Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Truth or Falsity, -or- The Truth in Falsity 

In Biblical Theology class today we read and discussed some articles about narrative, ethics, meaning making/receiving out of signs and symbols of language (a sort of semiotics), and how that corresponds to the power of storytelling. The discussion put me in mind of an essay Umberto Eco wrote that I read and didn't understand a long time ago, "The Force of Falsity". So, when I got home I thought I'd pull the book it's in off the shelf, re-read it, and not understand it all over again. (As much as I love Eco - I've read more of his fiction than non-fiction- I always leave him with the distinct feeling that while I think I got the gist of what he was saying, the particulars of it were so far above my head as to be inconceivable without aid.) The essay is largely about how falsities, or errors in the history of human thinking, have led to amazing progress and new discoveries (i.e. geocentricity/Brahe vs. heliocentricity/Copernicus).

So, what I want to know is this: which is more powerful, truth* of falsity?

A silly answer is proposed here.


*The word "truth" here is meant in the general sense and not in the sense where it is capitalized and conflated with "Way" and "Life".


Well, I would imagine that the perfect liar, who's able to tell lies so well that nobody is ever able to detect them, would get alot further in the real world than a man who only told the truth ala Jim Carrey in Liar Liar. If you could lie and never worry about being caught in it, you could say whatever you wanted in a situation - I can imagine quite a bit of power stemming from that, but not alot of progress like the post mentions. You can be as glib as you want, but the entire scope of human progress has grown out of a search for truth of various kinds. As Captain Picard once said "The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether historical truth or scientific truth or personal truth."

I still can't figure out why they replaced a man like that with, shudder, Scott Bakula...

By Blogger BrotherBeal, at 7:09 PM  

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