This goes along with the theory that being intelligent means you'll question everything, you won't be able to accept, just be, and therefore nothing can be true.

A friend of mine wrote a little song about it (either that or he ripped it off), it mentioned wanting to learn how to be 'stupid', just so that something would seem real, true. I guess that's impossible, but it does have some merit. There are two ways of looking at it..

Truth is necessary.
Is it, though? Does believing that truth exists happen to be the only way to have a decent life (that is, somewhat devoid of endless confusion)? I wonder if it's perhaps more tied into having a belief system. I'd venture to say that it is possible to have a system of beliefs and still question them, in fact it's probably good to always challenge. To me, truth doesn't seem to be necessary, but it can be a foundation, maybe the only one, for beliefs that are..

Truth doesn't exist?
Perhaps this would be an attitude for the cynics to adopt, I think. It seems that everything can be looked at from more than one viewpoint, and it's nearly impossible to decide which is right sometimes. What's true to one person, is false to another. Does this mean we have many truths, or no truth at all?

Sometimes, though I'm not saying I'm overly intelligent, I wish that I could be just a little less thought'y. I even go as far as to envy, on occasion, those who can follow any organized religion so blindly as to accept all that it is. (Though, I'm not so sure such people exist, at least not in great numbers.)

I've heard there is truth in simplicity. Nothing is as simple as it seems.
As that wise man e.e. cummings once said 'out of the lie of no rises a truth of yes'. If it can be said that truth is subjective, then at least there is such a thing as personal truth. I personally believe that life is easy for the ignorant, but there is a type of fulfillment in at least searching for something more.

On the matter of truth = simplicity. What exactly makes up simplicity? Because if the nature of simplicity is able to be analysed at all, then it is no longer simple.

Phew. Enough amateur philosophy for a Monday night.

I'll concede that people of intelligence are more capable of questioning personal or systemic systems of belief, but I think that the intelligent are just about as likely to accept something on what I'll call, for lack of a better term, "faith" as someone of average intelligence.

Which does one choose? I would have said, at one point, that faith is the easy way out, but from personal experience, I know this is not the case. It takes effort to believe in something; to justify that belief. Theologians of incredible brilliance have devoted their lives to the task of reconciling religious faith with classical, and later, contemporary philosophy and science. Whether such efforts were sucessful or not is beside the point: not all people cling to belief because it's easier than questioning.

Many people seem to have a psychological need for certainty, even if it has to come in a package that isn't entirely pleasant. The amount of self-consistency and apparent "truth" in a belief system does, of course, differ among the many different belief systems. Some would sacrifice certainty that theirs is the "right one" for comfort or ease. I can appreciate the need for certainty, but I can't identify with people who display such a level of intellectual laziness.

My own need for certainty and intellectual honesty has caused me to reject every supposedly self-consistent and all-encompassing system of belief that I have studied. I cannot accept a system that isn't what it claims to be, and as has been proven by Kurt Godel, there cannot be a system that is complete unto itself. Mathematical logic- reason, as its application to philosophy is termed, however, comes closest to a faultless tool with which I can understand and evaluate things on an both an individual and a general level.

Even when one has chosen individualist reason as a path to truth, however, there are lines to be drawn and choices to be made. Do you believe in objective, absolute truth; subjective, interperative reality; or somewhere in between?

I am, by nature, a skeptic. I've been so since as early as I can remember. Believing anything is absolutely true is very difficult. On the other hand, constant questioning of your presumptions and beliefs is not only tiring, it's unproductive and quite simply, confusing.

The idea that there are multiple truths, that everyone's reality is subjective, is a seductive one. It tends to offer a easy fix to problems of conflict, of who is right and who is wrong. Pop philosophy is particularly fond of this approach. The other side of the coin is that truth does not, in fact, exist.

    From The Big Lebowski: "In a heightened state of awareness, this can start the path to enlightment, by showing that everything is just, like, your opinion, man. It's very subtle--your opinion could coincide with mine, but my opinion, no matter how firmly held, no matter how well reasoned, can't have any effect upon you at all. Unless you let it."

The problem with this is that everything is not just opinion. To quote one of my favorite authors, Philip K. Dick, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away."

In essence, reality is the brick wall that you can't walk through by believing that it does not exist. The rest is opinion. My goal is to question opinion and learn reality. Of course, this is done through a series of "approximate truths", of hypotheses and theories. I treat whatever my current belief set is as a temporary fix- if it works, if it's self-consistent, that's great, but I don't presume that it's Truth with a capital T. In a certain sense, though, the process of gaining knowledge is what it's really all about. We'll never reach the ultimate Truth, we'll never know the sum of knowledge, but perhaps the journey really IS the destination.

Another of the Big Lies.

