On Truth: In Search for a Definition

Thursday, July-25-13
Dave Hood

Many people believe they are right about most things. Sometimes, they’ll tell you bluntly, “I’m right, and you’re wrong.” Others will passionately argue their points. Some will make a sarcastic comment: “Where did you learn that?” A few will become passive-aggressive. You never hear from them again.

***

Scientists talk about scientific truth, stating that something is true only if it is proven. The bold will tell you that “God does not exist.”

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The faithful will tell you otherwise. They’ll also proselytize that evil exists in the world, and the devil lurks in dark places, especially the fundamentalists and extremists, who take truth to the extreme. Their view: Either you’re with us, or you’re against us. If you don’t believe us, then you are evil.

***

Philosophers speak of empirical truth, proving something with the senses. If you can see it, or smell it, or taste it, or hear it, or touch it—then it must be real. It must be true. If must be a fact.

Philosophers also speak of logical truth. Truth cannot always be observed with the senses. Instead, truth can be proven in the mind, using logic and reason.

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As if living in medieval times, some people delude themselves with magical thinking, believing that one event will cause another, even though there is no logical reason. For instance, if you don’t wear your wedding ring each day, then it’s bad luck, something unfortunate will happen. Fear, anxiety, superstition, magic, occult, mythology—these are where you discover magical thinking. The problem with magical thinking is that the person believes it to be absolutely.

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Skeptics will say, “I won’t believe it, until you prove it to me.” Skeptics refuse to accept anything without absolute proof. They won’t make that blind leap of faith about anything.

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Creative writers, such as those who craft personal essays or memoir, will express their emotional truth, which answers the question: How did it feel to me? And so, one child will have memories of a tyrannical parent, and the sibling will view the parent as loving, compassionate, empathetic.

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Truth is often elusive.

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Marcus Aurelius wrote, “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

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About Dave Hood

Lover of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Professional photographer and writer. Without the arts, life would be rather mundane, like a walk down the same old path on a dull day.
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