This small discussion, or argument, or whatever you want to call it, is just a thought process I went through one evening. I’m not putting it forward as a piece of philosophy, or as a certain definition of anything, just as my thoughts, which I hope will be read and enjoyed, laughed at, found inspiring, but hopefully not irritating or pretentious (though it probably is!). After all, it’s just a thought...
Many people say that they are looking for the ‘truth’. But what do they mean? The search for ‘truth’ implies that a question has been asked, to which there are many possible answers, and the one that is wanted is the right answer, that which is ‘true’. However, when people say that they are looking for the truth, they do not say, the truthful answer to the question..., but just ‘the truth’ as if there is a single answer to every conceivable question.
There is. Well, sort of.
When most people say that they are looking for truth, what they actually mean is that they are looking for the true meaning of life. Of course, there are as many suggestions as to the meaning of life, as there are philosophers (more in fact), so the search for the true meaning can be a rather daunting task. Which is why many people don’t bother. Some will settle for a nice sounding idea, then stick to it, ignoring its flaws, even convincing themselves that their pretence of true happiness is real. Others don’t bother. They either say that there is no meaning and leave it at that, or never actually ask.
But those that do ask, and find many answers, are then faced with an almighty task. They will probably wade through about a hundred suggested meanings, none of which convince them, and then stop. Some will have stopped as they have given up. Others will have stopped because they have realised something important. They will probably have thought something along the lines of, ‘Right, all these people have tried to find the truth, and written down their discoveries. All their discoveries are different, though some are similar. This could mean one of three things; they could have just made it up, the truth could vary from person to person, which is why none of those I have read are right for me, or truth may be difficult, even impossible to describe.'
Now it gets interesting.
Considering that all the truths read are different, it would make sense to begin to think of what this truth needs to do. Should it be a set of laws for a way of life? Should it be a way of seeing the world, a perspective? Should it be to achieve a certain aim? The fact is, no one really knows what they are looking for when they set out to find the truth, it's almost as if they expect to look up and see a flashing neon sign with ‘TRUTH’ in twelve foot high letters, with a framed manuscript underneath it, along with a queue of several thousand people.
Assuming that we think it could be a set of laws, or a way of life. What would be the implications? Well, laws only work if everyone follows them, and as people’s ideas of truth vary, this is an unlikely form for truth to take. However, the truth could be considered a personal way of life, which would account for the different meanings given, as the ‘true meaning’ of people’s lives could be individual.
The truth as a way of seeing the world links well with our idea that truth is a way of life, so we seem to be onto something here.
The truth as the aim to achieve something, a destiny, could also be linked to the way of life, and way of seeing the world as mentioned before. So far, things are looking hopeful, as we have identified what it is we are looking for.
The next step is more difficult.
Knowing what criteria the truth has to fit is great, but we still need to actually find the truth. To find the truth, we need to change our approach. Our approach so far has been scientific and analytical. Yet, if the true meaning could be found by deduction alone then the previous theories would have been scientific, a logical approach, which anyone could follow and reach the same conclusion. So, we need to look at it differently.
What things do we experience in life that make it good and enjoyable and are, at the end of the day, what we live for? Friendship, laughter, love, beauty. The list can be endless. But it can be shortened to just one, love. If someone says that the meaning of life is love, we usually think that the person is reminiscent of the 1960s and not talking about the emotion, but physical love, or we think that we have run into a rather soppy, romantic, sentimentalist. But if you think about it, it fits.
It also explains why no one has submitted it as the meaning before (well, actually, they probably have, but never mind, I’ll just support them!), as a single word doesn’t look like the life’s work of a philosopher, especially as it’s only four letters long! And why all the theories conflict, they try to describe a single aspect, but you really need the whole. It also fits with the criteria...
As an aim to achieve something, yes, love fits, as you can ‘achieve’ both giving and receiving it. As a way of life, it also works, as if in every situation you do the loving thing (as in Fletcher’s Situation Ethics), this can become a way of life. It can also be considered a way of seeing the world, as beauty is the appreciation of things. It is not appearance which true beauty is based on, but love. If you love the world, and all that is in it, you will see that the butterfly and the moth are equally beautiful, as is a rose and a dandelion.
So now what....
Well, now the true meaning is known, I guess you just need to apply it, and live it. Love, give love, receive love, appreciate love, and appreciate beauty. If everyone did that, wouldn’t the world be a great place to live? But even if they don’t all believe it, those that do will be happy, and happiness is as infectious as the plague.