Re: Postmodernism and Truth (was Re: virus: Simulacrum)

David McFadzean (
Sun, 19 May 1996 18:35:22 -0600

Bill Godby wrote:

> What is it? There at least two very distinct types of truth, those of
> deduction which logically do not allow negation, 2-2 always equals 4, and
> inductive truths which can logically entail negation, exp. all geese are
> white, black geese could and do exist. How do you reconcile this with an
> objective truth?

What you describe are analytic and synthetic truths respectively. Both
purport to objectively describe the way things are.

> I think your making things difficult by examining statements and applying
> logical deductive reasoning. I appeal to pragmatics, live as it is lived.

I don't understand why you think making a precise logical argument makes
things more difficult. If there is something wrong with my argument for
objective truth, you will have to attack the argument itself. Dismissing
the use of logical deductive reasoning isn't going to convince me or
anyone else.

> From an anthropological perspective (this is my field) I am forced to look
> at radically different belief systems that certainly embody truth for a
> particular culture. I have come to see very clearly that all knowledge
> systems through time are constructed and ever changing. Isn't it clear that
> what was seen as truth 500 years ago is not truth today and 500 years the
> same will apply?

I agree and I said nothing to the contrary.

> This makes no sense to me. I steadfastly believe that theory (I speak in
> greater terms here, i.e. cosmology, mythology, as well as ontology) reflects
> conceptions of truth as seen by a society. Recognizing that the world is
> made up of so many diverse ways of life I think it is unreasonable to assume
> that there could ever be one theory that would embody truth for all cultures.

Again I agree and said nothing to the contrary.

> I'm not sure I would call that a synthesis at all. Hegel argued that our

I called it a synthesis because I've taken two seemingly opposing memes,
namely logical positivism and postmodernism, and combined them into a new
meme that encompasses both without denying either.

> concepts (memes?) are embedded in our ways of life and in our societies, as
> society changes so do the concepts, and of course truths. The issue in a
> Hegalian context is that every theory contains within it the anti-theory, or
> seeds of conflict, i.e. thesis>anti-thesis>synthesis and so on. Hegel
> accepts the idea that ultimate reality, and by inference truth, is in the
> Mind (minds of many not just one, he speaks of "geist" or spirit) and that
> we never get to know the "thing in itself" (physical reality) because it is
> always mediated by the mind. I find Hegel very much on my side of this

I would accept that the idea of ultimate reality and the idea of truth
are in the Mind, but that doesn't mean that ultimate reality and the truth
are in the mind. Would you agree with that?

> discussion regarding truth and would be interested in how you see Hegel
> supporting your views, since you make reference to a Hegalian synthesis of
> religion and evolution, which apparently also entails an objective truth.

When I called the synthesis Hegelian-like, I didn't mean to imply that
Hegel himself would support it, I just meant I was using a process similar
to his dialectic (at least as far as I understand it). Given that I've
agreed with most of what you've said without changing my mind about
anything I said, I'm not convinced we are on different sides.