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Opinions of Monday, 30 August 2010

Columnist: Adjei, Kwasi

Truth And Social Change

In the Apology, Socrates states that “The unexamined life is not worth living”. This dictum is universally acclaimed as a deep philosophical insight into the human condition. Another thinker the German philosopher, Hegel, states that, “I am in the world when I know it, and still more so when I have understood it”.
Yet, another thinker, William James, has this to say, “There can be no difference anywhere that doesn’t make a difference elsewhere. No difference in abstract truth that doesn’t express itself in a difference in concrete fact, and in conduct consequent upon that fact imposed on somebody, somehow, somewhere and some when”.
Socrates talks about the need to subject one’s life to critical scrutiny. On the other hand, Hegel reminds us that to be at home in the world, one must understand it. And finally, William James underscores the reason for their assertions by stating that abstract truths have practical consequences.
Truth cannot exist without some thinkers establishing a world of moral reality and agreeing that there is TRUTH to which they must all subject themselves. The contrary of this situation is the sophistical one, where subjective opinions are regarded as the criterion of truth.
Our problems as a race are that: With truths not self-evident we resort to subjective opinions; and even with self-evident truths we lack the will to do as reason directs.
The human mind is so chaotic and one-sided that the interest of truth requires the clash of contrary opinions. What’s more, the opinions must be those of educated and well developed minds.
But how can well developed minds be nurtured in an intellectual environment where learning stops at the “knowledge of acquaintance”? In a situation such as this one where subjective opinions go as truth, how can objective truths be recognized and upheld?
That is why unusual ability is not recognized let alone encouraged in such an intellectual world. As a result, lack of social change becomes a foregone conclusion, and hence lack of progress.
In the absence of thinkers to lay the intellectual foundation for social change, men of action dictate social change with catastrophic consequences. That is why in spite of the numerous changes of government in Africa, socio- economic conditions continue to improve too slowly. Not to put too fine a point on it, senseless forces are on the rampage. For example, the oldest black republic, Haiti, is mired in poverty because of the reign of senseless forces. Another old black republic, Liberia, is in no better condition despite being endowed with abundant natural resources.
This is just the beginning of the debate. I want to encourage you to look for my next publication or check my website: