Saturday, October 13, 2012

Whose Truth?

Here's a reply I made here:

I think it's understandable even with a few inside references:

By what means or criterion do we determine the Truth? F. has his approach. I would guess that if you practiced his/Dan Brown’s/the Mahamudra approach then it would look that way. But if you practiced another approach you may find a different Truth or no Truth or some Non-Dual, ineffable, relative/absolute, Truth/Non-Truth. How are these differing Truths to be adjudicated? How do we sort out which is really the Truth? Whose practices, traditions, concepts, experiences are we to trust as providing The Truth?

Even with powerful practices to determine the Truth we still have to convince others through our words and through our persuasiveness to do the practices that we’ve found show the Truth. It’s the interaction with the community of those involved in determining what we know that we must engage regardless of how convinced we are by our Truth, which, of course, we know is The Truth. (This is Wilber’s three strands of any valid knowledge quest, the last strand is the opinion of the relevant community about the proposed piece of knowledge, that’s why his concept of orienting generalizations is important to him, because it determines what is knowledge.)

This view of the inevitable plurality of truths causes me to like, in contrast to Fede, Wilber’s move to a post-metaphysical integral theory in which the leading edge development is both discovering and creating the truth through its life practice on more developed levels. I don’t think that’s what’s really happening, but this incorporation of the role of the person and the human community in the creation of what we know is true captures something important about our postmodern present and so could argue that it is a transcendence and inclusion of a contemporary understanding.

But I also made the point that there is too much made of Truth in spiritual circles. I said that we should care more about ethics and actions. A person who has the Truth may still do bad things and a person without the truth may do good things. What we want is people acting better and talking about how we should act and altering their selves in order to act more ethically.

So a difference between us is how we believe you determine when you have knowledge. For you powerful mystical experiences are the means to Ultimate knowledge. Probably because you’ve had those experiences and were convinced by them. I have not had those experiences. For a different set of reasons than you I promote an emphasis on knowledge as more fundamentally dependent on ethics and the power structure of the institutions that determine knowledge. So when we are at the intellectual level in which we discuss philosophical topics like the character of knowledge, our views start diverging and we reach a point where you cannot give reasons for your choice of one criterion of knowledge over another. That’s when we would inquire into the extra-rational reasons any given person believes in something rather than something else. I advocate and demonstrate a “psychology of belief” in order to examine the nature of our attachment to the belief we find convincing for extra-rational reasons.

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