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Understanding Emotions in Post-Factual Politics

Negotiating Truth

Anna Durnová

Post-factual politics has united scientists and civil society in a public defence of truth, however, the battle may already have been lost to a binarity of facts and emotions. Analysing and comparing scientists’ protests against the Trump presidency with famous scientific controversies in modern medicine, this innovative book redefines truth as a negotiation in public discourse between the interplay of values, beliefs and facts. It shows that in order to understand post-factual politics we must unveil emotion’s role in knowledge-making.
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Chapter 4: Understanding emotions in the post-factual world

Anna Durnová


This closing chapter suggests paying attention to the particular ways in which emotions are referenced when science and expertise are discussed. Moving from what emotions are, toward what emotions mean in particular discussions, and understanding how they might conceal particular interests, are fundamental in understanding the success of post-factual politics. Referencing emotions as either ‘good’ and ‘useful’, or ‘disturbing’ and ‘irrelevant’, reveals a larger socio-political order that legitimizes some emotions while rejecting others; it also qualifies actors as relevant on the basis of their emotionality. In order to challenge post-factual attacks on science and expertise, we must rehabilitate the role of emotions within science; indeed, saving science from post-factualism might require us to politicize our scientific selves.

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