Seminar Year 2019-2020

Truth and Knowledge II

Some of the most fundamental questions human beings have asked themselves involve the nature of truth and knowledge. What do we know about the world we live in and ourselves, and how do we know what we (believe we) know? Is there such a thing as truth, or is all knowledge relative, historical, perspectival – even ideological? Are there limits to knowledge, things we simply cannot know, as Kant argued, or can our knowledge expand indefinitely? When we talk about truth, are we talking about the correspondence of our knowledge to objects in the world? What do Heidegger, Lacan, and Badiou (e.g.) mean when they distinguish truth and knowledge? How is truth as a juridical concept (“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”) different from other accounts of truth, such as those used in mathematics, logic, and science? Does truth function in politics (other than through the perception of its absence)? What are the roles of truth and knowledge in the humanities, in terms of both research and pedagogy? How does truth function in the contexts of rhetoric and pragmatism? Does gender have a relationship to truth and knowledge? How do race and class inflect the status and function of truth and knowledge? How do the concepts of data, information, algorithms, and the digital revolution reorient our senses of truth and knowledge? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this year’s ECT core seminar, through readings of thinkers such as Gorgias, Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Spinoza, Donna Haraway, Kant, Hegel, Wittgenstein, Bourdieu, Foucault, Lacan, Bruno Latour, Paul Feyerabend, Barbara Cassin, and Alain Badiou.

Visitors to the seminar this year will include Katherine Hayles, John McCumber, John Carriero, John H. Smith, Gisèle Sapiro, Aaron James, Jacques Lezra, Zrinka Stahuljak and Giulia Sissa, Michael Rothberg, Josh Armstrong, Anahid Nersessian, Davide Panagia, Steve Mailloux, Catherine Malabou, Justin Clemens and Adam Bartlett, and Alain Badiou.