Sunday, May 3, 2009

A taste of emergent truth. A more complete experience of this will soon be available.

"For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it." —Thomas Jefferson.

While scanning through a book called Dwell in Peace, Applying Nonviolence to Everyday Relationships, by Ronald Arnett, I found segment of text asking the question of what was needed for an individual to “accept a nonviolent peacemaking position” (33). Arnett says that maintaining the peacemaking position cannot rely solely upon the effectiveness of the peaceful efforts made, and that “for many nonviolent peacemakers truthfulness, not effectiveness, is the primary criterion” (34).
Because of this view, Arnett then begins to write about the three different ways to view truth, the dogmatic or absolutist, the relativistic, and the “emergent conception of truth” (35). Mahatma Gandhi, who spent his life trying to discover the best nonviolent means, is said to have been a proponent of the “emergent conception of truth.” Gandhi’s stance on truth “required him to immerse himself in dialogue with the situation, in order to apprehend the truth that emerged ‘between’ him and the situation” (35).
Maurice Friedman, a professor, expanded the language used to define emergent truth, bringing forth the term “touchstone” reality, which “means that an individual will probably not remain forever on the same ground that affirms a truth; a person is open to new understandings of truth” (36). The main importance, Gandhi points out, is that you can be on the wrong path seeking truth, and thus, as Arnett paraphrased, you must “live a double action of commitment and openness to new revelations or touchstones of reality” (37). This view of truth, where each individual stands strongly and as clearly as possible on their touchstone until realizing their own mistake, is a view that allows all to use their own understandings with comfort, and makes people willing to engage in dialogue, a view that makes each individual responsible to be clear thinking and willing to learn.

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