Sunday, February 21, 2010

Why Value Truth?

Original Posting

Keeping with my belief that value is created by human beings, I ask whether it is wise to value truth.

Truth, here, is defined as holding beliefs that conform to reality. This is specifically about truth as it relates to human beliefs.

I'm not really asking why we should value truth, because asking why you should value something only makes sense when something is valued for the sake of something else. This blog assumes that truth is valued for it's own sake, and not for the sake of something else. Mostly, I want to bring up an inherent problem of valuing truth, and then to ask whether it's wise to continue valuing it.

The problem is the fact that it's unattainable. Human beings view reality through very narrow, very subjective slits. We have our senses, we have our reason, and we have instruments that we can use to feed data to our reason that would otherwise be unattainable for our senses. However, there is much that we can't perceive due to weakness (i.e. things that can be perceived, just not with our current equipment) and there may be some that we can't perceive by nature (i.e. things that simply cannot be detected by humans at all). Even leaving aside the possibility that there are things we can't perceive by nature, the fact of the matter is that everyone is placing bets on beliefs without all of the available evidence, and there seems to be no other way.

For one, there is often a great deal of information available, and it's difficult to take it all in. For two, there may be a great deal of information unavailable, which will be impossible to take in until we become capable of accessing it. For three, I don't see how we would know when we have acquired all of the relevant information, how do we know when we've uncovered everything? These are all practical problems to truth, which I think presents a challenge to those of us who value truth.

Why value something that you can't have?

Many people believe that it's counter-productive to point out a problem without offering a solution. Those people, however, can kiss my ass since it's my blog and I can point out whatever the hell I want. I don't really have a solution to this problem, but I'm certainly not bringing it up out of some sense of support for people who want to drop reason. I bring it up simply to illustrate that people who love truth are loving something that they will never absolutely have, they can only experience it in shades.

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