Say I spent the first 14 years of my life without the proper glasses. I could see just well enough to read if I squinted, but things were fuzzy. I sat at the front of the room. It was, however, all I knew. One day, I get my eyes tested. A day later, I wear my very first pair of glasses. Suddenly the world is sharper, clearer. It’s different then what I thought it was. What I was seeing for 14 years, and basing my reactions upon, was something that wasn’t really ‘true’. But does that mean I shouldn’t have bothered with looking at anything? Should I have not still watched a movie and thought the cinematography is beautiful, or looked a painting and decided it was ugly? Should I never cross a street because I didn’t see the traffic lights the same way everyone else did? That seems a little bit ridiculous, to me.
And it’s not like I would know if my corrected sight has finally reached that ultimate true ‘what’s out there’. Perhaps I was colour blind, and visual truth was something I would never be privy to. Or maybe there’s a whole other visual layer that no one in humanity can see, but one day we’ll come up with a corrective lens for that too. And then all of humanity will find that the world we judged with our eyes is nothing but a construct, and god I guess we should just throw away civilization up till now, then. Humanity had done some amazing and terrible things. We’ve committed genocide and made art and caused wars and stopped wars and built machines that can work so much faster then our own brains and manipulated vibrations in the air to make music that makes other people feel. To give these actions less weight and value because we don’t know if they happened in the physical world or as a series of thoughts by brains in jars just seems wrong.
Hey, call me an agnostic, but I can’t say I think searching for the Objective Truth, with a capital O, is the most valuable use of the human mind. I think we can continue to make discoveries, and constantly compare and relate to make sure all evidence supports the rules, and change the rules if they are not. We can constantly change and re-evaluate what we consider true, but that shouldn’t mean we can’t believe what we believe because it might change. We’re never going to know everything, but it seems silly to decide that that means we can’t try to know anything. There are too many other places that need attention, philosophical and otherwise–medical advancements, the ethics of said medical advancements, how to develop countries without destroying the planet, and other such mind benders. There are plenty of challenging things to think about, and if we’re all paralyzed because we don’t know if we’re actually in the Matrix, we’re never going to get to them. Personally, I find that very sad.