myth of absolute truth

The Myth of Absolute Truth  —  The Myths Series

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The Myths Series

The Myth of Absolute Truth  —  we hate not know­ing, but the real­i­ty is, most of life is a mys­tery to be lived, not a puz­zle to be solved.

Of Wayne’s many books, the one clos­est to today’s top­ic is: This End­less Moment

My first and most pop­u­lar book,

This End­less Moment.

Learn to live a full and sat­is­fy­ing life. 

Interesting Factoid Einstein made his significant discoveries by the time he was in his early 30’s.

From that point on, he spent his time frus­trat­ing him­self try­ing to dis­cov­er what is called the “Uni­fied Field The­o­ry.” To quote Comp­ton’s On-Line Encyclopaedia,

In their work some physi­cists have tried to con­struct a uni­fied field the­o­ry that would describe all fun­da­men­tal forces in nature and the rela­tion­ships between ele­men­tary par­ti­cles in terms of a sin­gle the­o­ry. So far, all such attempts have failed, though exper­i­ments and tests of sev­er­al hypothe­ses are still under inves­ti­ga­tion.
Grav­i­ty has not yet been account­ed for in a uni­fied field the­o­ry … In physics, forces can be described by fields that medi­ate inter­ac­tions between sep­a­rate objects, such as between plan­ets or between electrons…in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, Albert Ein­stein devel­oped gen­er­al rel­a­tiv­i­ty, his field the­o­ry of grav­i­ta­tion.
Ein­stein and oth­ers lat­er unsuc­cess­ful­ly attempt­ed to con­struct a uni­fied field the­o­ry in which elec­tro­mag­net­ism and grav­i­ty would emerge as dif­fer­ent aspects of a sin­gle fun­da­men­tal field.

Loose Ends  —  when the pieces won’t fit

Human beings hate loose ends  —  those unsolv­able moments that sur­round us. our hatred of the unknown or the unsolv­able is almost pathological. 

As infants, we were told how to view things. This con­di­tion­ing is nec­es­sary, as we need expla­na­tions for… well… everything. 

We don’t real­ize that we are not being giv­en “the truth.” We are being giv­en one ver­sion of many. IN my books, I’ve called this the imprint­ing of Tribe & Cul­ture. (T&C)

Because our par­ents are big and keep us alive… because tribes are pow­er­ful  —  the mes­sage comes across that there is only one way to see things  —  and “coin­ci­den­tal­ly” it’s the way our par­ents, tribe and edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem see things.

For many people, this restrictive view of the universe, faith, life-perspective  —  never changes.

Some will argue that there is change dur­ing adolescence. 

Ado­les­cents are noto­ri­ous for think­ing that their opin­ions are total­ly unique. This is, of course, foolishness. 

Ado­les­cence is noth­ing more than a time for trad­ing one “herd” for another. 

When I look at pho­tos of myself from Uni­ver­si­ty in the late 60s, I cer­tain­ly looked dif­fer­ent from my par­ents. But I per­fect­ly blend­ed in with my peers. Long hair, beard, weird clothes… all mark­ers of my new “tribe.”

For most, the main thing is “belong­ing”… and to belong is to accept the “Absolute Truth” of the beliefs espoused by group to which one belongs.

The most bla­tant exam­ple of this today Is MAGA. Noth­ing, it seems, will blow MAGA beliefs out of the heads of its herd, despite evi­dence to the contrary. 

We play the absolute truth game so that we don’t scare ourselves with how unpredictable life is. 

We don’t want to think about how “dif­fer­ent” each of our world-views are  —  going there, doing that, and your head might explode. We des­per­ate­ly want “peo­ple” to “get it.” The “it” we want them to “get,” is how we see the world.

Many people continually frustrate themselves over how stupid other people are.

Being in Cos­ta Rica is a great demonstration. 

Many are the expats down here who bemoan the “Tico way.” I do this every time I repair some­thing plugged into the elec­tri­cal grid. 

Back home in Cana­da, I “wire to code”  —  a euphemism for fol­low­ing the rules. Here, wires poke out of dry­wall, are taped togeth­er, no box­es, etc. 

I want to fix it all, and then I calm down and just put things back the way they were, only working. 

But oth­ers loud­ly pro­claim how slow and back­ward things and peo­ple are. I just laugh and remind them that “You ain’t in Kansas any more.”

This also plays out in “field dependency. (FD)”

FD is defined as con­tin­u­al­ly mon­i­tor­ing “the field,” and then adapt­ing one’s self and one’s view to that “field”  —  to the peo­ple around us. 

It’s what we’re describ­ing above, under ado­les­cence, but broad­er. It’s cap­tured in the line, “What would peo­ple think?” 

The FD per­son will move moun­tains to fit in, even if what they are choos­ing to do flies in the face of who they are. So, we end up going off in two direc­tions at once. 

We attempt to become the peo­ple we choose to relate to while at the same time we attempt to cre­ate uni­ver­sal rules that oth­ers “should” abide by, nev­er notic­ing that those rules “just hap­pen” to be what we already believe to be so. 

The stronger the lat­ter belief, the more arro­gant the per­son becomes. And the more closed. 

The solution to this “myth” is to “get over yourself.” 

