All We Need Is Truth

PHILOSOPHICAL CORRECTNESS BASED ON TRUTH, NOT HURT

What is humanity based on? It’s obvious: truth. Truth teaches what is. Hurt feelings are nothing relative to truth. When one has to survive, it hurts. A baboon troop going to water in a military fashion, fascist instinct fully deployed, is ready to hurt, and be hurt, but it has no choice.

Life is not just, no pain, no gain. Life is actually a bath of pain, to some extent. We don’t have to be in the bath all the time, but sometimes we need to.

No pain, no bain.

Truth’s Value Is Found In Its Offensive Character

Truth’s Value Is Found In Its Offensive Character

[Hitchens, born British, but a honorary American, a dedicated atheist to the bitter end, and excellent polemist, died of brain cancer a few years ago.]

Excellent editorial by David Brooks in the New York Times, The Campus Crusaders. In it Brooks points out that: “Right now, college campuses around the country are home to a moral movement that seeks to reverse centuries of historic wrongs.

This movement is led by students forced to live with the legacy of sexism, with the threat, and sometimes the experience, of sexual assault. It is led by students whose lives have been marred by racism and bigotry. It is led by people who want to secure equal rights for gays, lesbians and other historically marginalized groups.

These students are driven by noble impulses to do justice and identify oppression. They want to not only crack down on exploitation and discrimination, but also eradicate the cultural environment that tolerates these things. They want to police social norms so that hurtful comments are no longer tolerated and so that real bigotry is given no tacit support. Of course, at some level, they are right. Callous statements in the mainstream can lead to hostile behavior on the edge. That’s why we don’t tolerate Holocaust denial.”

So far, so good, but Brooks points out: “…it sometimes slides into a form of zealotry. If you read the website of the group FIRE, which defends free speech on campus, if you read Kirsten Powers’s book, “The Silencing,” if you read Judith Shulevitz’s essay “In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas” … you come across tales of professors whose lives are ruined because they made innocent remarks; you see speech codes that inhibit free expression; you see reputations unfairly scarred by charges of racism and sexism.”

Interestingly, Brooks comes across, without saying so explicitly, a major deficiency of academia in the USA: a lack of acknowledgement of the importance of sociology (there is no sociology Nobel Prize):

“The problem is that the campus activists have moral fervor, but don’t always have settled philosophies to restrain the fervor of their emotions. Settled philosophies are meant to (but obviously don’t always) instill a limiting sense of humility, a deference to the complexity and multifaceted nature of reality. But many of today’s activists are forced to rely on a relatively simple social theory.”

According to this theory, the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.”

That naivety is directly imputable to the lack of teaching of sociology in the USA.

Old style sociology and its great names (including Marx, Comte, etc.) and theories is all but unknown in the campuses of the USA.

One needs a new anchor. Hint: it’s not “settled philosophies”. What’s needed is new philosophy, and that, by definition, is always unsettling.

Thus, as Brooks points out:

“According to this theory, the ultimate source of authority is not some hard-to-understand truth. It is everybody’s personal feelings. A crime occurs when someone feels a hurt triggered, or when someone feels disagreed with or “unsafe.” In the Shulevitz piece, a Brown student retreats from a campus debate to a safe room because she “was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against” her dearly and closely held beliefs.

Today’s campus activists are not only going after actual acts of discrimination — which is admirable. They are also going after incorrect thought — impiety and blasphemy. They are going after people for simply failing to show sufficient deference to and respect for the etiquette they hold dear. They sometimes conflate ideas with actions and regard controversial ideas as forms of violence.”

This attitude, let’s notice in passing, is directly up with the success of Islamist terrorism, which conflates “impiety”, “blasphemy”, against their Holly Qur’an, and racism. Thus handily recruits among the preceding naïve crowd (which is not just found on campuses; Daesh/Islamist State has recruited around 20,000 Western youth so far; in the most general sense of “Western”).

Brooks reveals how easily one can slip off the deep end:

Laura Kipnis is a feminist film professor at Northwestern University who wrote a provocative piece on sexual mores on campus that was published in February. She was hit with two Title IX charges on the grounds, without evidence, that her words might have a “chilling effect” on those who might need to report sexual assaults… A student at George Washington wrote an essay on the pre-Nazi history of the swastika. A professor at Brandeis mentioned a historic slur against Hispanics in order to criticize it. The scholar Wendy Kaminer mentioned the N-word at a Smith College alumni event in a clearly nonracist discussion of euphemism and free speech.

All of these people were targeted for purging merely for bringing unacceptable words into the public square. As Powers describes it in “The Silencing,” Kaminer was accused of racial violence and hate speech. The university president was pilloried for tolerating an environment that had been made “hostile” and “unsafe.””

***

So what’s the philosophy we need? No reconciliation without better truth.

Truth. ALL WE NEED IS TRUTH.

What should be discouraged is the telling of lies. How to discard lies? By rolling out theories. “Theory” means actually, point of view. Thus the rolling out of point of views ought to be encouraged.

However, when something is certain, say the deliberate assassination of most of European Jews by the top leadership of the Nazi Party in a semi-secret program, it should be labelled officially as a truth.

So there is a need for an official, a state agency giving various shades of truth and truthiness. A bit such as http://www.politifact.com/, but generalized to all fields.

The “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” in South Africa worked because, before being reconciled, in depth and permanently, one has to build from reality. The reality of what happened which was injurious, and what led to it. This is what has to be generalized.

One absolutely cannot use the “feel good factor” as the way to find the truth. Why? Because finding the truth is brainwork, therefore it always requires work, an effort, it’s guaranteed to be always painful. Those who refuse, at the outset not to pay the price, not to do the work for truth, those who confuse reality and feel-good-now need to understand that being driven by their comfort zone makes them intrinsic enemies of truth. They can be, but they do not deserve more respect than drug addicts, as they work from the same basic principle.

All we need is love, sang John Lennon. Well, he was pierced by several bullets. Coming from someone who, not only was an insane maniac, but, decisively was animated by erroneous philosophical theories. However, Lennon himself had fed the psychological machinery which cost him his life.  (Oh you think all you need is love? Here, get a few bullets, you hypocrite. The killer did say, initially, that he killed Lennon because he felt he was an hypocrite; he has changed his tune now that he wants to get out…)

Love does not bring water to baboons. If baboons need water, they need the truth about the positions, and dispositions, of the predators. You want human? That’s what it is all about.

All we need is not love. Love, in human beings, is rather automatic. One cannot teach truth, without love.

Love of ego is not love of truth. Love of ego not dominated by the love of truth, is hatred of humanity.

Patrice Ayme’

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25 Responses to “All We Need Is Truth”

  1. pshakkottai Says:

    Dear patrice, You once said that we need a department of truth. I like that idea. For example, in economy, the balance
    FISCAL DEFICIT – TRADE DEFICIT = NER PRIVATE SAVINGS is true but is hidden but generally unknown. A department of Truth can look at things like this and put the plutocracy under the microscope to show how mean they are. Similarly the fraud of monetary easing etc. In fact this important function is missing in all governments.
    Partha.

  2. brodix Says:

    Patrice,

    Love is free.
    Respect you still have to earn.

    I don’t think a department of truth, as a government function, would work very well. Consider the Supreme Court as how it might work.

    Name aside, what they had in South Africa was more a process of taking responsibility for what was known.

    I think the real issue is a point I raised in the Trigger Warnings thread, at SS. That we need to understand good and bad are not metaphysical absolutes, but basic biological binary code of attraction to the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental. Single celled organisms can react to this polarity and multi celled ones consequently have very complex interplay between positive and negative aspects.
    Aside the arguments I raised in the SS comment, consider how it underlays all binary code; In that while good and bad are the emotional expression, yes and no are the intellectual quantification and the computer binary of on/off emerge from that.
    So all those grey areas of life are not just fuzzy views of some ideal and transcendent polarity of good and evil, but built up from innumerable elements.
    So as I observed on SS, if we had college courses exploring this as a bottom up process, with students relating how much it can be a function of everything from points of view, to quantity over-riding(i.e. too much of a good thing…), as the relation and differences between good and bad, then when they do get to personal issues, they would be much better informed and able to understand the issues and how that others will have different views and to better address them.
    Necessarily the function of a culture is to have similar beliefs of good and bad, but a culture actually built on understanding how the process works and not one just evolving out of circumstance, would likely be more flexible and resilient, rather than just hard and brittle, or flaccidly accepting.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      There are STATE institutions. For example NASA, which are rather tightly controlled by government. Other less so, like the military, or USGS, or NCAR, or FDA, or NHI, or DOE. I am proposing to create an umbrella organization, which could first simply start as a compendium of serious research by STATE agencies.

