A philosophical take on political falsehoods

Is it only today that political talk consists entirely of gibberish, or has politics always been such a hogwash factory?

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
A philosophical take on political falsehoods - NewsMavens

Why this story matters:

Is it only today that political talk consists entirely of gibberish, or has politics always been such a hogwash factory?

Der Standard editor Lisa Nimmervoll brought the matter to German philosopher Ekkehard Martens, and discussed why our media reality seduces us all with its irresistible nonsense.

And this is a crucial question, because not only will there be an increase in such rubbish content brought on by new technologies,  but it will also reach more and more people.

"I see in school -- but also in university, more and more often -- the sentence equivalent of a shoulder shrug:'Oh, everyone has to find out for themselves'," says Martens.

"In this I see skepticism as a default attitude, which I think is very dangerous: nothing matters, because nothing is proven anyway."

In that sense, Martens also sees a connection between talking about the post-truth era and what he calls "political bullsh*t". In his eyes, the latter stems from an attitude based in indifferent ignorance that can be summed up as: we know nothing, hence everything is relative.

As a remedy, Martens suggests rediscovering Socrates as a voice for reason in these post-truth times, as well as an earlier introduction to philosophy in our education system. 

"Children have to realize that we respect them and that we do want to find out to what they have to say, and what they mean by it. And this is the great opportunity offered to us by philosophy: saying yes, we have the time to do so."

Details from the story:

  • Ekkehard Martens (74) studied philosophy, Greek, Latin and education in Tübingen and Hamburg.
  • From 1978 to 2009, he taught didactics of philosophy and ancient languages at the University of Hamburg
  • From 2009 to 2014, he was a teacher of philosophy at a Hamburg high school. In 2015, he published "Stingfly Socrates: Why good philosophy has to hurt".
inbox_large_illu Created with Sketch.
Tired of the news media’s prevailing male perspective? We are too.

Get our newsletters composed exclusively by female journalists from all over Europe.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy