A Discourse on Truth
(Or, That One Philosophy Paper I Thought Might Make a Good Post)
By: N. Mozart Diaz
“Every truth is a way toward a goal which lies at the end of the way, but which, on the other hand, manifests itself only on and along the way; reaching the goal lies in going the way.”
The hero takes his first step into an indefinite unknown and with each step in the darkness, each obstacle overcome, he finds himself closer to the goal which calls to him — that call which urged him to start the journey in the first place — until one fateful day he finds himself at his goal; yet he knows that the goal was only possible by every single step along the way — little goals in themselves.
Narratives are simple and easy to follow. We apply them to whichever parts of our lives we want to organize — which is to say, the entirety of it. Narratives have a beginning, middle, a conclusion, and a final line that summarizes the whole thing. It is fun; it is one of those things we’ve been doing since we were little and cannot seem to stop writing them in our minds, but despite this, it falls short of reality. Our narratives do not have a clear beginning. Was it when we were conceived? Or when we were born? Or is it when we began applying this pattern to our lives? The middle is non-linear, it has no clear path. And in the end, there is no clear goal — no one, singular Truth.
The short narrative I wrote above simplifies an entire life’s journey. It does not tell of the dead ends, the wrong turns, and the circumstances that hinder the hero from reaching his goal. And in the end, what if there is no goal? What if each step, each little goal, each little truth are merely those, little goals, truths, and steps that are ends in itself and not a means toward a singular Destination, Goal, or Truth?
But if there were no Truth, no final and ultimate culmination of all the things we have learned, would we still pursue it? Or would we, instead, pursue the pursuing of it? Or is it that there is no singular and monumental Truth that fits everyone, but rather a singular and ultimate Truth fit for one person?
The quote implies the latter. Only by beginning the journey as an ends in itself does the goal materialize. And it is a journey that is taken alone, if there is only one Truth per person, and then there can be no companions and no two Truths exactly alike. Everyone has an end game, but we will never see the goal unless we take the risk to pursue the truth. It is only open to those who seek it.
That being said, the answer to the previous two questions would both be yes. Since at the beginning of it we do not know whether or not there is a finite goal, we must first pursue the pursuing of truth. By doing so, the goal materializes — and we have a destination.
But it isn’t a pleasant journey. There will be things we wish we had not known, things we wish we had never heard, and truths so radical that they might even challenge everything we knew and paralyze us in disbelief. It’s the cost of starting the journey. We trade in a life of comfort, bliss, in ignorance to search for something beyond anything we could ever imagine.
In one of Paolo Coelho’s books, The Alchemist, the protagonist is in a very similar situation. He is called forth into a grand journey that he, a shepherd, could not have dreamt of. But in the end of it, he finds himself right where he began, not defeated, but awestruck at how the world conspires to get you where you need to be. But before he found his treasure, before he began his journey, he first needed to take that first and fateful step — as we all need to in order to find our Truths.
The end differs for everyone, what is similar to all is the call to begin the journey. Everyone looks for some kind of truth in their lives, and everyone looks for the answers to the questions they ask late at night when they are all alone staring at the ceiling wondering the meaning of it all. Man is by nature, philosophical. We all ask the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why is there pain and suffering? Is there a God? What happens after death? And all the other questions we can think of. We are called for the journey; the difference that sets everyone apart is the response. Will we start it or will we crawl back to our little corners of comfort? Will we hide in our cages or will we seek the uncomfortable truths of our existence? We only need to respond and begin the journey, and the goal will materialize — regardless of whether or not it fits into our narratives.