Beauty and Truth

Michael Lynch’s four truisms about truth —

  1. that truth is objective;
  2. that it is good to believe what is true;
  3. that truth is a goal worthy of inquiry;
  4. and that truth can be worth caring about for its own sake, not just because it gets us other things we want.

were on front burner this week. But during the check in I mentioned that I had been paying attention this week to beauty (as part of a two month health/habit reset thing  I’m doing), and that I’d taken a stunning cell phone shot of the darkening sky in the prison parking lot before heading in. I really think some of the men had not thought about their access to that beauty; they vowed to give the sky its due this week. We talked some more about what focusing attention — and even being asked to focus attention — can bring into view, literally and figuratively. They were quite open to the prospect of finding and attending to beauty in the natural magnificent down to the tiny everyday. Thinking about being able to decide shift their attention to focus on beautiful things sounded empowering. Eager to hear what they have to say about their encounters with beauty next time.

When we got to the topic of truth Lynch’s truisms didn’t fare so well, with one man passionately declaring that caring about truth, and trying to seek it was hard work, and a luxury many can’t afford at the end of long days of demoralizing hard work. And many agreed that this is the norm, not the exception.

The final working judgment of the group: beauty can be elevated to a necessity, truth is the luxury.




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