Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The truth, Not The Truth: 3rd Installment

So what do I believe? I like the idea I’ve learned from Richard Rorty (who got it from Nietzsche) that we need no longer assume that there is a way the world is, or one world out there that is the guarantor of all our true and right statements and disproves all our false and wrong statements. That there is no way-in-which-things-are, no God’s-eye-view of things, which we all are trying to approximate in our various beliefs about what the world is like. Or, if there is a way-in-which-things-are, we can’t know for sure when we’ve gotten to it. Or, for those who are sure – like mystics or those with complete faith – they cannot demonstrate it conclusively to all others.

For years, even after having read Rorty’s critique of The Truth, I’ve always tried to make sure what I say is true by comparing it to The Truth. But I never seemed to be able to grasp The Truth. It was always just out of reach. Rorty is suggesting that this idea of The Truth (or The Good) serves the same role today as God did for previous generations. Foucault called it “the shimmering mirage of truth.” Instead of discovering what was true all along, we make what we call true - or best justified for now - in our interactions with others and the evaluation of each others beliefs.

There is no standard of perfect or absolute objectivity. Objectivity is determined case by case as people share their criterion of validity and agree or disagree that me or you have or have not met the criterion that we may or may not agree upon.

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