““truth doesn’t need me to be true”
I just said something to someone very similar to this recently. Something like, “It’s true, whether I’m saying it or not”. So I pondered it. And, you know, that person wouldn’t know it if I didn’t say it, so… you’re right. That is a silly statement. And it marginalized me, didn’t it? Not affirming to my life either, right?”
-Commenter, A Mom (previous post’s comment thread)
You make a point that I had not considered…I never thought of it quite that way. Like, if YOU hadn’t told that person, they’d never actually know that particular truth. So, in that sense, the truth did need you for it to be true to THAT persons…you were the source of that truth to them, and so you are right: the fact that it is true “in spite of you” is neither entirely true, but even more salient, is, in that particular instance, entirely irrelevant. At that moment you were indeed the source of that truth to them. The truth needed you, like it always needs a human agent in order to be true; in order to exist.
Great illustration of this, A Mom. Excellent. Again, truth always needs a human agent. And it speaks well to the point I am (trying…not sure how successfully) making in my last two posts concerning “plain meaning” of words and text: there is no such thing as “truth” in a vacuum of its own meaning. That is, without a human agent who makes his or her life the standard of all meaning (that is, your LIFE is WHY anything is true, or false, or good, or bad, etc.), there is no truth. If you are not conscious, then nothing exists to you…and if nothing exists to you, then you cannot really argue that anything exists at all…obviously (or not).
And this is a hard thing to get our heads around. For on the one hand, we do need to be able to make a distinction, for practical purposes, between what is a fact and what is merely personal opinion. For example, no Calvinist gets to say that total depravity is reasonable just because they happen to believe it, because factually, it is simply NOT reasonable. Them believing it does NOT make it true; will not make it true, and cannot make it true. So, it is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of reason. Obviously we don’t allow maniacs to define the world for us because that leads to all kinds of disaster and torment. So…”reason” is a guide is a practical idea because, remember, truth has to serve human life, not demand its death. And human life is indeed individual, because the individual is the infinite source of their own existence and all that exists to them. But by our empirical observation, which MUST be true (because I submit that if you are consciously aware of something, then that something must be real…for there is no such rational thing as a “false consciousness”, or an illusion, so to speak, being aware of an illusion, but that’s another discussion), we can see the very real lives of other human agents. So, what we affirm as truth must not only serve our SELVES–and indeed, it would be quite logically impossible to rationally argue a truth that affirmed the right of our SELVES to live and not the SELVES of other human beings, which provide a perfect frame of reference (infinite setting) for and an empirical verification of our own SELF–but it must also serve the SELF of every other human being and certainly God, Himself, who is likewise a morally equal and equally self-aware autonomous Agent.
But, as you understand (and kudos to you, because believe me I KNOW this stuff is really, really hard to get our heads around), I am, with all of this hullabaloo, attempting to breach a deeper, I guess, sort of existential idea. And, as I have said before, ad nauseam (because, this is really my whole theological and philosophical bag) that is the idea of the human SELF as the beginning and end of all a person both knows and is, and all that IS, even God, to that person…and as that person is infinite, then by definition, this would mean that the individual SELF is the source of not only all that exists to him or her, but all that exists, period…because, when push comes to shove and the amplifier gets turned to 11, there is no way to really deny this reasonably; and again, that is because the single infinite constant to existence is YOU, and only YOU, and only ever YOU. The source of your existence can never be anything or anyone else. Period. Full stop. Therefore, the only ultimate literal claim you can make is that without you, nothing exists. (Now, let it be known that I am willing to possibly concede a true paradox at this juncture. One might say, for example, that once you exist, FIRST, you can know that other things exist besides you, which means that they also exist concomitantly with you, or even, “before” you, if you want to qualify it that way. The problem is, of course, that I fucking hate paradoxes because I think they are a fucking cop out a their root and I just cannot quite bring myself to believe that there is any truth which man can claim which is mutually exclusive to another truth. I. Just. Simply. Can’t. But…perhaps I may have to. Buuuuuuut…not quite yet. And I mean it…I am NOT conceding it yet. At best thus far I may concede that all conscious agents infinitely ARE, together, and are concomitantly the roots of existence, period…and it is observation which allows for a relatively finite relationship between infinite consciousnesses. But that’s getting pretty deep, and as you are already probably asleep, I’ll move on for now.)
I submit it is axiomatic to say that EVERYTHING we know, or think or see, etc., requires US in order to exist. And I mean LITERALLY. As I said, unless you are, it is impossible for you to claim the existence of anything else at all, by definition. For all practical purposes, if you do not exist, then neither does anything else.
Now, at this point we inject reason–which is the observation of the senses integrated into our consciousness to form conceptual abstractions of other things which we rightly declare as actual. Reason tells us by what we observe that our existence is not the material creation of the objects we observe…but here is where reason really needs to be parsed a bit. Yes, we are not the creators of the things we observe, but we are the creators of what these things mean and how they are defined. And since we are the source all meaning by what we observe we do need to recognize that existence of everything, in a meaningful (epistemological) sense, is predicated upon our existence FIRST.
