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What is the Truth?

Marlene Geiser

Posted on February 13, 2018 00:02

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As an ex-professor of Philosophy, a subject I covered with my students was the difference between "objective" and "subjective" statements. What I have shared here is my concern that these perspectives don't really help determine the truth. It was believed that an objective statement was predicated on fact. Subjective was an individual point of view. What I have written here is that an objective perspective has no long term validity. The truth is an ever-changing phenomenon.

I've been thinking about something. One could argue that the answer to the question I am asking has to be a subjective one.

When one studies Philosophy, something they learn about questions is that the answer can either be "objective" or "subjective." If one responds objectively, the response would be the accepted truth. A subjective response would be what they themselves believe to be true. There appears to be a puzzlement in this approach to the truth, and as a former professor of Philosophy, I have some concerns regarding the subject.

How do we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what is believed to be true is necessarily the definitive truth? In retrospect, one has to consider all the things people believed to be true "objectively" for centuries, and what now have been proven to be only man's "subjective" vision.

An example of this is the belief that the sun revolved around the earth. This was considered the objective truth. However, science has determined that the earth revolves around the sun. So now, in the twenty-first century, if one is to accept what science tells them, then they should have no doubt that what they are told is the truth.

What disturbs me is that anything that is determined to be so is not necessarily written in stone. There is always the possibility that one day man may discover that what he believed constituted the objective truth no longer is. How many misconceptions have we accepted to be true that have subsequently been discovered were not?

Accepting the possibility that what we believe is incorrect and may one day be proven to be something else, how can we live our lives with confidence that what we are told by those who claim to have their finger on the truth are in actuality right?

There was a time when capitalism meant the opportunity for all to have their dream of success. Today, if one looks at the world around them, that alleged objective truth has proven itself to be untrue. How many people who live in a capitalistic society are unable to even get a job? Would you now consider the "truth" upon which capitalism relies to have been anything but subjective? 

Take a look at the south side of Chicago or any other ghetto in which people find themselves jobless and often homeless. Would you say that what we believed was the objective truth, or that truth is subject to change, depending upon the circumstances?

Once upon a time in this country, we believed that the objective truth was that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Here again, I must question our acceptance of this alleged truth in light of the world in which we live, where many are denied these rights. Perhaps we should wonder if the things that we accept are not entirely subjective and change daily.

Marlene Geiser

Posted on February 13, 2018 00:02

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Source: Forbes
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