Truth is Relative
Go beyond the appearance and the behaviour to the nature that underpins everything.
Recent events got me thinking about what truth is. I find that nobody has a monopoly on truth, that truth is relative. Take for example the colour red, I see red as red, the bee sees red as black. Truth is the product of self, the bee brain makes red black and my brain red as red; truth in this sense is relative to the beholder of the truth.
Take the example of God, some believe in God, some reject God, some like me sit on the fence as agnostics. Those that believe in God differ on what God is: energy, gravity, a mind, with no mind, in creation, separate from creation. God is one of those ideas that can neither be disproved or proven with any certainty. Truth is relative to the beholder.
Nothing is certain.
Truth then to me is never one conclusion, but can be a diversity of conclusions. Red can be red but can also be black depending on the beholder, thus truth is relative. It is better to say I believe the truth to be, rather than say this is the truth. With the universe composed of visible and hidden variables, always changing and in feedback loops nothing can be claimed with any certainty.
Since truth is relative it is better to say that I act and think according to a belief rather than a truth, the same for everyone. When the word belief is mentioned some people choke on it, they believe that the universe is deterministic, that there is only one truth, often the one they believe it to be. It is apparent neither bee or I have a monopoly on the truth of what the colour red is, we hold different beliefs of the colour red relative to ourselves.
The hubristic need to monopolise belief.
I see no harm in a world holding a diversity of beliefs. So what if a Native American believes a tree has a spirit, a belief based on animism? Yet to the Christian missionary the Native American is a lost soul to be saved, and to the Atheist the Native American is one to be converted to the progress of modern science. The outsider has this need to force their own beliefs onto the Native American, resulting in widespread suicide, mental illness, drug abuse and alcoholism amongst the people whose belief systems they obliterated. The need of some to westernise Islam or Islam to convert the West sets the scene for a so-called clash of civilisations: violence, hate, fear and anger.
Even in my own empirical and inductive approach to truth, I know I can only draw a probability of truth. I may count 1000 white swans on a lake and conclude the world only has white swans, then one day a black swan appears. I have to be open to the possibility of black swans, which is a position of humility.
Hubris hates diversity of belief.
The individual or group who claims their truth is the only truth is gripped in hubris. Truth is relative, there can be many truths. Hubris follows through to control, the individual or group needs and acts to force their belief upon other people who have a different belief of a truth relative to them. Those inflicted with hubris hate diversity, they only want one truth, that of their own. The horrors of Nazi Germany, or the Crusades or of Vietnam was because a group of people wanted a world based on their own beliefs with all other beliefs eliminated.
Grounding belief like roots of a tree.
A belief should be grounded like a tree has roots that anchors it into the ground, otherwise it moves into fantasy. To ground a belief it is to be tested by asking questions, by looking for observable, experiential or demonstrable evidence of its existence. A belief untested but accepted without question is ignorance, it is opinion.
Follow the common.
When Heraclitus suggests “follow the common”, he means to deal with things based upon their nature: it is common for all ducks to love water; it is common for all energy to flow; it is common for all things to evolve or change through strife. Heraclitus suggests people go beyond appearances and behaviour to the underlying nature of the universe, and in this one grounds belief in the common of reality rather than in the ignorance of opinion.