What ‘TRUTH’ do you mean?
“TRUTH” is a tricky word. In common use, it has many different meanings. If people don’t distinguish these in discussions, we get the problem that Rutu captured in one of the comments — i.e. the elephant being examined by blindfolded scientists. “Truth” is a strong emotional trigger word. That means, when people see or hear the word “truth”, it automatically triggers emotions in them that set expectations for what they see or hear next. “Truth” is also a highly valued word. That means, everyone wants it to belong to them. So they make up connotations for it to fit their world, and then expect others to accept those meanings. A legal “truth” for example is very different from philosophical “truth” or what people accept as the “truth?” of a “white lie” or only telling a piece of the “whole truth”.
The biggest problem I’ve found with “truth”, however, is that modern society has “truly” lost its ability to comprehend what truth means.
Thomas Dohling says, “Truth = Reality”. This expands the conundrum further because modern society has also lost its ability to understand reality. And that’s a VERY BIG problem. Why? Because severe mental illnesses have as a primary condition ‘loosing touch with reality’. So, when reality becomes nebulous, and truth becomes nebulous, society in general is not so clearly distinguishable from a mental institution. Sure, people can throw words at each other, but whether we are communicating or not is another story.
One more example shows how devastating this problem has become for society. I call it the Multiple Religions Problem.
Each nation in the ancient world essentially had its own self contained religion. That effectively minimized internal religious conflict. But modern social arrangements, like a founding new country, ruled by the people, and founded in part to provide Pilgrims religious freedom, changed that. So did advanced communications. Over night, people were exposed to hundreds of religions. Each thinks they are the true religion and others are heresy. To avoid religious conflict, world leaders, acting out of denial, ignorance and lack of responsibility, created a tragic “work around”. The proclamations went out: “Freedom of religion. Tell everyone they are allowed to believe ANYTHING they want!”
The problem is, it didn’t stop with religion. The principle quickly spread from religious issues to all issues. Citizens were told they had “freedom of thought”. At first, this sounds pretty “democratic”. In sparse populations, like colonial times, where social ideas didn’t mix much due to slow and minimal communication, and rural farming life was pretty simple and independent, it did tend to work. BUT! The naive principle of “free thought” completely collapsed with the introduction of COMPLEXITY like we have in modern society.
Take medicine as an example. How would medical care work with a “believe anything you want” philosophy? What if every doctor, every nurse and every drug company could do things any way they wanted? How about paying taxes? Couldn’t everyone just follow their own beliefs about that? How about our legal system? Couldn’t everyone decide what laws they want to follow? How about automobiles? Couldn’t everyone decide to drive any way they want? How about living in a house? Couldn’t everyone decide to build a house anyway they want? Why do we need all those fire-prevention codes, or electrical-codes, or zoning codes? Couldn’t we all decide how to dump our garbage and sewage any way we want? How about electric power? Couldn’t every power station decide to chose their own voltage, plugs and wiring? How about every railroad being able to put tracks anywhere they want? And how about education? Why can’t every teacher decide to teach anything they want?
The point is, for a modern, complex society to work, all world societies, and everyone in them, needs to rethink the entire fundamental concepts of FREEDOM and TRUTH. Until society finds ways for everyone to agree on what citizens are free to do, and what not, and what parts of life can be understood as truths, and what can’t, we are essentially living in a world wide insane asylum!