Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Questio Verum is Latin for “Seeking Truth.”

I’ll leave the word “seeking” to stand on its own as universally understood, but I think it is important to define “truth” since that word plays such a key role in my objective.

1. the true or actual state of a matter (Aside: I hate when they include a derivation of the word you are attempting to define as part of the definition! Define truth without using the word ‘true’ please!!!)
2. conformity with fact or reality; verity (Okay, this is better.)
3. a verified or indisputable fact, proposition, principle, or the like
4. the state or character of being true. (Again! Really?)
5. actuality or actual existence.

So, truth is synonymous with actuality, reality, fact. It is NOT however synonymous with wishful thinking. This is important. So many people confuse what they wish were true with what is independently verifiable. Truth itself is an objective destination, a fact, utterly independent of humans' belief or non-belief. For example, some ancient cultures (and perhaps not so ancient) believed disease was the product of angry god(s) and used appeals (prayer) and magic (rituals) to cure the inflicted. Later, the ancient Greek Hippocrates is credited with attributing disease to natural causes which he ascribed to four bodily fluids (humors). Holding sway for many decades thereafter, Miasmatic theory considered all diseases to be the product of pollution or “bad air”. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the germ theory of disease revealed the microbial roots of infection, thus finally uncovering the objective, verifiable truth. (source: Wikipedia – yes, it’s good enough in some instances!) In the same manner, heliocentrism replaced geocentrism in astronomy, weather forecasting replaced rain dances, etc.

Given humanities track record, we must factor in the fact that man is fallible, capable of egregious error and superstition. Which is why we need a method to correct such errors – a method which continually challenges and re-examines not only the conclusions, but the very premises upon which our assumptions lie. Science gives us one such method. By systematically gathering empirical evidence for and against a given hypothesis, scientific methods advance our understanding of reality in as objective a manner as human beings are capable of. Therefore, if I’m honestly seeking truth, I must be willing to subject my hypotheses to scrutiny and adapt my suppositions to fit new evidence. This is something all people must do if they are actually seeking the truth of a matter and not merely attempting to reinforce their own misguided beliefs.
I will admit up front that my knowledge is grievously imperfect, but will nevertheless attempt to defend my positions based upon my present understanding and perceptions. To begin, I start with these axioms: 1) An objective reality exists, regardless of whether we currently perceive this reality in its entirety, 2) Logic, reason, facts, and mutually agreed upon premises must be the tools people use to explore the truth, and 3) Debate is worthless, discussion invaluable.

The last axiom requires some explanation. In a debate, opponents attempt to “win” by scoring points and may not offer up areas of insecurity or uncertainty for fear their opponent will use this against them. Thus, the truth may be covered up, and the most persuasive debater may win on all counts, but still be completely wrong regarding the underlying validity of the contested subject. However, when two people hold significantly opposing viewpoints that cannot both be correct, then one or both has a misperception of reality. Exploring these differences via open discussion as opposed to debating adversaries is the key to uncovering truth.

In the blogs to come, I will explore:

Philosophy/Religion: Why I am an atheist, Arguments I have against God’s existence, the validity of the Bible, etc.
Politics: Why I’m a Libertarian, What I find wrong with Democrats (liberals), Republicans (conservatives), Anarchists, etc.
Economics: The fallacies I find in Keynesianism, Why I give credibility to Austrian Economics, etc.
Other: As the mood strikes.

If any of these subjects interest you, I encourage your cordial participation, questions, and exploration on Questio Verum!

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