People lie all the time. For an intuitive reflex, a survival strategy, aided by something called unethical amnesia, it is irreparably damaging when the people around us indulge in disingenuousness. The truth; now that is a whole other quantity. A paradigm, a learned habit touching the boundaries of ideology, it helped secure civilisation against the delusions of tribalism. And we had it pedastaled, venerated as dear and sacred. Today as with all things sacred, the very idea of truth is under siege. So what is truth, and why is it so important? In the dawning age of post-truth, we feel the need now more than ever to try and outline the importance of being earnest.
When as children we were told repeatedly to speak the truth, what did we think it was? At that age all we could comprehend was that truth had an aura of righteousness and it was attached to that other abstract thing goodness. We didn’t examine anything too closely. For instance, were we telling the truth when we described an event as we experienced it? The problem is that everyone has a different impression of the same experience. Everyone has a different version. Truth will be nebulous if the actual mechanics of it escapes us even in adulthood.
Continue reading The pernicious bubble theory and why the Truth is no longer self-evident
When sentient beings search for meaning it often leads to gibberish. Markets and newspapers burgeon with spirituality columns, self-help books and religious cults that claim to tell you the meaning of life. Closer home, your own mainstream religious books claim to have an all-access pass to special meaning found nowhere else.
Extrapolating from religions, caste groups and race identities, individual humans will also find ways to explain whatever they do in the light of their own imagined virtue. Pattern-finding, an innate human faculty, can be employed in the cause of personal gain. We will extract seeming meaning from what appears to us as chaos. Ever watch a television show in a language you didn’t understand? Unable to translate as days pass you become familiar with the characters and a vague plot develops in your head. You find a way to understand what you really don’t mostly through inference. No proof is sought, most of any understanding arrived at is intuited. Literature has a kindred function with its allowance for interpretations, criticism and readings. Sometimes even a single line in a text of art can undergo myriad elucidations.
Continue reading The skewed search for life’s meaning
Sometimes, I read Chuck Lorre’s vanity card at the tail end of The Big Bang Theory. The last one was about how much he was influenced by science fiction. Earlier that same day a friend asked me why I didn’t perform all the usual religious acts, as people seem to be doing, mostly unconsciously _ going to temple, church, performing rituals, which are addictively mind numbing and therefore I suppose tranquilising like a drug.
Continue reading Dr Who and the God-infested epoch
I am a child of ‘Cosmos’. It was the ’80s when Carl Sagan’s Cosmos played itself out on our local television network. The setting, where in the following weeks my life would change in more ways than I could express then, was a light-blue living room bathed in warm light-bulb glow, lined with couches and my mother’s potted dumbcane.
From an armchair, I soaked in the haunting synthesizer-born theme music, which struck a spiritual chord somewhere inside me and made me soar. Science turned out to be beautiful and transcendence-inducing, with the exciting caveat that nothing came from authority. Every statement had to be tested and proved, and even after that some allowance had to be made for future advancements. No one was sacrosanct, and that was a new kind of enlightenment. Continue reading Are you suggestible?