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Vittorio Bufacchi does not work-related for, consult, very own shares in or get funding from any firm or organization that would benefit from this write-up, and has disclosed no appropriate affiliations past their scholastic appointment.

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If I wrote “The initially sentence in this post is a lie”, is this sentence true, or is it a lie? And, if a liar declares “I am lying”, is the liar informing the truth? In ideology and also logic this is recognized as the Liar’s Paradox: the liar is a liar, and also if the liar is indeed lying, then the liar is informing the fact, which implies the liar simply lied.

Lies are component of the DNA of contemporary culture, though we regularly currently describe them through the more dignified terminology of marketing, heralding, propaganda or spin. From unscrupulous sellers of supplied cars to prime ministers making unsubstantiated declarations around tools of mass devastation, it appears that many human being currently make a living from lies.

In the public creative thinking politicians are expert liars par excellence, or as the writer George Orwell when put it: “Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and also murder respectable.”

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In her essay Truth and also Politics, published in The New Yorker in 1967, the theorist Hannah Arendt was already lamenting the fact that politics and truth don’t mix. But even Arendt was aware that not all lies are the same. Tbelow are lies that are minimal creates of deception, a micro-tear in the towel of reality, while some lies are so substantial that they need a complete rearrangement of the totality factual texture, a transition to an additional fact. In today’s terminology, Arendt was alerting us to the difference in between a lie, and the 2016 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year – “post-truth”.

One means to understand also the distinction between lies and also post-truth, which I’ve composed about in a brand-new paper, is that a liar denies particular facts that have actually exact works with in space and time, whereas post-truth inquiries the very nature of fact. A liar knows the truth, and also, by trying to persuade us of an alternate narrative, a liar is paradoxically honouring the reality, whereas post-reality enables no last refuge for the truth.

Clinton versus Trump

This difference in between a lie and post-truth becomes more clear by comparing two current American presidents, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. At a White House press conference on January 26 1998, Clinton famously said:

I desire to say one thing to the Amerihave the right to people. I desire you to listen to me. I’m going to say this again: I did not have sexual relationships through that womale, Miss Lewinskies. I never before told anybody to lie, not a solitary time; never before.


Clinton’s statement, offered the subsequent revelations and also a semen-stained blue dress, is disconcerting. It’s possible that Clinton did not consider his intimate interactions via Lewinskies as a “sex-related relation”, but that is unlikely – it would need a phenomenal effort of self-deception, or ingenuity, to protect that place through honesty and integrity. Clinton was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, because he lied under oath, yet he was inevitably acquitted in a Senate trial.

Subverting fact itself

Clinton lied, and that was inexcusable. But Trump’s connection via fact is even even more disturbing, and also dangerous. Trump’s incessant accusations of fake news versus the primary media outlets, including the Washington Article, The New York Times, and CNN, shows a longstanding disdain for the truth. Unchoose Clinton, Trump is not simply denying certain facts, instead he is established to threaten the theoretical facilities that provides it feasible to have actually a conversation around the reality.

Trump’s response and demeanour to the impeachment allegations made versus him is a typical example of post-reality. By spurning the impeachment proceedings as a “charade” and also a “witch-hunt”, his strategy is to produce an atmosphere where objective facts are less significant in shaping public opinion, wright here theoretical framefunctions important to make feeling of certain events are scorned, and where scientific fact is delegitimised.

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This is the significant distinction between a lie and also post-reality. While a lie subverts a particular truth, post-fact tries to subvert fact itself. Trump’s abhorrence of reality is reflected in the impressive insurance claim by one of his lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, that “reality is relative”. Giuliani was talking on NBC News about the repursuit by distinct counsel Robert Mueller for an intercheck out through Trump concerning the Russia examination. Giuliani elevated concerns that Trump might perjure himself bereason “truth isn’t reality.”

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More devious than a lie. BNMK 0819/Shutterstock

Post-truth is a murky idea, however it need to not be confused with a lie. Post-fact is a lot more devious and dangerous to the autonomous towel of our culture. The preresolve “post” in post-reality describes the case that a stated concept has become redundant and also therefore can safely be discarded. Post-truth is the idea that fact is no longer important, that truth has end up being obsolete.

We can cope through politicians lying, yet we cannot afford the danger of enabling political leaders to deligitimise truth.