The Decreasing Value of Objective Truth

“The truth shall make you free” by Mary Hodder

In the philosophical world, it is heavily debated whether humans are capable of perceiving an objective reality. Because our perceptions are limited by our human senses, there is virtually no way to be sure that what we perceive is really there. I could get into how sound only exists when the sound waves reach your brain or the same thing for light and sight, but that topic stresses me out. I trust that you get the idea.

While scientifically there is no real way to be sure that what we perceive is an objective reality, the closest we can get is through observation. When we observe, it is natural for us to assign value to what we observe, typically as either positive or negative. These assignments of value shape our reality.

Example:

Someone who doesn’t drink coffee may see a Starbucks coffee shop and immediately associate it with all the other things that they perceive as negative, such as coffee, corporations, and capitalism. Starbucks is BAD.

Someone who does drink coffee, particularly Starbucks coffee (because there are a lot of coffee snobs who hate Starbucks, but I digress) will see the Starbucks logo as a green siren; a safe haven, a place to get their fix. It’ll be associated with all the other things they perceive as positive, such as caffeine, convenience, and contentedness. Starbucks is GOOD.

The hurdle between the Human Experience and Objective Reality is our natural instinct to assign value to our observations before we analyze them. We observe, then decide that something is bad (or good), and from there, we only look at the negative aspects. If we acknowledge the positive aspects, we search for ways that these aspects are dominated by the negative ones. Even during our brief explorative analysis, we are actively searching for a specific conclusion.

Because we experience life relative to ourselves, it’s hard to acknowledge that just because something takes a negative role in our life doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s objectively, overall a negative thing. Nothing is objectively negative or positive except the value that we collectively assign through (ideally) logical evaluation.

This is often seen in politics. One side will say, hey, this negatively affects my group of people, therefore it is BAD. The other side isn’t affected by it in the same way, and doesn’t assign the same connotation, and maybe even perceives it as GOOD. I’m not trying to justify murder here, but being “wrong” usually means you disagree with the value assignment that people collectively (and morally) agree on.

Okay then! What’s the problem? Why do we have all these arguments and disagreements and opposing views if we are aware that our perception of negative or positive is a choice?

Some people simply do not value the Truth.

Some people are fine crediting their emotions and personal experiences before logic and objectivity.

For example, one hot topic right now is the conditions of detainment centers at the US/Mexico border. When I see people talking about it, there are a lot of allusions to concentration camps and the Holocaust, comparing the detainment guards to Nazis.

One objective difference between the two is that for the most part, you have to break the law to make it into the detainment center. Holocaust victims did not have to break the law to get into concentration camps.

Many people will read the previous sentence and get absolutely outraged.

Read it again. What exactly is outrageous about it? Am I saying it’s a good thing? Am I saying anyone deserves the conditions they’re in?

I didn’t mention my personal opinion at all. This is an objective fact.

This is a HUGE distinction, though. This completely changes, and considerably negates the comparison; however, this difference is overlooked again, and again, and again…

This shows that generally, or at least for the big group of people who constantly make this and similar comparisons do not value the Truth. Even if they do, emotions still reign supreme. People see conditions of a detainment center, assign a negative value to it, and group it with everything else that they assigned a negative value to, like concentration camps.

(Side note: I suppose it’s necessary to reiterate that I am not including my opinion about any of these situations. I am only referring to the values that others assign. This has nothing to do with my personal views on the topic.)

The closest we can get to experiencing an objective reality is to consciously choose to not assign value to our observations until they have been fully analyzed. It’s unnatural at first, but through practice, it slowly integrates itself into your way of thinking.

I challenge you to perceive situations as they are. Next time you hear a heated debate, remove yourself from the topic and think about it from the perspective of someone who will never be affected be either outcome. You might be surprised at how much (or how little) value you attribute to the Truth.

Have a blessed day.

Not an expert, just a philosopher