OBJECTIVE VS SUBJECTIVE TRUTH

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Søren Kierkegaard said: “Truth is Subjectivity. Objective truths are concerned with the facts of a person’s being, while subjective truths are concerned with a person’s way of being.” He opined that objective truths for the study of subjects like mathematics and science are relevant and necessary but argued that objective truths do not shed any light on a person’s inner relationship to his existence.

Alfred North Whitehead said: “There are no whole (objective) truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that play the devil”.

The problem with objective truth as it relates to history is that we can’t really know what happened in the past because we weren’t there and because there are as many historical interpretations of what transpired as there are historians writing about that history. Hence revisionists’ claims that the constant revision of history is part of the normal scholarly process of writing history.

In Descent from the Hill, Helena’s father, Rolf, claims that if you read four biographies of the same person, after you finish them you’ll wonder if the four authors were writing about the same person. He’s essentially denying that objective truth is possible beyond math and science. “Each author uses different references and has his own personal biases”. Of course Rolf has a secondary gain in claiming that truth is usually subjective, but I will not go into that so as to not leave a spoiler for those who have not yet read the novel.

The basis of truth used by Nazi Germany was the Darwinian principle of survival of the fittest. The leaders of Germany saw their nation as a superior group a “Stronger People” and the rest of the world as an inferior people, a “Weaker People”. Is this truth—that they espoused—objective or subjective? You be the judge.

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WHAT IS POST TRAUMATIC STRESS SYNDROME?

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It’s often called “shell shock”, but that is incorrect as PTSD extends far beyond the combat scenario. Any form of extreme trauma—especially when life threatening—can cause PTSD. Exposure to such trauma has been part of the human story since we evolved as a species and were threatened by saber toothed tigers and drastic environmental change. Achilles suffered from it as did Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

When the afflicted remember the event that caused PTSD, a portion of the brain is activated and causes them to suffer severe insomnia, kaleidoscopic nightmares, panic attacks, and other characteristic symptoms. I have listened to many patients describe their nightmares as being “too real”. Many patients become reclusive and too many resort to suicide to end their misery.

Although psychiatric intervention and drug therapy can help the afflicted, cures are probably rare. But medical intervention is mandatory to prevent debilitating suffering and the patient’s propensity to resort to suicide.

Was Pope John Paul I poisoned?

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Several readers have asked if I really believe Pope John Paul I was poisoned. I don’t know that he was poisoned because it was never proved. Most of what we know that could lead to such a conclusion is supposition and the “proof” that conspiracy theorists cling to is specious at best.

But there is much in the history of the Roman Catholic Church that would make one believe that it is certainly possible. Historians frequently state that the Romans refined the poisoner’s prowess and the Church of Rome perfected it. John VIII was likely poisoned in 882 and Formosus in 892. The daughter of John X’s mistress supposedly poisoned him. Benedict XI ate figs with powdered sugar. It tasted good, but the powdered sugar was laced with powdered glass. Alexander VI drank wine that was laced with arsenic and he died an excruciating death. There are many other examples where historians have concluded that popes died as a result of poisoning.

So I really can’t conclude that someone poisoned John Paul I, but the conspiracy theorists have had a feast with this one. Anyone interested in knowing more about this possibility should read In God’s Name by David Yallop. As Morris West says: “Read the book. Weigh the evidence. Make your own judgement.”