Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Truth and Values

I came upon an article that discussed the interface of truth claims based on history and value claims based on personal conviction. The article sounded as if there was no interface, but two distinct realms, vying for affirmation. One starts with history's historical analysis and lays a foundation of True or False. The other lays claims to relativity of personal choice, conviction, and commitment. Which is true?

Is there really to be a separation in the two realms of "truth"? I don't think so. The Academy believes, and rightfully so, that the disciplines are the way to truth. This is the objective realm.

But, what about personal truth? These truth claims are also true, as this truth becomes a personal value system,. The individual develops within certain frameworks and his/her identity is formed by those "truths" of experience. While these personal identification factors are important, as they are tradition's values held within "culture", the academic understanding of "truth" is more important for humanity's sake, or the greater good.

The greater good is the public's good, which is the arena of political discourse, which should involve diversity of opinion. Opinions should be open to change, where evidence shows that it is better to "see" things another way. Change is hard for traditional understandings that maintain personal values. But, if these traditions are challenged along lines of objectivity or rationale, then there should be an openness to discussion and a tolerance for change, while at the same time, allowing others the right to choose another path. Cooperation with/in change can only be brought about with full disclosure to everyone involved, otherwise, there will always be "outsiders and insiders", which troubles the waters of change and hinders growth of understanding and acceptance.

In America's climate of diversity and tolerance, we do not have tradition tightly defined around cultural norms or values, as we value freedom of individual conscience. While conscience is formed within the frameworks of traditional social structures, America's government has protected civil rights at the expense of traditional values. Therein lies our cultural conflict, but, also our greatness. Because we value the individual conscience, even while the traditional social structures have undergone great stress and change, we, Americans are open to be educated. Education was what our Bill of Rights is about in allowing the Freedom of the Press, the Freedom of Assembly, the Freedom of Speech, ETC. We are a free nation, which should value civil discourse, which should include religious freedom and expression as well!

I think that American ideals are the great future for the Globe!

No comments: