Navigating between Truth and Reality
According to Nietzsche, there is no such thing as ‘truth’, or rather, truth is when people lie together in a herd-like fashion.
In this ‘post-truth’ era, the emphasis is, as in television advertising, on repeating the same statements so as to induce an ‘emotional connection’ and with it, herd behaviour. If you have a picture of Susie naked and say ‘Susie is a slut’, the breath that utters it will dissipate in the wind, unless you put it on the internet where it will be repeated millions of times and never fade away. As the herd response forms, Susie will be alienated, she will have to change schools so her family will have to move and finally she will commit suicide, and if her manipulators are slick enough, she will do it 'online'.
On the political scene, it may be ‘Iraq is a rogue state’ or ‘Qatar is a rogue state’. Embargoes and other forms of alienation follow, medical and food supplies are cut off, children die by the hundreds of thousands and hatred of Euro-American colonizers builds to new heights.
But this essay is not about politics. It is about the relationship between ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ which is commonly overlooked as we continue to employ kneejerk ways of sifting through a sea of ‘alleged to be true’ information. For example, it was not that the naked, sexually implicating photo of Susie was ‘photoshopped’ or ‘untrue’, the question was whether one act, even if ‘true’, could capture ‘who she was’ within a negative iconography that justified the social ‘embargoes’ that deprived her of essential emotional nurturance and made her continued living intolerable.
Truth is one half of a binary tautology that includes as well, ‘falsehood’, its polar opposite without which ‘truth’ could have no meaning at all. ‘Reality’, meanwhile, is ‘unconditional’. It is our experience of inclusion in a transforming relational continuum.
In fact, cultures with relational languages rather than noun-and-verb Indo-European/scientific language-and-grammar do not have these binary concepts based on the logic of EITHER “is” OR “is not”. Neither do they have ‘science’ and ‘rationality’, since these derive from noun-and-verb language-and-grammar and the ‘things-in-themselves’ based narratives they can construct.
The mathematics that science uses can be directly related to the ‘Susie’ example, wherein a single piece of content; i.e. an alleged event (whether true or not) can be used as a source of meaning that over-rides the meaning in a whole lifetime of relational context. The meaning or value in a lifetime of abuse suffered by an abused wife will be over-ridden, in our Western values/moral judging system, by the meaning or value in her single act of putting a knife through his heart. Likewise the oppressed citizen who takes out one of his oppressors in trying to break out of the pen his oppressors have kept him in to taunt, humiliate, exploit and abuse him.
But this is just Western scientific thinking culture that manipulates meaning/values in this way, as it is built into the mathematics which impute self-standing ‘substance’ [meaning, value] to ‘difference’. It is the basis of ‘calculus’ which the philosopher George Berkeley showed was fundamentally flawed in his 1774 ‘Discourse to an Infidel Mathematician’ (Isaac Newton).
Berkeley pointed out that there were no grounds for imputing 'stand-alone being’ to a time-based ‘difference’. This was a precursor to Derrida’s ‘différence’ argument wherein the meaning in a local event is ‘indefinitely deferred’ and must be understood in terms of a contextual deconstruction [“there is nothing outside of context”].
Indigenous aboriginals and anyone, using their experience based intuition, would keep the context of someone’s entire life in a natural primacy over a single event or item of content within that stream of context. Of course she is going to reach her limit of tolerance and stab you if you keep abusing her. The stabbing is natural justice. Such an ‘event’ must be understood in the overall context of the ongoing relational social dynamic. It has no 'stand-alone' meaning-in-itself or 'objective truth-in-itself'.
Mathematical physics, meanwhile, imposes the rule that “the present depends only on the immediate past”. This gives absolute meaning to the ‘difference’ or ‘change’ between the present and the immediate past, which is the premise underpinning differential calculus which enjoys foundational status in the mathematical capture of physical phenomena. But the assumption that there is objective truth in an isolated event is a metaphysical premise that is imposed on our observational data that Western culture applies generally.
Forensic science and moral judgement and thus Western retributive Justice have employed this premise in their intellectual foundations. No matter how many years the slave has suffered (and his parents and grandparents before him) in his imprisonment by his abusive slave-masters, that interval of one minute in which he shoots the slave-master will be given OUT OF CONTEXT ‘meaning-in-itself’ by Western courts of Justice.
Is this not a bit ‘odd’? Doesn’t Berkeley have a point?
