CANCELED: Do I Have a Witness? Hannah Arendt for the Post-Truth Era


Do I Have a Witness? Hannah Arendt for the Post-Truth Era

Friday, March 27, 2020  •  12:00noon    The University Club  •  ASU Tempe Campus

The crisis of truth is, among other things, a crisis of facts.

Join us as Ned O'Gorman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) considers the crisis of facts by engaging the work of Hannah Arendt, a German-born Jewish thinker who fled the Nazis for the United States, and wrote extensively in defense of politics and democracy, warning against authoritarian tendencies. Arendt stressed that facts, which often seem self-evident to us, in reality require witnesses in order to become meaningful to us.

Drawing upon Arendt's thought, O'Gorman will argue that in order to reclaim truth, we must reclaim community, specifically political community. “George Washington was born on February 22, 1732” is a fact for us only because it has been attested to by others, and credibly so, O'Gorman explains. Unlike logical truths such as 2 + 2 = 4, factual truths are never compellingly true. They need the testimony of trustworthy witnesses. But this means that the crisis of facts is in fact a crisis of community, and its remedy is likewise communal.


ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Ned O’Gorman, professor in the department of communication at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, works at the intersections of the history of rhetoric, media studies, and political thought, with special interest in the crises and tensions of modernity, especially in the Cold War.

He is the author of Spirits of the Cold War: Contesting Worldviews in the Classical Age of American Security Strategy (2011, Michigan State University Press), the award-winning The Iconoclastic Imagination: Image, Catastrophe, and Economy in America from the Kennedy Assassination to September 11 (2016, University of Chicago Press), and, with Kevin Hamilton, Lookout America! The Secret Hollywood Studio at the Heart of the Cold War (2019, Dartmouth University Press), as well as a number of journal essays on topics related to rhetorical theory, aesthetics, religion, political theory, and political history. O'Gorman is also former President of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and editor-elect of Advances in the History of Rhetoric (soon to be renamed Journal for the History of Rhetoric).



Recovering Truth Event Sponsored by The Henry Luce Foundation

Friday, March 27, 2020 • 12:00noon
The University Club • ASU Tempe Campus