Response to :
Truth and the Social Construction of Reality
Do we want to protect ourselves, family, friends, and others against CRT, DEI, ESG, BLM, 1619, and Cis Whatever LGBTQ+ proliferation ad infinitum (there are now 63+ categories), as examples? Unfair-to-racist-to-false across the board? Against a powerful State that is trying to abolish private lives and turn citizen snowflakes into virtual slaves? Pleasure-seeking automatons who take from the community wood pile and add nothing? What about all of us just being persons?
So, you think America has gone nuts? Gone nuts with acronyms, dates, and silly political views?
After years of increasing warning signals, do you see the events of last summer (2020) in America and today’s political ideas coming out of Washington (and some state capitals across the country) as ludicrous?
And that’s just for starters.
Q, we agree that the political community’s social construction of reality is the primary issue with America’s current insanity. In other words, America is straying each day farther away from its connection to reality.
As a result, the starting point to getting back to reality and asserting good political positions begins with a vigorous assertion that truth is real by definition and in fact. I don’t want to say we need a vigorous “defense of truth” because being even slightly defensive about truth is a terrible liability that our enemies smell instantly and exploit.
Only very positive, vigorous, vocal, and brave leadership advocating for the true, good, and beautiful prevails in these situations.
We recognize we all need a faith to assert any knowledge, but, darn it, there’s much more we can agree on as fact and human good that the “powers that be” won’t permit us to mention. We need to bust through that.
Yes, truth is what we can be most sure of; its pursuit works the best to avoid violence.
Again, we highlight the video at top (used in a prior post) to help make our key points at the end of this post. If you are out of time, please skip down to the last section below, entitled “Examples of SRC’s and How to Combat Them.”
Q, I also agree that understanding SRC’s (self-referential contradictions or self-refuting claims) is the key to reestablishing our sanity based on truth. Such an understanding is the secret sauce. It’s critical to getting rid of all those nonsensical acronyms in the second paragraph above that have been brewing since the 1960’s with full force.
An SRC is a claim that contradicts or refutes itself analytically without any further reference outside the words themselves. As you said clearly, SRC’s violate the law of non-contradiction. SRC’s cannot be true without much more clarification that almost always eliminates the claim itself.
SRC’s are pure nonsense. They often assert a “not category,” forcing the claimant into a hypocritical position. That springs from the contradiction (asserting the truth of a claim and its opposite at the same time). Almost everyone dislikes hypocrisy, to put it mildly.
To fix the situation, we all need to understand SRC’s backwards and forwards, so we can recognize them today in their near infinite variety. To combat SRC’s effectively, we need to smell them coming instinctively.
SRC’s must be confronted immediately, or illusion followed by depression sets in. Nonsense breeds purposeless and meaninglessness. Nihilism.
Acting effectively here requires a significant degree of thinking and practice. This explains the halls of academics as the breeding ground for unreality. They are good at it and live it everyday. Most of us are not trained or equipped for fantasy. Who would have thought that philosophy would ever become this important? But it is.
John Paul II, IMO the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century and the one who completes the Catholic Church’s “philosophical trinity” after Augustine and Aquinas, says in the first line of his encyclical, Fides et Ratio, that “faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” God is Truth to Christians. He respected academics much as you and I do. In fact, He believed philosophy is essential to understanding faith (with no conflict between faith and science) and saw it as the only ground for understanding dialogues between faiths.
Today, we face destructive sophistry in larger amounts and of greater force than ever before. Roll over Paul and Augustine. We must fight philosophical fire with faith-based philosophical fire.
Q, my problem with your post linked here, however, is that, if you are going to highlight SRC’s, you must do it in a way that normal people, such as myself, understand.
Where you have failed, I will succeed in just a few more words below. Anyway, that’s my goal.
So, let’s take it again from the top with a short amount of introduction or preliminary set-up before we list some common SRC’s, explain how to combat them, and show where to go for more instruction on the subject, if interested.
Communities are Based on Truth
Communities achieve good results when persons either persuade or force each other (as a group) to accomplish the desired good result, or when situational necessity doesn’t allow time for either persuasion or force.
On that last point, as an example, when the Comanche were bearing down on the Texas Rangers, they knew instantly they must either fight, run, scatter, or do all of the above. (See Empire of the Summer Moon (2010), a terrific book we will comment on when we get to it.)
Historically, human beings don’t tend to be stupid about necessity (a truth situation) – or at least they don’t often live long enough to tell the tale. But excess wealth (see the video linked to the left on Ross Douthat’s The Decadent Society) or false/illusionary attitude can detach human beings from reality. Like spending your children’s and grandchildren’s future on yourself with trillions you don’t have. Eventually, this always comes crashing down; such is natural law.
To elaborate briefly, persuasion is strongly associated with peacetime – our strongly preferred method today, and it certainly produces better, lasting results. This is a conservative principle. (We have blogged about the human phenomenon of acceptance based on free choice before, and it’s called the Shane Principle.)
