Political truth, epistemological challenges of populism and post-truth

Kerem, Özcan
This thesis explores the place of truth in our contemporary public discourse and the epistemological challenges it faces. It takes a look at the perceived distortion of factual reality in the form of increased lies and untruths through the contribution of the nearly all-encompassing concept of “post-truth”. The thesis highlights the central role played by the Internet and new communication mediums in the development of the post-truth condition and emphasizes the novelty they bring about. I use the works of Arendt, Rawls, and many epistemic deliberative democrats for a better understanding of the relationship between truth, public space, public reason, and democracy. The thesis focuses on questioning the conceptual power of post-truth, its meaning, and its relevance in solving the alleged epistemological crisis of contemporary political discourse. To this end, I take a closer look at the epistemological claims of populist leaders and ordinary citizens, their outlook toward science, truth, and politics, and try to understand why they are accused by many of aggravating the post-truth condition. The thesis shows the epistemic vices in current political discourse, investigates the possible corrective measures, and ultimately emphasizes the moral and political dimension of the post-truth condition. Despite the difficulty of designing a clean epistemological environment, it will be possible to construct a public space based on mutual respect and understanding, tolerance, and even consensus.


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In this thesis I tried to to analyze Adorno’s conception of autonomous art through his conception of “truth content”. Within the aesthetic debates in the Frankfurt School, Adorno uses the conception of “autonomy in art/autonomous work of art” as opposed to “politically committed art”, which is defended by Benjamin and Brecht. However, while his understanding of autonomous work of art seems to defend the elitist understanding of art, this study aims to show that Adorno’s conception of “autonomy” or “truth co...
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Citation Formats
Ö. Kerem, “Political truth, epistemological challenges of populism and post-truth,” M.A. - Master of Arts, Middle East Technical University, 2023.