Sunday, November 6, 2016

Mediating (Not Defining) Truth

Working slowly towards the large project I hope to start towards the end of 2017, some posts tagged "political aesthetics"

There's no point trying to define truth, at least in this project - this is a work on aesthetics, and about how truth, however defined, is enacted in some particular kinds of mediation

but nonetheless the thing comes up

1. truth as a something-out-there which is true whether or not we can see and understand it (God, the arche-fossil, gravitational waves, Being . . . )
2.truth is produced by knowing it: a thing becomes true when we can state it
2.b truth is a quality of statements
2.c truth is produced by the method through which we approach it, ie the discourse that gives us ways to make well-formed statements that can be tested by the methods of that discourse (experiment, mathematics, statistics, logic etc)
3. truth is produced by actions, among which verbal actions are only one type. We (variously defined) make things true by enacting them. (this might ally with the proposal that truth is an agreement among a group to accept such-and-such a class of statements as true)

this doesn't give much to the proposition that there is a non-human truth, of the kinds argued for by eco-critique, that has physical etcetera effects on us, regardless of us knowing them; but such that once we do know them we are under an ethical obligation to act on that knowledge and that truth. This would also be true of those human-made truths we call situations or conjunctures - that there is something to be known about a state of affairs; that miscellaneous media forms have a claim not to produce them by stating them but to mediate them to humans (and vice versa)

Emphasising mediation removes the either/or – it permits both the formative (but not generative) power of media in mediations (eg measuring instruments, art) without thereby denying that there is a situation which can be mediated, while also preserving the corollary that mediation, as an action, is not free from the situation, and to that extent not only translates it for an other elsewhere and in another time, but acts in the situation by mediating it. (not merely quantum phenomenon)

the cost of the claim to truth, or at least of realism, is that the mediation alters what it observes; this alteration is the truth (the alteration of both the medium and the worlds it mediates between). The 4-part distinction of truth in the project plan makes sense then by asking what aspects of truth we learn from mediations attempting to be true to the object, to the medium, to perception and to the subject of truth, which in our epoch sees itself as a generator of truth, quite as much as a receiver (Kandinsky and Trump have that - and other things - in common)

(started by Ian Hacker's note on C.S. Peirce and his struggles with the idea of truth, p.212 of The Taming of Chance)

No comments: