Thursday, October 14, 2010

truth, a pathless land...?

An interesting philosopher, Krishnamurti, had suggested that truth as an absolute was difficult to arrive at, that it was "a pathless land." His point was not that there was no truth, but that the discovery of it would not be paved in stone, a path laid down by others. It must be reasoned and discovered for oneself. In each of Krishnmurti's hundreds of public lectures, he encouraged his listeners to discover for themselves. We have a culture in which politicians are at odds over what to teach children in school. I watched the debate last night between two Senate candidates. One believing that Darwin's theory of evolution was a lie, insisted that schools be allowed to teach what ever "truth" they want. The other candidate expressed concerned that we have lost our competitiveness in science, math, and technology education are becoming a 2nd tier educational nation. I'm inclined to better accept the latter than the former. Despite freedom of belief and religion, truth is not just something you can make up. You're welcome to believe whatever you want, but belief is not the same thing as reality. Still, candidates from different political parties and religious faiths have differing opinions over what facts and theories constitute "the truth", and would rather sacrifice our children's investigatory inclinations than have their own beliefs challenged and discovered to be absurd.

I have learned to try and stay away from politics in the blog, but education in America has become criminally political on both sides, with each side trying to use our children's lives to further their own political agendas.

Are our schools to be the places where we cram facts, approved theorems and opinions into our children's heads, or are they to be places in which children learn and discover for themselves. If we wish to raise mature citizens to make reasoned assessments of facts, discern truth from fabrication and make wise decisions for their own cultural and physical survival, we must restore schools as places where children discover and learn rather than being taught.

There is a simple path for that. Craftsmanship is discovery. As children process and use materials in the making of beautiful and useful things, they discover and learn and grow and the vector of their comprehension is toward truth. Craftsmanship is the foundation of science, math and technology and it is also the clearest means through which to develop a sense of self. Think of our children as craftsmen/scientists and our schools as laboratory workshops and we will begin to be on the right path. Anything less is a distortion of our children's innate intelligences and capacities.

Put a tool in a child's hand. You really don't know where that child will go with it, or what he or she will make. The path is uncharted. We do know where the journey begins and that truth is not something that can be taught, but a child can be encouraged to discover. Despite what we think to be out best intentions, anything less is indoctrination and dogma.


  1. I believe that absolute truth exists, but it's the discovery of it that is hard. We tend to see evidence only for what we already believe, so true searching is difficult. Many are convinced that they know at least partial truth, and believe that it is truth for everyone, and that is where things get sticky. Evolutionists with their speculations are just as guilty of belief as a basis for their ideas as are religious fundamentalists.

  2. I don't know what absolute truth might be or how to go looking for it. Most of the horrors of human history have been perpetrated by those who think that their own view of truth is absolute and that all else and all others should be subservient to it.

    Being a craftsman informs you of the variability of things. You try to plane a piece of cherry and think you have a clear indication of the direction of wood grain. You take the plane and the blade digs in and tears out. And you learn that not all is as it first appears.

    By having education based on someone's distorted view of absolute truth is an abomination that deprives our children of the opportunity of discovering things for themselves. Funny, but most of the scholars, scientists religious leaders and politicians over the last thousand years have batted little better in their discernment of truth than the run of the mill batter for the New York Mets. 300 is a damn good season.