      France (INSERM, CNRS, ONERA, etc.), Germany (Planck, etc.) or Britain are similarly equipped with STATE agencies whose research could be gathered as one body.

      It seems as if I don’t bother with Scientia Salon anymore: grotesque censorship. I had used a single time the word “about”, they told me to read their guidelines… I did not even read recent essays there. Too much talking for nothing. And their comment policy is abominable. I never abused comments there, but they sure abused me.
      PA

    • gmax Says:

      Love is free???????
      Certainly not, it’ the most precious thing

      • brodix Says:

        G,
        I’m assuming you were not a child of the 60s and 70s.

        • gmax Says:

          I resolutely condemn with horror and consternation all and any ageism, sexism, etc A few years back on this site, there was auite a bit of name calling pertaining to my stage name, as I supported Patrice on empire. Brrrrr..

          I maybe young, but my reads are old. Epicurus was NO child of 60s. Love him. Anyway, what’s your point?

          • brodix Says:

            It was a comment on Patrice’s closing observation about John Lennon and the era of “free love” not being the solution it hoped to be.

  3. gmax Says:

    Helping out, as a function of the state, truth itself is a great notion. It would be a bit similar to justice, but more general. If it had no enforcement capability, it would be perfect. It would just be consultative.

    Justice has to find truth, but just during hot conflicts. Department of Truth would change minds overall.

    • brodix Says:

      gmax,

      There are plenty of people who are consultive to the government, but their notion of truth, just like everyone else’s, is subject to their point of view and it is difficult to separate it from personal interest.
      The fact is that objective knowledge is an oxymoron. You can have general knowledge, of which math is a form, but it is necessarily distilled to the point of no disagreement.
      Otherwise we have google and wikipedia, etc.
      The truth is. Answers are what people will pay money to hear. Truth is what philosophers seek. Answers are what priests and politicians provide. That is why many people can make a living as priests and politicians, but very few as professional philosophers.
      We have two ways to discover truth. The first is logical and the second is intuitional. Logic is when the evidence points directly to a particular conclusion and intuition is when it only points in the general direction. Both have proven misleading.
      Then again, what is truth? Will it or can it tell you the future? Will it tell you who to trust, better than personal intuition? Who do you ask?
      This all gets back tot he notion that there is some platonic ideal, be it God, or math, from which we have fallen and are seeking to return, but the opposite is true. The universal state is equilibrium. The Absolute. The Big Flatline. The Wash, where all energy and information balances out.
      It is from that state we push outward and then fall back into.

      • pshakkottai Says:

        Brodix,
        At least correct gross error first ,in algebra , which is free of subtleties. All you need for this look at data. This is empirical truth.
        Partha

        • brodix Says:

          ps,
          It’s not that truth doesn’t exist, but that the frame is as important as what is being framed.
          Think everything from Relativity, to the Copenhagen interpretation, to the doppler effect, to the uncertainty principle and they all deal with the fact that how the observation is framed is as important to creating the information as what is being framed. Otherwise it is at best noise.
          Algebra is about truth, but, as you say, there are no subtleties. It is concepts reduced to the most elemental notations and that is framing. It is a map and a map is a frame.
          Would you use algebra to write poetry? In fact there are ways in which it could be used and the poetry would be well ordered, but not necessarily beautiful, or deep, because algebra is not the best framing to use to write poetry.

          • brodix Says:

            So if you ask government to decide what is truth, it might be like using algebra to write poetry.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Pay attention to the difference between STATE and government. A modern, “democratic” state is full of institutions basically free of government interference. A department of truth could oversee the research of those. Once again, making a plane work has little to do with poetry

          • gmax Says:

            No subtlety in algebra? Geeeee… What about complex numbers, or as Patrice said many times, Archimedes’ axiom (on infinitesimals NOT)

            • brodix Says:

              I suppose if you are trying to clarify subtlety, it does get pretty complex.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        You forgot experimental truth, what allows planes to fly reasonably well.

        • brodix Says:

          Patrice,
          It brings to mind a time many years ago, when I was given control of a Cessna and found air to be a far more variable medium than the ground. Context is very important in flying.

