Before getting into Laland’s daunting read (previous post), I broke off to read a little gem from Julian Baggini.
“A Short History of Truth” is 15000 words over 100 entertaining and readable pages. It is indeed a brief history of western philosophical ideas of truth topically related to the everyday frustrations we’ve come to know as post-truth.
Whether you’re new to the competing offerings of truth or you’ve already studied the concepts, Baggini creates a neat ontology of ten kinds of truth, which leads very conveniently to a simple recipe or checklist of ten traits we can all aspire to. This is not about defining truth, but about describing behaviours best suited to cultivating it.
In the words of the cover blurb:
These thought-provoking examinations reveal how the idea of truth has been used and abused over human history. Truth is complicated but Baggini leads us to a simple rubric for how we can all foster a better version of both ourselves and each other.
I loved it. Some of my favourite quotes – only one from the rubric – will give you a flavour.
There are no [alt-facts] just additional facts we may have missed.
Spiritual ‘truths’ should not compete with secular ones but should be seen as belonging to a different species.
[What] the Bush administration “misunderstimated”, was how important it was accurately to discern existing reality first if you intend to change it.
Science took a wrong turn because the wrong scientist held too much power.
Hallelujah! An unexpected pleasure.