Perception, Deduction and the Comprehension of Truth

No one can say absolutely that there is no absolute truth. Likewise, there are none who can say they know the entirety of truth absolutely. Whether an apple, a star or your own hand in front of your face, that which is real and true cannot be comprehended directly; it must be interpreted from our perceptions. It is as if we can only perceive reality through a filter that refracts, colors and obscures. So we can see the apple, but not its most basic makeup. We can only see how the star used to look millions of years ago according to a narrow visual spectrum. The visibility and appearance of our hand is dependent upon sufficient external lighting and the quality of our lens, rods and cones and, of course, that nagging question that hits everyone at some point, “When did my hands start to look that old?”

The entirety of truth may be beyond perception, though not entirely. Through our senses we catch glimpses of what is real or true. Through a variety of processes we test our perceptions for patterns and consistencies. Those things that can be demonstrated, replicated and thus perceived are understood as most true. Yet there are several domains of reality and truth that cannot be perceived. These things can only be deduced, such as gravity, inertia and a person’s motives. These are the patterns we recognize behind what we can perceive. While they cannot be perceived directly, they do affect what we perceive. In some ways, they are the rules behind the exceptions to the rules.

We know also that individual perception varies. Vision, hearing, taste, touch and smell vary from individual to individual. Any variation in the ability to perceive means a different perception. I love cilantro, but one of my best friends can’t stand it. He says, “It tastes like soap.” However, even if everyone had an identical capacity to perceive, there would still be differences. As the brain develops, it must attempt to comprehend what it is perceiving. The sequence and circumstances preceding and surrounding what is perceived affect how it is comprehended. This also affects what is deduced as imperceptible behind what was perceived. Ultimately, it is our comprehension rather than our perception that matters.

What we know, believe or hold to be right and true shapes our priorities, values and actions. It even determines our deductions and conclusions to follow. Everyone believes something, even if it is framed in the context of what they don’t believe. As a result, every argument, whether religious, political, professional or familial, comes down to a difference in the comprehension of what is real and true, what is right and good. These conclusions are shaped heavily by our variety of experiences, whether internal or external.

I believe the perception of chaos is simply our inability to comprehend the complex order behind all things. I believe there are beliefs we hold on to that can neither be proven nor disproven, and that is good and right. I also believe that there is absolute truth, and I will spend my life seeing its effects, drawing my own conclusions and having those conclusions challenged. I believe we all believe that to some degree, our beliefs shape our behavior. I believe we can all be wrong in our beliefs and behaviors, though rarely is it absolutely and completely. I believe that in communicating what I believe, I welcome the opportunity of others to communicate how my conclusions are in agreement or conflict with their own.

It is my hope that when we proclaim, debate and discuss our comprehension of truth, we acknowledge that it is not truth in itself, but the nearest we can perceive.

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