Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Truth and Reality

(Imported from my old weblog January 9, 2005)

It would be wrong for me to starting hailing my ideas when I can't claim to have understood yours well enough. I have gone through your letter twice (apart from having read your essay a number of times piecewise). It looks you have a lot of things to say. You might have packed them all very cleverly in one single letter of yours. But that won't do! You must wait through several exchanges of words before the shape of your ideas starts reflecting correctly and completely in the mind of your listener. Conversations (written or spoken) are very slow media of communication, you know. Especially when your listener is such a dumbo like me! ;)

For the time being I will just make the following points.

One (a small one): give me some time before I say that I agree or disagree with your thoughts.

Two (a long one): a word of defense for the statement 'truth is a tricky concept.' There were accompanying statements in my previous mail. They hint at all that I am going to say in the following lines. I will try to elaborate their sense further in the text below.

Grossly there are two perspective to truth. One is the physical aspect. In very scientific terms, it's the physical description of the all the physical facts pertaining to the matter at hand, as they are. We may name them 'positive' facts. Hence, 'normative' (matters involving norms) aspects should be kept aside while describing this 'truth'. And if there are no normative matters, question of falsehood, manipulation etc. will not arise in this description. It is the 'fact' or the 'reality' (as MBK would have me say). The problem with this is that a man can usually never hope to grasp the full 'reality' in almost all situations. Basing one's next move on the 'reality' (which by its definition has be complete) is defficient, since in most cases, it can never be figured out. It needs a complete knowledge of everything in the universe. That needs a mammoth exploration. The whole humanity is busy in that for the last couple of thousand years; and we seem to have just started!

The other perspective is the following: 'What's going on in my mind?' That's the truth I was talking about. And if you know that, it seems amazingly easy to take a wise decision, whether you know the 'reality' or not. But on the other hand, mastering that needs an equally difficult exploration of the inner universe. I personally realise that my knowledge of it is equally deficient as my knowledge about the outer universe. For instance, the various possible reason why I sit here writing a letter to you that I can cite are as follows: 'I think this is an interesting topic'; 'I think you are an interesting person'; 'I hope you may turn out to be a very pretty girl (obviously a lot younger, but who cares!) and that makes the whole thing very interesting'; 'I don't have anything better to do, and I am addicted to write and philosophise'; 'I think I am great philosopher, and how dare you comment about my words'; 'I think you are bright youngster with lots and lots of ideas and sincerity. I should play my role in your explorations and examination, however meagre my role may turn out to be.' Which of the above is true? May be none, and their may be some other reason don't even imagine the existence of. May be all. If all, then what's their share in the overall intention. Over and above that, these reasons themselves mayn't be independent. One may lie underneath another. There could be a hierarchy. Now, say, I have a simple rule: 'I will do something only if my intention is good.' With all the above possible reasons of writing to you, how do I know if I am doing it for an acceptable reason or not? I don't know! And I am talking about myself. Somewhere I have to use some kind of gut feeling. My knowledge that it's a good etiquette to reply to correspondences helps me in taking this decision. Amazingly, my knowledge about myself doesn't help me take such a simple decision as this!

Does that give some hint as to why I said that 'truth is a tricky concept?' You may already have learnt earlier that westerners call this study of oneself as 'psychoanalysis'. Oriental people call this study as 'spirituality'. The process of self-exploration is called 'introspection'.

Three: 'Theology' is a branch of 'philosophy' which tries to explain the universe assuming the existence of God. God has been defined in various manners. Examples are of 'Creator', and 'Controller.'

If you will allow me to take a step further into giving a suggestion, I would request you to go through more authoritative texts on theology. It's usually not just the silly stuff about 'God' and prayers that we get from our elders. It too has a deep spirit of scientific enquiry in it. There methods are quite similar to those of scientists, albiet at an abstract level. Personally, I don't find myself a fan of lots of such subjects. But I understand that lots of great people have worked in that area and all their findings can't be silly and crap. I find people accepting an idea without examining very obnoxious. I don't want to be obnoxious by rejecting an idea without sufficiently examining it. Till I am able to do that, I talk with respect about them, 'theology', and 'theologists' (e.g. Vivekananda) included. :)

Let's end it here for now, and start waiting to see what you have to add. Will be happy to carry on the discussion for as long as it interests you. :D

Best wishes,

PS: I am excluding MBK's (Bharath's, i.e.) id from the list. I find it more comfortable to be talking to one person than giving a speech to an audience. We can sure include him where things need checkpointing. You may sure forward it to him if you want.

