We are excited to welcome the Keynote speaker for this year’s conference, Steve Fuller, to the New School.
Professor Fuller will present a lecture titled “Sociology as a Post Truth Science.”
A sociologically interesting way to think about the ‘post-truth condition’ is that it is the product of social constructivism coming to be incorporated into everyone’s world-view. Put another way, there is no longer a common frame of reference in terms of which something can be declared ‘true’ or ‘false’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or perhaps even ‘X’ or ‘not-X’. All frames of reference there are works in progress, subject to considerable ambiguity and contestation. However, this is not new. In fact, we’re revisiting the existential conditions that enabled sociology to emerge as a science in the first place.
Sociology arose during a time – the nineteenth century – when European societies were transitioning between what we still generally regard as ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ world-views. Roughly speaking, the normative frame of reference shifted over the century between religious and secular institutions. Much of classical sociology was preoccupied with the difficulties entailed by the transition. Concepts such as the ‘stranger’, ‘anomie’, ‘double consciousness’, ‘sociological ambivalence’ are only a few of the key ideas that have been retained by the discipline.
The post-truth condition revisits this radical sense of transition – but in a new key. Such foundational sociological categories such as ‘race’, ‘class’, ‘gender’, ‘ability’, ‘age’ and even humanity as a ‘species’ have come under severe strain during this period from many quarters both in society and social science itself. One need only consider the current pervasive use of ‘trans’ and ‘post’ as prefixes. There are serious questions to ask about whether sociology can retain its disciplinary identity during this transition, and I will explore them in my talk.
Steve Fuller is Auguste Comte Professor of Social Epistemology in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK.
Originally trained in history and philosophy of science, Fuller is best known for his foundational work in the field of ‘social epistemology’, which is the name of a quarterly journal that he founded in 1987 as well as the first of his more than twenty books. From 2011 to 2014 he published a trilogy relating to the idea of a ‘post-’ or ‘trans-‘ human future, all published with Palgrave Macmillan under the rubric of ‘Humanity 2.0’. His most recent books are Knowledge: The Philosophical Quest in History (Routledge 2015) and The Academic Caesar (Sage 2016). His works have been translated into over twenty languages. He was awarded a D.Litt. by the University of Warwick in 2007 for sustained lifelong contributions to scholarship. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the UK Academy of Social Sciences, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. His most recent book, Post-Truth: Knowledge as a Power Game, is published by Anthem Press in 2018.