By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Searching for Truth is Not a Contest of Egos

English: The photograph of German philosopher ...
English: The photograph of German philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859—1938) 한국어: 독일 철학자 에드문트 후설의 사진 (1895—1938) Русский: Фотография немецкого философа Эдмунда Гуссерля (1859—1938) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
People often forget that. Egos get in the way, and the goal becomes to "best" someone, to prove again that one's acumen or intelligence is supposedly superior to that of someone else. This intent is sometimes conscious, often unconscious.

I run away from it because it means that the search for truth is shackled from the beginning.

The first step in searching for truth in any fruitful discussion is to try, as far as possible, to abandon our agendas and to simply seek to gaze at the evidence, which in religious discussions is often a text, most likely the Bible.

The phenomenologist Husserl told us to go "back to things themselves." People talking about the Bible should go back to the "texts themselves." Of course, as defective human beings, we will never fully escape our biases and arbitrary assumptions. But we can try to discard some of them, and I think we can succeed to some extent.

Husserl spoke of the epoché ("suspension") and phenomenological reduction or bracketing as ways to describe this attempt to escape our captivity to our presuppositions about the world. If interested, you can delve into these philosophical intricacies here.

But all the esoteric philosophical details are not necessary to make the simple point: no discussion worthy of the name can approach the truth unless all parties sincerely put their egos and intellectual pretensions and pride in their back pocket and sincerely try to suspend their presuppositions. Only then can a discussion be truly fruitful, rather than an unseemly battle of egos.

If any participant is unwilling to sincerely attempt this "suspension," then we might as well talk about the weather and avoid anything remotely contentious or momentous.

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