Giving more meaning to ‘events’ as ‘things-in-themselves’ implies that we should be able to reassemble or ‘integrate’ a whole succession of events and reconstruct ‘what really went on’, ... aka ‘reality’. This is what Western culture teaches under the guise of ‘history’. ‘History’ is an events-based reconstruction of ‘what really went on’.
But ‘histories’ can only be from particular perspectives. The indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, if they were to use this ‘history’ technique, can show, by way of historical events, that Euro-American colonizers destroyed a wonderful established world on Turtle Island. But by using the same ‘data’, the Euro-American colonizers can show that they constructed a wonderful new world in North America. Cherry-picking so as to serve 'emotional connection' that in turn favours one's personal values and beliefs is inherent in our semantic reality constructions.
‘Perspectivism’ [Nietzsche] is what prevails in ‘reality’ [i.e. in the physical reality of our actual experience] since different observers bring their own uniquely, situationally included experiences to bear in their semantic constructions of 'reality'. Indigenous aboriginal peoples not only accept ‘perspectivism’ but see in it, the essential importance of the differences in different experiential perspectives, which they respect and in no way seek to 'average out' in some notional 'common objective truth based reality'. These important experiential difference are the basis, when brought together within a ‘learning circle’ where the ‘heartfelt truth’ of personal experiences are shared [brought into connective coherent confluence], for bringing forth a ‘holographic view’ of the transforming relational continuum in which we all share inclusion.
Getting back to the problem with giving meaning to ‘events’, the 'objectifying' of local-in-space-and-time 'events' sets up a situation where anyone can ‘cherry-pick’ the events they need to manipulatively construct a narrative that will make an ‘emotional connection’ with a whole lot of people. That is, a politician can start with what he believes is an emotional niche need in a lot of people, and cherry pick events that can be put together in a narrative that will fit this emotional connection niche.
When other people try to break up the coherency of this emotionally connected, cherry picked narrative, the shrewd politician will simply keep repeating the same cherry-picked points, over and over again so as to sustain the emotionally connected understanding, and since the internet and social media are an ‘echo chamber’, the emotionally connective, cherry-picked narrative can, with such persistent backing, ‘go viral’ and ‘stay viral’.
Most of this can be found in Wikipedia in one looks up ‘post-truth’.
What is missing there is the role of science, as discussed here; i.e. the problem in Western culture generally, of the imputing of foundational meaning in ‘events’ as in ‘science’ and ‘mathematics’ which permeates Western discourse as well. There should be no surprise that it does since, as Whorf has shown, science derives from noun-and-verb Indo-European language-and-grammar architecture;
“It is sometimes stated that Newtonian space, time, and matter are sensed by everyone intuitively, whereupon relativity is cited as showing how mathematical analysis can prove intuition wrong. This, besides being unfair to intuition, is an attempt to answer offhand question (1) put at the outset of this paper, to answer which this research was undertaken. Presentation of the findings now nears its end, and I think the answer is clear. The offhand answer, laying the blame upon intuition for our slowness in discovering mysteries of the Cosmos, such as relativity, is the wrong one. The right answer is: Newtonian space, time, and matter are no intuitions. They are receipts from culture and language. That is where Newton got them.” – Benjamin Whorf, ‘The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language’
We know that the noun-and-verb language-and-grammar structure sets up narratives based on notional ‘things-in-themselves’ (noun-subjects) and ‘what these things-in-themselves do’ (noun-subjects inflecting verbs) and ‘the results that are produced by what things do’ (subject-verb-predicate). These are the ‘material dynamics’ that science uses as the assumed framework of nature’s dynamics in order to study nature’s dynamics. We could expose this framework’s over-simplicity just by acknowledging field/matter nonduality which is the finding of modern physics; i.e. subjects are notional stand-alone things-in-themselves that jumpstart actions and results in noun-and-verb (scientific) language-and-grammar.
We deny the innate, natural nonduality of relational form in relational flow when we say “Katrina is growing larger and stronger” and "Katrina is ravaging New Orleans". Such over-simplistic semantic reality constructs, as Nietzsche has pointed out, are the result of 'double, complementary errors of grammar'; (a) the imputing of 'being' to a relational activity (a relational storming feature in the relational flow-plenum), and (b) imputing of innate powers of genetic agency (self-development, self-initiated actions and accomplishments) to the 'being' we have semantically created in (a).
