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September 16, 2014



I guess I'm at a point in my life where I don't understand the question anymore. I see the word "truth" used concerning life, religion, etc. in the following three mostly mutually exclusive ways. This list doesn't include areas like courtroom testimony, programming, or mathematics where "truth" is precisely defined and largely irrelevant to anyone who's had two or more drinks.

1) Truth as something that can or should be used to coerce or sanction others who don't affirm it. Examples: the germ theory of disease as it pertains to vaccinations; standard climate models as they pertain to regulating pollution and dumping; the idea of human rights as pertaining to international treaties concerning human trafficking; anything church leaders say in fundamentalism. Certainty isn't really a factor in determining what is or is not coerced; confidence levels should play a role, but seem not to be applied consistently.

2) Truth as something that is affirmed by individuals, and has no coercive power on others, yet the negation of which apparently shouldn't be coerced by anyone else (or so the believers affirm). Examples: virtually anything New Age; belief in unprovable things by non-douchey faiths.

3) Truth as something that gives solace, sometimes inexplicably, in times of real crisis. There is some overlap between categories 1 and 2 here. I don't understand the mechanics of this one yet, but I have seen concrete examples (not suitable for internet publication) of people deriving impossible strength from claims that the vast majority of historians would dismiss as absurd or impossible. So verification and defensibility are almost irrelevant here.

There is a strong but not perfect correlation between members of the hegemony using truth in sense #1, and outcastes using truth in sense #2. Two counterexamples are prophetic speech, which often involve members of minority/oppressed communities using truth in sense #1, and white liberals in Boulder, who seem to be required by city ordinance to use "true for me" at least every fourth sentence.

I don't know that this really gets anywhere toward answering the question posed in the post, but it's at least a start toward addressing one key term.


Aw Greg! You went all post-modern on us.
Or am I wrong?

Greg Horton

You'll have to define postmodern, obviously.



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