Man’s Search for Truth and why he fail?
Ever since the dawn of civilization, mankind yearned for the meaning and purpose for the existence! It is not only the universe that puzzled him but the never quenching thirst for exploring the secret behind the macro universe, that provoked man to meditate about the “silence of the vast space and the silence of the inner heart”. Poets and the visionaries of the ages dreamed about fairy tales and valor, there emerged new categories of thinkers who meditate about the metaphysical realities and we called them Philosophers! Philosophers deducted the reason behind the universe and reached different conclusions, over the years they developed a series of explorations on something commonly called TRUTH. All philosophy start with a question of WHY. Each nation created its own philosophical schools and adored its own masters, they became the teachers of great kings, they were respected in every corner. Though philosophy is a search for ultimate truth, not all the schools achieved that purpose often they were misled in the voyage, one thing that united them all together was their search to find the answers for life’s troublesome questions. If all the philosophical schools of thoughts differ in essence, how do ordinary people come to the knowledge of Truth. The difference between the ancient and modern approach is the former strongly believed that Truth can be known by natural reason but the known philosophers of the latter developed a suspicious attitude towards Truth and declared that Truth cannot be known by any means! Thomas Huxley, declared that “agnosticism is not a creed but a method” but the practical influence of these thinkers in 20th and 21st century made it not only as a “creed” but “a way of life”. In ancient days young minds were attracted towards philosophical reasonings and committed their life to ” a way of life ” through which one can understand the ultimate answer to the quest of Truth.
My endeavor in this page; is to demonstrate how rationally human beings can understand the meaning and purpose of this life. Life is a poetical journey like the voyage of orpheus through the dark realms of hades to seek his beloved. we all at one or the other stages of our life are puzzled by some un-known events in life that tempt us to become philosophers for a little while, though many reject this stage but go through this. Dante in his Divine Comedy, provoked to start the poem with same expression ” At the mid point of my life, I came to dark wood. ” All of us pass though this dark wood, but, many reject even the existence of this kind of experiences. It is not their fault but it is the beginning of a new way of understanding the Truth. What matters most is our willingness to dedicate the heart and soul to search so that we may not be fainted by the clouds and waves. Thomas Aquinas remarked that philosophers are closely linked with poets “Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder”. One looks at the cause of this existence and the other admires the beauty. Here, we are puzzled by an intellectual dilemma Why do people take deviations from the Quest for Truth ? Angelic Doctor has tried to answer the paradox in his huge “summa’ – Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason. Fulton Sheen remarked ” Middle age was the age of Reason and faith, 19th century was the age of Reason but modern world is the age of emotion”. One of the ancient Indian Upanishads demonstrated the other side of the quest for Truth and how it fails, ‘ Isavasya Upanishad’ says “The face of Truth is covered with Golden plate”. It may prompt us to think that truth seekers may stop the search the moment they are captured by the sight of Golden plate! Golden plate may be taken as an allegory – anything that gives us sensual appeal on the way to embrace the truth.
In the quest of Truth, no matter how we started but the important factor is how we finished it, some quit on the way, some move in different directions, yet others even deny the nature of quest itself. Aquinas once exclaimed “The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces” It is not the quest but the accomplishment of the task that makes quest meaningful.
Another fallacy which distort the quest for Truth is starting with prejudice and closed heart. Cardinal Cajetan while commenting on the text of Aquinas, once remarked ” If one start with a wrong assumption and is logical from that point on, he never will get back on the road to truth”. In modern age,numerous moral issues that affect the quest of Truth -
a) We need Truth but not a Divine Truth, (may be technical or cosmic )
b) We need Truth but in my way and my convenience . ( truth I define and I feel)
c) We need Truth but that must not demand a moral change in our conduct.A truth that suit to my style and way.
Logical fallacy of modern age is demonstrated briefly in the writings of G.K.Chesterton , C.S.Lewis, Fulton Sheen, Fydor Destoesky. Smiling at the fallacy of modern approach to Truth, English poet William Longfellow penned ”Tell me not, in mournful numbers,Life is but an empty dream!”.
Life is a quest for Truth… Can man know Truth without Divine Revelation?