The reason kids don't decide is that they know that whatever they decide, there will be a community for them. They are swayed in and out of things and places. It's where you're at, dude.
We live in a society where the meta is part of the discussion and we have decided that certain matters are unresolvable. This is the land of the non-excluded middle. Everything is true, everything is false, everything is true and false. What this means is that bullies rule, but are always subverted.
Godbey thinks I might have been the one who put some of this in mind, but it wasn't me directly, I don't think. Still I do think about the possibility of determining the truth of things. Yet I know that people will decide without going the last mile to find out the truth or falsity of things because we are demonstrably not in the land of great men who pass judgment. I ask people 'Who is your Leviathan' and they don't even bother trying to find out. Everything just sloshes around and people who put things in buckets are ignorable nerds. So nobody goes to Buddha to ask if things are true or false, and Buddha doesn't have to come up with catuskoti answers. Buddha doesn't exist in our society, Google does. And Google just tells you what the most popular answers are.
Over at Quora, a lot of people ask what's it like to be somebody who is somebody. There is the somebody who is the somebody and everybody else cheats and cheeses in the games that somebody invented, because rules are just power controls which are disposable as soon as the somebody is deposed. In the meantime, suck ass.
To the core:
Let’s start by turning back the clock. It is India in the fifth century BCE, the age of the historical Buddha, and a rather peculiar principle of reasoning appears to be in general use. This principle is called the catuskoti, meaning ‘four corners’. It insists that there are four possibilities regarding any statement: it might be true (and true only), false (and false only), both true and false, or neither true nor false.
We know that the catuskoti was in the air because of certain questions that people asked the Buddha, in exchanges that come down to us in the sutras. Questions such as: what happens to enlightened people after they die? It was commonly assumed that an unenlightened person would keep being reborn, but the whole point of enlightenment was to get out of this vicious circle. And then what? Did you exist, not, both or neither? The Buddha’s disciples clearly expected him to endorse one and only one of these possibilities. This, it appears, was just how people thought.
At around the same time, 5,000km to the west in Ancient Athens, Aristotle was laying the foundations of Western logic along very different lines. Among his innovations were two singularly important rules. One of them was the Principle of Excluded Middle (PEM), which says that every claim must be either true or false with no other options (the Latin name for this rule, tertium non datur, means literally ‘a third is not given’). The other rule was the Principle of Non-Contradiction (PNC): nothing can be both true and false at the same time.
Writing in his Metaphysics, Aristotle defended both of these principles against transgressors such as Heraklitus (nicknamed ‘the Obscure’). Unfortunately, Aristotle’s own arguments are somewhat tortured – to put it mildly – and modern scholars find it difficult even to say what they are supposed to be. Yet Aristotle succeeded in locking the PEM and the PNC into Western orthodoxy, where they have remained ever since. Only a few intrepid spirits, most notably G W F Hegel in the 19th century, ever thought to challenge them. And now many of Aristotle’s intellectual descendants find it very difficult to imagine life without them.
That is why Western thinkers – even those sympathetic to Buddhist thought – have struggled to grasp how something such as the catuskoti might be possible. Never mind a third not being given, here was a fourth – and that fourth was itself a contradiction. How to make sense of that?"
I think I remember something about Hegel's metaphysics. My essential take is that truth forms cannot become ossified, because as we say 'the journey is the destination'. In other words, nothing remains true simply by declaration, nor does anything remain false by declaration. To Hegel, you do not come upon knowledge in a pure form of truth or falsity, but through revelation through the work of discovery. Key word here is *work*. It takes energy to see what is true or false, and you only see when you are expending this energy. The answer is not '42'. '42' is an abstraction of the work of the greatest calculating mind, and the only way to know the truth of that answer is to actually do that work, which is of course impossible for everyon who is not that machine. But if you want an answer without doing the work and appealing to authority, it may as well be 42, which is as good as any other. Since Google is free, we are free to use and discard the results. So nothing at all is true or false, or mostly true or mostly false or both true and false, it is all in the process of being comprehended within Goedelian limits, and so it is all of that.
In this way the kids of today have it right. And yet in the end, somebody has to be authoritarian. Here's the scary part. The authority is energy.
So we get back to the relativism of the hated Foucault who gives us the 'regimes of truth' concept. He's right about that. What's true is determined, not according to some Platonic form, but by the state of the masses' conventional wisdom, which is in turn shaped, if not determined, by the influence of the powers that be.
But here's the thing. Human beings in their thinking machinery have no halting problem. Life cannot afford not to accept contradictions, otherwise we would be very poor at adapting to mind-blowing change. Our heads do not literally explode, we make some rationalizations and some abstractions and convenient bias confirmations and strategic forgetting in the retelling of our narratives. And we adapt. So what was true yesterday is not true today. But if you want a flat answer from the Buddha, he would have to tell you that this thing is true and false, because he must account for human possibilities of dealing with it throughout time.
I like how Aeon describes a function and a relationship in the bridge between mathematics and philosophy.
At the core of the explanation, one has to grasp a very basic mathematical distinction. I speak of the difference between a relation and a function. A relation is something that relates a certain kind of object to some number of others (zero, one, two, etc). A function, on the other hand, is a special kind of relation that links each such object to exactly one thing. Suppose we are talking about people. Mother of and father of are functions, because every person has exactly one (biological) mother and exactly one father. But son of and daughter of are relations, because parents might have any number of sons and daughters. Functions give a unique output; relations can give any number of outputs. Keep that distinction in mind; we’ll come back to it a lot.
We are chockablock with dysfunctional relationships. But they are indeed relationships, and we make lots of them, whether or not they have a function. It doesn't matter does it? We are related and we're all relatives. Call it relativism. Everything is true. Everything is false. Everything is relative until you get all functional.
But when you apply enough force and power into something it has to behave in more deterministic ways, neh? Scary.
That's all I have.