Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What is Truth? Does It Matter to You?

In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves. -- Buddha
You may have come across this somewhere: the truth shall set you free. How free are you? How free do you want to be?

A history professor once told me that she forbids her students from talking about “truth.” “It’s a pointless chase, a matter of opinion!” she exclaimed.

“Do you have your students do research in order to write a paper?” I asked. “Of course,” she replied. I continued, “If what you say about truth is true (!), then what does it matter? Why can’t they just make it up out of their heads?”

The professor asked that we continue our conversation at another time because she had just remembered an important meeting she had to attend. We never got to discuss it again. That was fifteen years ago. In the time since then, I have talked with many people in the Liberal Arts and Humanities who expressed similar disregard for what they called "a hegemonic conception of truth", invoking a condition called post-modernism, in which our society is putatively now existing.

Recently, much concern has been expressed about the withering of the Liberal Arts and Humanities at many universities, and warnings abound about the "corporatization" of the Academy. But what attraction does a discipline have if it holds out no hope for truth, even in approximation? Very few people treat their studies as some kind of game with which to while away their life and fortunes.

To examine these issues further, see Personal Liberation Through Education

-- EGR