Tuesday, 17 February 2009

No Longer Knowing What is Truth

Pontius Pilate, in one Gospel account, famously accosted Jesus with the question, "Truth? What is that?" or "What is Truth?"

Oddly enough, the gospel in question doesn't record the answer.

In a vivid instant, the New Testament captures our own anxieties, two thousand years later. What IS truth? But note how the question is framed - not "what is the truth?" but more like "I do not understand what you mean by this word 'truth'. Please explain."

Although, how you translate John 18:38 makes a big difference here.

Still - the essence of Pilate's question is clearly not "what is the substance of this allegation?" but "what the **** are you ****ing talking about?"

Pilate - a twat for our own age.

And what was he talking about? Jesus' claim to be "witness to the truth" (John 18:37). Tellingly, from whatever perspective you take it, Jesus does not respond to Pilate's piss-take. Verbally, at least.

So. What is truth?

Who knows. Maybe - the revealed truths of mathematics, which underpin the sciences. Yes, perhaps mathematics is truth. 2+2 = 4 generally obtains, except in Nineteen Eighty Four (but then my little book shows that the structure of the novel proves that 2 + 2 = 4 after all).

And for us? For us young apes? What is truth for us? The cultural certainties of an authoritarian age?

When we lie, so much and so often and so skilfully? When we make livings out of lies? When we pretend to ourselves unto death that we did not know the truth?

Who knows.

Truth? What is that?

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