For many eons truth was that which the observer observed. Their experiences were true. The sun rose. The sun set. The moon orbited the Earth, just as the Sun did. There was a village over the next hill. You knew this because you had been there. Eventually you learned of other villages, because people you trusted went there.
Eventually humanity needed more ways to discover truth. Shared experience wasn't enough.
Our ancestors needed to learn how to trust. This first movement was in philosophy. It involved long discussions about who and what to value.
The Study of philosophy is not that we may know what men have thought, but what the truth of things is. - Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologica, 5 Vols
And so it went. It involved discussion with many and all. We could only know the truths of others by exposing ourselves to their words and experiences. Eventually through deep thought and contemplation we may understand what is True. Aquinas, Ibn Sina and others shared their thoughts. Over centuries they came up with means and methods of finding Truth.
But then the era of philosophy passed. We entered the days of science.
Testable hypothesis helped humanity predict the future. They were falsifiable, or not. Those that survived became theories. They were a new Truth. Science guided us.
But in many things Science could not help us, or at least not in the same way that "hard science" could. The soft sciences couldn't be tested and repeated in the same rigor as the "hard" ones.
Eventually, at some point in the late 18th century, pamphleteers and journalists emerged. They found other truths. They looked to expose the powerful. Clearly biased their goal was to bring down the controlling class, most often to raise up a new one, over many years they settled on ethical standards.
Many of those revolve around sourcing. But at their core they are simple.
- Seek Truth and Report It
- Minimize Harm
- Act Independently
- Be Accountable and Transparent
None of those are directly conflicted by bias. Even the most biased reporter is expected to seek truth and be transparent.
But, over so much time, we, the common people, decided that bias was more important than truth. We turned our backs on journalism. We turned our backs on science. And quickly we are turning our backs on philosophy. Truth, the undeniable and clear unquestionable essence of reality, is no longer our concern.
Mankind isn't concerned with the essence of reality and those things that cannot be questioned. We question everything. In this era of fake news, this era of post-truth, we look to nothingness and snark for guidance. Our righteousness is in how we feel. But that continues to force us to look inward. Rather than look at nature, or humanity, or race, or nation, or state, or city, or community, or family we look at our selves. We have turned so far into our own soul that we can ignore truth, because as a people we think that truth is personal.
It is not. Journalism, at its best, is still true. Science is still true. Philosophy is still true. And the others? They are true and real as well. For without others we will never discover our inner truths.
We must love them both, those whose opinions we share and those whose opinions we reject, for both have labored in the search for truth, and both have helped us in finding it. - Thomas Aquinas