Does Truth Exist?
Can we ever really know Truth? Does such a thing exist? Can we know anything?
The famous 17th Century French mathematician and philosopher, René Descartes, attempting to answer such questions, posited for the immutable foundation from which he was to construct his philosophy, the premise: Cogito, ergo sum
. I think, therefore I am. That was to be the incontrovertible certainty forming the starting point of his contemplation. (Even that premise, however, has been challenged.)
What, if anything, of practical value, can be said of the notion of Truth, and our ability to know it?
Our awareness of external objects is made possible by, while simultaneously limited by, our “channels of awareness,” i.e., our senses of sight, sound, touch, smell, and perhaps intellect, although that may merely be a projection of an internal construction (a discussion for another time.) Those are the mechanisms by which we apprehend and form our understanding of an external object. Of the many potential facets inhering in the existence of the object of our perception, we are limited to apprehending only those characteristics that appear to our senses – our channels of awareness. There may well be many other facets or dimensions of the object that escape our observation because we do not have the means (additional channels of awareness) by which to apprehend those dimensions of the object. (It is interesting to note that in the evolution from simple to increasingly complex life forms, additional channels of awareness are introduced as that evolution progresses.)
By the limitations of our perception, perspective is introduced.
A perspective necessarily represents a limited view, rather than a complete view. By analogy, consider a circle of artists drawing an asymmetrical object positioned in the center of their circle. Each, looking at the same object, will draw something different. They will see the object differently, depending upon their vantage point – their perspective. What each artist draws will be true, but only a partial truth, not the whole Truth.
Thinking back to Descartes’ Cogito, an interesting logic arises if one posits instead: I am in pain therefore I am. While the pain is a priori to the rational conclusion, the pain proves nothing – it is merely conscious awareness of pain. Proof is a rational concept, not an existential one; therefore, Descartes was correct in that the first possible, or fundamental, "proof
" of ones own existence grows out of the conscious rationalization of the rational existence – the rational consciousness reasons its own existence. Moreover, the concept of "I
", as a discrete, bounded subject reveals itself to be a rational construct, and not a predicate of consciousness. Pain, without a rational construct to interpret it, reveals itself to consciousness merely as an awareness that there is pain [pain is] [pain exists]; as opposed to "I
" am in pain.
Consciousness conceives of itself as "I
" when it is rational consciousness. Further, if pain is experienced consciously only, without a rational self identity, then it is presumably without notions of horror or dread that overlay pain in a rational consciousness that is aware of its discrete contingency. For consciousness without reason there is brightness [the sun], there is wetness [rain], there is pain – as in an extended field of Being in the Heideggerian sense. But even here, in referring to brightness, wetness and pain, we rely on rational concepts. But consciousness precedes and surrounds reason, like Being, and therefore, lying outside of and beyond reason, frustrates rational conception. We cannot wrap our mind around it. And yet, as reason operates within consciousness, consciousness is partially revealed to us. Consciousness is revealed to reason as the total and immediate, indiscriminate awareness of all Being that is present to it. It does not qualify, value or judge. It is as transparent as sight. It illuminates only. There is. And that "is
" presents itself to consciousness to the extent that the discrete consciousness is able to apprehend what is present before it through the channels of awareness available to it, i.e. sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, reason.
Some would have us believe that Truth does not exist, that at best, it is a purely relative construct. I’m betting that Truth does exist, in its fullness and immutability, but that we, at this stage of evolution, are too limited in our ability to know it by virtue of our limited channels of awareness.
Yet it is in our constant striving to know Truth that we fulfill our destiny in the evolutionary progression of life -- a march toward Truth.
The Long march Through Our American Culture
As the traditional Christian values that have formed the underpinning of this country since its founding, and which inform our founding proclamations of freedom, liberty and individual rights, are supplanted by the moral relativism of secular humanism and cultural Marxism that increasingly forms our culture, so are individual rights sacrificed to the collective. In a reversal of founding principles, the good of the state now supersedes the good of the individual. No more are the self-reliant, sturdy individualists that once peopled New England and America, replaced by a society of victims for whom there is a government program for everyone.
The denigration of Christian values and traditional American values by the new culture is not accidental.
In the 1920s two Marxist theorists separately concluded that for Marxism to be successful in the West, Christianity and its value system needed to be subverted.
