BIS #6455 Divyadaan Annual Seminar on 'Living in a Post-Truth World'

by Father Joel D'Souza for BISMumbai

Divyadaan: Salesian Institute of Philosophy organized its annual seminar on the theme: “Living in a Post-Truth World” on 17-18 September 2021. The seminar started with a prayer service after which Brother Philip Kennedy delivered the introductory talk on the issue. He spoke on how Post-Truth is not abandoning truth but rather focusing on personal belief and emotion. This was followed by Father Wyman Gonsalves’ discourse on Post-Truth and Political Chaos which highlighted the culture of ‘bullshit’ that is prevailing today. He spoke of how politics has become synonymous with the whole attitude of manipulation. It has come to such a point that messengers of inconvenient facts are derided and shunned. After a break, Father Robert Pen addressed the issue of Fake News and how to counter it. He spoke of how Fake News is not a new phenomenon but has been brought to the limelight in the recent past with the dawn of the technology age. The phenomenon has been aggravated with the increase in virtual users, which has given more people an opportunity to become news providers rather than news consumers. The final morning talk was delivered by Father Leon Rodrigues who spoke on the Infodemic and the impact of fake news and Post-Truth on the pandemic and how it adversely impacted people’s lives. He defined the Infodemic as an abundance of information, with some news being valid and some not. This has provided ample space for people with evil intent to spread fake news and misinformation. After this talk, the assembly broke for lunch and met again at 2:30 pm for Father Brian Bandya’s lecture on Post-Truth and Science Denial. He underlined the impact of fake news on the environment and how it was contributing to climate change. He brought up the fact that there are scientists who both affirm and deny climate change. There is a distortion which is up to the audience to eliminate.

In the evening session, Father Joaquim D’Souza took us through the philosophical roots of the Post-Truth phenomenon, right from Rationalism to Post-Modernism and the rise of Post-Truth. He spoke of at least 20 philosophers, starting with Descartes and going through Spinoza, Malebranche, Leibniz as propagators of Rationalism. He then went to Empiricism touching on the thoughts of Hobbes, Locke, Berkley and Hume. He then came to Kant and moved to Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger and ended with the exposition of Post-Modernism. From the Post-Modern position, he said that it is a very small leap to Post-Truth. With this, we concluded the talks for day one of the seminar.

Day two of the seminar began with Father Banzelão Teixeira expounding on Cognitive bias and Post-Truth. He used creative means to get his message across. He enlightened us on the various biases that function in each one of us, which we have to be aware of. This talk was followed by Father Joel D’Souza’s lecture on the ways of fighting Post-Truth. He spoke of combating Post-Truth at the level of the community and at the personal level. He asked us to be skeptical and question the claimant and ourselves to attempt to arrive at the truth. All the sessions were followed by a Question-and-Answer session which lasted for around 15 minutes each. After the last session, a Roundtable Discussion was held in which the participants were free to pose any questions they had to any of the professors. Many members of the audience discussed pertinent issues on Post-Truth with the speakers.

After a lively discussion for around half an hour, the moderator, Father Leon Rodrigues, brought the session to an end. The vote of thanks was delivered by Samuel Baliarsingh, which concluded this highly educative and interesting Annual Seminar.