Thursday, June 12, 2014
Erasmus Intensive Programme: Epistemological meandering
Watch this very humorous clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpoP8lDelFs
Here is where we start our exploration and I suggest 3 points on the map.
If we had to add labels to aspects within the clip ensuring that ‘truth’ is one of those labels, what would that look like?
If we paused the clip just before the crocodile emerged, how would your labels change?
How would the buffalo who changed his mind, convince the next buffalo of his ‘truth’?
Pause here and set off on your journey. It would be great for us then to compare our journeys.
My reflections (write down questions and thoughts as you read):
I would label the conversation as ‘truth’ or might even ask the question where, if in fact it is actually possible, truth is found? For some, truth is an entity. This entity is for some is fragmented within all the created order. Naturalism will therefore argue that this entity can be discovered in all things in many ways. For others, the fragmented entity within us recognises the entity around us and the source of that revelation as a divine spark. It therefore in such action validated and adjudicates itself as ultimate reality and the entity of truth. Foundationalism argues we then build our knowing, brick by brick, into an unquestionable and fundamental truth.
In the clip, the discovery of the crocodile as the image of a log is an example of naturalism. The crocodile is and always will be a crocodile, even if it appears as something else. If the crocodile was ‘truth’, ‘truth’ in this case would be absolute…the crocodile is always a crocodile. But if the experience of the cartoon for all concerned was ‘truth’, the experience of discovery, of making meaning, emerges only based on the actual experience. In other words, if the crocodile did not move (and eat the buffalo), the buffalo would believe the log indeed was a log, which of course it was not. This raised questions about the consistency of truth or the qualities or characteristics of truth. Interestingly, in the clip, if the buffalo knew the ‘log’ was a crocodile and therefore knew the nature of the crocodile i.e. it eats buffalo that jump onto its back, why did he jump onto the crocodile? This raises questions about the motives of belief and knowing. Did the buffalo really believe? Or did believing and the feeling of arrogance and pride (the power of knowing what others don’t) in knowing, blind the buffalo into its own ‘truth’ so much so that it was actually consumed by its ‘truth’. Could this be called fundamentalism?
It is here that I think ‘truth’ takes on a different nature, a different concern, namely that of love or ultimate concern. Hopefully the second buffalo, now believing the log is indeed a crocodile, having witnessed the truth, will not convince others by sacrificing himself to the ‘truth’ nor withhold the ‘truth’ and so endanger his fellow community of buffalo. It is here that truth becomes human, becomes more than static allegiance. It is here that ‘truth’ takes on a radical conversation and interaction; a radical ethical responsibility and radical co-existence.