On the other hand, force (which supports pure political democracy through the courts, police, and military) connotes violence and even war, which we all agree is often quite harmful and bad. Most frequently, good nations only use war as a last resort. Let’s face it, any democracy that is not led by a majority of virtuous citizens is toast. And citizens need to be self-supporting, or they will never produce sufficient excess to pay for themselves, their families, charity, and their taxes.
Of course, to persuade someone or groups of people to do a good thing, we need to make claims that they can regard as true. Language is all about communication between humans to establish clarity of meaning so that reason, a human universal (as language is universal), might examine such claims from various angles.
The freer our investigation and discussion, we believe, the more likely the conclusion will be thorough and good. Hence, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Philosophical Truth Defined (One Version)
Definitions of truth come in several basic forms. The word true is an adjective that, when applied to an alleged fact or claim, tells the hearer that the fact or claim is real. If the fact or claim is real in an objective sense, it exists in conformity to reality outside, alongside, or looking back at the adjective user’s person or consciousness.
In other words, two cowboys can agree that the Comanches will still be there for the settlers to deal with if “we, the Texas Rangers” retire to the saloon without a fight. (I am not saying the Comanches are wrong to be there or are bad, just that eventually the settlers, absent the Rangers, will either have to drink heavily, too, or defend themselves.)
The good news is that the Rangers and Comanches are all subject to one truth, morality, and justice, but we get ahead of ourselves in our planned Compass series.
The adjective true has a binary nature in whatever language it appears. A true claim becomes the noun truth. If a claim is not true, it must be false. These are laws of logic.
Truth and falsity are agreed upon by definition and experience between persons, and it’s important to craft truth claims to match reality. Said differently and to repeat, the only way to further discussion in a good way is to make sure true claims are true (conform to reality).
Lies usually have bad consequences among good people, and they always have bad consequences via bad people, where lying is the rule.
Often claims are not all the way true or all the way false. Indeed, separating the true from the false aspects of claims or propositions permits those involved to further the discussion and get to a better result (a better result based on truth). Talk about sustainability! Truth is the only way there.
Claims totally detached from persons, places, and situations take on the characteristics of pure or analytical reason. Such reason is also a vital aspect of truth in reflecting reality, but pure reason is where nonsense can make its most striking appearance, as many philosophers have demonstrated.
Examples are legion, though we won’t get any more into that here, except with the examples of SRC’s below.
In sum so far, Q, you and I agree with Peter Berger, as he stated in his The Social Construction of Reality (1966), that human beings have the unique capability in the animal kingdom of experiencing the world subjectively and objectively.
We have a consciousness that can function outside our subjective consciousness and look back at ourselves and our situations with objectivity, to see it all as others coming from their own subjective situations see us. And we can survey or tabulate the subjective/objective opinion of others to determine our own collective social reality.
(That is what I’m doing to you here, Brother. I can’t live with you, my conscience; I can’t live without you. As I’m sure you would agree.)
Some are better at being objective than others, but most human beings can do it well with no training whatsoever. Our training about reality starts before birth. This ability as adults forms the heart of community agreement and organized activity. It can become complicated, yes, in society today as our social roles multiply. You, Q, are proving that, for goodness sakes.
For law to function well, groups binding themselves to the law must be able to establish truthful, objective meaning and apply it rather easily to varying situations. Vagueness, nonsense, and contradictions in law produce tyranny or the rule of one or few. Take now in America, for example.
Examples of Common SRC’s and How to Combat Them
Now, armed with a proper definitional and explanatory foundation, we can proceed to the fun stuff.
At some point with truth, reason, and logic, one must simply “get it.”
You know, it’s like math: At some time around kindergarten to the first grade the light goes on that 1 + 1 is 2, and 2 x 2 is 4. With enough teacher explanation and time, from there we proceed all the way through basic math. At each step through basic tables & functions (often memorized), algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and statistics/probability to get to calculus and beyond, the mind’s eye somehow just has to see it. Eventually, an understanding develops surpassing memory.
Our Founders called these self-evident truths. They were usually applying this idea to Natural Law, which is based on many far simpler fundamental truths that require the same abilities in practical and analytical reason to “get it.” In any case, they reached a fairly wide consensus about fundamental truths, though we frequently complain today about how they were applied.
Most human beings do their best; none are perfect. We all strive for modest success.
So, now, let’s finally list a series of SRC’s alongside responses that point out the contradiction in each case and the absurdity of each claim.
We’ve taken this list from a terrific course linked here offered by the Impact 360 Institute, Inc., entitled Explore Truth. It’s offered in seven sessions, is easy to take and understand, and is a lot of fun (if you enjoy this kind of thing). Impact 360 produces excellent worldview material and video, as well. (See their take on Critical Race Theory – CRT – linked to the left.) We highly recommend the organization and its content and are extremely grateful for what they’re doing to combat nonsense: SRC’s.
As the coaches at Impact 360 suggest, the best way to respond to SRC nonsense (often encountered with crafty Marxists and postmodernists, sporting rank political agendas) is with questions, kindly but firmly offered. Once you learn to recognize SRC’s you will see them in countless forms. All SRC’s can be demolished with the appropriate questions and follow up.
