In the post I wrote yesterday, published earlier this morning, I countered the argument that feelings were less important than facts on the grounds that feelings are also facts, just on an intrapersonal scale. I recall an interview with British musician Steven Wilson published last week, prior to the release of his new album, in which he commented on the extremely-polarised opinions his new work would likely receive, and how we rarely frame those opinions as opinions. He had a point, and it got me thinking.
The way I see it, “facts” are defined as verifiable binaries, universally-perfect within its environment. As a programmer, I deal with such facts on a daily basis as computers can only “think” in binary. If I write a program to tell the computer that “a = 3″, and then ask it “does a = 3″, it will say “yes”. If I write a different program that tells it “a = 2.9295″, and then ask it the same question, it will say “no”. Whichever computer you run this program on, you will always get the same responses. Do the same with a sample of humans, and you’ll find a range of different responses: you won’t just get “yes” and “no”, you’ll likely also get answers such as “almost” and “not quite”. That’s because, as humans, we are not universally-perfect; we have a larger lexicon with which we can evaluate and respond, and emotions to guide us in doing so.
For example, ask a sample of humans “is a roughly equal to 3″, and you’ll find more yes and no answers depending on what we feel is an acceptable margin of error. Perfect precision is not in our nature.
These are what I define as “truths”: individually-derived binaries. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions all fall under this banner. A truth cannot be verified since it exists only within its host, but neither facts nor truths are disputable. If I say “I feel hungry”, you cannot respond with “No you don’t” without looking like some kind of brain-washing totalitarian. The only way to disprove me would be to become me.
The issue is when truths are presented as facts, much with the “Catholocism Pure” blog I referred to yesterday. Facts may be more valuable than truths since they are not objective, but no truth can ever be more valuable than another. You may think that gender non-conformity is abominable, I think it’s inspirational. Is one view more virtuous or valuable than the other? No, and they never will be. The existence of intersex individuals makes it impossible to define male/female as a universally-perfect binary, so the statement that “you are either male or female” cannot be anything more than an independently-held truth. Same with the statement “you are what God made you” – my Christian friends would likely agree with that statement but, as an Agnostic Atheist, I disagree. If it was a fact, there would be no disagreement.
Truths are also transient. We replace our old truths with new truths every day as a result what we learn and what we experience. So instead of pretending our truths are superior to everybody else’s, let’s open a discussion instead and learn together.
That’s what comments sections are for!