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Philosophy

Truth and Ambiguity

Truth is a mischievous beast. Everywhere asserted, almost nowhere justified and in those rare instances when it might have been said to have been proven or unambiguously defined, it requires we suspend ourselves on contraptions and hooks of such intricate complexity that it is quite easy to forget what we were initially discussing or seeking to confirm in the shared communications space(s) of language and logic.

Most of us are entirely unconcerned as to whether logic and language are justifiably consistent or ultimately reliable beyond a utility threshold for everyday use. There exist extensive academic communities devoted to investigating the foundations of logic and language as effective or reliable systems of reference and meaning. It seems rarefied and obscure to the average person who is really only concerned with the existential facts of living within language and is quite happy to engage a faulty or inconsistent communications system if it remains fit for purpose and everyday living.

This represents a significant disconnect between the discoveries of logic (and, as a consequence, of technology) and the vernacular languages of our embodied experience. Bridging this gap is neither necessary or possible. For our shared worlds to sustainably persist and maintain tenure here on Earth (and beyond), we do not require an utter certainty and logical clarity. The technologies we depend upon do require a relative certainty and unambiguous, crystalline rigour but we, in general, do not.

What happens if and when we discover that there is no ultimate certainty or teleological closure in logic and technology? Well, we already know this to be a fact – the question becomes: How are we to negotiate a world in which the doubt and uncertainty implicit to embodied, organic experience becomes bootstrapped up into the technology that these bodies and cultures now intimately depend upon for continuous existence? Answering this question is how we all survive the grievous mess and impending catastrophe we have made our world into.

How are we to cope with the fact that uncertainty and an absence of truth are as important to intelligence and life as are the presence of certainty? It is in and through the resonant difference and distance that a discontinuity between fact and falsehood provides that our world optimally and autonomously self-propagates. Acknowledging this conundrum is as good a place as any to begin what is very likely an endless journey.

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