Thursday 16 August 2018

The search for Truth will fail

Because Truth is not the primary value in reality; anyone who puts Truth first will fail in their quest.

In sum: epistemology, the quest for certainty, the question for solid, unchangeable, objective, coherent, total knowledge is an impossible quest, ultimately; because it is not the ultimate reality - being at most an aspect of reality.

This is because creation is ongoing, dynamic, unfolding, open-ended... creation really is creat-ive.

So the bottom line is that reality is something develop-ing; not something that stands still to be captured and defined.

Knowledge is constrained by beings, e.g. by the perceptions, experiences, cognitive capacities of beings; and beings are developing, therefore beings may in future come to know more.

Christians should not, therefore, be misled into putting truth first; because for us, first is the situation of God's creation, and the mutual love of those who are co-creating with God. There is no truth outside this creation - only chaos. But within creation we cannot expect static and permanent and complete truths; because the situation is one of development.

Even God (the primary creator being) does not and cannot know everything of truth; insofar as God's creation continues to develop; and the actions of co-creating agents continue to change things.

Note: All the above is a consequence of 'polarity' - which is a more abstract and physics-y way of saying the same thing.  


Desert Rat said...

To know God, Our Father, is to know Truth.

Wade McKenzie said...

I'm just curious, Professor Charlton--is this statement of yours intended to be true? If not, then it seems your worldview is a kind of Christian Nietzscheanism. And, of course, if it is intended to be true--then, by its own lights, it isn't. Neither option strikes me as suitable.

Bruce Charlton said...

It's metaphysics. It ought to be contrasted with the perspective of 'epistemology' (i.e. manstream philosophy since Kant) which has spent hundreds of years going nowhere - I'm trying to explain why. That is based on a false model of reality. It is the truth of reality that makes reality Not a matter of 'truths.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I would say that the key thing to understand is that there is no truth without meaning, and no meaning without desire. So what we must avoid is the pointless search for 'objective truth', meaning something that would be true even if nobody had any reason to care whether or not it was true.

Once nobody really has any reason to care whether something is true, then it is meaningless and therefore not true. Another way of saying that is that if something actually makes a difference in our lives, then we would have a reason (even if only a very slight one) to care which difference it was making, by the very same token which makes it possible for us to verify the factuality.

Differences are not measured in seconds or meters or grams, not even in eons or lightyears or stellar masses. Differences are measured in terms of whether we actually care about them, whether they result in a desired outcome being secured or frustrated. When building a cabinet, I don't care about micrometer differences, when building a CPU, I definitely must care.

But if I had no desires for either, if I didn't really want a cabinet or a CPU, then the differences in both case would be meaningless to me. It would simply be untrue to say that one was out of tolerance and the other within it because the tolerance is defined in the first place by whether I want a cabinet, a CPU, or something else. If I don't want them, then the tolerance is an undefined value.

For us, the great truth relates to the great desire. Do you love God, or not? Until you settle that question, nothing can be true or untrue about God...or yourself.

Wade McKenzie said...

@BC: Right. So you acknowledge that your statement isn't true--as by its own lights, you must. What's more, you seem to be affirming that it isn't intended to be true in the first place--thus transforming what might seem a sort of Gnostic Christian Hegelianism--truth is commutable, truth is historical--into, as I suggested, a species of Nietzscheanism: "Truth is a human creation, truth is fiction." (I do no injustice to your idea by invoking the adjective "human", given your recent affirmation of the essential continuity of God the Father, Christ and humankind--a continuity which I don't deny: the Father is a humane God. But a Christianity without eternal truth--not even the eternal truth that there can be no eternal truth, the point you fail to make persuasively in your original post, it being self-refuting--a Christianity where the Church Fathers are steeped in gross metaphysical error, while the proper metaphysical template for Christianity will only arrive in its fullness with the advent of thinkers like Nietzsche and Heidegger... Well, that to my mind is a disturbing claim for a Christian to make.)

The Crow said...

Truth is a word people use to describe something they know nothing about.
That people know nothing about it, does not mean truth does not exist.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WM - Let's just say you personally don't appreciate an aphoristic style when it comes to theology! To remake an inadequate metaphysics is no small task - because it must first be accomplished (at least experimentally) in the mind. Try reading Owen Barfield - - most people find his Saving the Appearances to be the best... anyway *that's* what I mean. But it took me some years before I 'got' OB, and believed it; despite my interest.

Wade McKenzie said...

@BC: I'm afraid I can't share your confidence that the idea you propose in the original post represents a contribution toward "remak[ing] an inadequate metaphysics". Indeed it strikes me that, far from reforming metaphysics, the piece rather reiterates the prevailing (and inadequate) subjectivist epistemology of our day and age. It effectively affirms the Nietzschean epistemology (truth is a human creation) as well as the epistemological bromide of contemporary progressivism (truth is a social construct). Your piece distinguishes itself from these subjectivist epistemologies only insofar as it idiosyncratically imagines that God the Father, Jesus Christ and redeemed humanity will socially construct the truth--"co-create" the truth--for all eternity.

The closest your view comes to being a metaphysic of sorts rests for me in its affinity with the avowedly anti-metaphysical Heidegger's notion of truth as Ereignis: truth is eventual, not eternal. I'm not wholly averse to entertaining the idea, but how are we to evade the obvious problem that truth construed as Ereignis must itself be eventual, epochal, "for the time being" only? If reality is event--Ereignis--then the truth of reality is temporal, historical, and that necessarily means that truth as event, as a "model of reality", will "eventually" prove false at some point in the ongoing, never ending future. If "truth" is epochal--does God not transcend the epochs? And in that "event"--is truth not finally eternal rather than eventual?

Bruce Charlton said...

@WM - You aren't in a position to have a valid opinion on this subject - and you don't see any need to make the (considerable) effort required to do so; presumably because you are satisfied with the existing assumptions. Let's leave it at that.

Timo P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chiu ChunLing said...

Or rather, because you have a point of view, you are not in the right position to talk of objective truth.

Of course, if you didn't have a point of view, you wouldn't care about truth at all.

But if you don't confront the dilemma, then we're stuck at word games because without acknowledging your own point of view "truth" doesn't actually mean anything.