On Truth and PowerI’m grading papers for a new seminar I taught this past semester on Truth and Politics. It was one of the most exciting courses I’ve taught in a few years, with simply fantastic students who brought incredible passion and curiosity to perhaps the burning question of our moment. Structured around a close reading of Friedrich Nietzsche’s short but brilliant “How The True World Became a Fable," the students came to understand what Nietzsche means when he says that “truth is a lie,” or “truth is a woman,” or “truth is a fable.” Plato invented truth because of a distrust of opinion. Confronted with the trial and death of Socrates, Plato was convinced that political opinion in a democracy was dangerous, unstable, and irrational. What was needed was training of the best, those able to see beyond the shadows and deceptions of the human world, those who could step out of the cave of human affairs and focus their attention on the supersensual truths of the ideas. These philosophers claimed to know the rational truth, and from this they claimed the right to rule as philosopher kings. The question of the course became simply: If truth is a lie, is it a lie we should cherish and protect?
The Stranglehold of RelevanceRoger Berkowitz
Robert Boyers interviews Jed Perl about the place of freedom and authority in art.
Making the Empire More ColorfulRoger Berkowitz
In Harpers last week, Christopher Beah talks to Patrick J. Deneen, Francis Fukuyama, Deirdre Nansen McClosky, and Cornell West about Liberalism and whether it is worth saving.
Doubters and SkepticsRoger Berkowitz
Sebastian Veg, who writes about China, has published his introduction to the Thai translation of Hannah Arendt’s “Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship.”
The Attack on Academic ThinkingRoger Berkowitz
Len Gutkin tells of the egregious abrogation of academic freedom and intellectual integrity at Hamline University, where a art-history professor was fired for teaching about a medieval image of the prophet Muhammad.
All Academic Thinking is ConservativeRoger Berkowitz
Jordi Graupera met Richard Bernstein when Graupera was a Ph.D. student at the New School in 2008. Last year, Graupera asked Bernstein to audit his final seminar on Hannah Arendt. Graupera’s account of that final class and his tribute to his teacher are well worth reading. So too is his retelling of Bernstein’s story of how he first met Arendt.
The Twitter FilesRoger Berkowitz
Since Elon Musk bought Twitter and started dismantling the company’s bureaucratic infrastructure, he has also begun a process of coming clean about Twitter’s highly idiosyncratic way of censoring posts and contributors. Instead of releasing the files at once, Musk is letting them out in parts and has tasked the journalists Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss and others with writing about the files on Twitter itself.
Is Antisemitism a Virus?Roger Berkowitz
David Marchese interviews Tom Stoppard about the rising virus of antisemitism.
Antisemitism and White SupremacyMichael Eric Dyson has a courageous op-ed in which he moves on from acknowledging both Jewish racism and black antisemitism to recognizing “antisemitism as a toxic species of the white supremacy that threatens Black security and democracy’s future.”
A Simple Tale that Undid a Totalitarian SystemRoger Berkowitz
Robin Ashenden writes about the seismic significance of the appearance of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s first novel, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, which appeared Sixty years ago last week.