If it is necessary for there to then be some objective truth or multiple objective truths and that complete subjectivity is impossible, then the question becomes how to determine what the truth actually is. After all, even if we have come to the conclusion that subjectivity is bankrupt and there must be at least one truth in the universe if not many truths, we have not identified that truth yet.
For example, a bedrock truth could be that everything we perceive is mistaken and we have no way to get reliable information about anything. Another bedrock truth could be that some type of god exists, but we have no way of knowing anything about him, her or it. Another bedrock truth could be that there is absolutely no higher power, and everything had a beginning at some point without any type of supernatural intervention.
Clearly, there are a lot of competing claims on truth, but they all avoid the trap of subjectivity and recognize the reality of objective truth. They passed the first test, but now we have to move into a new part. How do we even go about narrowing down these possible truths? Some of them are inherently contradictory, so they cannot all be true at the same time. For example, it is not possible for there to be a god and not be a god at the same time. Some of them can be true simultaneously. For example, it is hypothetically possible that everything we perceive is mistaken and there is simultaneously some type of god that exists beyond our knowledge.
We could start like Descartes with the assumption that we are thinking, therefore we must exist. We could start under the assumption that everything is random with no purpose behind it. We could start with the assumption that God is and always was. The answer to this question is going to make a big difference in the conclusion that we find ourselves in, so it is very important to get these first matters right if we actually want to come to the truth at the end of this journey. The presuppositions make a huge difference.
I am going to make some assumptions as we proceed into the next weeks of posts, and some of them you might find irresponsible, but if we do not start on some common ground, we really cannot proceed at all. If we assume that we are being deceived and that everything around us is merely an illusion, this exercise is going to be very short and it really does not seem to be consistent with what I or anyone else has ever experienced. There is an external world that we can perceive and observe. Your perception and observation might be different than mine, but we are observing and perceiving the same object. If you don’t like that assumption, I’m sorry, but it seems to be experientially true.
Second, I am going to make the assumption that logic works. I appealed earlier to the law of non-contradiction. It cannot be the case that I simultaneously exist and do not exist would be an example of this law in action. I am going to assume that if it is true that all children are above average and John is a child, then John must be above average. Again, this is a logical truth that is necessarily true all the time. It is observationally true. Again, you might not like this assumption, but I am going to begin with that as well because of not only its explanatory power but also its consistency with reality.
With these two assumptions, we’re going to begin. If we cannot begin from this point, it is going to be very hard to proceed with any type of common ground, and I do not know very many people who would dispute either of these two realities. Make sure you come back next week as we try to filter down some truths and figure out this crazy thing that will somehow tie back into our discussion from earlier this week about how we determine what type of ideas society ought to believe.