Saturday, April 12, 2014

Truth Is That Which Edifies

From Chapter 4 "Witness and Truth" of The End of Apologetics, Penner says:

The modern concern with truth marks a sharp departure from the premodern focus on natural substances that make the world what it is and, in turn, make it possible for our words or thoughts about them to be true.  It is because things are already true to themselves that premoderns believe we can perceive, think, or talk about them truly.  Prior to modernity, just as with reason and rationality, it is the cosmos and its being - the it is - that make our thoughts and our words about it possible.  It is because things have forms or essences that are identical to themselves, as it were, that our minds and our words can ever have any thruth in them.  This is not the case, however, for moderns who reject the old-world cosmology.  Modern thinkers tend to believe that our thoughts and statements can be true when the things we speak and think about are self-evidently the same as our words and thoughts.

We are at the beginning of a new era where we are moving beyond this modern way of doing truth.  It seems to work well when trying to do science and technology.  This is the domain of simple inanimate things or simple biological creatures.  When it involves creatures with consciousness then things get sticky.  How we know or think we know truth matters.  Penner suggests we move from a "correspondence" theory of truth, the modern conception, to consider that truth is that which edifies.

When we speak about edification and witness, we are never talking about a purely private relation to anything......There is something of an intrapersonal and public element to truth, and because we are social beings, the edification of an individual person necessarily takes place within a community of other persons wo share (very nearly) the same commitments, values, and vocabularies.  

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