The terms “fake news” and “alternate facts” entered our common vocabulary during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. More recently, Rudy Giuliani countered the suggestion by NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd that Trump had nothing to worry about if he told the truth to Mueller. “It’s somebody’s version of truth. Not the truth,” replied Giuliani. When Todd responded, “Truth is truth,” Giuliani answered, “Truth isn’t truth.”
Giuliani’s kind of blatant denial provides ample evidence that the concept of truth is under attack. How did this come to pass? I suggest that it is the culmination of a process that began with post-modernism’s attack on the truth claims of modernity. Jean-François Lyotard, the French philosopher and literary theorist, was the first to name our era as post-modern. He described it as the mistrust of the grand narratives — progress, enlightenment, emancipation, Marxism — that had shaped modernity.
These master narratives purported to explain everything. For example, Marxism claimed that revolution was inevitable — until the Berlin wall fell. Instead, Lyotard argues for a multiplicity of theoretical standpoints — not common ground but rather, multiple points of view. This is close to the Giuliani quote mentioned earlier — each version or standpoint can only be a partial version of the truth.
However, the intelligentsia, who bought into this philosophical program, cry foul when conservative politicians employ the same approach to undermine liberal interpretations. When a conservative claims that truth isn’t truth, progressives enact some kind of moral outrage. Not an outcome they anticipated when they began practicing their methodology of suspicion and doubt — their own methods adopted to serve a conservative, possibly regressive, agenda.
In the foregoing, I’ve telescoped the beginnings and endings of a process that has been playing out over the past 50 years. The radical undermining of meaning practiced in philosophy departments
Source:: Vancouver Sun