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Friday, November 23, 2007

What is truth?

Hasn't evolution provided somewhat of a conundrum for us humans? We want truth, yet we are confused about what is truth. The problem. A human mind evolved in one way, and now, like a found tiger cub that is raised at home with love and care, we hope for domestication. Will it work? Can it work?

So what is truth? From the Big Bang to the first spark of life, all was truth. And then in those pre-human jungles and deserts and savannas and forests, all there was was truth. Nothing but truth. What was, was. Not a brain that existed then would argue this. Not a brain existed then that could think anything else. Truth, for the living -- all life -- was survival, be that adapting to strategies of fearsome violence, or strategies of clever camouflage and rapid escape (plus countless other adaptations). It took the human brain that evolved into a thinking mind to change all this. Truth could now be denied. Which didn't change the truth, for all other life still lived in full truth, but this clever new thinking, self-aware human mind could make strategy for survival out of creating imagined truths, at which time untruths entered the picture. Since the Big Bang, untruth had not existed. Since untruth entered the picture and the human mind traded knowledge of truth for self-awareness and imagination, humankind has struggled to regain that pre-human pure vision of truth (without acquiescing self-awareness and imagination), and so far science is our only tool. But the question becomes, can we destroy all untruth without too destroying self-awareness and imagination, and who we are?

8 comments:

jzr said...

Ah, truth. If the truth were to be told, where would we be?

Bro. Bartleby said...

I think a hermit could find truth, the all surrounding all encompassing truth of the natural world (when other humans are absent), if that hermit could, as some Buddhists do, empty oneself of self-awareness and imagination, and if that possible, could suppress (or lose?) all that which makes one human, and become a creature simply reacting to the environment -- being one with nature (perhaps not the romantic notion that one imagines when thinking "zen thoughts"). Certainly something that our self-aware mind doesn't want.

PastorSteve58 said...

Hum, I wonder then why we cannot empty ourselves, is it possible to find truth even with self awareness?

Lifewish said...

but this clever new thinking, self-aware human mind could make strategy for survival out of creating imagined truths, at which time untruths entered the picture.

Uh uh. It's not just humans who do this. See my recent short post about animal magic.

Without the concept of untruth, is the concept of truth meaningful? In other words, do animals have truth, or do they just have a constant river of introspection-free experience?

Bro. Bartleby said...

Do you think your cat wonders? Or do cats just observe? And make humans think they are wondering?

Lifewish said...

I think the term "wonder" is too... encapsulated to describe what a cat does. Without self-perception, there is nothing to separate a cat's mental processes into distinct thoughts. A cat's mind just is. But to the extent that reality is reflected in its ripples, a cat can be as foolish as a human.

I imagine a cat's mind as being like the flow of a river - sometimes rocky and serene, sometimes turbulent, always a continuous stream of experiences.

By contrast the human brain is like an irrigation network - horribly artificial by comparison to a river, and sometimes dry or stagnant, but necessary for great crops to grow.

Bro. Bartleby said...

How about the brain and mind separation, yet both inside the skull, with humans a far more developed mind than other creatures, so far advanced that the mind "uses" the brain (computer) to converse with itself. So my previous question about if a cat wonders would be better asked, does a cat mind have conversations with itself? For humans I think from these inner monologues arise wonder, and too, imagination. I think your analogy of the cat's mind a river flow would be more like a person just learning to drive a car and using all the mental processes to do so, almost a total action-reaction. But the human mind would be the experienced driver, driving the car with the brain and using the mind to talk on a cell phone and fiddle with a navigation system and shake a fist at some new driver, who just made an unsafe lane change. And also thinking of what's for dinner and also about the wife's upcoming birthday and also how to handle his teenage son who is begging to get his driver's license.

Lucy said...

French for wonder translates as 'to ask oneself'.