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A Farewell to Truth

Gianni Vattimo; Translated by William McCuaig and Foreword by Robert T. Valgenti

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Paper, 192 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-15309-6
$20.00 / £14.00

March, 2011
Cloth, 192 pages,
ISBN: 978-0-231-15308-9
$26.00 / £18.00

With Western cultures becoming more pluralistic, the question of "truth" in politics has become a game of interpretations. Today, we face the demise of the very idea of truth as an objective description of facts, though many have yet to acknowledge that this is changing.

Gianni Vattimo explicitly engages with the important consequences for democracy of our changing conception of politics and truth, such as a growing reluctance to ground politics in science, economics, and technology. Yet in Vattimo's conception, a farewell to truth can benefit democracy, exposing the unspoken issues that underlie all objective claims. The end of absolute truth challenges the legitimacy of policies based on perceived objective necessities—protecting the free market, for example, even if it devastates certain groups or classes. Vattimo calls for a truth that is constructed with consensus and a respect for the liberty of all. By taking into account the cultural paradigms of others, a more "truthful" society—freer and more democratic—becomes possible.

In this book, Vattimo continues his reinterpretation of Christianity as a religion of charity and hope, freeing society from authoritarian, metaphysical dogmatism. He also extends Nietzsche's "death of God" to the death of an authoritarian God, ushering in a new, postreligious Christianity. He connects the thought of Martin Heidegger, Karl Marx, and Karl Popper with surprising results and accommodates modern science more than in his previous work, reconciling its validity with an insistence that knowledge is interpretive. Vattimo's philosophy justifies Western nihilism in its capacity to dispense with absolute truths. Ranging over politics, ethics, religion, and the history of philosophy, his reflections contribute deeply to a modern reconception of God, metaphysics, and the purpose of reality.

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About the Author

Gianni Vattimo is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Turin and a member of the European Parliament. His books with Columbia University Press include The Responsibility of the Philosopher; Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue; Not Being God: A Collaborative Autobiography; Art's Claim to Truth; After the Death of God (with John D. Caputo); Dialogue with Nietzsche; The Future of Religion (with Richard Rorty); Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law; and After Christianity. Robert T. Valgenti is assistant professor of philosophy at Lebanon Valley College. He specializes in continental philosophy, hermeneutics, and Italian philosophy. William McCuaig is the translator of many books by Gianni Vattimo, including The Responsibility of the Philosopher; Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue; Not Being God: A Collaborative Autobiography; and Dialogue with Nietzsche.

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