September 5, 2000


Czech President Havel: 'Remain faithful to truth'

ANN ARBOR—In a ceremony honoring Czech President Václav Havel Sept. 5 at the University of Michigan, the playwright and statesman called upon U-M students to "remain faithful to truth in this information age" and to "work in this spirit; in the hope, perhaps, a foolish hope, that they will make the world a better place."

photo of Havel receiving degree
U-M President Lee C. Bollinger (right) shakes hands with Czech President Václav Havel during the awarding of an honorary doctor of laws degree to Havel.

The University presented Havel an honorary doctor of laws degree at the Hill Auditorium ceremony.

Havel said that in the information age, with millions of pieces of information crisscrossing the globe every second at a frantic speed, it is of paramount importance to understand the fine difference between information and truth.

"I believe that truth is also information but, at the same time, it is something greater. Truth—like any other information—is information which has been clearly proved, or affirmed, or verified within a certain system of coordinates or paradigms, or which is simply convincing; but it is more than that: it is information avouched by a human being with his or her whole existence, with his or her reputation and name, with his or her honor.

"I do not know how many of the millions of information details which float around our planet meet this criterion," Havel said.

Havel also spoke at a symposium titled "Globalization's Intellectual Challenge."

Havel's acceptance speech.

Photos from Havel's appearance.