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Posts Tagged ‘Sensation’

I’ve been thinking about truth and reality and the existence or nonexistence of objectivity. Here’s my conclusion (this may not be groundbreaking or novel or anything, but that’s not to point- it’s what I have settled on). Objective reality almost certainly exists. It’s out there, and we live in it.  However, from the human perspective it is purely theoretical, and for the purposes of our day-to-day lives, it is almost meaningless.

From the moment a stimulus enters your body via your senses until the moment that it leaves in the form of a response, the information is constantly being corrupted by faulty perception, being filtered through lenses of experience, worldview, culture, point of view, coping mechanisms, random neuron firings, insanity, and who knows what else.  There’s no point inside the system that is objective itself- the main processor is the brain, and the brain is the very culprit when it comes to putting a spin on reality- and so at no point is it even possible for a human being to perceive the world in a completely objective way.  Ever.

Certainly there is some level of consensus to reality, like if there was a fire, we’d pretty much all see it, feel the heat, maybe be scared of it, and we’d all probably burn and die if we were consumed by it.  That seems to be pretty objective (with maybe an unusual exception here and there), but that’s not what I’m talking about.  The difference is that we’re all perceiving the objectively identical fire from a different standpoint, both internally and externally.  We’re all ascribing different shades of meaning to it.

Objective reality probably exists, but we are completely incapable of accessing it because the only means we have of accessing reality by its very nature distorts reality as it accesses it.

What does this mean as far as religion goes?  It means that as I search for truth, the best I’m going to get is a subjective kind of truth, because even if objective truth exists, I have no way of apprehending it.

Why do people insist on objectivity, when everything we know about the human experience suggests that for all intents and purposes there’s no such thing?  Why do religious people in particular so often insist on the existence of knowable absolute truth?  I wonder if it has something to do with controlling other people.  I mean, if reality is largely subjective, then “sharing your religion” pretty much stops at “sharing.”  But if you can insist on Absolute Truth, then you are justified in being a little more belligerent.  It’s probably not fair to assign that kind of motive to so many people, though.  The more likely explanation is that many people simply aren’t comfortable with a lack of meaningful absolute truth.  It seems counterintuitive and it messes with one’s head.

For me, though, it means that I am looking for what is true for me.  Part of me still thinks that sounds lame after a lifetime of being an Absolute-Truth-Insistent Mormon, but at the same time, it only makes sense.  The only way I can sense and process and interpret reality is through my body and my mind, and those both have an inherent problem in that they severely warp anything they perceive.  So absolute truth may exist, but it’s impossible to find it out.  Therefore, the search for absolute truth, especially when dealing with things like “meaning” that stray from generally consensual aspects of reality, is a relatively futile one.

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