“Antonio Gramsci of Italy suggested that the means to de-Christianize the West would be a “long march through the culture.” He reasoned that the new battleground must be the culture, starting with the traditional family and completely engulfing churches, schools, media, entertainment, civic organizations, literature, science and history. He suggested that the new proletariat be comprised of criminals, women and racial minorities.
Georg Lukacs, a Hungarian Marxist thinker, reasoned that if Christian sexual ethics could be undermined among children, then both the hated patriarchal family and the Church would be dealt a crippling blow. In 1919, as Deputy Commissar for Culture in the Bolshevik Bela Kun regime in Hungary, he immediately set plans in motion to de-Christianize Hungary. Lukacs launched a radical sex education program in the schools. Sex lectures were organized and literature handed out which graphically instructed youth in free love (promiscuity) and sexual intercourse while simultaneously encouraging them to deride and reject Christian moral ethics, monogamy, and parental and church authority. They were fed a steady diet of values-neutral, radical sex education while simultaneously encouraged to rebel against all authority. .” (Linda Kimball, “Cultural Marxism”)
It is no coincidence that this same philosophy was propagated by Marxist activists within the university/college system to foment the counter-culture of the 1960s, many of whom were radicalized into a cultural Marxist belief system by default. Self-indulgent and pampered by the Greatest Generation who had fought with pride and courage in theaters in Europe and Asia to preserve the American way of life, the counter-culture’s response to the call of their country was, “Hell no, we won’t go.” The sloganeering “reject authority,” “free love,” etc. was right out of Lukacs’ play book, fed and fomented by Marxist activists, who supplied the ideological rationalization for those turning their backs on their duty and their country: the moral relativism of secular humanism and cultural Marxism. The new ideology of anti-Americanism and deconstruction of American values not only provided its incipient adherents with a face-saving justification for their self-indulgent behavior, it conferred upon them their own sense of moral superiority.
The peace movement was less a moral repudiation of the war than it was a repudiation of personal risk. It was the prospect of personally being placed in harm’s way that set afire the ire of the protesters – the disagreeable call to duty, and all that implied. The majority of students – kids, really – became caught up in the excitement of the cause celebre. Political discussion then, as it continues to be now, was formulated on the basis of personal interest. The vast majority of students did not come to independent judgments on the issues of the Vietnam war (other than for a personal preference not to go) – they chanted slogans, wore peace signs, did some drugs, got laid, missed some classes and generally enjoyed themselves in their role. The cause made many otherwise undistinguished adolescents feel important, while having a good time. The formerly unpopular were suddenly accepted, and reinforced in their defiance by their peers. They parroted the word as it was handed down by the fomenters of the movement. Their vacuity became a purposeful repository for the cultural Marxism of the anti-American, radical left, which infests American culture to this day.
The new creed was forced upon colleges and universities by riot and demonstration until the cultural revolution took root in a brow-beaten academia.
In the space of less than a decade the cultural revolution transformed a 1950s Ozzie and Harriet culture of traditional American values into Woodstock, where sex, drugs and anything goes was the mantra of the new values-neutral ideology.
The Marxist counter-culture of the 1960s percolated through academia, indoctrinating succeeding generations of students and spilling into classrooms across America, where histories continue to be revised, and where intellectual diversity and integrity are no longer tolerated, as strict rules controlling thought, speech and behavior, in the form of Political Correctness, permeate academia, government and public institutions. The similarities to the Chinese cultural revolution are striking.
“Political Correctness is a Machiavellian psychological “command and control” device designed to impose uniformity in thought, speech and behavior; as is Critical Theory another psychological “command and control” device for deconstruction, utilized in an ongoing and brutal assault of vicious criticism relentlessly leveled against Christians, Christmas, the Boy Scouts, Ten Commandments, our military, and all other aspects of traditional American culture and society. These ideological strategies were developed at the Frankfurt School, a Marxist think-tank in Weimar Germany, by Marxist thinker Theodor Adorno in 1950, and are collectively referred to as his theory of the “authoritarian personality.’” (Linda Kimball, “Cultural Marxism”)
The implication of the aphorism, “You can’t legislate morality” is seemingly lost on those who choose to denigrate and reject our traditional Christian belief system and traditional American values in favor of a values-neutral secular structure of laws sans beliefs. It is precisely the absence of a core value system that results inevitably in the continuing dummying down of social mores to its ultimate reduction to moral anarchy and nihilism.
Gramsci’s long march through our culture has found its fulfillment in our fair city as we direct our minor-aged children to the school’s clinic for fistfuls of contraceptives, a clean change of panties, and send them off with a little pat on the butt.
My country exists increasingly in memory only as yet another spike is hammered into the coffin of America.
This year I became a sexagenarian, which is not nearly as exotic as that might sound to some. In fact, to my mind, the word is the very definition of irony; the coincidence of ancient Latin and the modern idiom to produce what is effectively a one-word oxymoron.
I am not happy about it. According to my wife, I’ve been in a foul mood for the entire decade leading up to it. (I wasn’t too happy about 50 either, or now that I think of it, about 40.)
There are those who age gracefully. I am not one of them. Worse, I look the part, which is to say my persona screams, “past fresh date.” It does not help that I have white hair, which I have had for as long as I can remember – increasingly, a shrinking duration of time. I have taken to carrying a small notebook around in my pocket, for reasons I can’t recall.
I have even noticed that more people smile at me on the street, now that I am a non-threatening old guy. Behind the smile they are thinking, “Thank God I’m not that old.”
I have looked old since childhood. When I was in kindergarten my teacher would raise her hand to speak to me; and on the occasion of my first communion a parishioner asked me for my blessing.
It’s just that I have never actually been old.
Of course, I won’t technically be a senior citizen for another five years. Small consolation.
You’d think I’d be used to it. I have been passing for a senior with young people for decades, thanks to my premature gray-turned-white hair. Kids selling pizzas or movie tickets have been giving me senior discounts since my late 30s. To them anyone over 30 is old anyway; in my case, my hair cinched the “really old” deal. My wife always exhorted me to give the difference back, but my position was that the lie was theirs, not mine, and that it was small enough compensation for the insult.
I have passed for a senior with older people too. I got married at age 35, and when my wife and I were looking at houses, after asking my wife what she thought of a particular house we were viewing, the agent turned to me and asked, “And what does your father think of it?” Now, my wife was no child bride, being two years younger than I.
When my mother was being treated at Massachusetts General Hospital a decade or so ago, my father and I met with the managing physician. He was introduced to us as the Chief of Oncology, but I could swear I recognized him as one of the snot-nosed little [expletive] that had sold me a discounted movie ticket some years ago. My suspicion was not diminished when he asked which of us was the husband, and which the son.
More recently, as I was about to pull open a door to enter a store, a gentleman who was clearly 10 to 15 years my senior, bounded in front of me, pulled the door open, and said, “There you go, young fella.”
But I do not obsess about my advancing age, notwithstanding that each day I must grapple with the truth that I am one day older.
My old friend Bob Sweeney passed away this past year at age 100. Bob never gave in to age. He was my idol. From time to time we would lunch on the deck at the yacht club, and Bob would enthrall me with tales from the past, and of waterfront characters he had known. I never felt especially old around Bob – more like a peer.
I am patiently waiting for re-runs of the BBC productions, “One Foot in the Grave,” and “Waiting for God” on PBS, but clearly, I’m not getting any younger.
I have found some small solace in political correctness. While it is more convenient for me to buy my cigars at the liquor store here in Lanesville, I sometimes nonetheless drive down to Shaw’s to get them – they always card me to make sure I’m over 18-years-of-age.
Now I have to start planning for the big 70, which is only ten years away, so don’t expect me to be in a good mood any time soon.
The Election Cycle Circus
The myth of the election cycle circus is that we get to choose a president, senator or congressman with our vote. That is simply not true. The Washington power brokers – Party Democrats and Party Republicans – offer to us as candidates selections from within their own ranks, controlled by the vested power interests, for us to choose from. We must choose a Party man – a Democrat or a Republican – and it is precisely that control over the selection pool that perpetuates the power of the vested interests. The parties groom professional politicians – men whose political ambition drives them to go along to get along as they ascend the ladder of political power. Their allegiance lies with the party bosses who can make or break their careers and to the perpetuation of the party’s power, which informs the strategy of their progress and future – not with the voting electorate.
Al Gore reportedly declared assets of less than $2 million prior to his run for the presidency; I read that recently he invested $35 million dollars in an investment firm that specializes in investing in makers of environmentally friendly products. He is reputed to have made more than $100 million since his defeat in that presidential bid – that’s a lot of green, even for an environmentalist. Global warming has been good to Al. He would no doubt like to see his investments flourish. The Financial Times just reported that the Climate Solutions Fund, the investment vehicle headed by Al Gore, has closed a new $683 million fund which invests in early-stage environmental companies. It is one of the biggest such funds.