This is a bromide uttered by pseudo-intellectuals (no offense intended, sir) looking for an excuse not to think. It's an attempt to make intelligence, thought, and mental effort an act of futility, something to be sneered at. "Look how dumb those smart people are! Let's laugh at them. They think they know something. Ha-ha!"

Yes, they think they know something. That's a whole lot better than thinking that nothing can be known.

Actually, there is a grain of thruth in the statement. As you learn more in your life, things get confused, blurred. You begin to see many different angles, ways of looking at things that are completely in opposition. Eventually, it looks like truth can't exist in a world like this.
And then you come out the other side.

There is order. There is reason in this world. You just have to get through that forest of doubt and confusion. When you are smart, you know what is true. Men like gods.

Question Everything

I think some of the people contributing to this node have lost sight of what it really means. If you constantly question every choice you make then you will be forced to make educated, logical, thought out decisions. If you question your excuses, then you must prove that your excuse is valid. This way you never let yourself get away with the temptations offered by ignorance, cowardice, and rage.

Assumptions are dangerous. Attacking someones assumptions on any subject creates an environment in which the evolution of thought is an easier task. By making sure the foundations of an idea are solid before fully discussing it, you save time and free up your mind for other brain bending activities or other leisures.

      "Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear." - Thomas Jefferson

It is also worth considering the argument that a belief in truth seems to be pre-programmed into us at a biological level. Although there is no logical reason to believe it, we all rely on the assumption that gravity will continue to operate, for example. Even though gravity was a force for the last 8,000-odd days of your life, 8,000 positives do not preclude a negative tomorrow. Nonetheless, before we even have the capacity to think about such abstract concepts we learn to walk and eat and sleep and a thousand other things that are 100% reliant on constant truth existing in our universe. In fact, learning itself relies upon this notion, and the capacity to learn and change is at the core of our existence.

It is somewhat pointless to suggest that all of these everyday assumptions should be questioned every single time they are relied upon - when you woke up each morning it would take you forever to get anything done. Furthermore, I do not believe the human brain even has that ability - if I throw something at your face without warning, your biology will kick in and try to protect you, no matter how much you believe on a philosophical level that it may or may not hurt.

What is interesting (at least to me) the the idea that we have the capacity be aware of the one big assumption, the big lie of existence that everyone swallows whole. It is the counterpoint to 'I think therefore I am' (ignoring Descartes' dubious proof of God for the moment) - basically, 'everything else I think is true is actually an assumption, but it's all I've got to work with.' It's like playing a game that may or may not be real. When you play chess, you know that it's just a bunch of pieces on a chessboard. Just because there is no real universal law forcing a knight to move in a certain way doesn't mean you can't still have fun playing with that constraint. When you play/live life, most people assume that the game is real, and hey, even if you disagree you can still have fun playing by the rules. If you figure out a way to get out of the game Matrix-style then please let me know (Lewis Carroll, anyone?). Alternatively, you could go and buy that god-awful board game the Game of Life and ignore all of this existensial rubbish.

There are many questions to which I have no answer, such as why the sky is blue, or how many drops of water there are in the ocean. My Mommy told me that there are as many drops of water in the ocean as there are stars in the sky. I do not believe this, but then again, I do not know how many stars there are in the sky. Perhaps she does.

Once, I asked Mommy where babies come from to which she slickly replied that babies came from the love between a mother and father. Still, I can’t see love and I don’t know how it can create something tangible, something thinking. I then asked my Mommy where Hitler came from, since he had clearly not been born of love. She simply laughed and walked away in a stupefied mist. Later, I overheard her relaying the entire scenario to Auntie Mary over the phone and giggling the way she does when I have said something particularly naive. I think Mommy is being naive if she believes that Hitler was born of love. If love spawns evil, then the world is a far more wicked place than I can conceive.

Yesterday, I asked Mommy why it is she never has a concrete answer to any of my questions. I wanted something real, something I could wrap my mind around. I had her backed into a corner; I could see the terror in her eyes. Perhaps now I could divulge some sort of universal truth from her font of knowledge. However, after conferring with her conscience for a few moments, she could only pat my head and pretend that there were no answers, that I must find my own answers. Then she addressed me with her own question.

“Why do you ask these questions when you know the answers will only destroy your innocence? Don’t you enjoy believing that the world can be summed up in a simple sentence? Believing that I have all the answers? I wish I still believed this.” She shrunk back and sheltered her eyes with her drainpipe hands.

As it turns out, Mommy doesn’t have answers, only “principles” and “ideals.” I still want to know, but I’ll humor her and play with my Legos, building and destroying the infrastructure of an entire civilization with the fury of my tiny fists. Tomorrow, I will ask Daddy.

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