Episode Six

Truth and Faith

What happens in a democracy when we can’t believe in anything?  When we don’t even believe in our nation’s ability to govern itself?  Faith in democracy decays. Participation erodes. The politics of possibility in our nation demand some sense of shared reality and basic level of belief that government  can serve the common good. What will be the lasting impact of our current break in truth and faith?


Melvin Rogers

Sophia Rosenfeld

Melvin Rogers has wide-ranging interests located largely within contemporary democratic theory and the history of American and African-American political and ethical philosophy. His first book, The Undiscovered Dewey: Religion, Morality, and the Ethos of Democracy, explored these issues through an interpretation of John Dewey’s writings and the theme of human responsiveness central to his work. That book was haunted by the unpursued theme of racial injustice and its place in American democracy. Professor Rogers’ second book–The Darkened Light of Faith: Race, Democracy, and Freedom in African American Political Thought–will be devoted to figures within American and African-American political thought; it will combine close readings of figures and historical contextualization to think through the themes of democratic responsiveness, redemption, and faith amid racial injustice.

Sophia Rosenfeld is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches European intellectual and cultural history with a special emphasis on the Enlightenment, the trans-Atlantic Age of Revolutions, and the legacy of the eighteenth century for modern democracy.  She is the author of Revolution in Language: The Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century FranceCommon Sense: A Political History (Harvard, 2011), which won the Mark Lynton History Prize and the Society for the History of the Early American Republic Book Prize; and Democracy and Truth: A Short History  (forthcoming in late 2018).