9 Simple Rules for Being Human
I’ve tackled these questions before but they never cease to inspire me. Now I have an opportunity to reinvent my answers on ageofreason’s tumblr page, and who knows, perhaps get a good conversation going.
The hardest part about answering whether “objective truth exists” is knowing what we mean when we use words. Someone uses the word “objective” and maybe we think of pure descriptions of nature, or the ability to have access to an unmediated reality. To introduce the term into conversation is to want to know what reality is like when no one’s looking. Well for starters, we can’t escape our biology. We all filter the world through imperfect goggles, so to speak. However, despite how incorrigibly subjective the appearance of nature is, I believe we can know about nature itself in a responsible way, with proof, and not just our personal descriptions of it. What counts as evidence or proof, however, is not based upon a fixed method or of a fixed theory of rationality. All methodologies, even the most rational ones, have their limits. Therefore we turn to other more existential philosophies to understand objectivity.
For example, proof and evidence must always be accessed on grounds that include but go far beyond factual accuracy. In other words, the truth (and therefore utility of a claim) is not merely a matter of indexes (i.e. correspondence between theory and observation). Truth also gains its meaning in relation to the quality of goodness it inspires in others. Ergo, that which is genuinely good is true! Few intellectuals understand this, and even fewer scientists appreciate this. While we must include truth among our deepest values, its pursuit in the abstract must always, always, always exist in relation to an even more pressing—and unavoidable—concern: “How shall I live in this moment, this day?” A true acquisition of objective truth comes in recognition of this fact, which may appear a bit paradoxical: it is only when we ascribe functions in nature which are defined in terms of furthering a set of values we hold meaningful that we become committed to figuring out how we humans might fit into the story.
Indeed, if science has nothing to say about humans, it will have little to say to most humans. Science must therefore join the ranks of helping us understand those abstract monsters, such as Obligations, Duties, Morality, Beauty, and even God. Understanding the objective part of truth is not a matter of removing us from the picture, as if to suggest we do nothing but tincture it with falsehood and chimeras. It is a matter of taking into careful consideration the influence we have on the world. In fact, the accomplishment of objectivity is not in escaping our own point of view (because that is impossible) but in understanding our point of view.
This kind of objectivity is based on articulating and comprehending the human influence on observation, and this can result in knowing which features of the appearance and description are in fact in the world, even though both contributions, from the knower and the known, are in every view of the world. Such knowledge is an objectivity based on principles, not people or personalities. In this light, the man who understands himself and his influence in the world is not demoted or deprecated in the least; he is still very much at the center of a vast, cosmic adventure."
It seems every person in the modern era has to prove their worthiness. Everyone gets a job and goes to it for the majority of their adult lives, and in exchange they get money which they use the majority of to perpetuate their existence through housing and nutrient costs (assuming you are a typical “middle-class” with a low-end job). Every job contributes to livening society in some way, be it cleaning tables in a restaurant or overlooking a manufacturing line. The way it’s built, in order to reap the benefits of this lively society, you must contribute to it, which is insured through the labor-payment relationship. In other words, if you don’t have a job, you’ve got to go without, because shelter and food are attached to this system. Suddenly human rights have become human earns. But why does everyone have to pay to live on the planet they were born on? Why must there be this grand monstrosity that we call society that all industrial citizens must play a part in? Even most pre-industrialized peoples do not dedicate as much of their lifetimes to maintaining their shelters and acquiring food as the average industrial working citizen does. If this system exists due to the gargantuous amount of humans present, then why isn’t their a stopping point? The resources to support such a population growth comes from the societal production system, making it a self-feeding, ever expanding cycle. With the accelerating increase in demand for more resources, we are gradually choking out our only companions in the universe on the planet. At the rate we’re going, we will eventually extinct the society of nature, and chances are we will not be able to stabilize it for the rest of the human populous. Due to all these eventual cataclysmic effects caused by the society the majority of the world is enacting, I think it would be reasonable, if not downright absolutely necessary, to return back to the naturalistic way of living. The Earth alone is a very good caregiver and will assuredly continue our existence if we remain at a reasonable number. After all, living that way is what allowed us to evolve to be this intelligent. I’m not saying abandoning all technological developments, but some sort of effort should be made to keep us from destroying all life because of our selfishness. Perhaps ancient civilizations arrived to a similar conclusion, which would explain how several large groups of people disappeared almost instantaneously. When the size of the species decreases the quality of life for the individuals, perhaps that is the time to call for a revision. (Sorry if this seems a little disjunctive, there is a lot that I wanted to say but had to keep the information I used relevant.)
Spoken word piece created for the “In B Flat” project, commenting on the incredible expansion of information in our generation and years to come.