          As I said to ps, it isn’t that there is no truth, but it is as subject to the frame, say the observer, as it is to the framed, say the sender and making government the arbiter of truth has been tried before and the results were not pretty.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Funny you mention Google as a source of truth. It is indicted by the EU for, among other things, biasing its “search” with personal gain.

  4. Patrice Ayme Says:

    @ Brodix: You do not get the distinction between “government” and “state”, “public”, and, or “democratic institutions”. For example the “government” in a representative democracy does not own the army, justice, or NIH, FDA, etc…
    This was amply proven during Nixon’s antics.

    • brodix Says:

      Patrice,
      I tend to think of reality as more bottom up emergent, than top down determined. Though any framing of any part of it is determination.
      Truth is like ice in water.

  5. wtquinn Says:

    Patrice,

    I like your thought provocateur-ism in general. You put yourself at e-Risk with your pugilistic outspokenness, getting banned from NY Times web-site as commenter, and challenging academic professional philosophy successfully on occasion.

    My comments/questions to follow are not intended to be counter-pugilistic to your positions, only to explore the subject matter further in a speculative manner. On a curiosity need-to-know basis of course, like Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, when she meets the knowledge-providing alien at the finale (Ha!).

    Hitchen’s quote was a powerful verbal example of righteous indignation intended to be offensive to a culture of ultra-sensitive victimhood. I agree with the dead firebrand’s quotation.

    Further according to Brooks “…. the dividing lines between good and evil are starkly clear. The essential conflict is between the traumatized purity of the victim and the verbal violence of the oppressor.” And you attribute “That naivety is directly imputable to the lack of teaching of sociology in the USA.” I’ll buy into that too.

    Back to Hitch, I consider him an apex predator/defender of modern morality in the general western civilization sense. An extreme ironic moralist. Hitch’s Anti-Christ (to choose just one monotheistic theme) morality was not weighted toward Nietzchean slave-resentment. It was not weighted toward scientific lack-of-evidence. It was weighted toward modern love morality (that is, … child sacrifice is immoral, lying to children is immoral, scapegoating is immoral (placing one’s responsibility on another), “compulsory love toward that which we fear is the essence of sadomasochism” is immoral, God (idea of anthropomorphic Good) empowering devil-employees to torture non-believers for eternity as perfect justice is immoral). Yet the majority believe God/Good is defined by the ideas the arrogant-on-the-surface scotch-drinking cigarette-smoking Hitch opposed just above.

    Why this paradox? Social proof/conformity to culturally accepted norms? Fear of, ahem, caused natural disasters/destruction of social order? Lack of courage-readiness? Or is it perhaps Evolution’s initiation requirement in manufacturing dissenting individuals that oppose the violence motivated by religion? Individuals that would be horrified by the thought of a voice in their head commanding that they “gut” their children as Hitch put it, to which his rather terse and appropriate reply would be, “NO, FU”.

    In your opinion, what caused Plutocracy, … Evolution?

    Are not the dominant supposed to dominate?

    Could Plutocracy have been avoided? Is Plutocracy a mistake?

    In process of becoming a strong individual, isn’t Plutocracy perhaps a necessity in role-playing the parts of victim and victimizer, master and slave, … concluding in emancipation, … earned freedom and love through process of liberation?

    Isn’t the Lie therefore necessary in order to discover/discern/stand for Truth?

    After (if) the Plutocrats are defeated through sociology education, rebellion against (non-violent/violent), other scenarios, … what type of future-state do you envision may emerge for humanity?

    Again above is speculative thought exploration only. Thank you.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hello Wtquinn, welcome, and thanks for the cogent and challenging comment. Your comment is long and deserved pondering. I have little time at this very moment, so I will have to come back to it. I have more than 1,000 essays out there, each an average above 1,000 words, so I have actually addressed some of these questions prior (but thus I get an occasion to express myself more clearly…)

      So here in just a few words:
      Evolution caused the Dark Side. Probably started when our squirrel-like ancestors, 100 million years ago, ate insects (as Capuchin monkeys do).

      Evolution caused the fascist instinct, crucial to Cynocephalus (baboons) and Homo’s conquest of the savannah.
      Evolution led to technologization which finally enabled civilization (the last 10,000 years, starting in Anatolia).

      Direct Democracy is the only way to reconcile civilization and humanity.
      Plutocracy is how the Dark Side takes over civilization.

      If Direct Democracy is not imposed soon, we will back to tyranny all over, very soon. Let alone a new “aristocracy”…

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