Truth, Anti-Truth and the Dogma of Doubt

We no longer begin with doubt to orient ourselves in a pursuit of Truth. We once believed in the existence of Truth, even if we knew we would never arrive at Truth here and now. The journey toward Truth was nonetheless maintained, and it existed as an absolute, a fixed constant to manage the horrors of potentially living in perpetual relativity. The idea that all things were not relative because if they were there would be nothing for anything to be relative to held as a constant in all discussions of Truth. The idea that there were ideas both absolute and transcendent was not difficult to hold, and most Post-Structualist critiques were understood, but then so were their own inherent limits and limited validity. It is not the existence of Truth in a tactile sense of existence that anyone should adhere to, believe in, have faith for. The tangibility of ideas in the mind as themselves real although non-tactile was also part of our faith for the existence of Truth. Here we have the Kantian dichotomy separating those objects of sense perception and those objects of pure thought. Of course, in this context of referring to real objects, Truth (especially the capital ‘T’ variety) is an object of pure thought.

The Truth we speak about is also, if I may borrow from Scholasticism and Aristotle, a Potentiality as opposed to an Actuality. We had not yet lost our compass when I was an undergraduate. Moreover, we maintained faith for therefore a belief in objectivity as a possibility for what we also understood was an overbearing or overarching or overly determining  subjectivity: the individual human mind at work experiencing, perceiving, thinking, calculating, understanding, remembering and recollecting . . . I know we no longer have faith for Truth in the possibility of it because we have grown weary maintaining faith for what we mostly assumed would never reach. Even faith in God is supported by the possibility or is it the potential for arriving at God. The journey to Truth has been abandoned.

All or nothing seems to be our ultimatum with life; yet I understand the problems in epistemology caused by a misuse of or a mishandling of or a misapplication of, or a misalignment of the sets of illogically drawn inferences from (rooted in a misunderstanding of the tensions drawn mutually back and forth between objectivity and subjectivity, how each has its limits as well as each has its veracit(y/ies) our notion of Truth as well as the contingent ideas of transcendence and absoluteness.  I cannot, though, understand that doubt of all knowledge is the same thing as Socrates asking “What do I know? What can I know? What are the limits of knowledge?” I know nothing is the beginning of philosophy, the starting point in all epistemological inquiry. Inquiry here the key. However, it seems we have drawn I know nothing as our final conclusion, having no patience for explication, definition, or persisting in inquiry. It seems the post-post structuralist world is more elitist and absolutist in its intellectualism than ever had been claimed for the metaphysical tradition(s) preceding Structuralism or Post Structuralism.

 

As Socrates had noted, philosophy begins with a posed doubt to determine what is known, what is knowable, and what the boundaries of knowledge are. These cannot however be determined within a persistent doubt that is the summit of all-knowing. I know nothing is now the same as saying nothing is knowable, or what is knowable cannot be known. Erasing categorical boundaries, a persistent hobby among all Post Structuralists including their post-post inheritors seems too much like the carpenter throwing away his hammer and saw.  There is a subsequent ineptitude that leads us into one intellectual confusion after another. Confusion is like cacophony, cacophony a state like that of the ancient chaos, the rude and shapeless mass within which there is no light to discern anything. Chaos is the total absence of knowledge, herein metaphorically expressed by light. However, light has its literal and optical connection to seeing and what is seen. Definition in objects and all colors of objects, for instance, are determined by light. The reflection of light; the refraction, that is, the diffusion of light as well determine what and how we see. A red shirt is black in the dark, it is gray to the colored blind. Where there is no light, all things are black; black defined as the absence of light; white the coalescence of all bands in the spectrum. Everyone to his own dark night of the soul. I understand the limitations of perception, of its subjectivity as well as the nature of subjectivity in itself subjectivity.  I understand perspective and perspectivim, as well as I do the values and dangers of drawing consensus from multiple subjectivities. It is how well I understand these that demands in me an attention to, and an articulation of, objectivity, its meaning, its definition, thus its limits, the possibility of it and the potentialities for it. I understand too well the limited inferences to be drawn from one’s perspective, as well as the limits of individual perception (something Cubism tackled in representation, both unique perspective on the plane and the limits of a point-of-view.  I must maintain, though, at least as a potential, the validity of a capital ‘T’ Truth; I must have faith for the possibility of objectivity, as I must understand the veracity of objects of pure thought. However, when a civilization rests its epistemology on doubt as we do, this dark night referred to above pervades the mind and affects all thinking, thus the mentality of any culture so adhered.

Doubt, as I have said before, has become the highest wisdom.  Another fools errand we run; ignorance being a turning away from understanding, comprehension being a turning toward the light. Doubt is a kind of darkening of the world, a return to the cave (herein referencing Plato and his Allegory of the Cave in his Republic) .We have not examined the consequences of this ever-growing doubt, of this further darkening of the world. We cannot stand the light of the day and how much more definition is articulated by light, just in the perception alone. Correspond this light of the world for a light of the mind, and yes, the analogies should be clear.

We do doubt that anything can be known, or that there is anything that is knowable. All ignorance begins with a simple act of ignoring. Doubt is, again, a darkening of the world There are people who doubt knowledge can be attained, or that knowing is possible. They do, by their actions and thoughts, insist that we must doubt our epistemological traditions, or narrow them, or deny them, or ignore them. For these people the only veracity is in their minds; their minds darkened by their persistent doubting, doubting, doubting. They live in a shadowy world with shadows of things for the things in themselves in the light. Knowledge is light. To reject knowledge is to reject the light. Doubt is a preference for shadows at best. Doubt can be healthy at times, to an extent. Doubt helps us avoid hubris, arrogance, assumptions. But what we have done instead is to open the void, the abyss, and leave all prey to that horrible vacuum Nietzsche warned us that Nature abhors.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.