Monday, February 9, 2015

What Is Truth?—τί εστίν αλήϑεία;

Archery--"hitting the target"--has been a long-term metaphor for truth. Indeed, sin, harmartia, in Greek, means "missing the target." That truth and love are connected is evident in the Greek God of Love, Cupid--who is an archer. 

These words were spoken by Pontius Pilate to Jesus, according to the Gospel of John.  They were part of the trial of Jesus—Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus (John 18:38).  Jesus returned no answer to Pilate’s question.

Arguably these words are the true beginning of the Christian era, which was born at the intersection of three roads: Greek, Roman, and Hebrew.  Not only were there the different histories and characters of these three cultures,  there was also the circumstance in which the words were spoken: a trial, an accusation brought against Jesus. A life and death matter. Critical. Crucial.

Truth. What is truth? Why should we care about truth? Are we capable of knowing truth?  What is our human relationship to truth? Do we have a responsibility to the truth?  How can we distinguish truth from  deception,  from either willful or unconscious deception or self-deception,  from a mistake, an error, a lapse of judgment, a failure of commitment, a hidden agenda, a corruption of language,  a fragmentary or merely partial understanding, a case of bad faith or ill will or human fallibility, or an outright lie…? 

What is the relationship between two things:  a lie and a human soul? Between three things:  a lie, a human soul, and history?  Do we really have any appreciation of the effect of lying in history, of the accumulation of lies, the bureaucracy of lies, the perpetuation of lies, the stagnation of lies? Are lies like a spider’s venom, causing paralysis in the prey before it is annihilated? Is lying therefore actually a symptom of paralysis, impotence, inability to act, self-defeat?-- a collapse of spirit, imagination, resourcefulness, vision, wit, an exhaustion of possibilities—in short, decadence and  decay? If this is so, why do we not devote more attention to the difference between truth and a lie? Wouldn’t it be as important as having food to eat, gas to put in the tank, or money in the bank: something without which we cannot really live?

 “There is no life in a lie, while truth is alive, because the real events and processes which it reflects, are behind it.  To learn to see this is one of the most complicated problems, because parasites are skillful experts in creating so-called camouflage…the illusion of reality.” [Nikolai Levashov, Autobiography]

What is the relationship of speaking and truth? Words, grammar, speaking---do these not presuppose truthfulness, goodwill, good faith, mutuality? Do we have a responsibility to the truth, for the truth? Why do we swear by the truth – “so help me God.” Why would we swear by the truth unless we bore some responsibility to the truth for our life, our witness, our presence, for what we said and testified to? Why would we swear unless we were certain that someone, others, would listen, that they would care, that it would matter to them? That somehow despite the hailstorm of words, the piped-in music, the ubiquitous television and “social media” and all the other paraphernalia of modern life… that yes, words matter, they still matter, and it matters what we say and what we hear others say. That it matters more than the power of social conformity, ideology, politics, making excuses, being too weak to bear it. It matters what we say and what others say to us.

Because what we say has to do with honor. Do we honor our words? Do we honor our lives in our words? What is honor? 

Why do we have no honor in the West? Why has the West become so deteriorated, dishonorable, despicable, brutal, cowardly, threatening, with the United States leading the pack of Western nation sycophants with its endless wars, endless military spending, lack of political accountability and grandiose self-opinion? 

For further reference: 

These reflections were sparked by reading the following piece, from the excellent “Vineyard of the Saker” website. The "Vineyard of the Saker" is one of the best sites on the web, especially for current news of the Ukraine.

From the article, “Listening to Lavrov in Munich” posted on February 7, 2015

“…The western 'elites' … are the embodiment of un-truth in the logical and moral sense. And that chasm was evident in today's face à face between Lavrov has his "western colleagues"... Dishonesty, intellectual and moral, has been elevated to an ontological principle and foundation of the modern western political thought and culture, it is what these societies do best and all they can do. 

Not only are "right and wrong" gone in a moral sense, they are now also gone in a logical sense. Something both deeply immoral and completely absurd can now be elevated to an axiomatic status and then be used as "the measure of all things". Yet again and again, I come to the conclusion that what we are seeing here is truly a deep civilizational clash between two civilizational realm who have grown so far apart as to make them virtual extraterrestrial aliens to each other. 

Lavrov would have had a much better experience speaking to some little green men on another Galaxy, these the people he addressed today in Munich… what I see today is struggle very similar to the one which opposed the Pharisees and Christ 2000 years ago… And since what is at stake today is really the future of the entire international order you can say that we are living one of the most dangerous and crucial moment in history.”

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