I've been discussing Metaphorical vs. Literal Truth on Sabio's blog. It's been quite a discussion! These are the types of conversations that I live for! They are heated yet generous, loaded with concepts yet open to new views, and most of all, you leave wanting a drink and some advil only to go at it again! These are the hard questions I love asking and exploring.
Sabio states that "sure, a made-up story obviously can have subjective truth — gee, that sounds like a truism." My question then would be... can a story also have an objective truth? Something that can't be expressed any other way? What about Sociology? Can there be a zeitgeist event where a subjective truth some how become objective in a sense? Or at least in a given group, say like Gen-Xers and the Millennials?
What this conversation is about is trying to answer what humans have been trying to do since we developed the frontal lobe; namely to answer the question: "What is true?" I like trying to get at an answer to this question through multiple means. The Socratic method, though, is my favorite and which is what we on Sabio's blog are engaged in now. I will attempt to further that dialog now.
Ian mentioned two types of truth, a subjective and objective: 1. Objective truth – ‘facts’ as Alice called them.
2. Subjective truth – things that ‘chime with’ or ’speak to’ an individual.This is very helpful as it is part of the method. Even the most universally recognized and used concept, like Truth for example when subjected to scrutiny, might reveal not only that there is NOT universal agreement but that every single person has a somewhat different take on each and every concept under the sun. i don't think this is necessarily a bad thing.
I have really tried to tackle this question time and time again in the labels "Truth NOT Fact" the biggest discussion being found in "Absolute Truth." Largely i find myself holding to the main thesis put forth by Parker Palmer in To Know as We are Known is that truth is relational. Parker makes the case that education is at it’s best when it reflects this model. The quest for truth, by this definition, is a quest for self and for community with each other, with all creation. We cannot be removed from the equation and viewed as entities observing truth. We must be a part of it and be willing to be transformed by it. This way of life is only as secure as your relationships, and relationships are a lot of work. Parker’s truth is not to be found in our various doctrines or theologies (as these are partial, impersonal), but in the quality of our relationships. There can be groups of people who just want the easy, impersonal relationships. I see these in extreme fundamentalist religions and even atheist stances. These are a threat to community as a rigid adherence to doctrine takes an objectivist stance that reduces everyone to mere objects for conversion. Just holding things in binary tension and thinking things like: "it is either this way, or it isn't" is too simplistic for my blood.
going back to how myths can have objective truths, i present my fave tv show Battlestar Galactica as an example. There's a whole book written about the philosophy found within the show. i like it as it presents questions and situations, as does philosophy and theology, that won't pop up on a dradis screen or will be observable through Dr. Baltar's microscope.
things like "heroic figures have personal failings" or that some people "have overpowering egos and split personalities yet their selfish actions may lead to the salvation of many." In myth of a rag-tag fleet of survivors on the run we find objective truths about our post-9/11 reality. things like "we don't know who is with us or for us" our enemy is within our midst. stuff like that. we see how technology can both be a great compliment to our society and our downfall.
all of this to say that we need to be IN RELATION to the variety of ways to get to Truth (whatever that is). the objective and the subjective are in operation simultaneously and one should not be focused on to the detriment of the other. i may find some objective claim but my subjective feelings may color how i explain it to others. what we are left with in this quest for truth are not answers, but more questions and questions within questions. there are many methods and a great method is the Scientific one. it is ordered and rational and repeatable. yet when turned on humans, there is little that science can really tell us about personality or how a person will react in any given situation. sure it can tell us wonderful things about our mechanics (chemistry, biology, anatomical construction) but in terms of psychology or sociology, we can only lay out suggestions and points of reference that we must hold in tention with other contradictory points of reference (all of which can exist inside one single person).