Alternative truths, when subjective experience counts more than evidence: episode • 8/9 of the podcast Les Mots de la République

Alternative truths, when subjective experience counts more than evidence: episode • 8/9 of the podcast Les Mots de la République
Alternative truths, when subjective experience counts more than evidence: episode • 8/9 of the podcast Les Mots de la République

In the podcast “ The words of the Republic“, specialists in political science return to the essential terms of public debate to better understand current events. Gloria Origgi, philosopher at the Jean Nicod Institute, analyzes how the concept of “truth” has become a major political issue.

A paradoxical term

Alternative truth is “a paradoxical term” introduces the philosopher. “Because a truth, if it is alternative, it is not a truth.” However, she believes that this concept began to circulate around twenty years ago.

In 2005, the American philosopher Harry Frankfurt published The art of saying stupid things to theoretically deal with “alternative truths”, which “would be rubbish (from English “bullshit”) which are not completely false, because they are said by people who do not know the truth”reports Gloria Origgi.

France Culture goes further (the Morning Guest) Listen later

Lecture listen 35 min

In 2016, in the context of the election of Donald Trump in the United States and Brexit, the Oxford English Dictionary chose “post-truth”, very close to “alternative truth”, as its word of the year. The “post-truth”, “it is when facts are considered on the basis of subjective, emotional experience, rather than on the basis of evidence”specifies the philosopher.

Negotiating between truth and justice

And in politics, the question of truth, and who holds it, is central: “There is no useful truth in politics if it does not meet the feelings of voters.” However, feelings are far from always matching reality: “the theories (economic, sociological, scientific) which help us understand the world are very complex, and very often are not felt”according to Gloria Origgi.

The Morning Guest Listen later

Lecture listen 17 min

She takes the example of Italy, where economists assure that the economic context has improved, while consumers notice a sharp increase in prices on a daily basis. “A policy must therefore negotiate between these two notions, between the true and the just” she summarizes.

The illusion of empowerment

She goes on to explain that “certain political parties and certain forms of contemporary populism have adopted these truths, that is to say what people feel, rather than what is really happening, to make their political campaign.”

Grain to grind Listen later

Lecture listen 40 min

She analyzes:“What the demagoguery of right-wing populism has succeeded in doing is intercepting this kind of gap between official truth and felt truth.” Because according to her, this method gives people the impression “that their mental and perceptual faculties work”thus creating a sort of“empowerment through this acceptance of an alternative truth.”

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