Nietzsche wrote that “Truth is a mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, anthropomorphism… illusions of which we have forgotten that they are illusions, metaphors which have become worn by frequent use and have lost all sensuous vigor.” Almost one and a half centuries later, purposeful manipulation of information for political gains across the world forces observers to comment that we live in the “post-truth era” today.
Practitioners of Liberal Arts operate with various forms of truths and truth claims every day. The positivist approach of the sciences claims to study those aspects of the world that are governed by rules and laws, and abides by questions of universality, verifiability and falsification. The humanistic approach within the arts and social sciences professes to give more agency to the individual. To explain human nature, actions, and creativities – far less rule-bound than many occurrences in the physical and natural world, these fields of knowledge also profess flexibility and multiplicity of interpretations. Yet, even here, the regime of the “objective opinion”, the “unbiased viewpoint”, and “correct information” still goes strong.
As the first of its kind at Ashoka, the present event brings together practitioners of Liberal Arts from a variety of disciplinary moorings. Our objective is to engage with questions about the role of truth and subjectivity in their respective fields of research and pedagogy. What is truth? Is there something called truth? Is there one truth or many? What sort of notions of truth does one have to deal with? Is there one truth or many? Are these objective and absolute? Or are they produced by humans and their doings (thought, language etc.)? What is the role of subjectivity? What kind of differences in opinions is tolerated and what kinds rejected?
By engaging with these core questions, this event seeks to open creative dialogue between diverse disciplines that often seem to operate independent of and in isolation from each other. We aim to inquire the status of truth across various fields of knowledge in today’s world. Finally, the event asks if these fields of knowledge operate in fundamentally different ways when it comes to their approach to truth and subjectivity, or are there more commonalities than usually meets the eye
Conveners: Imroze Khan (Biology), Pratyay Nath (History), Swargajyoti Gohain (Sociology/Anthropology), Tulsi Srinivasan (Mathematics)
Date: Saturday 24 February 2018
Venue: Ashoka University, Sonipat