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How Do We Know?

How Do We Know?

This is Part 4 of a Series

By Dennis Loo (8/25/18)

The title of this article is part of what’s called epistemology: how do we know what we know, or at least, think we know? According to those who still consider themselves Trump fans, their answer to their epistemology might be that they believe it because Trump says so. Trump himself believes something to be so because he feels so and in fact we have to go back in time when America was unchallenged Numero Uno in the world, when women were known and valued (or not) based exclusively on certain physical attributes and as trophies (or not) to white men and when blacks and other minorities “knew their place” to find a place where Trump’s psyche resides. In other words, we have to go to a mythical place and time to satisfy Trump that America is great again.

How is this for a way of getting closer to the truth: the Great Leader says so and he in turn feels it in his gut?

The point I have been making, and why I am so confident that Trump will not even finish his first term, is that in a protracted contest between spin versus those who hew to empirical reality and reason as their test of truth, is that the latter will win in the end, if humanity’s historic mission is to continue. What is that historic mission? If we are to find out what is true through testing it against objective reality, which has characterized us from the beginning and will never go away, and that reality is basically, although not exclusively, separate and autonomous from us, especially individually, then it is not just made up by us anymore. If you or I were to die this instant, the world would continue on without us, maybe the worse for it for our not being there – and maybe a little different - but still…

Another way of saying this is that there really is a world outside of my head and I am not just imagining it. When Trump acts, for example, as if there will be no consequences of his actions, and he can declare our borders closed, or he can say that law and order will prevail and the fight against the police will end when he becomes POTUS, the world doesn’t all do his bidding, though some such as the Border Police might try, and he is now beset with all kinds of unintended consequences and counter-force such as immigrant families torn apart and people rising up to oppose his measures.

What we imagine to be true certainly affects our reality, but it does not by itself make it true if what we think is at odds with it. If what we imagine is, however, largely true because we have figured out through various means that, then we can influence it to go in a certain direction, not through our will alone, but because we have figured somethings out, in acting out our historic mission over time.

Now some people think that what is true is determined by power. But this is not accurate. The two things, truth and power, can and do affect each other in various ways, but they are distinctly different things. Something can be true, something is true, but it's being true does not automatically make that truth powerful. That depends: over time the truth should come out and usually does. 

I’m not saying that humanity’s historic mission guarantees a victory, because it is possible that the wrong side will win this round overall.

I am saying that Trump’s fate is sealed, but that is different than saying that humanity and the earth for sure will prevail.

To be continued

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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12