Should truth matter? Why?

From "Should truth matter? Why?" Quora A2A

Thanks for the A2A Steve McKerracher.

Let's take a look at some of the statements used in this question:

"The value of an honest search for truth."

"The acceptance of a comfortable delusion."

"Looking for sound arguments."

"Is ignorance bliss?"

What strikes me in these statements is the implication of specific values, and the importance of a clear values hierarchy in navigating a "sound" resolution to this question. For example:

Is tolerance and acceptance more important that proving a truth?

Is being kind and compassionate more important that being right?

Are honesty and integrity more important that tact, nuance or political efficacy?

Is a desire to know something - and relieve one's own ignorance - more important than personal relationships?

Is prioritizing the precise and accurate more important that conveying "the general idea" in our communication?

Perhaps you see where I am going with this....but to clarify: Suppose I have an aging relative with dementia who keeps insisting that her friend, who died some years ago, is alive and well, and in fact called her earlier that very day. No matter how gently I try to correct her misconceptions, she will likely become extremely despondent if I contradict what she believes to be true, and in all likelihood my correcting her will not change her perceptions or her recollection. Which means that, in this instance, "the truth" is incredible unproductive and pointless, even to the point of doing harm.

And of course there are times when an honest search for truth has value, and should be a priority - that seems clear from centuries of human beings operating with that assumption, and thereby producing some pretty amazing gifts to society: wonderful music and writing, scientific discoveries, profound ahas of insight, great feats of engineering...all as a result of one path or another toward some personally pursued truth. But there are also times when the search for truth has resulted in real horrors of experimentation, bizarre and destructive behaviors, the mass murder of other human beings, alienation and isolation of individuals and groups, a horrible callousness of heart and so on. And what is the real difference between these two kinds of consequences, both resulting from "an honest search for truth" in the eyes of the seeker? I think the qualitative difference lies in the values hierarchy that is being operationalized.

For me, love - as expressed in compassion, kindness, understanding, patience, generosity, empathy, etc. - is the driving force behind *all forms of truth that matter to me*. If something is true, but does not in some way facilitate my compassionate relationship with others, then it may be interesting, and even exciting, but it isn't vitally important. There are many intellectual, physical and spiritual pursuits that are quite stimulating in how they help us encounter truth, but when I begin to become immersed in them, I will ask myself: how does this improve the quality of my relationships? How could it improve the quality of human existence? Will it heal or enhance the quality of the natural harmonies of Earth's ecosystems...or any of the many other things that I care deeply about?

In the same way, integrity and followthrough, emotional openness, critical thinking, self-doubt, humility, and a whole host of other qualities and actions are tied into truth because truth resides fairly high up in my values hierarchy. But love - agape - is at the very top. Do I occasionally flounder a bit and invert my priorities? Sure, and I feel contrite when that happens. But those priorities must remain my compass in the both the calm and storms of life. They have to be, or I would lose my way entirely, becoming disconnected from the fundamental reasons why truth - and an honest search for truth - are important.
So for me, the honest search for truth begins with love, and love is intrinsic to all meaningful truth. They are cofactors in the journey of growth and discovery. And because ignorance can result in a lack of skillfulness in how I exercise compassion towards others, ignorance becomes the enemy of love, and truth its closest friend.

My 2 cents.


Trackback specific URI for this entry

This link is not meant to be clicked. It contains the trackback URI for this entry. You can use this URI to send ping- & trackbacks from your own blog to this entry. To copy the link, right click and select "Copy Shortcut" in Internet Explorer or "Copy Link Location" in Mozilla.

No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry