In reply to Bill Ames
Strange how different perspectives can be.
For me, it is the very idea of “truth” that is the major problem.
To me it seems clear that rather than teaching any sort of “truth”, what is most powerful is nurturing the willingness to question everything, to be constantly willing to ask something like “is this ‘truth’ really how it is, or is it simply an approximation to something much more complex, that just happens to work in the contexts I have encountered to date?”.
To me, it is clear that it is the very notion of truth that is most likely to lead to conflict.
Once people can become comfortable with uncertainty, it allows for the possibility of living peacefully with the sort of infinite diversity that actually seems possible once you free people from the shackles of whatever cultural “truths” they happened to get born into, and introduce them to their unlimited creative potential.
It is the willingness to question, rather than any answer, that is vital.
I use a slightly different conception.
There are many heuristics which are very useful, like don’t run the generator in the basement, look before crossing the road, etc.
The evidence from neurophysiology, logic and quantum mechanics all point to many different ways in which the evidence we have on which to make decisions always contains many levels of uncertainty, and we need to make decisions, so we use what seems to us like the best available.
Using the term “truth” seems to be a misnomer, one handed down since Plato, and almost certainly present long before him.
The idea of “useful heuristic” seems to me to be much more closely aligned to reality than the idea of “truth”.
And sure, our survival absolutely depends on many levels of such heuristics. I just find it somewhat hubristic to give them the label “truth”.
Rather than any search for truth being that which makes us human, I would say that being human is very complex and has many attributes, amongst them:
being a cooperative member of a community is fundamental;
having a willingness to explore, to knowingly venture into the unknown is powerful;
being willing to question anything and everything, is a fundamental part of freedom;
being willing to trust one’s own judgment in the face of no agreement, and to step beyond the bounds of social agreement, seems to be a fundamental aspect of both freedom and creativity, and doing so is not entirely without risk at many different levels.
So being human is very complex, a constant set of tensions between many different levels of individual creativity and group connectedness.