Elizabeth Cantalamessa in Aeon:
Something is amiss with democracy. Ask people from any or no political persuasion and they’re likely to give a similar story: contemporary politics has gone haywire because one side (or both) has lost touch with reality. We are living in a ‘post-truth’ partisan news hellscape that prioritises ‘feelings over facts’ and disregards the natural authority of the truth. But all sides seem to agree that there is a ‘truth’ that explains what really makes someone a woman, or an institution racist, or a politician fascist, in a way that compels acceptance from those who otherwise disagree. What we need to do is further emphasise the importance of science and reason, and perhaps sanction the overtly partisan media outlets that mislead otherwise good-natured people, then everyone will come to their senses and agree on things because they are true, because they reflect reality. Humans are rational, remember? Surely, Immanuel Kant wouldn’t lie.
But I don’t think the truth will, in fact, set us free. Our current ‘post-truth’ political landscape in fact calls for a pragmatist therapy to rid us of the belief that ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ deserve a special place in our public justificatory practices altogether. A pragmatist ethics calls for prioritising feelings instead of facts, because a truly humanist democracy is sentimentalist rather than rationalist.