Dewey Lecture Examines the Trouble of Truth in Politics

This year’s Dewey Lecture in Law and Philosophy was held on Wednesday, February 27, and featured Steven Lukes, Professor of Sociology at New York University. His talk, “Power, Truth, and Politics,” addressed two suggestions of philosopher Hannah Arendt. First, that it is ‘in the very essence of truth to be impotent and in the very essence of power to be deceitful’ and second, that ‘truth and politics are on very bad terms with each other.’  

“Unlike the other fields considered—science, journalism, the law, and public administration—in politics we can’t, or perhaps we can no longer, assume a consensus in which people mutually identifying with one another can agree about what game they’re participating in is, where the boundaries of politics lie, and what norms should govern its practices,” Lukes said during the lecture. “We may also conclude that trouble, maybe very serious trouble, is in store for truth, when, to use Chantal Mouffe’s distinction, this agonism morphs into antagonism.”  

A full video of the lecture can be viewed above.