Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Not Truth / Truth

El Guadalajara, Napa, California, USA

July 11, 2009



 "The truth believed is a lie."  ... 
This essay, Not Truth / Truth, is the second in the sextology Truth:
  1. Used By The Truth
  2. Not Truth / Truth
  3. Moment Of Truth
  4. Nobody's Doing It To You Except Yourself: A Study In Truth
  5. Tell Me The Truth
  6. Authentic Truth: The Coca Cola Animals  Incident, And More
in that order.




There's no guarantee bad things will happen if you don't tell the truth. Sometimes bad things happen and sometimes they don't anyway  regardless of what you do. There's no guarantee good  things will happen if you do  tell the truth. Sometimes good things happen and sometimes they don't anyway  regardless of what you do.

I'd like, for a moment, to shift this conversation about not  telling the truth vs telling the truth, away from being wrong vs being right, away from being worse vs being better, away from being being bad vs being good. If there has to be any evaluation at all, I'd prefer to consider it as what doesn't work  as distinct from what works. But even that fairly innocuous distinction imposes something on this conversation which will only distract from my assertion, which is this:

Telling the truth is a choice. That's all it is. There's nothing naughty naughty  about not telling the truth. There's nothing goody goody  about telling the truth. It's just a choice. Treating telling the truth as anything other than  a choice buries the truth in so much meaning and significance  (albeit well intentioned meaning and significance) as to obfuscate the truth almost entirely.

"To not tell the truth, or to tell the truth?".

"Chocolate, or vanilla?".

"To not tell the truth, or to tell the truth?"  is a simple choice in the same league as "Chocolate, or vanilla?". If you make it any less simple, the truth gets buried. If you make it any more significant, the truth gets buried deeper. For example, if you tell the truth in order to  be honest or to be right or to be good, that may be preferable to being dishonest or to being wrong or to being bad, but it's still an "in order to"  - it's not really  telling the truth. Another example: telling the truth because you're driven to tell the truth by a belief system. Telling the truth because you're driven to tell the truth by a belief system, particularly when it's unexamined and undistinguished  that you're driven to tell the truth by a belief system, really serves nothing other than to besmirch the truth and to bury it again. Spoken with rigor, telling the truth because you're driven to tell the truth by a belief system clouds the truth with righteousness  rendering it little more than a racket  (albeit a well intentioned racket).

In the case of "To not tell the truth, or to tell the truth?", there even seems to be an assumed direr consequence  which accompanies one component of the choice: the "to not tell the truth"  component (in contradistinction, there doesn't seem to be any dire consequences accompanying either component of the choice "Chocolate, or vanilla?"). But is that because there really is  a direr consequence accompanying the component "to not tell the truth"  ... or is that just a threat  I make in order to force meaning and significance and righteousness onto being honest and onto being right and onto being good, in other words, in order to be better  and to garner agreement  being honest and on the right  side of good?  Again, a racket (albeit a well intentioned racket), but don't you notice how the tacit "in order to"  here begins to reek?

Indeed, can I (ie is it even possible  to) step outside of this legendary eternal classic battle between good and evil at all, and simply look at what my choice is  in the matter of telling the truth, or not - with no history or complication or meaning or significance or righteousness attached at all? Indeed, can I (ie is it even possible  to) simply tell the truth "period" rather than being skewed to tell the truth in order to  "something"? (fill in the blank).

That's what I'm asking. That's what I'm inquiring into.

From the Cambridge International Dictionary:

<quote>
Definition
truth


noun
the quality of being true
the real facts about a situation, event or person; a fact or principle which is thought to be true by most people
<unquote>

If we go with the Cambridge International Dictionary's third definition of "truth" (a fact or principle which is thought to be true by most people), I can never be here  to tell the truth because my thoughts about the truth  are always opining over and on top of  what exists. This would imply the best it gets for me is to point to  the truth, yet by virtue of my own human being, I can never get out of the way  enough to really tell the truth. Which brings me back to, once again, Werner Erhard.
Werner Erhard says "The truth believed is a lie.". Werner's not saying don't  tell the truth. Werner's not saying the truth can't be told. Werner's simply saying believing  the truth morphs  the truth out of the domain of truth, and into the domain of belief. Clearly, the truth is the truth - it's not belief. Clearly, belief is belief - it's not the truth. Ergo:  the truth believed  is a lie (that which is not the truth). QED.

So ... "To not tell the truth, or to tell the truth?  Choose!".

"I choose to tell the truth.".

"Why do you choose to tell the truth?".

"I choose to tell the truth because I choose  to tell the truth".



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