At the Traditional Observance Lodge banquet and discussion last night the Question for the round table was What is the Good on which all (men) can agree, and is it the same as Truth?
Like all the best questions, it lead to great discussion rather than conclusion. We discussed Descartes‘ I Think, therefore I am, and the role of Sensation, how easily the Senses can be fooled, the role of Imagination in filling in illusions to maintain a consistent World View. A Brain In A Box fed electronic impulses , like the prisoners in Plato‘s Cave, would believe the electronic “shadows” real, without any conflicting information. While some invoked the movie The Matrix, another reminded us of the more obscure Erik the Viking Monty Python movie, on reaching the Unbreechable Fortifications of Valhalla the Vikings are stumped, but their accompanying Christina Monk, not believing in their Gods, not only doesn’t see the walls, he walks right through them.
In Raphael’s painting, the Academy of Athens, the central figures disagree on this great question. Plato points One finger upwards, indicating Truth descends from a Unified Ideal realm to manifest in it’s many forms on Earth, to be Deduced from known axioms. While Aristotle extends his hand and fingers, indicating we must compare and categorized our experiences and perceptions to arrive at their common core, and that will be Truth. This Inductive logic leads to Truth in Facts about out Natural World as we can perceive it, and that perception keeps increasing through the clever use of electronics and instruments.
Perhaps Plato and Aristotle were seeking somewhat different things, or the same thing in different realms. Induction leads us to understand the consistencies and differences in the Natural, created world; Deduction seeks a consistency that supersedes the Natural World to include our Imagination of a greater Truth, a Spiritual consistency beyond the paradoxes of the Natural World we perceive. Perhaps Truth is more encompassing than Facts.
As the the “Good upon which all can agree”, that is very difficult in a world where some seek death over life in an apocalyptic desire to end their personal pain by taking everyone else with them. But that difficult subject will have to await another day.