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February 25, 2020 / Congau

Searching for The Truth

Philosophy is the search for truth, but not only “a” truth. It’s the search for “the” Truth, the one absolute objective Truth. If you think otherwise you reduce it to a game; a sophist pastime meant to amuse and confuse, maybe an exercise in thinking, maybe a teaching of prudence and awareness, but not philosophy.

Sure, you can never prove this truth and you can’t even achieve certainty for yourself that truth has been reached. You don’t know and you never will know, but that’s not to say that the truth isn’t out there. If it wasn’t, there would be no point in struggling.

Fair enough, science pursues a physical truth which obviously is more tangible. You can take your visible evidence and show it to another person and he just has to believe his eyes. But even in science there is no absolute evidence. Old “evidence” is frequently discarded, and new theories emerge, and nothing could ever convince the most ardent skeptic. Still, I for one think it’s the Truth that the earth is round just as I am quite convinced that certain ethical theories express the truth.

Science deals with physical evidence and that makes it easier to convince other people and yourself of your beliefs. But that’s the only difference between natural science and the humanities in this regard, and it’s not something absolute.

All the humanities, except philosophy (and theology), concern themselves with some sort of physical facts that produce semi-physical evidence (e.g. psychological experiments, sociological observations). Only philosophy is removed from the world of experience and deals with pure thought (metaphysics being the purest form of philosophy). Of course, the evidence will be more elusive in such a realm but that’s not to say that evidence is not being sought and that there isn’t an ultimate truth that the philosopher is seeking.

For me philosophy is at the extreme end of a continuum, with natural science at the other end, where the determining factor is the purity of thought. Philosophy is the science of pure thought.

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