Sunday, April 30, 2017

What is Truth?

Truth is the kind of thing that doesn't make for anti-imperialist programs. For if something is true, it is so independent of whatever you might think about it. It requires a kind of humility towards the thought that one has the truth already, locked and sealed; it makes it so that one has to revise ones' reasons. Realist conceptions of truth therefore imply falsifiability--not by virtue of ones’ peers, necessarily--but by virtue of revelation itself. Thus, truth and justification are at odds, to some kind of degree, as we note in the definition of knowledge as justified true belief, which opposes mere justification.

The possibility that something might be be false and yet fully justified entails that some proposition might fail utterly in being justified, and yet still be true. Thus, truth is not the kind of thing that depends on justification, not even in the sense that it could be justified by some audience, pace Richard Rorty. This was Bertrand Russell’s realist point about truth. The gloss that makes better sense while avoiding Kant’s ding-an-sich is just that truth is not dependent on what we do make of it, which contains the reminder that it is not dependent on whatever we make of it; for truth might very well rupture our justifications, even to the point of being without justification. It might then be unverifiable. We might say truth is sovereign in the sense that it is free to come and go as it pleases. It is therefore unlike the Form that is contrary to the instances; it is instead like the form in Avicenna that is indifferent to being justified or unjustified. Therefore it is not that it cannot be justified, like the ding-an-sich.

William James had truth of a different order in mind when he described it as bearing fruit. In particular, what he had in mind was the notion of truth that attends the creation of the kingdom of God, which we might very well find to be useless (at least for the moment) for our own self-constitutive desires. If God makes something true, it bears fruit, as the wheat is discerned to be unlike darnel seed in the instantaneous harvest. “I am the way the truth and the life”, then, just means “I can be tasted to see that I do in fact bear fruit.” And this doesn't mean, necessarily anyway, that the justification will be objective; it might very well be subjective. It is a path through the thicket of failed efforts that seek to correspond to the good; but what is good is not the kind of thing that seems good to anyone: Christ was notorious at shielding the kingdom of heaven from anyone that would fail to hear it. “He who has ears, let him hear…” And yet, this cannot be exact because there is also the sense that one will see the kingdom, the face of God. So it would seem anyway, that the secret is seeing the truth, is seeing the kingdom of heaven, of hearing it, of understanding it, despite the doubt and sin that would draw us onto a different path. 

The order of the kingdom of heaven is impossible to figure in its entirety; and similarly, I would say that truth is impossible to discern by standards of the world. Therefore the secret order of truth is always of a different sort of thing than the order of objective discernment. It is important to understand, fully, that justification and truth are at odds like the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of the world (two orders of truth). Sometimes these worlds collide and the kingdom of heaven is built, as Christ was executed without cause--innocent, yet guilty (cf. Agamben, Pilate and Jesus); other times it is left to the secret, as Christ continuously ran from town to town and specified that spreading the good news (of this or that healing) was often times to be avoided (kept secret). Pilate wanted to know the truth but couldn't hear it, and so he handed over Christ to be crucified, after deliberating in a way that was visibly uncomfortable, after being allured beyond his own conception of justification...

It is because truth is not completely hidden that the truth can be seen, here and there, for a taste; but the fact that it is secret makes everything difficult to hear. Truth is easy as disquotation and (mere) justification under the kingdom of the world (the demonic); truth in the kingdom of God, which adequately bears fruit with respect to anti-worldly values, is of a different order that will always be counterintuitive for those without ears to hear, and with those that are human  and so, cannot have perfect ears. The kingdom will forever rupture our expectations because the order of truth resists being ours. The important intuition of realist conceptions of truth, finally, is that the final cause of truth is God himself; therefore, anything on the way, anything justified, might be spoiled and fail the order of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom of truth (heaven) is beyond justifiability as the sky is beyond the sea. 

No comments:

Post a Comment