Northwestern Events Calendar


Can Non/Humans Tell the Truth? - Mira Balberg and Sylvester Johnson

Truth Dialogues 2017-18 graphic

When: Monday, April 23, 2018
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM Central

Where: Harris Hall, #108, 1881 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free; public welcome

Contact: Jill Mannor   (847) 467-3970

Group: Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities

Category: Lectures & Meetings


The capacity for “truth”—the ability to identify it, to convey it, to cherish it, and even to alter it—is one that we usually associate exclusively with human beings. This talk will explore and challenge the exceptional status given to human beings in the arena of truth by bringing to the fore three interrelated perspectives. First, examples of alternative world perceptions, in which the boundaries between human and non-human entities are permeable, as are notions of who or what is subject to a regime of truth. Second, the precarious position of those considered, in various times and configurations, “not fully human” (racial and ethnic minorities, slaves, women, children, etc.), and the impact of a murky status of humanness on expectations of truth. Finally, contemporary issues of artificial intelligence and the capacity of machines for “true feeling” and “true agency” as well as their increasing capacity to assess (healthcare), entertain (gaming), and deceive (hacking) by presenting as human persons through medical applications, social media, and game play. In so doing, we'll examine possible ways of expanding and modifying our frame of thought regarding Truth and Humanness.​

Sylvester Johnson, Professor of Religion and Culture and Founding Director of Virginia Tech's Center for the Humanities, in conversation with Mira Balberg, Northwestern Associate Professor of Religious Studies.

Co-Presenters: Department of Religious Studies and Kaplan Humanities Institute

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