The Clintons reported earnings of $109 million since Bill left office, after reporting assets of only $2 million in 2003. That’s an amazing amount of change to have amassed in the span of a few years. Politics pays.
The Obamas, who suffered the burden of college loans incurred for educations at Princeton, Columbia and Harvard law school struggled mightily, in near deprivation we are told by the underprivileged Michelle, until Barack made his first couple of million. But they are just getting started, and may be excused for not being filthy rich – yet. They made $4.2 million last year. It will take a few more Rezko deals before they achieve financial parity with their peers – fortunes that would make even the most depraved corporate CEO blush. Men of the people – all.
Washington is Hollywood on steroids.
The vested interests include not only the deal-making politicians, but the money men and power bosses as well. Many gulp without reserve at the well of our tax dollars. Special interest lobbyists spend lavishly with the expectation of far greater returns. A support cast of pollsters, publicists, consultants, lawyers, media, hair stylists and hookers make more in an hour than most of us make in a week.
The party rolls on.
And it’s only getting worse with each election. As the exercise of political authority over our community becomes increasingly remote – state and federal – our unique circumstances and our unique problems do not factor into the exigencies of the deal-makers of that increasingly centralized authority. We are being mandated, regulated and managed from afar, by people who do not even know the name of our city, while we beg for relief from their bureaucratic bludgeoning.
The constituency is reluctantly remembered in election years, when a bone is tossed to the electorate to “purchase” their friendship and support. The politician tosses back a small fraction of what the government has taken with an earmark, with the expectation of fawning gratitude. Chump change. Crumbs.
We wonder at our frustration when with each successive election we perpetuate the myth with our vote, with the same result, and yet somehow expect that things will be different this time. Someone once said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over, with the same result, but each time expecting a different outcome.
People say they want change, yet continue to do the same thing, without changing their own actions, and wonder why nothing has changed. And yet, there is an easy way to end this political madness that is only worsening with each election.
Real change in the politics of this country can only be achieved by removing the mantle of power from the power brokers who now control, groom and manipulate the selection-pool of political candidates, and by reversing the long-standing trend of the transfer of governance from the local community, where it is most effectively and fairly applied, to increasingly remote and centralized authority, where it is least effectively and most unjustly applied.
This is easily accomplished, and will not require that we form up on Lexington Green.
Our enemy is the political party system – both Democrat and Republican – which grooms and nurtures professional politicians in a system of rewards and punishments designed to consolidate and perpetuate power and wealth – the political machine.
Our elected professional politicians do not engage in reasoned dialectic to arrive at a consensus of what is best for us; they do not vote their minds and their conscience. They posture and make grave speeches to an empty assembly for the benefit of the Congressional Record. The party whips do their job, and votes are cast along party lines. Any politician who does not toe the party line will suffer the sanctions of the party bosses, and more. The struggle is one of power, not of enlightenment.
The professional politician is a pretender whose currency is a favor. His position on any matter changes with the audience whom he is addressing at the time. A politician’s vote is predicated on his party affiliation, not on his conscience. He knows what he must do to survive in party politics – as some ladies have known from time immemorial.
Contrast that with what might be.
Consider a congress of unaffiliated individual representatives – each limited to a single term of office.
By that single move, entrenched power in Washington would be eradicated.
Without re-election looming, the elected representative would not be beholden to special interest groups for donations to a re-election campaign, would not be beholden to any party boss for favors, would not need to waste his time, better spent on the people’s business, lying to crowds in a re-election bid, and would be free to do the business of the people honestly without fear or pressure.
Without professional politicians, people of the community, of diverse backgrounds and experiences – teachers, tradesmen, businessmen – would bring real-world experience to the table as representatives of their communities, and would have a genuine interest in solving the problems of the community, through honest political discourse, rather than the politics of party-line votes and gridlock in an endless struggle for power and supremacy over the other.
With that, the whole incestuous circus that is Washington would be utterly drained of its current power. The right of governance would of necessity flow back to the people and the community in more appropriate balance.
This scenario is neither radical nor a pipe dream. It is easily done – with the political will of the electorate. For now, we still have the ultimate authority with our vote, even if as an electorate we are fragmented and unorganized.
Political parties are even less necessary than desirable. Communities could put forward candidates for office through caucuses or town meetings. Surely once every four or six years an individual of reasonable intelligence and good character could be persuaded to serve a term of office. Public television could be employed as a forum for candidates to give an account of their thinking on various issues, and the voters make their selection, possibly through a regional primary, followed by a general election.
