Friday, March 8, 2019

Personal Truth

No, not personalized, relative, subjective truth.  Truth as a person.  Truth measured in terms that have real, personal meaning, as opposed to truth measured in supposedly objective terms, which have no meaning or value.

It was a mistake to try to seek truth within this abstract, invisible, theoretical external ideal we had.  You know, the one in which the truth is completely outside all of us, the one in which truth is a completely objective, lifeless piece of information.  It's a binary kind of truth, either all one or all zero.  It was this self-destructive digital fantasy of ours that led to the fallacy of the excluded middle, and that misguided principle of non-contradiction.  I apologize on the part of all humanity for our last twenty-something centuries of delusion.

I'm a conscious being.  I am cognizant of this thing called "truth", mostly in small, abstract or incomplete terms, but at some intuitive level I powerfully understand what this word is aiming for.  It is not aiming to check a box on the quiz of life, to align bits of information in a way that is "correct" in the sense of getting a higher score.  For something to be true it also has to be "right".  If I hate someone for not being in alignment with something I deeply feel is true, then what I'm actually experiencing is not true, no matter how true the fact or information is to which I cling.  My hatred makes it not true, because hatred is outside the spirit of truth.  If I fanatically pursue my own well being based on very true information about my income, then my operative principle is completely wrong despite containing bits of information which on their own might otherwise be true.

Am I mixing morality with logic?  No.

Imagine a universe with no life, no consciousness.  There is an infinite amount of information in such a universe, and one could be infinitely true with respect to all of this information.  But it would not amount to a warm bucket of spit, as they say.  Or, put another way, with that whole universe and five dollars you could buy lunch.

If a piece of information has no relevance to anyone, anywhere, it has a lower status than information which matters.  In our invented fantasy world it is equal, but in the world we actually live it is not.

Just consider this poetic interpretation of quantum physics for a moment: the unmeasured remains an abstraction without time or place, unmanifested; whereas the observed has substance, it has full ontological citizenship.

Information, as we actually experience it, is not just any information, but experienced information.  Truth is inseparable from experience.

At a pretty deep level, I think, or rather hope, we all know that truth absolutely has to exist.  Whether we know it or not, an appropriate answer exists to every question.  What is the smallest prime number greater than a googleplex?  I have no idea but it doesn't even require faith for me to trust that such a number exists, just a very shallow understanding of mathematics.  What about whether God exists?  Given even a little clarity about what a person means by this question, an answer is implied to exist.  It is much harder to imagine an answer not existing than it is to imagine it existing.  The real answer to any of our imperfectly asked yes or no questions, of course, not yes or a no, it is yes or a no with explanation added to counterbalance the flaws in our question.  But a true answer certainly exists.

But what is the answer to a question?  It could be thought of as the response of "what really is" to what we have asked.  But the correct answer takes into consideration who we are.  Not who I am personally, but my personhood.  The correct answer to my question takes not just my question into consideration, as if the question could be separated from the querent, but the whole person and that element of incompleteness which led to the asking of the question.  Another way of looking at truth, is that it completes me.  My question represents a lack of some sort, there is a thirst for something, something which I do not have.  The answer, a good answer, slakes that thirst and remedies that lack.  And it does so honestly, durably.

If all questions come from people, the answers can't be objective bits of information, separated from our experience of personhood.  The answers must also be personal.  We can strain to turn our questions into objective bits of information in order to only see answers that are similarly diminished.  But we can't do that to our honest questions.  Our real questions, the ones we actually have as opposed to ones we merely invent, come from us, from our experience, and they can't be extricated from from what is intrinsic to us.

So we are left with this arrow pointing toward God.  Why do I say that?

1 - We cannot get away from the fact of truth, real truth, existing.  For any question worth answering, there is an answer.  The answer's existence is not made abstract because I don't know it.  It really exists.  It is disingenuous to say that something with a 100% chance of existing does not exist, just because we have not yet seen it.  The answer can be no less real than our question.

2 - The truth is personal in the same way that our questions are personal.  The answers to our questions are made of the same things we are.  Not skin and blood, but consciousness, being.  We will experience many answers and when we do we will, in truth, not in some abstract way, experience a slaking of a particular thirst.

To sum that up, there is something which is completely real (the answer exists) and perfect (the answer is correct), which is more "person" than I am (the answer is something I can experience).

Another angle on this is that there is something we might call a standard by which something is determined to be true.  This standard cannot be arbitrary or subjective, because no matter how arbitrary or subjective we are as persons, we are not creating this standard.  It already exists.  We know enough to understand that the standard determines whether something is taken to be true, and if you change the standard you change what is considered true.  But a standard which changes is obviously imperfect.  An ultimate truth exists, so a standard for that truth also exists.

A standard, though, is something obviously experiential.  A set of experiential ideals can be construed to be a standard for truth: I could take as true that which "rings true", or which in the totality of my experience over the full extent of time proves to mesh with my best understanding of truth.  I could adopt a very poor standard, and the result would be a shoddy standard for truth.

It turns out to be very hard to ascertain truth beyond these fuzzy ideals we call standards.  But our own imperfection only magnifies the certainty that there is indeed a standard out there worthy of the title "truth".  The more poorly we do "truth" the clearer it becomes that we could do better.  This "betterness" is so tangible, so palpably real, so compelling, that we cannot dismiss it as arbitrary or accidental.  Goodness, when truly good, is very convincing.

The claim that truth does not exist begins to look like not trying hard enough.

Let's withdraw from that doomed course of nihilism and accept that truth is real.  What could the standard of real truth be?  It would have to be a set of ideals that are truly good.  A set of principles that are truly worth following.  A set of laws which are deeply edifying.  And all of this is made out of the same stuff we are: being, light, that sort of thing.

The truth is a person, or rather a Person.

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