Now, one might counter argue that we are only the source of all meaning for us, and not anyone else. And I would respond by saying: The difference is between our infinite SELF–that which is the never changing constant in your existence: YOU–and the relatively finite OTHERS with which we share our environment. So yes, meaning is only for our SELF, but our SELF is the only rational plumb line for all meaning because our SELF is the only infinite constant in the equation. That is, between your SELF and others, YOU are the source of their meaning for YOU; and YOU is the only absolutely relevant agent at the end of the day, because without YOU, absolutely nothing can have meaning at all because, like I said, unless you exist first, there is no way for you to concede any truth of any kind. And once you do exist, meaning exists…and meaning to what end? The only end which can have any objective relevance: YOU.
Now, I need to be careful here because, trust me, I know what this sounds like. I know it sounds like I am saying the universe, even God, revolves around the individual human SELF. And in a sense, I concede that this is exactly what I am saying because the fact is that the only constant in your life, again, is YOU, by definition. There is absolutely no way to argue around this axiom. You are the infinite, never changing agent in your life. Your existence is the source of meaning for all the universe. Without YOU, then nothing exists…and I am not arguing from, “observable evidence” right now–for lack of a better phrase–but from a literal interpretation of our existence. There is no way to argue for the existence of anything outside of you, even God, unless YOU exist to make the argument. And this fact completely undercuts any contrary perspective. “There are things which exist whether I’m around our not” is contradicted by the fact that you have to be around to make that claim in the first place. If you do not exist, then by definition it is impossible argue for the existence of anything else.
So, what does this fact then require in how we view our world? Well, first, as I said, we need to be careful lest we attempt to take the place of God. That is a real concern, I understand, with the realization of the axiom of your infinite SELF as juxtaposed to the relatively finite SELVES of everyone else. But this is easy to head off once we make the proper distinction between the Creator of THINGS and the creator of MEANING (which I briefly touched upon above).
Besides dipping my toe into the waters of the anti-Reformed theology arguments, I spend an equal amount of time pondering the rationality of the ideas we accept as the “laws of nature”, or the “laws of the universe/physics/mathematics”. I am currently working on a book–and who the hell knows where I’ll send it or to whom–which I have titled “The Metaphysics of the God Particle” in which I look at most of the basic scientific assumptions/ideas/theories/discoveries which have given rise, and continue to add to and modify, the Standard Model (of the Universe…according to physics), which culminates, currently, in the God Particle (the Higgs Boson). Obviously, as John Immel rightly pointed out to me, science is fundamentally Platonist in its assumptions, so I spend much of the time criticizing scientific assumptions by measuring them against structures of reason (like, the presumption that space is actual, and that time is real…but since neither can be observed, by what reason do we declare their material existence?)…but in addition, I spend time affirming some of their theories with recommendations as to how to tweak the assumptions to arrive at a TRUTH which is reasonable, and yet still does not contradict certain laws of physics which clearly have some merit and practical application.
At any rate, after pondering these ideas for a looooong time I have arrived at the conclusion that God is the Creator of the objects we observe, while man is the creator of their meaning, by codifying them and organizing them in service to his own existence. This distinction makes it impossible for man to pretend he is God. God is the one who must create WHAT we are, materially. We are left with the task–and I believe Genesis 1 supports this–of creating the definitions of what we observe for ourselves, in a most literal way. But the point is that the knowledge of God as the Creator of the material “what” of not only ourselves but what we observe gives God a place of, well, adoration and worship as GOD, without compromising the truth that our existence MUST precede our knowledge of Him. We are still infinite SELF and He relatively finite with respect to us…but this does not create a moral inferiority of God, nor does it remove from Him his rightful label of “Creator”. On the contrary, a proper recognition of ourselves makes possible the accurate defining of God.
Next, since we understand that without the ability of us to observe (sense) OTHER–that is, other people and objects–we can have no frame of reference for, and thus no knowledge of, our own SELF. This implies an equal existential (and moral) value to that which we observe, especially other human beings who can verify the efficacy of our abstract concepts via language; again without compromising the axiom that we are the infinite SELF which is the yardstick for the proper meaning of everything else (everything NOT us). We recognize that the existence of all we observe is predicated upon our existence first without relegating others and other things and God to a place of moral inferiority. Indeed, on the contrary, there is now a mutual exchange of perfect value. The human SELF gives meaning and verification of moral worth and truth to ALL he/she observes, while at the same time they do likewise by providing him/her an anchor for his/her own existence…that is, an observable distinction between their infinite SELF and relatively finite OTHERS is how both can be verified as TRUE.
So, I am not proposing that we all become Gordan Gekkos here and begin to worship ourselves, or that we set up altars with our old yearbook pictures surrounded by tealights and incense and then on Christmas Eve celebrate our own birth by passing our children through the fires of Molech in service to our own deity. Not at all. The argument I am making is for the existential and moral equality of the individual human SELF to all that he/she observes, including God, by making the very axiomatic observation that unless you, the SELF, exist first, nothing can have any meaning at all because all of its meaning and even existence is utterly a function of YOU; for you are the infinite and constant source of existence, thus, nothing exists and nothing has meaning unless it is a direct function of your existence. Your ability to BE is why anything can exist, period. Since you are a prerequisite for ALL you know, it must stand to reason that the existence of all you observe must serve your life or it cannot possibly be declared good or true; and this understanding allows man to then make accurate interpretations of all he observes, especially and including God.
We can know God is God because He, being Creator, is infinitely reasonable to the truth that existence is SELF. As the Creator of the SELF, He is the ultimate proponent of it.