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


GoFundMe

Not Your Own Facts

Hillside Drive, Napa, California, USA

October 30, 2022

"God only creates what is". ... 
"There are only two things in the world: nothing, and semantics." ... 
"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts." ... Daniel Patrick Moynihan, four-term United States senator, and ambassador to India

"Just the facts, ma'am." ... Sherlock Holmes (erroneously attributed to Jack Webb embodying Sergeant Joe Friday, Dragnet)

"It's my opinion I've an opinion." ... Laurence Platt
This essay, Not Your Own Facts, is the prequel to Facts, What's Real, And What's True.




By definition, facts are facts. Not my facts, not your facts: the  facts ("Just the facts, ma'am" says Sherlock Holmes). And if my facts aren't your facts and / or if your facts aren't my facts, then by definition they aren't facts.

While that may be the epitome of obviousness, there's actually something very subtle afoot here: facts are facts (not my facts, not your facts: the  facts) by agreement alone. Agreeing that facts are facts, is a self-generated stand  on what is. It's also possible to take a self-generated stand for my facts being my facts and your facts being your facts so that if they're the same or if there's some overlap between your facts and my facts, it's just a happy co-incidence.

The latter stand (my facts are my facts and your facts are your facts) constitutes an opinion  of what is. "My facts are my facts" and "your facts are your facts" are opinions not standing on what is. "God only creates what is" says Werner. We have choice in the matter of facts being facts or merely opinions. The possibility that facts are the same for everyone whereas opinions are unique for everyone, is a stand each of us takes after due diligence and due consideration. Be careful: even if "facts are the same for everyone" is factual, being righteous about it turns it into an opinion. That's bad enough. What's even worse is even if "facts aren't  the same for everyone" is factual, being righteous about it turns it into an opinion also. The exception proves the rule.

What makes the difference worthwhile? Why even bother? Try this on for size: if there's a factual railroad crossing and I don't stop in time to avoid being struck by a train because in my opinion it's not a fact that it's a railroad crossing, it doesn't work as well as if there's a factual railroad crossing and I stop in time to avoid being struck by a train because it's a fact that it's a railroad crossing. Personal stands not withstanding, differentiating between facts and opinions (and the stand we take on differentiating between facts and opinions) of necessity has an aspect of "the real world works better this way" to it.

At this juncture, it would be easy for this conversation to devolve into a morass of debate about the difference between "facts" and "opinions" being just semantics. If so, I suggest you consider it's actually more than that it's just  semantics: consider that this is all  semantics: the world, all of it. We've already  semanticized that facts are facts - not my facts, not your facts: the  facts. God only creates what is ie "what is" has already  been semanticized ... and ... we may have differing opinions about what is. The facts have already  been semanticized ... and ... we may have differing opinions about the facts. That's only profound if it's a stand taken on what is, a profundity that's drastically diminished when it's a stand coming from righteousness ie coming from being right.

You have a right to your own opinion, not your own facts  - not because it's the law of the land, nor because it's what we believe in (and notice some people tout their own opinions as  facts). No, it's because that  the world of your opinion is yours and yours alone, and the world of facts is all of ours, is empirical, measurable, demonstrable. That train at the railroad crossing? It's a fact. What it is, it is for everyone. And God only creates what is. More examples aren't needed. Examples don't prove it. What proves it is the world of your opinion is yours and yours alone, and the world of facts is ours together, is self-evident.


Footnote: facts and what's real revisited:

In retrospect, I realize I've blurred the edges between facts and what's real  in this essay (it's true - mea culpa). Here's my clarification:

Facts are things that are known or proved to be true. What's real  is something that actually exists ie is not imagined.

That train at the railroad crossing? It's better designated as real  than as a fact. And rather than say "It's real  that October has 31 days" we say "It's a fact  that October has 31 days.".

There. Thank You! I now stand corrected.

Fleshing out these distinctions more, is the subject for another conversation on another occasion which examines the trifecta facts, what's real, and what's true  in an essay titled Facts, What's Real, And What's True.


Communication Promise E-Mail | Home

© Laurence Platt - 2022 Permission