5th JCU Posthuman Studies Workshop

Truth, Relativism and the Posthuman Paradigm Shift

November 28th (Saturday), 2020, 5.30 pm ~ 8.45 pm CET

Hosted by the History and Humanities Department of John Cabot University in Rome


Charles Sanders Peirce once defined absolute truth as “whatever scientists say it is when they have come to an end of their labors”. Although Peirce was not a relativist, he could easily mock any idea of epistemological absoluteness, as it started appearing in the philosophical milieu to be clearly untenable. Yet, in recent years, we witness a new attempt to restore a definition of truth as independent of knowledge, of agency, of systemic relations; ongoing discussions on this issue have built philosophical currents such as Object-Oriented-Ontology, Speculative Realism, New Rationalism. Their need is to avoid the logical paradox of relativism: if all statements are relative, also this one just stated is relative, therefore something must be absolute. This impossible inference is reinforced by the ethical conundrum: if all moral stance is relative (to culture, language, history, etc.), then there is no way to utter what can be shared as good. This workshop aims to discuss the necessity of relativism – against those rationalistic attempts to ‘restore’ forms of dangerous universalism, which have been identified with the Western tradition – to be traced back to Plato and Descartes, among others – and with the claim to be the unique tradition able to reveal the ‘truth’, with the consequent dualistic discrimination of ‘error’. How to redefine the relativity of the truth without falling into paradoxes, that is, without jeopardizing the ‘common good’? How to avoid oldish dualisms, such as nature-technique; male-female; organic-cybernetic; human intelligence-artificial intelligence?

After the idea of facts being theory-laden, should the distinction fact/meaning be redefined? Or could we simply renounce to use the concept of ‘truth’, as a mere invention? Is the truth a game, played for its own sake, or for the sake of power? What are the responses by transhumanists and critical posthumanists? Which implications do the responses to the question of truth have for art and ethics?

“Indeed, even in the realm of knowledge these propositions became the norms according to which ‘true’ and ‘untrue’ were determined—down to the most remote regions of logic. Thus: the strength of knowledge does not depend on its degree of truth but on its age…” (Friedrich Nietzsche).

We start at 5.30 pm CET

The event will be live streamed on the youtube channel entitled Metahumanities: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjxNQuZN74m2QnkdZMPvgUA?view_as=subscriber&fbclid=IwAR3hYIkVW4HIWgRn8FLagjIcgvZFUOUKvpQBomuv8Z4vCAbZYulOWf_GgjU

5.30 – 5.45 pm

Introduction by the Organizers: Brunella Antomarini, Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, Chryssi Soteriades

5.45-6 pm

Natasha Vita-More

https://natashavita-more.com/ (keynote speaker)

Truth? Not Without an Error-Correction Playbook

6-6.15 pm

Francesca Ferrando


6.15-6.30 pm

Dinorah Delfin


Subjectivity Is Free Will

6.30-6.45 pm

Barış Gedizlioğlu 


Epistemology of fittingness


Chryssi Soteriades  


Conveying Ethical Insights though Literary Narratives


Natalia Stanusch  


Pixelated Truth: The Digital Image as a Medium


Brunella Antomarini 


‘Truth’ is a theory of errors


Stefan Lorenz Sorgner 


Fighting for Dominance


Giacomo Marramao

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giacomo_Marramao (keynote speaker) 

The People: An Unsaturated Signifier


Dario Cecchi


Political Relativism: A Challenge to Post-Humanism?”


Massimo Dell’Utri 


The Many Faces of Truth


Final discussion

We end at 8.45 pm

Truth, Relativism and the Posthuman Paradigm Shift