PHL217H1 Lecture Notes - Intellectual, Thought Experiment

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Published on 17 Nov 2011
Lecture 18: November 16th, 2011 (PHL217H1)
1. Ordinary testimony and extraordinary events
2. The banality of lies? Hannah Arendt in Public
-She is a Jew. She was from early on a public intellectual and was both
widely read and widely attacked. The attack characterised of her
being a self hating Jew. Arendt responded to these controversies using
two texts.
-Arendt says in “truth and politics” modern political lies deals with
things that are not secret but open to all.
3. Impotent truth vs. deceitful power: a thought experiment
-The complete substitution of lie for modern reality becomes plausible.
-The decisive condition does not exist; this would be a power
-Factual truth becomes more malleable to distortion through lying and
other means.
-Organized lying was never suspected as being an adequate threat to
actual truth.
-Superstition was more feared.
-Traditional lies concerned particulars and were never meant to
deceive everyone; only intended for specific circumstances and to
people who knew they were lying.
4. The vulnerability of factual truth
-The two kinds of factual truth; historical truth and rational truth
-Arendt lists four reasons which are Truth discovered by the mind
(rational truth), second reason is there is not reason a particular
human event happens the way it does, the third reason is factual truth
established through testimony can involve testimony that is not purely
true and finally, factual truth makes a person seem to have political
interest even though he does not intend to. It raises concerns
regarding someone being represented in a manner he did not
-Factual truth is much less open to argument than other truths.
5. The relationship between facts and opinions
-The fact in question presents itself beyond any dispute.
-The quality of an opinion depends on the extent on which it is
informed by relevant facts. Which facts are relevant?
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