Friday, April 29, 2005

What is Truth?

You'll find many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view" -Obi-Wan Kenobi

Truth is something that every modern person has to come to terms with. We are brought into a world where truth is paramount. Everything around us is based on the truths of some nature. In fact that's all we ever have to base things on is "truth". Kinda silly when you think about it, how else would it work? If we didn't orient ourselves by making judgements, which are all on a fundamental level based on truths, then we could never have any meaning or context. That simply is the nature of reality. We make associations with our environment based on what we see as good and bad and important and irrelevant. All of those associations are thus supported by fundamental assumptions about what reality and/or truth is. The logical conclusion would be that who we are, the things that constitute our individuality, is based upon the truths we hold.

So we have established that truth, from a personal or internal perspective, has a relative nature. What we see to be good and bad, important and irrelevant is determined by what context we place it in. There are other aspects to truth such as observable facts, like natural/universal laws and provable theorem. Obviously those don't fit into the category of relative. A relativist would argue: but even those facts work within the paradigm of science and outside that paradigm have no meaning, without that knowledge science is irrelevant, is non existent and thus are still relative to that mode of understanding. Of course most of these phenomenon do still occur without knowledge of their workings. So, even if you insist that it is relative to our existence you're still establishing an ultimate boundary for relativity.

As you can see there's alot of ways to put truth into perspective (that's a funny turn of words) I believe what i've said up to this point to basically be fact, but where Truth really gets tricky is in the in-between. Between inside and outside, relative value and observable fact. There's many ways to resolve this seeming conflict, and that is where the conjecture comes in. I think the basic gist of them all would be to look at truth on a higher, more realized level. Effecting some kind of integration of the two, finding where they meet, that should be our objective.

As we attempt to combine these two facets of truth it's necessary to further define the distinction between internal and external. Internal truth isn't simply about putting your experience within a specific context. It's about speaking from your soul, about sincerity, and integrity. We have our moment to moment experience and that can contain as much or as little of reality as we allow it. We do have a ground to which to come back, and always ask ourselves on that fundamental level is this a valid experience. This potential can be traced back to the very nature of freewill, our ability to choose.

Again you can begin to reduce this to relativistic terms, but you have to question the utility of that. That is the problem with a "relativist" they see this as some ultimate truth (funny isn't it?) instead of simply a fundamental truth, so they always cast this ultimate doubt on everything, and in the process loose their grasp on what meanings things can possibly hold. For internal or subjective truth we can see that reality is very fluid from within the kernel of combined intersubjective experience having to conform to mental patterns and affected interpretation.

For external truth what implications does this relative perspective have? It's simple enough to understand the nature of observable facts and communal confirmation as truth but what about absolute truth? What about why we're here? Where is our concrete set of rules and truths to know which end is up? We can't really answer the most fundamental question about the very first observation a self aware being has to make-"I am" that question is of course how and why? We can see that there must be some kind of genesis, some starting point, because everything we've experienced and recorded as a race has had "purpose", a direction. Perhaps the universe doesn't have a beginning or end, but one thing is for sure, at some point things did start to move forward, we are definitely going somewhere...even if forward is only what it is because that's the direction we started in.

So there is some plan or purpose to be grasped, some seemingly otherworldly conductor, some being or state of being that is calling us ever forward. In order to understand our capacity to transcend ourselves and yet maintain our own identity we have to see the absolute meanings in the Kosmos, as it applies to our scale of value. Instead of dismissing it out of hand as relative and meaningless. To understand the context of some thing's truth value doesn't imply invalidation. I think the conclusion to all this is that we must acknowledge the existence of both relative and absolute truth in the universe in order to get a clear, more inclusive picture.

No comments: