An age-old question as relevant as ever today in a milieu of supercomputers, Alexa and Google. The definition, ‘quality or state of being true’ helps little to this great philosophical subject.
We all hold and treasure opinions, thoughts and ideals which we believe are true, for to cling to a belief known to be false, must take some mental juggling and self-deception. So how do I know that what I hold to is in fact truth? Where is objectivity in the opinions that I hold? Does it even cross our minds or matter?
In my country we just held general elections with the incumbent retaining power. The opposition party, against all the statistical facts, sincerely believed it would win. I guess it was obligatory on them to fight and hope for a win, but one wonders if some ‘TRUTHS’ were ignored and objectivity sidelined.
It’s election year in the US, a nation deeply divided ideologically. The Conservative Right saying we are ‘right’ for these times, ‘believe us not them’. The Liberal Left is saying ‘the Right is not ‘right’, the Left is ‘right’. Yikes, like it or not we all have chosen a side, Left or Right.
Where is objectivity? Are we even capable of a truly objective position? Dr. Gregory Sadler in a lecture said that Truth = Reality when we take ourselves out of the equation, take own subjective biases out, what is left is the residue of ‘Truth’. He goes on to say, ‘truth is the sedimentation of habit going on for centuries.’ Let that settle for a minute.
Philosopher Nietzsche in the essay The Invention of Truth & Lying, cites lying as the misuse of shared language. We hold this Shared Language because we desire to live, interact with others socially in the herd. The question is, do we value the herd and live in the Shared Language, rather than objective examination?
The trial of Jesus by Pilate started by the Jews the ‘Herd’, brought Jesus to Pilate on false accusations and misused Shared Language. ‘Are you King of the Jews?’ Pilate asks Jesus. Jesus replies, “Is that your idea or did others put you up to this.” The discourse continues until Pilate has an eureka moment. For an instant, he is able to step aside from the herd thinking and declares “You are a King then!”, a complete turnaround from his earlier question.
Jesus pins the moment and says “…I came into the world to testify to the truth.” Pilate’s reply is classic “What is truth?” The Divine embodiment of truth stood before him in a never to be repeated moment in history and he missed it. He was challenged with Shared Language of a new order but shrunk back because of political expediency.
The debate will go on but the question to ask about the political sides we take, are we sure that in my herd, am I being fed shared language so as to keep the pack together?
If moralizing for a moment could I suggest that we view the other side with more tolerance and space? You may not necessarily be right. All you have done is agreed with one side and what might be said of others could also be said of you.
Do what you will with humility and seek out truth.