I am embarking on a journey of philosophy. During this philosophical journey, I intend to create for myself a law of reason which is entirely independent of other influences, but predicated on logic. During this endeavor, I will attempt to remove the dross of my opinions and collect the pure essence of reality. Why do this? Because I do not want to live my life in the dark. I want to know why I believe what I believe, and I want to be precise in my reasonings. I don’t want to run from one idea to the next; Not just rely on externalities but rely on knowledge which I have internalized from hard fought battles of the mind. I have been told that creating foundational rational philosophical thought from nothing is basically impossible. I like a hard challenge. That said, I will allow myself the absolute basics of support in this journey through the following predicating statements from logical theory.
The Predicating Statements
- P is P
- P is not non-P
- Either P or non-P
These are the three basic laws of logic, and they will be our only guide on this journey. Without them there is no basis for rational thought and I want to assume rationality. In essence they are:
- An identity is itself.
- Something can not be not itself.
- Something can not both be itself and also something else.
A Defense of Truth
What is truth?
I want to start here. And I want to do so for a very basic reason. I intend to use truth as the basis for the rest of this conversation. Everything else will hinge on this single assumption, which we will build into a rock solid bastion.
First, a Definition, which we will then shore up.
Truth is the reality of a thing. Not what is perceived of a thing, but what lies behind perception, once perception has been stripped away.
Truth is based in the logical statement that P is P and that P is not non-P. The refutation of truth is that while, P may not be non-P, we don’t know for sure what P and non-P are, therefore we can’t know P or non-P. And I would agree with this assessment. To a point. We as humans are limited by our perceptions and our pre-conditions. We make assumptions of reality given our built in framework. And because of this reason, I think red is purple, because I have a slight color blindness. But, per my predicate, that does not mean that red is in fact purple, because P is not non-P. My perception is what is wrong.
So then, how do we understand the difference between perception and reality?
Perception VS Reality
The easy out would be to say that reality is what the majority of people believe to be true. But, people are so fallible, especially in large groups. Lots of people have thought lots of things which are wrong. So that falls on its face.
Let’s presume two people are looking at a painting. One person sees a field of light green grass. The other sees a field of brown grass. Who is right? Is it the person who sees a field of light green, or brown? Or is it defined by the painter who first saw the grass take shape?
None of these are true. The grass has a color which is born out of identity. The identity is provided by the aspect of light being reflected from the surface of the pigment onto the eyes of the observer. If viewed under a spectrometer, that light could be identified as specific values and ranges of values which would prove it to be light green and not brown. But, to fully flesh out the argument, could that spectrometer also be faulty and miss-calibrated to provide wrong information about the grass? It absolutely could. But that does not make the grass less green, it makes the spectrometer less accurate to reality. And there lies my point. Reality is the core of something. Perceptions can be accurate, or inaccurate, precise or in-precise. But that does not detract from reality. If Perception is reality, then we all live in our own realities. Which, to some extent, is true. But, that does not mean that this is a good thing. Because if we live in our own reality, which is not in fact an accurate depiction of the true reality, then our experience of life will be rather painful.
Imagine if perception were reality and you were blind. Per your reality, assuming no other knowledge or sensory inputs, you would constantly stub your toes on absolutely everything. Your reality would be quite painful. Because your reality does not adequately represent truth. Now, let’s give you a cane to walk with and then see how your reality will begin to reflect truth a lot more closely, and then subsequently your life will become less painful. Truth is what happens when your reality begins to reflect the universal reality which dwell beyond perception.
Now, I don’t actually believe that it is often possible to know truth completely. Because to know truth, we must know that our perception of reality is perfectly calibrated. That we are both precise and accurate in our measurement of a thing. And that is an impossible task. But, that does not make it less important. It simply means that we must always hold our own opinions about reality in suspicion.
Truth matters, because without it we will all live miserable lives. You can see this represented well in people who lack aspects of their senses. I have a wonderful friend who is mostly deaf. He has worked diligently to work around his lack of hearing. And in some ways, he is better for his lack of hearing. Ironically, he is an excellent listener. Because he knows that he might miss something if he is not focusing all his senses intently on what someone is saying. But, these are coping skills he had to develop because he was born with 80% hearing loss in both ears. It would have been much less painful for him to have been born without hearing loss. Then, he would not have struggled so hard to match his perception of reality to reality.
This is just one example, from the physical world. We see this same story played out in civics, ethics, morality, and in court. We put insane murderers in mental asylums because their perception of reality is so warped that they injure or even destroy other people unintentionally. Our entire society is principled on the foundation that truth exists and that some perceptions are wrong and some perceptions are right. To refute the existence of truth – absolute truth – the existence of something beyond perception – is to refute all morality, all society, all purpose, all meaning, and all value. And personally, I’d rather not do that. On the flip side, please do not take this post as an attempt by me to state that I know all truth. Far from it. Truth is the goal, but perception is where I am.