Martin Jay

Pants on Fire: On Lying in Politics is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and renowned intellectual historian Martin Jay, UC Berkeley. A thought-provoking book in dialogue format examining Martin Jay’s extensive research on lying in politics from Plato and St. Augustine to Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss which culminated in his book The Virtues of Mendacity.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, The Varnished Truth, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. A Fruitful Approach – Investigating “the political”
  2. The Liar’s Stage – From Machiavelli to political play-acting
  3. Lies, American Style – A central concern?
  4. Transcending Kant – The Value of nuance
  5. Coming Clean – Appreciating what we know
  6. Monological Dangers – Truth as the enemy of the political
  7. Democracy – Its porous nature and implications
  8. Getting Worse? – In search of a Golden Age of truth-telling
  9. Puritanical Dangers – Fanatical truth-telling
  10. Politics vs. Science – Similarities and differences
  11. Summing Up – Admissions and conclusions


Now available on:


This book is also available as part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow Collection called Conversations About The History of Ideas in both paperback and electronic format.

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We’ve produced a one-hour video of our conversation with Martin Jay which is available on Vimeo On Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/pantsonfire