As a first step, we certainly have the power to limit a politician to a single term of office only – and that doesn’t even require a constitutional amendment; simply vote every incumbent out of office, every time. No exceptions.
That’s not only real change; it’s a change for the better.
Government is too much with us
Thomas Paine argued that “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”
For Thomas Jefferson, all compromises with political power were pacts with the devil. All efforts at political consolidation were treasonable acts.
Unlike that of our forefathers, our society has failed to recognize the enveloping tyranny, or to thwart its insidious assault on our liberty and freedoms; it does not notice that the government that is tasked with preserving our liberty and freedoms is usurping both.
The government tells us when and where we can smoke; it grants us the “privilege” of operating a motor vehicle, subject of course to licensing fees, the requirement to wear seat belts, to transport children in a government-specified manner, to use only a government-specified formula of fuel, which it taxes heavily, and charges us for the aforesaid “privilege” with registration fees and excise taxes. The government takes (this is not a voluntary contribution) ever larger portions of our earnings to dispose of as it sees fit. We, as individuals, have no say in how our money, the fruit of our labor, is spent by government. We have moved far from our guaranteed compact of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, just as we have from the right to bear arms, to being subjects of privileges conferred by the State, at the pleasure of the State. Government intrudes into our lives almost imperceptibly, encroaching upon our personal liberty and freedom at an ever increasing rate. Power of one man over another is that insatiable.
Today, eminent scientists are denied the right to espouse theories relating to global warming contradictory to the party line. Rational debate is closed. Hysteria prevails. A scientist that has the temerity to suggest that global warming is a function of solar activity, rather than man-made emissions, is threatened with losing his position, promotions, grants, and is ostracized and ridiculed by those unwilling to tolerate discussion. One Weather Channel zealot made the news by suggesting that any scientist taking a position opposing the theory of global warming resulting from man-made emissions should “be stripped of his credentials,” and, presumably, cast out of polite society. All of our freedoms, not the least, the freedom of speech, are under heavy assault. We are already that intimidated by government that no one dares cry foul. Yet recently, four hundred eminent scientists from around the world did just that. They declared in unison their objection to the theory that man-made emissions are responsible for global warming, asserting that solar activity, beyond our control, is the source of global warming, and that man-made emissions do not factor in any significant way into the matter. It is said that numerous other scientists share that opinion, but dare not admit to their opinions for fear of reprisals. Welcome to the Dark Ages. The world is flat – praise be to Political Correctness!
Political Correctness is the religion of the day, and its airhead zealots are legion. Al Gore, fresh from inventing the internet, is the chief zealot-in-charge of the global warming mandate – believe or die. His hysterical rants of doom and the world’s impending end exemplify the Political Correctness movement, which favors the hysterical party line over rationalism. Rather than regulating industry out of business, legislating crippling emission controls and creating a vast boondoggle of carbon exchange scams, our collective effort might be better served by planning how to cope with global warming should solar activity result in such an eventuality.
The politically correct know what’s best for you and me, and are prepared to dictate the terms by which we are suffered to exist as subjects of the State. Political correctness informs the sensibilities of the government bureaucracy, which accounts for the acceleration of government’s dominion over our lives. The power of government is derived from us. The transfer of power from us to the ever-growing government has heretofore been gradual, by seemingly imperceptible or inconsequential increments. Gradually, and freely, we have ceded our precious freedoms to a government that was never intended to become the bloated, self-serving, dictatorial gargantuan that it is, and by which we are now, individually, cowed. Its appetite is insatiable; its assault, insidious and relentless.
Yet we continue to idly sleep, led like sheep, shorn of our capacity for individual thought, to our ultimate indenture to the State. As the spirit of individualism is sacrificed to the collective, our individual thought process is supplanted by imposition of the dictates of group thought, and we dare not suffer the sanctions of apostasy. We do not need to contemplate or solve our problems – the “answers” will be provided to us.
For now, the ascendancy of Political Correctness is sweet to its proponents and followers. It is a short-sighted victory. When the power of government discovers a new religion, as it inevitably will, those who strove to impose their agenda on others through increased government power will find something quite different imposed upon them. But they will no longer have the liberty or freedom to do anything about it.
by Linda Kimball, published in American Thinker
today, is truly a must read in understanding the cultural war in America today.
Henry David Thoreau
Simon & Garfunkel