Truth revisited

Last week was our first meeting in over a month, with spring break and my expired gate clearance having kept me away or out. The men wanted to talk one last time about Lynch’s truisms about truth before moving on.

Some novel ideas on this round: one person argued that even in a case in which an agent relentlessly pursues truth for what looks like its own sake, still, that pursuit meets the agent’s need, and one that is far from universal. It was a bit like the question begging move a lot of defenders of egoism make (by which one need not even bother discussing a real live counter example because the reply — known in advance of the objector even opening his mouth, I might add — is that still the act that seems to be for the benefit of someone else is one that made the actor *feel better* than doing something else).  But the egoist makes this self confirming claim about all of human choices. This man’s argument was that first, it’s just true that everyone seeks the truth especially in instances where the truth might even bring sadness or harm to the knower. In fact many go to great lengths to avoid the truth in those instances, as a matter of fact. Second, even though some of us sometimes seek the truth for its own sake, those who do so consistently are an even smaller subset, and they do it in part because they are wired to desire it! And they joked that philosophers are disproportionately represented in this sub sub group, possibly distorting the philosopher Lynch’s view of humanity. True!

Second, one really sharp long man, the person who’d not long ago reported that Berkeley’s Dialogues had continued to influence him, argued that he’s take the (blue?) pill to stay in the ever pleasant Matrix. Not because he’d prefer a life of delusional pleasure over one of painful reality, but because our connection to reality is tenuous anyway: highly mediated by our inescapably distorting perspective, or sensory prison. So it would be a swap more than a choice between two profoundly different alternatives.

This argument came at the end of the meeting, and left us all with much to think about. As usual we ended the discussion provoked, for the better. But not before warm goodbyes and thank yous, and exchanges of good wishes for the coming week.

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