Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

  • Truth

  • We need a history of truth - though until now no-one has tried to write one. We need it to test the claim that truth is just a name for opinions which suit the demands of society or the convenience of élites. We need to be able to tell whether truth is changeful or eternal, embedded in time or outside it, universal or varying from place to place.

    We need to know how we have got to where we are in the history of truth - how our society has come to lose faith in the reality of it and lose interest in the search for it. We need a history of truth to illuminate the unique predicament of our times and - Felipe Fernández-Armesto argues - help us escape from it. He shows how - at different times, in different societies - people have tried to tell the difference between truth and falsehood. And he exposes the concepts of truth which have underpinned those techniques.

    All truth-finding can be reduced, he argues, to a few basic types, which have always been available but which have been combined in varying proportions. They are still useful. They can still help us survive contemporary uncertainty and rebuild life after doubt.

    This is a book of unusual audacity: short, clear, readable, opinionated - but uncompromising in raising big issues, using rich language and embracing a vast range.

Felipe Fernández-Armesto has been a member of the Modern History Faculty of Oxford University since 1983. His books include The Times Atlas of World Exploration, Columbus, Edward Gibbon's Atlas of the World, Barcelona: a Thousand Years of the City's Past, Millennium and Truth. Translations of his work have appeared or are pending in twenty languages. He lives in Oxford.

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