B Dheepikaa wrote:

> Hi,
> Think you know me by now.I wrote 'the foolish maxim.'
> I'm so so sorry for such a belated reply.I needed
> sometime to think, actually.I was flattered seeing
> your mail.:) Thanks a ton. I would also be very
> pleased if I get genuine comments furthermore.
> All of us hold more or less the same idea. When I said, "Nothing is basically right or wrong"
> when Bharath wrote, "Right or wrong is never absolute
> and it's which depends on if things are favourable to
> us or not."
> And, you had suggested, "truth is a tricky concept".
> But I don't think truth is as tricky as we suppose it
> to be. I think we know we're dishonest or untruthful,
> when we actually are. I can agree right or wrong is never absolute. But
> truth is never inabsolute.
> I admire the way you said... 'Deep down we are good
> people but are cultured to think ourselves vile.' I
> wished I were able to think that!:)
> "Could it then be better that we try hard to be honest
> with 'ourselves' regarding our inner thoughts and
> motives behind things?" This was your question. It would definitely be better.
> But,can I make you answer it for yourself by
> asking you, 'HOw OFTEN DO WE TRY?'

The basic theme is all about honesty and truth that
doesn't cause 'any' harm to others and not about the
merciless honesty in the name of God or as you said,
under Freudian conclusions.
Doesn't cause 'any' harm to others can be substituted
with - causing less harm to others, perhaps.

I also think,logical honesty is not honesty at all.

But then,I agree with the idea of practising logical
honesty. I would prefer the logic being made
favourable to everybody if not for your own self only.

But lately, I think, there's not always a WIN-WIN.
There has to be a WIN-LOSE in certain circumstances.
We cannot always make rules favourable to
everybody.Like a law needs to have a person violating
it - because what might be favourable to you might not
be favourable to me.
You might win ,I might lose.
The theologies are based on the fact that we should be
indifferent to the loss. But the possessiveness of
power(I consider it the most
brilliant human quality) will never let us do that.
So, the understanding of our self can be an idea
I think we can frame rules for ourselves (when we
actually can do) to be favourable to the majority of
the human folk.
It is WE who live and not only YOU or I.
All that human can do is keep the well being of the
world, by humans, or resources. But then there's still
a confusion if we are discounting the minority.

The myriad differences with attitudes, interests and
lives is definitely a constraining factor.

I finally agree with you.

Practising hard to look within and know better
everytime why we are doing something - one of the best
I liked this part - 'KNOW BETTER AND BETTER
EVERYTIME.'I believe you were able to suggest this
'coz you practise it.

We, as humans grow every moment we live here.
Every moment we grow and everyday we grow.

All we could do is, Sujith, look into the extent of
our growth in our lives to feel contented about
ourselves that we had not been as vile as we had
supposed ourselves to be.
The challenge starts now. It's easier said than done.

Can we also adapt to the habit of making our
co-existing humans think for themselves to the extent
we can? The least we could do!

We have to live an inter-related life and a communal
livelihood. So we need to sacrifice certain things
which we need at certain times when the necessity is
at large to another person. Even if it is honesty or
truth when necessary.
Like how we do at home...:)

It's all about thinking ourselves one among the home
inmates of this world (which we do less often) and
then look into ourselves to know more about ourselves
for the betterment of lives.

You've given me an invaluable piece of theory which I
could not have thought for myself, ever - "deep down
inside we're good ppl"

I'm expecting your reply

1 comment:

peevee said...

Hi Sujit,
I have read you post and appreciate your understanding of the value of idol worship in this developed world.
It is just hanging on to older and arcane ways of understanding GOD, when our Wisdom has developed and ready to understand better.