“Truth lies in the Whole.”
Is there One Big Truth for all people? Or only many and diverse truths? And where can Truth be found?
This debate began at the very dawn of philosophy, between the pre-Socratics and the Sophists. But suppose the contending parties had all set out to discover the answer by taking a long journey?
Once long ago, at the beginning of human consciousness, people began to debate the nature of Truth. Not the multitude of tiny truths we call information, which can drown the mind in flotsam. No, they lifted up their eyes to the far horizon and sought Ultimate Truth, the revelation that would liberate and make us wise.
No consensus emerged from this debate, so dedicated groups set out to discover Truth for themselves. They resolved to climb the great Mountain of Knowledge, convinced that there, at the icy summit, would lay the vision of the whole that would bring revelation and rapture. But the different groups took very different routes. Adherents of science took the direct route upward, slowly scaling cliffs and rocky slopes, working together in discipline and reason. Followers of religion endlessly circled the Mountain, mesmerized by the image of the peak floating amidst the clouds. Social scientists continually measured the height and width of the Mountain, generating ever more complex calculations and algorithms. The Philosophers decided to first make tea and speculate on what may or may not be found on the Mountain Top, or indeed if there existed a Mountain at all.
Many years passed, and many struggles, detours and dead ends. Some succumbed to despair. Others forgot their quest and built villages and businesses on the low slopes, devoting themselves to diversions and amusements. But finally the tiny bands of determined survivors converged one a pre-dawn day on a grassy plateau just below the summit of the Mountain of Knowledge. Each had a different story to tell about the search for Truth, because each had had a different experience, a different journey. And thus they began to resume their debate.
But as the sun rose, they gradually grew quiet, and a deep stillness descended with the brilliant morning light. From where they stood, they could see the Mountain Peak rising into the clouds, sheer, impenetrable, impossible. They could never reach the absolute summit. Yet below them, the warm and verdant earth spread itself out in luminous wonder and welcome.
But only silence could express the Truth they had sought.
Vincent Kavaloski, Ph.D., lived for 37 years in these Uplands in an intentional, eco-community devoted to peace and harmony with people and the land. He is currently concluding a long academic calling at Edgewood College and looking forward to being a freelance philosopher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.