But let’s go to some examples that you can imagine yourself getting trapped into, in regard to Western science and Western moral judgement based Justice’s assumption that a stand-alone event can be taken to be an ‘objectively real thing-in-itself’ as in calculus and as in general 'rational intellection'. Imagine that you are a male and you did the politically incorrect thing of groping your date, thinking that she would like it, and it turns out that, unbeknownst to you or the court (she doesn't like to share it with non-intimates), she had been sexually assaulted in her early life and contineus to suffer PTSD from her early experience. This PTSD is triggered by the grope and she goes ballistic, screams and runs for the nearest policeman who arrests you and you go on trial for sexual assault wherein the court, according to its standard practice, will set out to find the ‘objective truth’ of events transpiring in the space and time bounded window in question.
It is important to understand what underpins the assumption that we can extract ‘objective truth’ from a differentiated local-in-space-and-time window.
What are the assumptions science makes in this regard [we can recall here that forensic science is the standard used to assess the ‘objective truth’ of testimony of what transpired within the space and time limited window]. Science, in a basic, foundational way, uses the technique of chopping up the natural reality of our physical experience into a bunch of small parts to make it easier to 'solve' what is going on within the chopped up proxy framework, assuming in so doing, that the solutions apply also to unchopped-up natural phenomena.
“Origin of Mathematical Physics. Let us go further and study more closely the conditions which have assisted the development of mathematical physics. We recognise at the outset the efforts of men of science have always tended to resolve the complex phenomenon given directly by experiment into a very large number of elementary phenomena, and that in three different ways.
First, with respect to time. Instead of embracing in its entirety the progressive development of a phenomenon, we simply try to connect each moment with the one immediately preceding. We admit that the present state of the world only depends on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past. Thanks to this postulate, instead of studying directly the whole succession of phenomena, we may confine ourselves to writing down its differential equation; for the laws of Kepler we substitute the law of Newton. ... ...
— Henri Poincaré, ‘Science and Hypothesis’, Chapter IX, Hypotheses in Physics”
As the trial continues to gather ‘facts’ and assemble them for interpretation by the prosecution and defense, it turns out that the girl was at the time wearing monitoring equipment to study a heart murmur so many of her physical properties (heart rate, respiration etc.) were recorded and these verify her claim of extreme emotional distress associated with 'the grope' that transpired within the space and time window in question. She experienced an avalanche of terrifying emotions that could only have been ‘caused’ by the male who sexually assaulted her.
But, ... are avalanches ‘caused’ or ‘triggered’? Are avalanches just the culmination of the progressive development of a phenomenon that are ‘triggered’ rather than ‘caused’. If this is so, there should be no expectation of being able to isolate ‘objective truth’ within a restricted space and time window. This is because we violate the condition that allowed us to chop things up into local space and time windows whereby; "the present state of the world depends only on the immediate past, without being directly influenced, so to speak, by the recollection of a more distant past"
As Poincaré noted, scientists and mathematicians have made these rather large, unjustified ‘simplifying assumptions’ in order to make it easier to solve problems. Thus we must keep in mind that the ‘reality’ in which local-in-space-and-time ‘events’ can be considered to contain ‘objective truths’ is clearly NOT the reality of ‘nature’. Nature cannot be chopped up into little bits that have self-standing meaning. As Poincare has elsewhere shown, this is equivalent to chopping up infinity into local bits which implies that 'infinity' is something real in the present.
Nature cannot be chopped up into little bits that can be put back together to recreate what was there before we chopped it up into little bits. In other words, the ‘reality of science’ is not the ‘reality of our natural experience’; ... it is a ‘semantic reality’ that makes use of simplifications built into noun and verb Indo-European/scientific language-and grammar. The more crisp and concise the semantic reality of science, the more that we break our bonds with the reality of our natural experience. Or, as Einstein puts it;
As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” – Einstein
Just as the event window where the slave shoots the slave-master is considered as containing ‘objective truths’, so also is the event window wherein the Middle East terrorist launches the 9/11 attack considered as containing ‘objective truths’, meaning that science and the courts will assume that “the present depends only on the immediate past”. This assumption means that the centuries of oppressive Euro-American colonizer control over the indigenous peoples of the Middle East does not enter into the events of 9/11/2001.
This assumption is very convenient for Euro-American colonizers since it forces one to assume that the source of what transpires in the narrow local-in-space-and-time window derives from the subjects (logical elements) included in the window which science models as ‘independently-existing things-in-themselves with 'their own' internal process sourced actions and results’. Of course, the indigenous peoples of North America look right through this transparent lie, and bluntly note that the 9/11 terrorist attack is ‘pushback’ for relentless oppression and humiliation imposed on indigenous peoples by Euro-American colonizers. The Justice courts of the Euro-American colonizers [who have been for centuries in control on a global basis, have the gall to present themselves always as ‘innocent and righteous’ and the desperate rebels rising up against them to try to break out of their colonizer oppression, as ‘evil, unprovoked offenders’.
The high courts of the Euro-American sovereign states cannot be questioned since they are the ultimate grounding reference on questions of 'truth' and 'moral righteousness'; i.e. the Western 'sovereigns state' is a 'secularized theological concept'.
"The notion of “absolute, unlimited power held permanently in a single person or source, inalienable, indivisible, and original” is a definition of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. This “God died around the time of Machiavelli…. Sovereignty was … His earthly replacement.” Walker, R. B. J. and Mendlovitz, Saul H. “Interrogating State Sovereignty.”
All significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, not only because of their historical development … but also because of their systematic structure. Bartelson, Jens. A Genealogy of Sovereignty.
Evidently, influences are transmitted from nonlocal spacetimes into the local 'event space-and-time' as in the example of PTSD impacting local-in-space-and-time events, and also in the case of 'rebel actions' of long oppressed indigenous peoples.
However, Western science and Western Justice do not allow the understanding that people can serve as vents that transmit influences from the nonlocal to the local point on which they can act [Emerson]. E.g. long-building relational tensions can give rise to local eruptions (e.g. earthquakes, avalanches), so that it does not ‘make sense’ to constrain one's investigation to the space and time window in which the events transpire as if that could reveal and explain the source of the events.
Thus, the common mainstream science assumption that differentiated space and time windows are able to be meaningful in a stand-alone sense are bogus. Or, in the words of Mach, such assumptions are convenient simplifications that deliver ‘economy of thought’, but must not be confused for the physical reality of our actual relational experience.
“We … should beware lest the intellectual machinery, employed in the representation of the world on the stage of thought, be regarded as the basis of the real world.” – Ernst Mach
In Nietzsche’s view, such alleged ‘objective truth’ of local-in-space-and-time ‘events’ is an unsupportable ‘belief’which is in a state of collapse, nihilism being one of the byproducts of this collapse.
'Science', or rather, the common belief in the ‘truths’ put forth by ‘science’ has been ‘institutionalized’ in the now globally dominating Western culture. The general ‘hole’ in 'science' and 'rationality' can be seen in its assumptions that purport objective truth to limited-in-space-and-time ‘events’. This shows up in Western medicine, Western psychiatry, Western politics and in Western social dynamics generally [though critics abound, criticism bounces off these institutionalizes scientific assumptions like water off a duck's back]
If one experiences an avalanche of microbial staphylococcus pneumoniae ‘pathogens’ terrorizing the body, this will obscure the progressive depletion of vitamic C from ‘le terrain’ that is the deficiency based source of this inverted avalanche of pathogens. Nevertheless, ‘attack of pathogens’ will be the diagnosis and the accepted ‘operative reality that will shape the response [the counter attack with anti-biotics]. This diagnosis is evidently an ‘anthropomorphism’ complete with moral judgement [those microbes are out to get us, let's exterminate these evil assassins.].
Similarly, if one is situationally included in a stressful environment where anxieties build to the breaking point in sensitive people; i.e. where one’s behaviour becomed ‘psychotic’, science will see that the abnormal behaviour can be isolated to a space-window containing only the manifest expression of the psychotic behaviour; i.e. the ‘psychotic person’, so that science can limit its search for the source of the problem to the body of the psychotic individual, and the best of the scientists in psychiatry will find ways to ‘chop it out of you’ in an even blunter and more mechanical manner than priests used to exorcise 'evil spirits'; e.g. “the Portuguese neurologist António Egas Moniz is credited with inventing the lobotomy in 1935, for which he shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1949”
The increasingly frenetic and anxiety-spawning relational social dynamic that inductively actualizes psychotic breakdowns lies ‘outside’ of the window of objective truths that science uses to study and understand such maladies and to perform repairs to excise [exorcise] it.
Western Courts of Justice, just like Western Medical Authorities, are not ready to accept that the source of ‘abnormalities’ that manifest through individuals arise from an abnormal relational social dynamic that they preside over and protect from rebellions that are seen as evil pathogens attacking it. It is so much easier to assume that the abnormality originates in the person through which it vents, than to have to assume that ‘it takes a whole community to raise a terrorist/psychotic’, a viewpoint that would 'put the whole community on trial' each time a 'pathogen' was apprehended.
We live in a ‘post-truth’ world which is not going to ‘go away’; i.e. it is not a case of our having recently ‘lost our grip on the truth’ because of too many effusions of noise from politicians, corporate media and other sources, so as to raise the possibility that we shall filter through the noise, get a renewed grip on 'the objective truth', that was temporarily obfuscated.
"There is no ‘objective truth’, there is only the truth of lived experience and everything else, such as we weave into our personalized semantic narratives, is interpretation coloured by our uniquely differing experiential perspectives, and our various values and beliefs.
The ‘cherry-picking’ of data is the general case. That’s what logical propositions are all about; i.e. they are inherently subjective and incomplete [Goedel’s theorem]. Political correctness’ is about cherry picking one ‘event’ in the utterer’s life and putting it into the echo-chamber of electronic media [internet and social media] where it inductively orchestrates an ‘emotional connection’ and rallies together a herd of people including the targeted person's employer [who will fire, on the herd's encouragement, the person targeted for his politically incorrect utterance.]. The targeted person's longtime friends and supporters, similarly encouraged by the emotionally aroused herd, will break ties with the targeted person, and otherwise participate in alienating and destroying his life.
This is the same pattern as plays out where people have manipulated teenage girls to get compromising pictures of them that will rally the herd so as to publicly crucify them in their most sensitive phase of their life. The fact that such political incorrectness could be found generally in the populace matters little. The echo-chamber, gone-viral phenomena does not come from 'thoughtful reflection', it comes from this surfacing of an emotional connection, an avalanche that is 'triggered' by a single data point in the manner that a single grain of sand can trigger an avalanche. It cannot be understood as an 'event in itself' but must be understood in terms of the building of a matrix of relational tensions wherein a violent release of accumulating energy can be 'triggered' by a minor event ['the butterfly effect'].
‘Truth’ is not something we are going to ‘find again’ because we have never before found it. It does not exist in the physical reality of our actual experience. 'Truth' is an abstraction that exists only in a logical binary tautological partnership with ‘falsehood’. It is a limit found only at infinity which is not a place that we can actually get to in our life experience.
““What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms—in short, a sum of human relations which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.
We still do not know where the urge for truth comes from; for as yet we have heard only of the obligation imposed by society that it should exist: to be truthful means using the customary metaphors—in moral terms: the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him. Thus he lies in the manner indicated, unconsciously and in accordance with habits which are centuries’ old; and precisely by means of this unconsciousness and forgetfulness he arrives at his sense of truth.” — Nietzsche, ‘On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense’
Currently, we are ‘spinning our wheels’ in an unending debate that attempts to sift out the ‘truth’ as people and politicians continue to 'dump' into the commons of silence, all manner of ‘cherry-picked’ semantic reality constructions that satisfy personal emotional needs and value and belief systems.
Notice how the ‘reputable media’ has backed off their view that the difference between ‘truth’ and ‘lies’ (fake news) resides in whether news reports have been fully checked and validated for ‘factual integrity’. The inference that ‘the truth’ lies in the factual integrity of reported events is exposed as an insufficient condition since one is free to cherry-pick and string together selected ‘verified facts’ so as to construct a ‘semantic reality’ that can fill a niche need for emotional connection across a particular social group [e.g. American labourers of non-recent-immigration origin; i.e. officially credentialed Euro-American colonizer-anointed, native-vanquishing settler-founder stock]
Just as few people are prepared to give serious consideration to Nietzsche’s prediction on the collapse of reason [which he roughly estimated to transpire in the 1880 to 2080 timeframe], few are prepared to give serious consideration to the proposition that the only solid truth is the truth of one’s own life experience. Such 'truth' is understandably different for each of us, giving us each a unique perspective without the prospect of finding some ‘common objective truth’ other than by the means noted in Nietzsche’s above exploration of ‘what, then, is truth?’ ["the obligation to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie herd-like in a style obligatory for all."]
Nevertheless, other cultures who embrace this view that personal experience is the sole truth, value the unique difference in personal experience based truths, because these are important differences, which have deep roots in the transforming relational dynamic, that can contribute to a ‘holographic understanding of the common living space dynamic, when brought together in connective confluence, as in a ‘learning circle’.
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