Truth, Trump, Tyranny: Plato and the Sophists in an Era of ‘Alternative Facts’
There are five attitudes to truth: that of the philosopher, the truth-teller, the liar, the sophist, and the tyrant. After discussing the two most famous Greek Sophists, Gorgias and Protagoras, this essay argues that Trump’s attitude to truth while campaigning was that of a sophist: someone who is indifferent to the truth, using words only to acquire money, fame, and power. When he became president, however, his attitude changed to that of the tyrant described by Plato: someone who uses power to assert control over the “truth.” In other words, by the repeated statement of manifest falsehoods, he drew a circle around himself, forcing others to choose between submission to his will and recognition of an independent reality.
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