Living in the Truth

“We all know, we do something not because it’s effective, or because it’ll succeed. It’s because we can’t give up on any front.”

A Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrator, June 2020

In this, the final section of our seminar, I will ask you to draw some personal conclusions about how you, I, or any other citizen should “live within the truth.”  As always, I am thinking about “truth” in all of its bountiful manifestations.  In terms of citizenship, I am thinking especially of how we are obliged to act in both a flourishing liberal democracy and any other human community.

24. Wednesday, October 28. 

No Class

25.  Monday, November 2:  Power of the Powerless I

What does it mean to live in a lie?  The first half of this magnificent essay focuses on what it meant to live in a lie under the sclerotic authoritarian regimes of late communism. In the last few pages, Havel suggests that we may be doing the same thing in advanced democracies.

Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless” PRINT AND READ, Parts I-VI, and XX-XXII

November 3, 2020:  ELECTION DAY

What will happen? What comes afterward?

The Media giants are already thinking about Truth and Politics

Mike Isaac and Sheera Frenkel, “Facebook Braces Itself for Trump to Cast Doubt on Election Results,” New York Times, August 21, 2020  READ

26. Wednesday, November 4:

Discussion:  Truth and Politics in the American presidential election

We take a deep breath and discuss what has transpired

27.   Monday, November 9: Power of the Powerless II

The second half of Havel’s essay challenges us to live within the truth.  What does it mean to live within the truth? Why is it difficult to do so? Under what circumstances might we nevertheless be compelled to live within the truth?

Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless” PRINT AND READ, Parts VII-XXII.

28. Wednesday, November 11:  Restoring Americans’ Trust Democracy

Or, Truth and Politics: Fact or Fiction?

Today, we’ll focus on the “big picture” about Truth and Politics.  I have chosen these readings because they challenge us to think about what we should do to revitalize democracy in America.  More importantly, they provide insight into how we should understand our responsibility to look after the welfare our fellow human beings.

Sophia Rosenfeld, Democracy and Truth, pp. 158-176.

Albert Camus, “The Plague” (two paragraphs) READ AND PRINT

Peter Wehner, “What Pete Buttigieg Understood,” The Atlantic, March 2, 2020 PRINT AND READ

NPR: Interview with Yuri Levin on A Time to BuildLISTEN, READ, AND TAKE NOTES

“Sam Illing, “Intellectuals are wrong about the end to democracy,”  PRINT AND READ

NOTE: This article starts out on a very pessimistic note, but by the end the author returns to John Dewey and finds hope!

Emily Scott, “Start looking and you’ll see roads all over the Bible” PRINT AND READ


Your Final Essay Assignment is HERE