News and Events
The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics
The Sydney Humanities Salon brings together local and international scholars to share their work with a wider audience. A new lively and intellectually stimulating gathering, the Salon showcases inspiring, award-winning and intriguing research in the fields of history (classical and modern), archaeology and philosophy, as well as gender and cultural studies. The Humanities Salon promises to be an engaging forum for ideas and debate.
Martin Jay and Dirk Moses in conversation.
Martin Jay discusses his latest book The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics with Dirk Moses from the Department of History, (Sydney).
When Michael Dukakis accused George H. W. Bush of being the â€œJoe Isuzu of American Politicsâ€ during the 1988 presidential campaign, he asserted in a particularly American tenor the near-ancient idea that lying and politics (and perhaps advertising, too) are inseparable, or at least intertwined. Our response to this phenomenon, writes the renowned intellectual historian Martin Jay, tends to vacillateâ€”often impotentlyâ€”between moral outrage and amoral realism. In The Virtues of Mendacity, Jay resolves to avoid this conventional framing of the debate over lying and politics by examining what has been said in support of, and opposition to, political lying from Plato and St. Augustine to Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. Jay proceeds to show that each philosopherâ€™s argument corresponds to a particular conception of the political realm, which decisively shapes his or her attitude toward political mendacity. He then applies this insight to a variety of contexts and questions about lying and politics. Surprisingly, he concludes by asking if lying in politics is really all that bad. The political hypocrisy that Americans in particular periodically decry may be, in Jayâ€™s view, the best alternative to the violence justified by those who claim to know the truth.
When: Monday 1 March 2010, 6 â€“ 7pm
Where: Room 209 Madsen Building F09, The University of Sydney
Further Information: The Humanities Salon (02) 9351 5658