Truth, Deception, & Self-Deception in Politics, Philosophy, & the Media

New School for Social Research: Politics

Liberal Arts

Graduate Course

Degree Students (with Restrictions)


Fall 2019

Taught By: James E Miller

Section: A

CRN: 7285

Credits: 3

In recent years the meaning of truth, and the value of truth-telling, have both come into question. Large numbers of Americans express skepticism about the reliability of reporters and journalists. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens everywhere are bombarded daily with misleading claims made by various authorities. So what exactly is the meaning of truth in our own information-rich yet often confounding age of networked global media? And what, if any, virtue is there in continuing to aspire to “truthfulness” in word and deed? This seminar will explore these questions by reading a variety of classic texts; by examining some of the literature on the psychology of how human beings process information; by analyzing some recent philosophical responses to the questions; and by looking at recent attempts by investigative reporters to unveil the truth about various American policies. Readings include: Hannah Arendt’s essays on truth and lying in politics; Sophocles' Oedipus Rex; Plato’s Republic with special reference to the idea of a noble lie and the myth of the cave; Augustine on lying; Machiavelli, The Prince; Nietzsche’s thoughts on truth, as expressed in selections from his notebooks of the early 1870s; Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion;Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow; Edward Bernays, Propaganda; Richard Rorty, What’s the Use of Truth; Bernard Williams: Truth and Truthfulness; Jonathan Schell, The Time of Illusion,an Arendtian analysis of Richard Nixon’s Presidency; Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden; and Seymour Hersh on the death of Bin-Laden and the subsequent controversy over the truthfulness of Hersh’s account.

College: New School for Social Research (GF)

Department: Politics (GPOL)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 7

Add/Drop Deadline: September 9, 2019 (Monday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: November 17, 2019 (Sunday)

Seats Available: Yes

Status: Closed*

*Status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 11:17pm 2/28/2020 EST

Meeting Info:

Days: Monday

Times: 1:55pm - 3:45pm

Building: 6 East 16th Street

Room: 913

Date Range: 8/26/2019 - 12/16/2019