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A Farewell to Truth

A Farewell to Truth

Translated by WILLIAM McCUAIG
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    A Farewell to Truth
    Book Description:

    With Western cultures becoming more pluralistic, the question of "truth" in politics has become a game of interpretations. Today, we face the demise of the very idea of truth as an objective description of facts, though many have yet to acknowledge that this is changing.

    Gianni Vattimo explicitly engages with the important consequences for democracy of our changing conception of politics and truth, such as a growing reluctance to ground politics in science, economics, and technology. Yet in Vattimo's conception, a farewell to truth can benefit democracy, exposing the unspoken issues that underlie all objective claims. The end of absolute truth challenges the legitimacy of policies based on perceived objective necessities-protecting the free market, for example, even if it devastates certain groups or classes. Vattimo calls for a truth that is constructed with consensus and a respect for the liberty of all. By taking into account the cultural paradigms of others, a more "truthful" society-freer and more democratic-becomes possible.

    In this book, Vattimo continues his reinterpretation of Christianity as a religion of charity and hope, freeing society from authoritarian, metaphysical dogmatism. He also extends Nietzsche's "death of God" to the death of an authoritarian God, ushering in a new, postreligious Christianity. He connects the thought of Martin Heidegger, Karl Marx, and Karl Popper with surprising results and accommodates modern science more than in his previous work, reconciling its validity with an insistence that knowledge is interpretive. Vattimo's philosophy justifies Western nihilism in its capacity to dispense with absolute truths. Ranging over politics, ethics, religion, and the history of philosophy, his reflections contribute deeply to a modern reconception of God, metaphysics, and the purpose of reality.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52755-2
    Subjects: Philosophy, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xxiv)
    Robert T. Valgenti

    Gianni Vattimo is one of those rare thinkers in whom thought and action suffer little separation. From his early political activism to his two terms as a member of the European Parliament, he has transformed nihilism into a vocation on behalf of the causes of democracy, cultural pluralism, and human solidarity. For philosophers and politicians alike, however, the title Farewell to Truth risks sounding more like a punch line than a manifesto for political liberation. While the fear might be that such a pronouncement could be mistaken for the expediency of political lies, the more disturbing reality is that all...

    (pp. xxv-xxxviii)

    A Farewell to Truth: I have chosen this paradoxical title because it conveys something important about theoretical and philosophical aspects of our culture now, and also about everyday experience. As far as the latter goes, it is increasingly clear to all and sundry that “the media lie” and that everything is turning into a game of interpretations—not disinterested, not necessarily false, but (and this is the point) oriented toward projects, expectations, and value choices at odds with one another. The culture of countries in the West is becoming, as a matter of fact, though often not in law, more...

    (pp. 1-46)

    Karl Popper’s ideas about the open society and its enemies, first published in a famous book in 1945, have become commonplace. But their extreme consequences are not always thought through. According to Popper, the enemies of the open society are all those theorists, starting with the philosophers in Plato’s Republic who have emerged from the cave in which ordinary people dwell and have contemplated directly the eternal ideas of things (the truth of Being, not just its shadows). These Platonic philosophers have the right and the duty to go back down into the world and lead their fellows, or compel...

    (pp. 47-88)

    What Heidegger said in his throwaway remark to Der Spiegel was “nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten,” which is usually rendered in English as “only a God can still save us.” To adapt it to read “nur noch ein relativistischer Gott kann uns retten,” as my subtitle suggests, is more than just a provocative piece of wordplay. Heidegger himself might not have disowned it, had he lived to see the damage being done in our time by religious fundamentalism, real or phony (for I don’t in the least suppose that Bush and his cronies are true believers). To make...

    (pp. 89-140)

    Anyone with questions about ethics on their mind, all those in quest of ethics, share a common hope: the expectation that ethics will yield binding principles.¹ The question spontaneously takes the form: “What (ought we) to do?” The word “duty” turns up more often than any other in discussions of ethics, and most people think it would be a meaningless word if it did not depend on some principle from which the answer “follows,” like a logical consequence from logical premises. So failure to comply would be tantamount to rebelling against reason—against practical reason, that is, but the distinction...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 141-142)
    (pp. 143-148)