The Humanities Salon: a new idea for Sydney

Humanities Matter. And to bring Humanities to a broader audience, SOPHI is introducing the Sydney Humanities Salon. The Salon will bring together local and international scholars to share their work in a new, lively and intellectually stimulating gathering. The Salon will be working in collaboration with Sydney Ideas Open, and will showcase inspiring, award-winning and intriguing research from within the School,  across the Faculty and beyond.  The Sydney Humanities Salon promises to be an engaging forum for ideas and debate.

Inaugural Sydney Humanities Salon

Martin Jay and Dirk Moses
In Conversation

Martin Jay discusses his latest book The Virtues of Mendacity: On Lying in Politics with Dirk Moses from the Department of History, University of Sydney.

When Michael Dukakis accused George H. W. Bush of being the “Joe Isuzu of American Politics” during the 1988 presidential campaign, he asserted in a particularly American tenor the near-ancient idea that lying and politics (and perhaps advertising, too) are inseparable, or at least intertwined. Our response to this phenomenon, writes the renowned intellectual historian Martin Jay, tends to vacillate—often impotently—between moral outrage and amoral realism. In The Virtues of Mendacity, Jay resolves to avoid this conventional framing of the debate over lying and politics by examining what has been said in support of, and opposition to, political lying from Plato and St. Augustine to Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss. Jay proceeds to show that each philosopher’s argument corresponds to a particular conception of the political realm, which decisively shapes his or her attitude toward political mendacity. He then applies this insight to a variety of contexts and questions about lying and politics. Surprisingly, he concludes by asking if lying in politics is really all that bad. The political hypocrisy that Americans in particular periodically decry may be, in Jay’s view, the best alternative to the violence justified by those who claim to know the truth.

Monday 1 March, 2010, 6pm,
Centre for Classical and Near Eastern Studies of Australia (CCANESA),
Room 409 Madsen Building F09,
University of Sydney
RSVP: salon at sydney dot edu dot au

Martin Jay is the Sidney Helman Ehrman Professor of History at the University
of California, Berkeley, and the author of The Dialectical Imagination and Downcast Eyes.

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