Through most of our lives we learn that writing and thinking should always be rational, logical processes. Their outcome should always be one single coherent conclusion which is to be examined and scrutinized by others. This process would, undoubtedly lead you to the Truth. Yes! It is capitalized, because this notion of “The Truth” was as important as God, Life and other metanarratives. The practice of philosophy consisted on this search for Truth.
Yet, in the 20th Century, this age old notion of Truth has been disappearing to a more creative view on just truth, ‘truth’, truth, or maybe even truth( whatever that means). An example of this notion is the work of Jean-François Lyotard. His 1979 book “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge” was very important to the spread of this notion and was one of the first recognition of the postmodern condition. In it Lyotard argues for the disappearance of the metanarratives or grand narratives. These narratives (such as God, the State, and Truth) have slowly disappeared. We no longer trust these narratives, but we don’t believe this is really in real or better Truth. Some similar ideas had been raised before by Nietzsche1,2, perhaps the philosophical father of post-modernism. Similar issues had been raised by Ludwick Fleck3 and Khun4 in science, where the notion of Truth has been substituted by the notion of paradigm.
This has resulted in a very different way of seeing the process of creating knowledge. Rather than the notion of Absolute Truth, there is a certain degree of creativity that comes along with thinking/writing. The greatest post-modern thinkers have understood this very well. In the writing of Foucault, Baudrillard, Derrida and Deleuze. Their work is, not only a testament to their great intellectual finesse, but also to their great creativeness in their thought and in their writing.
This still of writing is very similar to the still of Marshall McLuhan. Meggs notes “Unlike many philosophers and theologians actively seeking truth, McLuhan understands the fallacy of a fixed and static viewpoint.5” Meggs also said “McLuhan’s facility for throwing out ideas by the bushel provides much insight.6” McLuhan was very postmodern in his way of writing. He did not adhere to the idea of absolute truth and he saw his writing as a creative endeavour that would always be incomplete. In this way, he was not a rational theoretician, but a artistic one. He saw himself as an artist, dealing with a different type of canvas. In this way, he is no different than most of the great thinkers of our times. In regard to this artistic view of writing, he was a prophet too.
In my opinion, Truth is dead. We should not miss it and, instead, welcome the notion of truth, ‘truth’, truth, or maybe even truth( whatever that means). McLuhan already did this half a century ago. This new way of thinking shall give is new horizons in the great world of thought and shall lead us in new, more interesting directions.
1 · “There are no facts, only interpretations.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Notebooks. 1887.
2 · “Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense. 1873.
3 · Luwick Fleck. Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. 1981. University of Chicago Press.
4 · Thomas Khun. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 1996. University of Chicago Press.
5 · Philip B. Meggs. Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of The Mechanical Bride by Marshal McLuhan. 2000.