While truth is important, searching for it may be a waste of time.
Truth, it turns out, is a very subjective thing. And that’s a weird thing to say given that most of us have some idea of truth as being objectively real. Truth is something that exists outside our consciousness whether we know what is true or believe it or not.
The problem is that we can’t ever truly know what is truly true. Not really. All knowledge we have or think we have is filtered through our rather messy brains and so our thoughts and our perception of knowledge is inherently subjective. We can’t help it. It’s just the reality we have to deal with, as far as we know.
That doesn’t mean that what is true isn’t important. It is. What is real really matters. The more our subjective understanding of what is true matches what is objectively true the more effective we are going to be. So searching for truth is worthwhile.
The problem is that we can’t ever be truly sure if what we think is true is actually true. To be intellectually honest, we have to maintain doubt regardless of how sure we are that that what we think we know is true. This requires balance.
We have to seek out truth, but accept that we can never truly know what is true. We can’t use the unending search for truth as an excuse not to act in the present. We have to act to the best of our ability based on what we think we know to be true even though it may turn out to be false.
To help me maintain this balance I like to remind myself of this quote by Thoreau from Civil Disobedience:
“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”