Monday, November 08, 2010

The Theory of Truth

Here I am....er...with another weird theory.  This one though is, ironically, called the theory of truth. Not sure if western philosophy and religion emphasize on the search for and discovery of the truth but eastern religions, literature and manuscripts have, I think, numerous references to the concept of 'looking for the truth' (think Buddha and Enlightenment or Nirvana).

Here is my take on the reflection of this in society at large. I reckon you can decipher a person's approach towards the concept of truth from her 'overall' (what can be consistently observed in the majority of situations) behavior. One's approach towards the concept of truth, I think, has enormous (& critically so) implications on behavior in terms of values and ethical thoughts, personal and professional decisions, relationships and learning.

Here are some approaches (to truth) that may be the cause for certain common or uncommon (useful or useless, appreciated or unappreciated, successful or unsuccessful etc) traits in people.

a) An approach that involves constantly going in search of the truth but never seeming to reach it (fickle minded and indecisive but open-minded people?)

b) Belief that we already know the 'permanent' truth (supreme exhibitors of confidence and rigid/inflexible thinkers?)

c) Belief that there is no such thing as the 'truth' and that everything is perception (happy-go-lucky, adjusting and somewhat frivolous characters?)

d) Conviction that the truth is constantly evolving and is therefore not actually chase-able (open-minded, humble and intense listeners who never criticize anything?) 

Having proposed my theory of truth, I'd like to stray a bit into a related area. I think truth (irrespective of whether it is permanent or temporary) becomes elusive and hard to get to because of the following fallacies that almost every human shows.

1. Assumptions: How much ever we are asked and trained to not assume things, we will continue to assume things based on our knowledge (or rather ignorance), beliefs, intentions etc and this will keep us away from the truth (eg: assuming a particular thing to be the purpose of an activity)

2. Face value acceptance: How much ever we are taught to look deeper, question everything and analyze things from a neutral standpoint, we will continue to arrive at  conclusions based on face value and thus be mislead to a place far away from the truth (eg: believing what someone says without probing further and studying other sides or aspects of the story)

3. Ignoring differences in definitions: How much ever we are reminded that each person's definition (understanding and interpretation) of a term or concept is likely to be different from others' definitions, we plunge into things with the blind belief that we are all on the same page and have a common understanding and interpretation of the aspects under discussion  

Righto. I am perhaps done with my quota of pure and meaningless philosophy for the next one year. But if you want to ramble along, go ahead and assume things, accept this at face value and ignore our definition differences and rattle off your thoughts. Har har. :-)

4 comments:

Srikumar K said...

You are right. I have heard sankaracharya said we dont exist, madhva charya said we exist and ramanujacharya said we seem to exist. I think that darwin was right when he said we evolved because there is evidence for it. Much else is quite unknown. It is known that all organisms are led by genes which contain DNA molecules. The DNA acts as a template for making new DNA molecules which means that a DNA molecule has some sense in it. What is that sense? To be found out.

Nimmy said...

Excellent comment, Srikumar! Thanks for sharing this.

I am aware of some of the teachings of these great spiritual leaders but I never thought about it this way - "I have heard sankaracharya said we dont exist, madhva charya said we exist and ramanujacharya said we seem to exist". :-) Advaitha, Dvaitha and Vishishta Advaitha?

I am currently reading a book on science and religion. Seems interesting...

Caveman said...

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..........

Nimmy said...

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.......... what? :-)