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Christopher Hall

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What are the educational implications of holding on to objective truth in a culture that values relativistic truth?

Besides conflict, of course! This question is deliberately broad, not focused on teachers, students, curriculum, or institutions specifically, so that the soil of it may be tilled as completely as possible through discussion.

Let's start here: if one holds that objective truth exists, then the interactions with culture, peers, professors, course content, and even the disciplines themselves must be flavored and shaped by that assertion. In a postmodern, relativist culture, this questions is somewhat pressing: there are movements in education that favor both types of truth, and that can make plugging into education, for a student, disciple, or apprentice of an opposing view, feel something like a 120V appliance being plugged into a 220V outlet. Without a transformer, step-down or step-up, these learners seemingly would not be able to approach, apprehend, or socialize around the learning because the premises behind its whole gestalt are out of phase. Or could they? What are the transformers necessary to do so? And the greater question: what are the implications for our culture? Can folks who have these two views, and therefore different educations, inherently, create a functional society together?

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  • Jul 8 2013: Even the most stout-hearted scientifically minded person might go to the vitamin store and purchase something that markets itself as a helper for something that ails them. What they purchase may have dubious scientific cause to believe in it. They do this because part of being human is to experience emotion. Often times our own emotions are as powerful, distant and hard to deal with as the emotions of others. It is one of life's great challenges to learn to manage emotion, both in dealing with others within the context of our relationships and in dealing with ourselves.

    Our emotions are not our enemy. Just because they are unreasonable does not make them somehow impossible to fit into the framework of life. The problem lies in not understanding what they are telling us. If you are angry it means something needs to be done, not necessarily that you have to hit something. Anger may actually exist to tell you that you need to improve your communication skills. We could use the message to begin thinking or we could chose to entertain the emotion to the point where we become sorry. The same goes for falling in love, lust, greed, fear, etc. They are all trying to tell us something the voice for which has to necessarily cut across whatever we are doing.

    The trouble is to interpret the message. Perhaps, if you know yourself, it is easy to figure out that you have made some bad decisions and an emotion is telling you to reconsider them. Maybe you are following a pattern you have failed to recognize, but the emotional signal has been triggered nonetheless? Managing ourselves can be as difficult as managing other human beings. It you don't take a wholistic, from both the objective and subjective sides, approach it is probably far harder to do it than if you do.

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