Friday, 30 May 2008

Language and Truth

Language and Truth

The questions posed, and the observations made, here will seem unnecessary to the vast majority of people. They concern things that we take for granted, and perhaps because of this they should be established by reasoned argument. And their relationships, one with the other, should be made exactingly clear. Not for the vast majority of us, but especially so for those of us concerned with "the Theories (and Hierarchies) of Knowledge".

Language as a Tool.
Is language an impediment to realising Truth, or is it it's most worthy tool?

Certainly when language is used for ill it can create divisions and animosity. Whilst the choice of language can also cause reconciliation and harmony.

Language can then create our realities, and makes the proverbial bed on which we must lie.

Given then that the use of language can both create and destroy our World, it follows that language is but a tool in the mouths and hands of whoever uses it.

The onus of the question then shifts to us, "Can we be disinterested enough and objective enough to use language as a tool in order to discern the Truth as opposed to making our own truths?"

That we can talk about language and examine it's properties, as we have just done, suggests that it can be a very real tool in the search for Truth.

Does Truth exist within a language or outside of it?
This may seem like an irreverent question, but it's pertinence should not be doubted. When Allah t'ala, God most High, created the World HE created of all things in pairs; male and female, light and darkness, Truth and Falsehood.

What then is truth without falsehood?

And so it is because we can utter falsehoods, that we can also declare the Truth.

This is the double-barrel declaration of faith for the Muslims, at once an affirmation of the possibility of falsity and a declaration of truth; "There are no illahs (gods)" + "save the One True God (Allah)".

That in order to recognise the One True GOD, in all of HIS supremacy and transcendence, we must first deny the multiplicity of the false gods that populate our psyche.

True affirmation and belief comes only after denial.

This is part of the Truth that is present within our language, and which is necessarily the brother of falsehood.

But GOD is also Al-HAQQ, the supreme Truth, independent of all and upon which all are dependent. For Muslims GOD is independent of our language, and the worlds that we create by them, and yet our language is fully dependent upon GOD, the universal Truth. For did not GOD declare in the first revelation, "... Read, for surely your Lord is most gracious, who taught by the pen. Taught that which men knew naught." (Al-Qur'an S.Alaq).

An Absolute Truth.
(As I have hopefully shown previously in a separate blog) An absolute truth there must be, even if it is only the universal need that we all harbour for "solidity" in an uncertain World.

This absolute Truth is above / beyond and thus independent of any falsity.

A falsity that can only find expression in our language and within our own selves.

For can an object or an animal ever be said to bear false witness?

Even when the birds, or cats, when they feign ill-health to protect their young (as in a famous ahadith of Rasul-Allah (saw)) can they be said to lie?

One is an act of selflessness, whereas the other an act of egotism.

If falsity is borne of egotism, then truth is born of selflessness.

But if the absolute truth is at it's most basic a need for "solidity", then how can selflessness be a part of that? Selflessness is to give in, or to give away, or to relinquish for the good of another.

Muslims answer this particular conundrum with the famous sab-al-mathani, recited a minimum of 17 times a day, "All praise belongs to Allah the lord/ sustainer/ provider/ nourisher/ of all the Worlds (and all in them)" (Al-Qur'an, S. Al-Fathiha, the Opening).

Allah t'ala, God most High, is the One that fulfils our needs all of them.

And it is our belief in His sustenance/ provision/ care and nourishment that enables us to become selfless whilst yet living in this world.

To know God.
Using these arguments it follows that it is not possible to know the absolute Truth unless you first strive for selflessness. For selflessness is the bedrock of objectivity and disinterestedness.

But true selflessness can only materialise when you rely on another who guarantees you sustenance / provision.

Thus to "know" God, the most High, a person must first believe in Him.

PS. Thanks to all the people on the Philosophy forum, for I am no linguist, nor philosopher. And to think is but to question.