Self-Refuting Claim (SRC’s)
There is no truth.
Questions (SRC Destroyers)
Is that a true statement?
(1) By this point (the 4th statement above) you see how questions can move SRC’s quickly up a logical hierarchy, exposing hypocrisy. And after Oprah’s SRC (#4 above), the statements (SRC’s) that follow (#’s 5 – 8) quickly get personal to any listener.
So, with CRT as just one of the acronyms listed in the introduction at top, let’s look at CRT as an SRC. Far-Left blacks pushing Critical Race Theory often say to whites, “You can’t get outside your own race; whites can’t imagine life as blacks; whites can’t achieve equality except in full submission to blacks; you are the oppressor, and I am the oppressed,” etc.
In response, good questions are: “How do you get outside your race to make that statement? If so, how can you imagine what my life is like? How is full submission equal? Who will be the oppressor given full submission? So, the oppressed can oppress the oppressors? What do they become? Does that achieve equality?” etc.
We linked you to Impact 360 Institute’s take on CRT above. Well, here’s our own, most recent PC Contributor’s view of CRT. (Victoria Cobb; her Full Interview is at the bottom of the page linked; you can skim for the clips you might be interested in.) We have other responses and will have many more in the future:
Using SRC’s as a bludgeon in social media or the public square is a form of emotional violence. It’s serious adult-level bullying; it’s pure oppression. It robs people of their self-agency. Most certainly, it’s completely unChristian.
All societies throughout history have embraced the concept of actual truth to construct a social reality that works for them. Worldviews, religions, cultures, and supporting philosophies vastly differ across the globe and history, but truth does not. Yet, as John Paul II recognized in Fides et Ratio, many faith or theological pathways with philosophy and reason can move us closer to truth. We believe the truth brings us together.
What relativists and nihilists engage in with statements like those in the chart above are Word Games, purely in most cases to further their own political purposes. This is what they are telling us. Most of the examples above involve the concept of truth, yet they also love to engage on the Word Game chessboard with other key words like morality, justice, and culture. Now you can easily spot nonsense when you hear statements like, “Pushing your own morality is unjust.”
All is relative and tolerable, unless it’s not their truth, morality, justice, and culture.
You see how this works and how it can be applied to combat much of our Cancel Culture today. You know the drill. So, look for SRC’s and immediately fight back. Once we understand truth, reason, logic, and faith, they are easily checkmated.
Like the 360 Institute, we suggest trying to combat SRC’s through questions and persuasion applied repeatedly. Most people will yield to the truth when subjected to an audience who cares about it, which is most normal American people. No, most normal people across the world. Those who are foisting these acronyms on us are in the extreme minority and are on the take.
We must make judgements to survive and accomplish human good – tolerance is a neutral quality that is sometimes more evil than good when measured by the virtues and when dealing with insincere, manipulative, or selfish people. It all depends.
Of course, if truth doesn’t work after a long period of time and effort, then you know you aren’t dealing with normal people. You are dealing with something far more disturbing and insidious. No doubt, the next few years in American history will tell us where we are now on all of this.
So, next time someone tells you we should further “social justice” by giving someone something he or she doesn’t deserve relative to others viewed to be equal citizens, you will know what to do. (“Would you feel fairly treated as a human equal if you deserved the reward and lost?”)
Now, we’re done with SRC’s except to show how the concept applies more broadly as we see situations arising in the future. Q, you listed some of these situations in your last post under the Sigourney Weaver and “the bitch” video.
In conclusion, we agree with Oprah that we should all stand up for what we believe is most important and speak our mind. That is what we are doing here.
In our case (Q and me), with full respect to Oprah, I think we can say that truth is true and one.
Thank you for your patience, time, and attention. We often don’t agree, Q, but we do on SRC’s!
And a PS to Q – One more thing we also agree on: Go Julie Christy! What’s in a name? A life? A mystery. A person.
Glad she ditched Warren Beatty (who was actually born in Richmond, VA), refused the lead female role in Reds (1981) that Beatty directed and starred in (the female role went to Diane Keaton, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar), and married Duncan Campbell, the lucky stiff, who has lived with her since 1979. In the same year as having the lead female role in Dr. Zhivago, she even beat out Julie Andrews (The Sound of Music) for Best Actress in Darling (1965). Now, that was truly a miracle. (Ms. Andrews won the prior year; all part of the great British Invasion.) Who needs Shampoo? While a woman of extreme beauty and acting talent, Ms. Christie indicated early in her career in the Swinging Sixties that she knows Hollywood-type fame is fake and doesn’t last; it’s moonshine. Our highest glory comes only in truth and reality. From a life lived in private, where few see us, with real persons and loved ones living in trust, loyalty, and permanence. Maybe even oneness; maybe even with God. Like the Greeks knew, no judgement till the end of the story. And good luck to Duncan, too. Hope they make it to the finish line as one.