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NEWS ROUNDUP 25 Dec 2017

A philosophical take on political falsehoods

Christine Tragler recommended by Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria

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

Austria Aha moments

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".

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