Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I have been three weeks in a summer English course at uni, on New Zealand Literature. The thing that is starting to annoy me a little (or sometimes a lot) about it is that the lecturer seems to have very strong opinions on the nature of truth and to always read the poetry and prose we read in a way that affirms his ideas. It's like on one hand he's saying, there is no such thing as truth, and a whole lot of external factors influence what we think we see. Truth is relative and unknowable. On the other, the way he says things makes you feel like an anti-intellectual if you don't agree with him. Which cancels out all his ideas to begin with.

In some ways I agree with him. Humans are so blinkered by various things about us; our culture, our time period, our genetic makeup, our experiences, our emotions... We cannot trust ourselves to come up with an absolute and all-encompassing truth.

However, what he refuses to acknowledge, or allow the possibility of, is the existence of a being or beings who could reveal truth to us. This is what Christians believe. Sometimes we are accused of being blinded or hiding away from reality or being brainwashed, because we are prepared to accept some things on authority. It seems to me, however, that people, like my lecturer, who advance opinions like this are blatantly contradicting themselves. To explain: My lecturer says a) that human beings cannot possibly come up with an objective truth; but he also says b) that if we consider accepting truth from someone who can, we are not being reasonable or logical. If it's impossible, how can you discern truth at all except on authority? How can you "logically" come up with an argument against God if you have already admitted yourself incapable of seeing things properly?

I have a very high regard for logic and for reason. I do think, however, that they can only take you so far. No one is objective all the time. At some point, you have to accept someone else's judgement, or lose your mind in a morass of contradictory arguments.

Ahhh, postmodernism. What lengths we could go to in discussing it. But it is time for me to go to bed. Goodnight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His argument does seem to be quite circular doesn't it? What happens if you tell him his argument is circular? :)