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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 25 – The Truth

Got my 3rd Podcast up on YouTube! Did you check it out? If not go here and I will soon post it on Facebook once it allows me to. Yesterday I tried to record a podcast with Tommy about how everybody’s perception of reality is different and even though we couldn’t get the podcast right I later saw Shutter Island and it supported the fact that everybody’s reality is different. Hopefully we’ll be able to rerecord it in the future but until then this note will have to suffice.

It is hard to tell if everybody’s perspective on life is exactly different because we can’t see life through someone else’s eyes. It is very difficult for humans in the first place to walk in someone else’s shoes but to see life the way someone else does is almost downright impossible. There’s no way to tell at least nowadays what’s going through someone’s mind. Their perceptions are all based upon their beliefs values morals and knowledge as well as many other things. They react to things differently based upon how their brains process the information they absorb through their senses from their surroundings and environment. Because of this I wanted to relate it to the truth and how it is hard to find and there may not be an absolute truth.

Just like in the movies, you try to figure out the truth by using detective skills and investigate. To get a good grasp of the whole situation you try to get a feel for the whole story. The most effective way in deducting what’s going on is through experience and actually being in a situation as it occurs. This allows you to almost completely understand what happened and in turn uncover the truth. There is a possibility that how you see the world can skew your perspective on what was actually happening. For instance, if you were in a sad mood and you reminisce on that day a few years down the road you can remember that situation as being depressing. As the years pass then the people who had firsthand experience like actually being in a situation when it occurred will slowly decrease in numbers and it’ll be harder and harder to get accurate opinions and views in what was happening. The veterans of war die with age and people who were involved in the wars no longer are there to provide semi-accurate descriptions. I say semi-accurate because nothing is completely on the money because nobody is an omnipotent being that knows exactly what happened. Because there are less firsthand sources people only have the past artifacts to provide a basis for the history we believe as the truth. To understand what was going on like in the Neanderthal era we only have artifacts like their bones and cave drawings to give us a perspective. This perspective however is the limit of our knowledge on what was going on and therefore the extent of the truth that we have. Tommy also made a good point about how the history and past recorded history is written by the victors. This means that victor’s truth might and probably doesn’t match up with what actually occurred at that time. Therefore the truth is a very slippery subject that sometimes is out of reach or not able to be fully uncovered because the recorded history usually only gives one perspective.

Besides firsthand experience, there are also clues and evidence that try to help and uncover the truth. These clues can possibly lead to a trail that can in turn lead to a deduction on what happened. These clues are particularly vital in areas like criminal investigation try to deduce the culprit of the crime committed. These clues are good because, while they can’t talk and actually tell you what happened, they do provide and unbiased viewpoint on what actually happened. Like with the revisionist history example of how history is written by the victors, things involving sentient opinions and viewpoints are often biased. They can be biased for numerous reasons some being emotions and motives. Some people may be motivated or have a reason not to tell the complete truth. With inanimate objects, they don’t have any moods or emotions that could possibly convolute the truth. If you take a video or picture of a situation, it is the upmost truth or at least as close to the truth as you can get. If you have a false idea of the truth and review a video taken of a situation you can then realize what actually happened. For instance if I thought that the shirt I wore one day was blue but I took a picture of my shirt then I could look back and realize that the shirt was actually red. However, there is also ways to tamper with this evidence as with revisionist history. There are things such a Photoshop that allow you to modify the supposed truth.

Luckily in everyday life it isn’t too hard to find out the truth. There are also situations where the truth isn’t that important in knowing and other times where you just don’t care enough to try and delve and investigate a situation. There are other times where you don’t want to know the truth. Situations where the truth can be hurtful, lies can be set up in order to prevent these damaging truths. They could be little things such as white lies or other more serious things too. There are definitely times where I wish I didn’t know the truth and sometimes the truth is a very tricky subject. I believe the quote “You can’t handle the truth” applies very well to describe how sometimes it is best not to try to elucidate a situation. Keeping the truth from others also can be bad because it limits ones perspective and leads to false understandings of the truth. When you don’t completely understand a situation or are led to believe a lie, it can be almost as bad a knowing the truth. When you don’t get a complete view of a situation then your distorted version of the truth leads to rumors. Rumors spread like wildfire because the truth can be completely ignored or exaggerated so it provides exciting information to those who hear it and then in turn wish to spread it through gossip. The truth is a form of information and in a world where information is available at the press or a button on the internet it is hard but vital to weed through and try to find the truth. There can be multiple truths as well that can only partially reveal what really happened. Truth can be defined as information that has been verified that conforms to reality or actuality. Sometimes the truth is important but other times it is completely irrelevant in going about living your life.

-Allan Nicholas

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