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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Quarter Moons and Semi-Truths

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C1325529963/E20090728131559

When someone starts talking about THE truth, it's to exclude the thoughts and ideas they find uncomfortable.

On one of my lists, I've been debating about the nature of truth. Especially THE truth.

Philosophers get to do that from time to time, it's one of the job perks.

(psssst! Don't tell anyone, but I REALLY enjoy the debates. I'm amazingly good at it, especially when it's something I believe in. It's one of my secret guilty pleasures. I don't go "looking" for trouble anymore, but sometimes I can't help it when I stumble across it. And there is usually a good reason to make a stand.)
One person claimed that certainty was the result of "KNOWING truth, not BELIEVING in truth." For him, science was belief and couldn't possibly be a system for evaluating truth.

Since occasionally I am bit by the pontification bug, let me tell you what I think.

Truth is relative. Truth is an artificial construct. Truth doesn't exist in a "pure" form.

One person's truth is always going to be another person's untruth, or at least their misunderstanding.

I measure relative truth by how useful it is at any given moment. It's still only an approximation, but it works until I find something better.

"Certainty" without constant skepticism is just as flawed and just as dogmatic as anything else you would care to name. Certainty is an artifact of perception and expectation, not reality. The symbol describes the thing, the symbol doesn't define the thing.

When someone starts talking about THE truth, it's to exclude the thoughts and ideas they find uncomfortable.

We can't afford to take our truths for granted, we have to test those truths. Repeatedly. Good science (or for that matter good magick) is a process that includes feedback mechanisms that make our truths more accurate as time goes on.

One of the classic questions in fractal studies is "how long is the coastline of England?"

The short answer is that it depends on how you measure it. A satellite photo will give you a different answer than a surveyor, and that will different from an answer than if you measured it with a yardstick. All those answers are approximately the same, that's the point. The method helps define the answer.

Even these answers assume that time is constant.

So we go further. As part of geological processes, part of England is being eroded while other parts are being added.

On the atomic scale, electrons are constantly being exchanged between the air and soil and between the ocean and the island.

And lest we forget, "England" is an arbitrary political entity whose borders are subject to change.

I suppose we could throw time in there, but you get the idea.

It depends.

And that is how we have to look at truth.

At this time, given conditions x, aa, and z, we can assume with relative certainty that the truth approximates something moderately useful.

But we're making an assumption.

And there is no guarantee that we share that assumption with anyone or anything else.

Posted: Tue - July 28, 2009 at 01:15 PM

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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