Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Hunger for Truth

Blaise Pascal says that "man wants to be happy and to be assured of some truth" (Lafuma 123). Strange thing about that. It's true even in today's relativistic, postmodern world.

Note how people who argue that there is no such thing as truth (or Truth), that there are many "truths," that our minds cannot know truth but only the epiphenomena of our brain chemistry--all are adamant, even outrageously aggressive--to support and defend the truth of those philosophies. Of course, such positions are embarrassed by self-referential absurdity--self contradiction--but nevertheless it's telling how earnestly and  how strongly committed so many of these people are.

But Pascal is right. We want assurance of some truth. This explains why so many try so hard to locate evidence for the rightness of their beliefs, whether social, moral, scientific, philosophical, or religious.

"We have no free will or free thought," someone says. "Everything we say or do or think is predetermined."
"So, then, why are you telling me this?"
"To convince you."
"But if all our thoughts and ideas are predetermined, there can be no such thing as a change of mind independent of predetermined changes. Argument, reason, and conviction are illusions. But I guess your need to try to convince me is predetermined, so you can't help yourself. And unfortunately, I'm predetermined not to believe you."

The same comments could be made about man's search for meaning. Some people argue that life has no meaning, and they are earnest to convince everyone else that such is the truth. But if life has no meaning, why bother? Why care? Nor does it help much to say, "Well, we as individuals or societies construct socially agreed upon meanings." Doesn't that sound a bit arbitrary? As the saying is, In a land without steak, cardboard is steak. If the real thing is denied or missing, a counterfeit will be invented.

No comments:

Post a Comment