A facebook comment response that got far too long. I apologize upfront as I absolutely adore talking philosophy with others, so sorry if this is boring to you.. lol but it expresses some thoughts that I’ve genuinely wanted to find a fellow philosophical “interlocutor” to discuss it with…
Stuff in blue is what my commenter had referenced
I may have to look up that book you mentioned [Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult], as I’m always interested in what possible different views are out there.
You bring up a point that deserves real attention.
Truth can be very different to different people, depending on your “lens” you are seeing, hearing, feeling it through.
Part of the reason we are now experiencing this “Post-factual age” (in my opinion – so take it with a grain of salt) is because there is a misunderstanding in what a “truth” actually IS in the first place. We’ve actually expanded its meaning and given “opinions” and fleeting “feelings” the same gravity and validity as “truth” or “fact”.
Truth which started off being defined as:
“that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”
Now goes on to also include
“a fact or belief that is accepted as true.”
Whether or not there are actual “facts” or standard “morals” is a philosophical question that has been a topic of discussion throughout time. I personally tend to lend towards the Kantian philosophy that there are some things that are just plain “true”, like for example…no matter what your religion or race or culture is, it is known that : 2 + 2 will equal 4. It is a mathematical fact that is consistent and replicable. It can be considered “true” and “valid”.
The more mundane beliefs about life and the understandings I gain from the stories I’m told — are for the most part contingent on my state of mind at that specific point in time. (this is the “lens” you mentioned, and honestly was exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned it being possible to ignore a truth – something you normally would agree with – simply because of biases held against who it was that uttered it).
While I can very well feel strongly about the “perceptions” I create through my “lens”, the mere point that they aren’t consistent, and aren’t 100% replicable for everyone across the board — should alert us to understand that there is an actual difference between something that is ALWAYS replicable as “true” and something that is not.
We often have called these opinions “personal truths” and over time the distinction between the two types of “truth” seems to have been lost.
This I feel is an unfortunate trend that leads to confusion over all, as it seems to equalize what is reality with fleeting opinion, leaving not much to solidly go off of.
To me it seems somewhat similar to the Kantian discussion regarding morality and the real difference between hypothetical imperatives (things you just ought to do to achieve a goal) vs. categorical imperatives (actual moral obligations derived from pure reason).
Kant’s view was that what is moral is totally knowable using reason. He reasoned that it was simple as to why it doesn’t require religion to understand morality. His basis for this was that if we consider our actions in a universal term, we can pretty easily determine if something is moral or not. He said:
Example – Lets say you are tempted to steal some bread at the store.
This would lead to a contradiction which would make it be known as being an immoral act. This is because if you bring yourself to accept the action (or maxim) of it being ok for you to perform theft without repercussion, it then should be ok for everyone world wide to perform theft without repercussion always. A rule allowing stealing isn’t really universalizable because there would be no end, and it could never be viewed as fair for everyone to always steal.
Back to the point I was trying to make was that we should consider a distinction in what we consider as truth, otherwise it isn’t a helpful parameter.
Whether or not we consider something as being an actual “truth” SHOULD require that it be a Universally valid statement. If its not, then it isn’t a solid truth, its just our impression.
1. [Maxim is a rule or principle of action.]
2. [Universal Law is something that must always be done in similar situations]