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Wednesday 26 March 2014

Why Acknowledging that Truth Exists is Important; Even if You Believe We Can Never Achieve It

This is a blog entry based on comments from the earlier entry of a couple of days ago, that I thought was just too important to be left to languish in the comments section.  Truth, after all, is a very important subject.  Relativists consistently try to argue that its unfair to say "they believe in nothing"; they claim that they have very strongly-held beliefs, they merely also believe that there's no such thing as an objective Truth.  They also point out the foolishness of some who claim that they've found the one objective Truth already, and generally use it to beat up on others; this is, ultimately, an illogical and sentimentalist argument, but its the best argument the relativists could possibly muster.   Its one strength is that there are indeed stupid and mean people, who think they already have and are sole owners of Truth.  This was what led people in the West down that long slippery slope of slow civilizational suicide that starts with rejecting the very idea of objective Truth.

In fact, its been going on for so long now that most people can't even understand the idea of objective Truth at all!  They have been so thoroughly indoctrinated, for three generations now, that the average 'millennial' understands, at best, a ridiculous parody of the concept; some notion that if you think there is objective truth you must think you know everything (and ergo, no objective truth).  Its most noteworthy that even when they TRY to talk about objective truth they get all tangled up in the paradigm they're stuck in; they fall back to discussing "different truths".  And then they argue about it from the point of view of semantics or rhetoric (as if these are what truth is based on), or blend or recreate truth (for the sake of tolerance), or one imposes truth on the others by rhetorical force or actual violence. It is "truth" as a malleable meaningless substance with no real core.

The anti-postmodern position is of course that there IS such a thing as actual objective Truth. This Truth must be approached by imperfect people, and thus we can disagree about theories of truth, we can make errors and have to correct them; indeed, we can never actually "reach" or "achieve" core Truth within the boundaries of our own intellect, only keep trying to approach it, but there's still really only one thing that is actually really Truth.

On one level, this might not look all that different, right? Because in both cases you have to admit that (even if there is core Truth) our own ability to observe, understand, and discover Truth has limitations. Our individual understanding of core Truth will still be imperfect. So really, how is that any different than just saying "everyone has their own truth, and there is no objective Truth"?

The big difference is this: in the model that says "There is objective Truth", that means that by definition there are things that are NOT TRUTH. We may not ever be able to completely and perfectly understand the objectively True, but we CAN know and prove that certain things are NOT true.

On the other hand, if you take on a paradigm of there being "no such thing" as actual core Truth, then there is no truth at all, as what you call "truth" becomes nothing more than a matter of "Feelings"; it is true because I feel it is true. This means there is NO effective counterargument within that paradigm for someone saying "well, my own feeling is that some sexist probably could have/might have wanted to draw a rape threat on my front door, because they're so evil and I'm so special and important to them; so even though I actually did it myself and then told everyone I was a victim of a misogynist attack, its still basically true because I feel it might have happened!"

If one recognizes the existence of Objective Truth, then you can say "NO. You engaged in a falsehood. What you did was NOT True". On the other hand if you subscribe to the idea that truth is about "differing visions of truth", that there is no actual core Truth that exists outside our narcissistic self, then you have no way of arguing with that person's statement, it is indeed "her truth". All you can do is try to manipulate language in such a way as to try to diminish the impact of her truth, rhetorically invalidate her, or manipulate the message of 'her truth', in order to serve your own purposes. Those, and not the search for actual truth or a concern with what is real, are the only viable tools of Post-modernism.


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1 comment:

  1. You're preaching at the choir. Although I'm a moral nihilist I am definitely not a moral relativist - I belive moral statements are non-cognitive; and I think of the test of reality the same way - whether I know about it or not , , things are subject to the law of identity.