Criticality – Part I

Now More Than Ever

by Jorge D. H. Prósperi

Veritas ~ Truth is a word often used universally to signify the ultimate meaning and purpose for an institution’s existence. It stands alone or as part of several words on logos, crests and shields declaring the essence of an institution’s core values. Because of its significance, the word and its concept carries unequivocal weight and influence on the vision, mission and core values of institutions and the people who represent them. The truth has many synonyms such as veracity, honesty, candor, validity, integrity, dignity, accuracy and authenticity – to name a few. It is singularly significant when addressing issues of democracy, social justice, equity and the rule of law. It beckons beliefs, opinions, dispositions, attitudes and behavior to account.

Truth – a word that in 2019 has become blurred as to its meaning and significance. The word is now under scrutiny as being compromised, fake, altered, contrived, politicized, fraudulent, made-up, forged – not real. This places human beings as citizens of a nation and the world conflicted as to what and who to believe. The conflict is inevitable because “truth” is directly connected to credibility and trust. Above all else, human beings want and need to believe – be assured that the trust bestowed on individuals and institutions is based on the truth – walking on terra firma rather than quicksand.

Aristotle provided a version of the truth, “To say of what is that it is, or what is not that it is not, is true.” Sounds easy but how do we get to “what is” and “that it is” – “what is not” and “that is not”? A Lakota saying seems to coincide with Aristotle’s thinking, “The truth is the truth and all else an option.” There are certainly many more theories and definitions between Greek and Native denotations on the truth.

Challenging questions arise when pursuing the truth dealing with processes by which to authenticate it. So, is this the time in the essay when lawyers, judges and juries pipe-in debating the essence of Veritas? How do we determine credibility and begin to trust what is true? Is it the essence of the concept that we pursue or is it the process by which to arrive at its essence? Can the truth’s believability exist without a trusted process by which to determine its authenticity?

Such questions tend to invite epistemologists, philosophers, metaphysicians, logicians, psychiatrists, theologians, historians, anthropologists, scientists, educators, critical theorists, qualitative/quantitative researchers, politicians, investigative reporters, as well as citizens/parents/neighbors who want a piece of that crucial conversation because it deals with the quality of life of each member of the human race and the planet they inhabit. Regardless of our academic or non-academic backgrounds, most of us begin by asking critical questions and pursuing processes by which to approach the truth. We look for consensus on its believability. But whose truth do we eventually end up believing? Yours, mine, ours, theirs?

Who is telling the truth to us? Do we simply believe because the language comes from the head of state, CEO, priest, rabbi, minister, teacher, family member, neighbor, medical doctor – someone entrusted to tell the truth?  Or do we leave it to the mesmerizing scrolling chyrons and pundits of local cable outlets to drone away, brainwashing and whitewashing the truth? Do we actively filter language from social pollutants that we breath 24/7 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and internet? Does the accuracy and veracity of the language even matter? What tools have we been taught to use to identify and authenticate meaning with integrity?

END OF CRITICALITY PART I – Go to Part II