What is truth?
This is my second attempt at blogging. I had a professional blog on legal issues, particularly trademark and copyrights, before social networking became ubiquitous. I am back to blogging because I admittedly cannot keep my comments brief. Once I start posting on a point, I always ask the question whether I am conveying what I mean to convey correctly. I guess social networking sites like Facebook (“FB”) or Twitter, by their very nature, are probably not a good venue for me.
So I will continue my previous rants on FB here. On November 1, 2013, I posted on FB:
“Feeling Philosophical this Friday: We use language to understand and communicate truth. Language evolves, morphs, and is extremely personal; therefore, by its nature, it is relative and imperfect. But this does not mean that the underlying truth it seeks to describe is imperfect, changeable, or relative.”
Why did I write this? It comes partially out of my frustration from the sloppy misuse and outright abuse of language in old and new media and even in day to day conversations. Granted, I know that there are people who are very skilled at manipulating language to convince others that what is false is true. Maybe I have not completely succumb to cynicism? I generally believe most people want to speak and hear the truth. In rereading my November post, I realized that I assumed all my FB friends know and agree on the meaning of truth. But is that really true? OK, I am getting circular, but I do not know of anyway to avoid that here. Somewhere in my memory, I recall a question by a famous historical figure: “What is truth?” While I can certainly pretend to be well versed on the scriptures of my professed faith, I have to admit I relied on Google and found this:
33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” John 18 (ESV)
But I can rely on memory who said “the truth shall set you free”! (Also in the Gospel According to John).
John 18:33-18 is an apt passage to begin this inquiry in many levels. It appears to be a classic use of the Socratic Method, which is the primary method of my professional training. I also appreciate the symbolism of a secular Greco-Roman authority (Pilate) meets transcendent Hebrew God-man (Jesus). It’s also a cross-road (pun intended) where Western European thought and culture began.