Quid Est Veritas? (What Is Truth?)
The Search for truth, like the search for knowledge, is a unique trait of human beings. Knowledge and Truth are intertwined. Two thousand years ago the question – what is truth? – came up in a dialogue.
“Pilate therefore said unto him, ‘Art thou a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.’ Pilate saith unto him, ‘What is truth?’ And when he had said this he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, ‘I find in him no fault at all.’” John 18:37-38 ~ King James Version.
Some commentators suggest Pilate posed the question in jest – even mockingly. Others believe Pilate took Jesus at his word.
Still, whether light-hearted, rhetorical, or heartfelt, the question has haunted philosophers for centuries. A specific area of philosophy is devoted to it: epistemology. Epistemology is the study of knowledge: how we know; how we distinguish truth from falsity. So, we ask and ponder: what is truth?
The search for truth is an eternal search. We as “sentient beings” immerse ourselves in it. As children in grade school we begin to acquire it. As adults we thirst for it. Physicists confront it. Language experts contend with it. Philosophers deconstruct it. Advertisers of goods and services trifle with it. The intelligence community manipulates it. Politicians mask it. News commentators adorn it. It becomes amorphous. We do not easily gain it. Once grasped, it slips away. It “illudes” and eludes us.
The Mainstream Media bombards the Public daily with a barrage of half-truths and untruths and quasi truths. When caught, politicians admit to ‘mistakes in judgment.’ But if the speaker intends to assert a false statement, then let us call the falsehood a lie. ‘For a lie it is.’ We need not cloak the word ‘lie’ or soften it. A lie isn’t merely an ‘evasion.’ A lie isn’t merely a ‘falsehood.’ A lie isn’t merely an equivocation.’ A lie isn’t merely a half truth or ‘quasi truth’ or ‘pseudo truth’ or ‘untruth’ or – least of all – a ‘mistake in judgment.’ There is no mistake in telling a lie.
A lie is a deliberate and callous and calculated act of deception. A deceiver is a liar. We should not mince words. We should not forbear hurting a liar’s feelings. After all, the liar intends to harm us – the receivers of his lies. The liar intends to affect our thoughts, emotions and actions for the liar’s nefarious ends.
But, what is truth?
One theory of truth holds a true statement must adhere – ‘correspond’ – to a fact. The statement, ‘it is raining outside’ is true if the statement corresponds to the fact: ‘it is raining outside.’ If the statement doesn’t correspond to the fact, the statement is false. “Simple enough,” you say. But consider moral imperatives. You should do this! You ought not to do that? Does truth apply to moral imperatives?
The notion of ‘truth’ is both simple and straightforward and eternally baffling and complex. In political banter “truth” is anything but simple. Consider the notion of ‘time.’
A boy asks his father, “What is time?” The father answers the boy: “It is a quarter past one.” The boy, visibly annoyed with the father corrects his father. “No,” says the boy. “I did not ask you for the time. I asked you: what is time?” The father clearly baffled struggles to recall bits and scraps of arcane knowledge he once learned in College. Frustrated, he says: “You can study the fourth dimension once you enter Princeton. Until then take a look at the clock; the clock provides all you need to know about time.”
The notion of ‘truth’ can be equally daunting: at once disarmingly simple and decidedly complex. It helps to consider the presenter’s motivation behind a pronouncement.
Unlike the notion of ‘time’ that affects us subtly but inexorably, the notion of ‘truth’ impinges harshly and constantly on our consciousness. The American citizen wages a constant battle with the Nation’s political leaders for the “truth.” The citizen rightly demands the truth. The Nation’s leaders wrongly deny the citizen access to the truth.
The American citizen yearns for “the truth” as did Pilate. Pilate had no reason to disbelieve Jesus even if Pilate expressed puzzlement over “the truth.” But the American citizen suspects something amiss as he listens to State and National leaders and to Government bureaucrats. They dispense a never-ending stream of lies and superficial nonsense. Liars deliver their lies fervently or dispassionately as dictated by the “puppet masters” who control them. And they dispense their lies like opiates to dull the senses of the masses. Despite the daily dose of flummery most Americans still yearn for “the truth.”
I once happened across a book titled, “In Defense of Hypocrisy.” The author is Jeremy Lott. The book is still available should you wish to buy it. I do not recommend it. But if you come across it at your local library you still will do well to read it.
Let me explain. I thought the book was satire. I thought Lott intended to mock those who practice hypocrisy. I was wrong. Oddly, Lott was serious in his defense of it. And he had much to say about it – his accounts perplexing at best; dubious and devious at worst.
So, what does the word ‘hypocrisy’ mean? Contrary to Lott’s pronouncements and allusions and beguilements, the word ‘hypocrisy’ refers to a certain vile behavior. ‘Hypocrisy’ is a Greek word. What is hypocrisy? This: a person promotes a thought he knows is false but passes off the falsehood as true. That is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a sin. To the ancient Greeks hypocrisy was a cardinal sin. But understand: the sin does not rest in the untruthful statement itself. The sin rests with the speaker’s intent in uttering it. The teller intends to pass off as true something he knows in his heart and mind is false. The teller intends to deceive the receiver of the falsehood. The intentional untrue statement is the sin. The intentional untrue statement is the hypocrisy. Another word for hypocrisy is ‘lie.’ So, a hypocrite is a liar.
Jeremy Lott argues, artfully, hypocrisy is not always a vice. He is an “apologist” for politicians who lie to Americans. Politicians lie to promote policies and positions contrary to the interests of the citizenry. Politicians disrespect the Public they claim to represent. Too many disrespect the Constitution they swear to defend.