The get­ting over involves let­ting go of think­ing that there is a “Uni­fied Field The­o­ry of Behav­iour.” If there is one, it is this: “Every­thing is chang­ing and noth­ing is true.” Here’s a long quote from Brad Blan­ton, author of Rad­i­cal Hon­esty, on this top­ic: (pg. 239f)

How Things Are

None of us are ever real­ly look­ing at how it is out there. I have my view of “how things are.” You have your view of “how things are.” We have to depend, in case of dis­agree­ment, on anoth­er nut like our­selves (a friend, ther­a­pist, or judge) with some oth­er view of “how things are” to arbi­trate for us.

And it’s no acci­dent that “arbi­trate” comes form the same root word arbi­trary. The truth is, none of us ever know what is going on. We just agree to have beliefs in com­mon as a way of keep­ing things togeth­er.

It’s amaz­ing how we copy each oth­er’s views so well that we can have such orga­nized liv­ing. It’s pret­ty amaz­ing how groups of us are will­ing to defend to the death our inter­pre­ta­tions against oth­er groups’ inter­pre­ta­tions, or pun­ish “crooked” inter­pre­ta­tions with­in our own groups.

It’s amaz­ing because there is real­ly no way to tell if “out there” is out there or not. But what­ev­er it is, it’s all cre­at­ed by indi­vid­ual beings, who then get togeth­er and agree what to call it.

Assum­ing that see­ing, hear­ing, smelling and so on are chem­i­cal reac­tions in organ­isms, then each indi­vid­ual organ­ism, as I argued in Chap­ter One, is the cre­ator of the world.

We have to see if our cre­ations agree with each oth­er by doing a lot of cross-check­ing in the course of grow­ing up.

Even then, just at the per­cep­tu­al lev­el, it’s hard to get agree­ment among peo­ple about what the world real­ly is and what it is like. Sci­ence is a for­mal attempt to agree on the cri­te­ria we are will­ing to accept as a basis of agree­ment, in advance of any agree­ments.

In that way the laws and agreed-upon assump­tions of sci­ence are just like the laws and agreed-upon assump­tions of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. We humans have spent a lot of time and ener­gy for the past sev­er­al thou­sand years try­ing to get clear on our agree­ments about per­cep­tion and our agree­ments about val­ue. Peo­ple kill each oth­er by the minute over what it all means.

The solu­tion prob­a­bly won’t ever be just hav­ing every­one believe the same thing. Instead of work­ing toward com­mon­al­i­ty of views, we need to work toward com­mon accep­tance of the prin­ci­ple of vari­ety.

We need a vari­ety of ways to look at how things are, because ulti­mate­ly we have a bet­ter chance of sup­port­ing each oth­er with a lot of ways of view­ing things.

It may feel less secure than if every­one agrees on what is true, but feel­ing of secu­ri­ty is just that  —  a feel­ing, not the real thing.

Less secure is often more reli­able. If there is not enough vari­ety pre­served in the gar­dens of illu­sion about “how things are,” then some ver­sion of 1984 total­i­tar­i­an­ism will come true. This sce­nario is almost as bad as the more trag­ic one of being blown away or dying of poi­son.

I think com­mu­nal accep­tance of vari­ety of illu­sions, with less mur­der­ous defense of belief, is a bet­ter solution.

Blan­ton’s book was pub­lished in 1994. Those last few lines, about total­i­tar­i­an­ism, so per­fect­ly fit with the rise of The Don­ald. He’s doing what we’re talk­ing about: pro­vid­ing sim­ple, facile argu­ments about real­i­ty (Mex­i­cans, Arabs, women, etc.) that some peo­ple are des­per­ate to swal­low  —  in order to feel a part of “the in group” they feel exclud­ed from. 

Please note that I am not declaring Blanton’s view “true,” (nor am I declaring the prior paragraph “true…”)

Blan­ton’s approach fits well with what I write about. He invites us to ques­tion every­thing, to rec­og­nize that our “answers” are pro­vi­sion­al, and that any­thing and every­thing is in a state of flux. 

And that this includes every­thing that we believe to be “absolute.”

With each of the myths in this series, I’m try­ing to get you to stretch your mind enough so that you’ll sim­ply let go  —  that you’ll notice how your beliefs, and your beliefs alone, have the pow­er to keep you stuck. 

I have faith that “answers,” such as they are, often reside in the body  —  at the lev­el of per­cep­tion of experience. 

  • That I expe­ri­ence some­thing is significant. 
  • Why I expe­ri­ence some­thing as I do is a head game with no help­ful outcome. 

Such head “answers” change all the time and absolute­ly do not tell you any­thing about any­one else. My thoughts about oth­ers are all about me.

Notice your absolutes. You’ll find them by lis­ten­ing for “every­one” or “no one.” Beyond “every­one is born and dies,” (and oth­er bio­log­i­cal absolutes) there is noth­ing “every­one or no one” does. 

Social con­sen­sus is sim­ply that. We used to be into slav­ery, remember?

When it comes to behav­iour, any­thing and every­thing is pos­si­ble. The only authen­tic ques­tion is, “is this behav­iour accom­plish­ing some­thing I want to accomplish?”

It’s scary, and it’s the way it is… nonetheless.

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