Sunday Platform – Joe Chuman: Democracy, Truth, Facts, and Reason

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May 12, 2019 all-day
2 W 64th St
New York, NY 10023

At the New York Society for Ethical Culture

Sunday Platform – Joe Chuman: Democracy, Truth, Facts, and Reason

Sunday, May 12, 2019

2 W 64th St
Ceremonial Hall – 4th floor


We live in strange and unsettling times. We have gone down the rabbit hole and find ourselves in a “post-truth,” “post-fact” abode. No doubt, our President, who lies as he breathes, is a major purveyor of this condition. But arguably it has deeper roots.

What is truth, and who establishes what is true or not, has always been subject to ambiguity. This is especially true of democracy, in which there are the “truths” dispensed by experts and elites on the one hand, and the truths of ordinary individuals on the other, and the two don’t always fit together so well. The truths dispensed by experts may seem remote, abstract to one’s lived experience, and may generate feelings of resentment. This may always have been the case. What is different about our current moment is that these differing perspectives have become virulent, leading to a dismissal of the foundational importance of truth, reason, and facts altogether.

This address will probe into questions of how democracy leads to different versions of truth, the causes that have aggravated this division in our times, and where we need to look to heal our society.

This week’s shared charity is the Dr. Maria Fridman Women’s Shelter, which, since its founding in 1982, has been sponsored by the Partnership for the Homeless and Ethical Culture’s Social Service Board. The city provides cots, bedding, laundry services, and bus transportation to and from the Olivieri Center to the Society, and the Shelter provides safe, monitored quarters right here in our historic building.

Presider: Sarah Sprott

Shared Charity: Maria Fridman Women’s Shelter