One need only substitute the word ‘lie’ or ‘liar’ in each instance where the term ‘hypocrite’ or ‘hypocrisy’ appears in Jeremy Lott’s book and his seeming persuasive argument in defense of hypocrisy evaporates. His argument in defense of hypocrisy is “sophistry.” The word ‘sophistry,’ like ‘hypocrisy,’ is a Greek word. Sophistry is the eloquent expression of falsehoods.
We at the Arbalest Quarrel wish to make clear to you an important point: There is no cunning in the Arbalest Quarrel. We intend to hit you with the blunt truth. At times – if we cannot offer proof for our assertions we will so tell you. We will tell you an assertion is a “speculation” if not clear from context. Understand: “Speculations” are not necessarily falsehoods. Indeed speculations are often true statements. Well-reasoned speculations are extrapolations from what we know. Speculations placed in the Arbalest Quarrel are “extrapolations” from our own studies and constant reflection.
Still: some speculations may be false. But speculations are not deliberate falsehoods. There is no intent to deceive in the mere offering of speculations. So speculations are not lies. They are not hypocrisies. Speculations are simply unproved statements. They may be true with evidence to support their truth.
The Arbalest Quarrel will not avoid offering speculations on lies and liars. Those who lie hardly wish to make their aims known. For they wish to deceive. A liar lies to deceive. We seek to highlight the results of deceit. If we suspect deceit, we will inform you.
We do not avoid speculating about the deceit of those whom we believe practice it merely because evidence of deceit is, at the moment, lacking. And in our own web posts we do not ever present as true something we know to be false. So we do not present, nor do we promote, lies. We are not liars. We are not hypocrites. We do not deceive. We detest hypocrisy and deception. And we detest those who make a practice of hypocrisy and deception.
We detest those who lie to the American public. We detest those who twist vices into virtues. We will call liars out on their lies. The ancient Greeks – who coined the term – detested hypocrisy and they detested hypocrites. And we – unlike Jeremy Lott – do not and will not ever offer an apology for its practice. Hypocrisy is detestable behavior. Hypocrisy has been detestable behavior. Hypocrisy shall forever remain detestable behavior. Those who practice hypocrisy are detestable. Those who heap lies on the American public are contemptible. Hypocrisy can never be ethically or rationally condoned. Jeremy Lott would disagree with these assertions. We disagree with Jeremy Lott.
So, unlike Jeremy Lott we do not apologize for hypocritical behavior. We will never apologize for hypocritical conduct on the part of anyone, much less praise it. We will not go through pedantic turns to rationalize hypocrisy in modern conversation. No excuse for hypocrisy exists or has existed or ever can exist.
The Arbalest Quarrel does not agree with “apologists” for hypocrites. The Arbalest Quarrel does not sanction the practice of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is the Opposite of truth. Hypocrisy is antithetical to the Arbalest Quarrel’s manner of operation and to its very reason for being. Our ‘raison d’etre’ is to express “truth.”
Let us talk now about “truth” in the form of our sacred Bill Of Rights. The Bill of Rights is sacrosanct and inviolate. Our Bill Of Rights exists for all time. The Bill Of Rights is carved in stone. And so long as the Bill Of Rights is adhered to, the United States shall remain a Republic – a Republic in fact not merely in name.
The Founders of our Republic were no fools. They knew that change would come about through time. They also knew that human nature does not change. Villains sought to exert power over others in our Founders’ time. Villains seek to exert power over us in our time.
The Second Amendment is a robust protector of the other Nine Amendments that together comprise our sacred Bill Of Rights.
The Bill Of Rights forbids, in express and clear and coherent language, Federal Government intrusion on individual liberties. Those who seek to exert control over our lives obviously have no interest in securing and preserving our liberties. They have no interest in securing and preserving our Bill Of Rights. Outright lies are excuses for evading the categorical imperative of the Bill Of Rights. So: let this be a warning to those who wish to take apart the Bill Of Rights: Do not trample on Americans’ sacred liberties!
It is an outrage to deny our Nation’s sacred truth. But it is a mortal sin to betray our Nation’s sacred truth, embodied in our inviolate Bill Of Rights.
We may forgive those who through innocence or through fear or through ignorance deny our sacred Bill Of Rights as Jesus forgave his Disciples their temporary denial of him. But, those who would betray our sacred Bill Of Rights, take warning! The American people will not suffer you among us. Those who would betray our sacred Bill Of Rights are not Americans. To betray our Bill Of Rights is to betray the People – who we are – our soul as Americans.
The Bill Of Rights is a codification of natural rights. The Bill Of Rights represents a sacred promise between the Federal Government and the People: that the Federal Government will never tread on the Sacred Rights of the American people, embodied in the Bill Of Rights. The Government must respect and adhere to the Sacred Rights set forth in the Bill Of Rights. But, we know the Government no longer does so.
The People created the Government. The Federal Government exists for the benefit of the People. The People do not exist for the Government’s benefit; nor does the Government exist to benefit a privileged few. Nor have the People requested – nor do the People need – the Government’s protection. Consider how far removed we are from the Republic that our Founders envisioned. Consider that it is not the Government that serves at the pleasure of the People. It is now the People that serve at the pleasure of and behest of the Government. The Government now determines what is in the People’s interest — what is best for the People.
President Ronald Reagan made the pertinent point: “I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.” To wish for Government protection is to invite Government abuse. The “People” neither need nor desire protection from themselves.
Ponder the words expressed here. Be mindful of the sinister betrayal of our Bill Of Rights. This betrayal destroys our Nation’s Soul. This betrayal is well underway. Once lost, America’s soul is lost forever. And with that loss goes truth.
Copyright © 2014 Roger J Katz (Towne Criour) All Rights Reserved.