Monday, November 02, 2009

Truth (2)

When we admit, like I did in my blog last week, that we can never know that a statement is true, and that things expressed in it can always be different from what we originally thought that they are, truth can no longer be something absolute. However, it can serve as a guideline. For when I argue that there are only subjective viewpoints and interpretations of the world around us, I do not want to say that any viewpoint and any interpretation will do. It is a bit like what George Orwell said in his Animal Farm: All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others. In the same way we can say: All statements are true (namely from a subjective point of view) but some statements are truer (namely what they say is nearer to reality) than other statements. And because we prefer statements that are truer above statements that are less true, truth can serve as a guideline. This is basic knowledge in science and it is what science is about: to produce truer statements. However, that truth is a guideline needs not to be limited to science but it applies to social life as well: What we think that is true in social life from our point of view may appear to be fundamentally different from another viewpoint. But many people think that their own truths are the only truths and some may even be prepared to die for them and to make other people die for them instead of talking about their truths. Actually matters are more complicated, for truth in science is not exactly the same as truth in social life. But just this brings the idea that one has to talk and not to fight about fundamental differences even nearer to the truth.


Luzdeana said...

Hi, Henk!
Unluckily, men too often forget that it is speech what makes the difference with other species.

HbdW said...

Hello Diana,
Yes, you are right. And differences in speech and language can lead to many misunderstandings.