Our reasons for reasoning

Friday, September 11, 2009

Intelligent people recognize we have a problem with Truth. Truth is important because to humans, it determines what is reality, what exists. But when people apply the Truth, it is always in a distorted form or manner, never consistent. They hold up a critical eye to others, and a lenient one to themselves. This is not Truth. This is going easy on ourselves. Why do we do this?

Inwardly speaking, I suspect it is a self-defence mechanism against recognizing we have failed. We lie to ourselves, spin it as truth, and present it to the world so that they, too, might celebrate our average deeds as extraordinary, our disasters as deeds of daring. The entire American self-esteem movement is based on the idea that if you believe it hard enough you can make it. This is a lie. Not everyone will make it, and not everyone even has the potential to. There are people who succeed and people who fail. It is not a question of self-esteem, it is a blindingly, precisely, binary condition.

Socially, it covers our tracks. It makes us more desirable to be seen as having a better handle on the Truth of the way the world is. People do not like the person who admits he lies, yet everyone does it. The polite hypocrisy of condemning people who are blasphemously honest sounds counter-intuitive, so why is it so widespread? Why, in a society that values truth, are we more concerned with the presentation of truth, and not its actual substance?

Nietzsche once said if you seek peace of the soul and happiness, then believe; but if you were to be a disciple of the truth, to inquire. This aphorism, simple as it may sound, has caused me a lot of vexation; it exhorts you to hold all you value under the microscope. Why do you believe what you believe? Many people never question the values they were indoctrinated with and simply become offended when pressed to examine these beliefs, true or not. Or perhaps they *have* thought about it, but somehow arrive at the end result of having rationalized why they have that belief in the first place. Hence, they convince themselves to remain chained to any number of untrue views by recursion.

This is the stuff of hypocrisy. People do not want to be proven right. They have no use for being objectively more in line with reality than other people. They merely want to be shown to have arrived at their conclusions without looking like an idiot. Whether what they say is true or not has no bearing whatsoever on this. We use the ‘truth’ only in as far as it will serve our selfish needs.

We come to the altar of truth screaming for vindication and yet we offer only excuses when its harsh, unbiased light shines on us. We are truly deluded.


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