TWO TRUTHS

I read today the sentence: "My belief about 'what's true' is that we each make up our truth as we go." It is worth a line of comment.

Yuck. Yuckyuckyuck.

Why Yuck?

This idea (I gather) is most familiar to us from Dewey.

It has become a platitude.

It plunges us into a sea of galloping relativity.

The writer went on: "It appears to me that different people assess the evidence in different ways (often based on beliefs already in place) and draw different conclusions from the same information."

Exactly. That is why we must examine "the evidence". That is why we must assess the "different ways". That is why we must go see if any of the "different conclusions" are valid.

I am nervous of replacing the idea of "truth" with the idea of "enquiry". The reason for this replacement is to remind us that truth is hard to attain. It is something like a direction ....

But if we replace the idea of "truth" with that of "my truth", then everything is lost.

The writer adds: "I am interested in hearing your truth."

"Truth" here means something entirely different. Of course, everybody has "my truth": my seeing into the world, from where I am, my situation in which nobody else can ever be. Of course I would want to enter into that with you, as far as possible.

At a Thinking at the the Edge workshop in New York, I watched Gene Gendlin trying to help one of the people disentangle these two kinds of truth. It was painful.

Perhaps it must be painful, this effort to remove from "my truth" what is merely a contamination of external ideation.

Equally it is painful, the effort to step outside "my truth", and make some constructive approximation to "the truth".

Neither truth do we "make up". That (so they tell me) is the drift of post-modernism.

"My truth" I find in me, and it is verified experientially. If I just make it up, the body hates it.

"The truth" I search for, with others. And as a matter of "fact", the body also hates it, if I make that up.

Eppur si muove, says Galileo. He recants, to save his skin. But he can't forbear to mutter "And yet it moves", as he stumbles away.

The truth is not merely a narrative that we compose.

6th January 2002

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