Beauvoir and Post-Truth

August 16, 2023 - August 19, 2023
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Central Campus

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University of Jyväskylä
University of Hull
University of Oslo



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Deadline for abstracts: 6 April 2023

Can existentialism act as an antidote to the ongoing political and epistemic crisis, often discussed in terms of “a post-truth era”? The 28th International Conference of the Simone de Beauvoir Society invites you to rediscover the legacy of existentialism, and, in particular, that of Simone de Beauvoir, from the angle of truth, untruth and post-truth. Post-truth, often defined in terms of an overreliance on intuitive thinking, the rise of populist politics, information wars, the adoption of “alternative facts” and the formation of “alternative realities”, intersects the existentialist themes of authenticity, bad faith and situation in an interesting manner. Could such concepts help to clarify the problems specific to our time – social media bubbles, discrediting of scientific knowledge, troll factories, hate speech and dissemination of conspiracy theories?

Many of Beauvoir’s texts (e.g., The Ethics of Ambiguity, “Existentialism and Popular Wisdom” and “The Woman Destroyed”) discuss the question of bad faith and the different modes in which individuals attempt to flee their freedom. But what do present-day issues such as information wars and novel AI-related possibilities of creating falsifications either by design or by accident (Deepfake, Chat GPT, Historical Figures) look like from a Beauvoirian perspective? How do we know when we are in bad faith or duped? What is the role of situation in the construction of knowledge? How do we ultimately understand “truth”, “untruth” and “post-truth” in philosophy, literature, history, political science and other fields? How exactly do existentialist concepts lend themselves to understanding our predicament? Should we think through and beyond these concepts, to create better ones to make sense of our time?

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