"Truth is something outside yourself, something to be discovered, and not...something you can make up as you go along." -- George Orwell, 1944
"There are no facts." -- Michel Foucault, 1968
Lying is ancienter than Croesus, as old as humanity itself. But there is something new about lying today -- something in the way it is viewed and received.
Writing about the disgraceful prevarications flowing from the White House of late, Christopher Hitchens suggests that what ought to trouble us even more than the dishonesties is "the praise and approbation that certain lies now receive from the wised-up." (More from him on page 28.)
The change in the way lies are received in certain quarters is captured in the two quotations above. They illustrate how conceptions of truth shifted from the time of the World War II generation to the time of the Vietnam generation. In the first epigraph, Orwell expresses the longstanding Western respect for objective truth that has undergirded everything from our religion to our science. In the second statement, Foucault proclaims the so-called "postmodern" view so fashionable in intellectual circles today -- which insists there is no truth, that what we call "truths" are just claims made up by the powerful to justify the continuation of their power.
Read the entire article on the American Enterprise Institute website (new window will open).