Opinion is not Fact and Perspective is not Truth

Marcus AureliusMarcus Aurelius said. “Everything we hear is opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”  Do you think there are concrete facts and truths, or is everything fluid?

It is no easy thing to find a definition of truth that is not linked to a major philosophical treatise.  These vary in interpretation from, there is no adequate definition of truth, to truth equals fact which makes it concrete, absolute and irrefutable.  I’m not going there with the debate except to say I thought my truths were absolute but realise they are more beliefs than truths.  Complicated, huh?

My reviewed definition of truth, at the risk of countering the philosophy masters, is that it is something over which we have no control: the seasons occur in order, the sun rises each day and sets each night (with polar differences, but truths nonetheless), and eventually we all die.  All truths which we are powerless to change.  These are my examples of concrete, absolute truths.

Reality would be an example of a fluid truth.  Events can alter a person’s reality:  today I have a dog (true and real); tomorrow when my pet dies my truth will be different because I no  longer have a dog.  My reality of being a pet owner has altered.  Reality is fluid dependent on circumstances, time and place.

I agree with Marcus Aurelius that our perception does not make a truth and they cannot because the way we see things is undergirded by our beliefs.  Our beliefs influence our perception.  How we view an issue say, success or failure, will depend on the framework of our personal beliefs.  If we belief that we are successful if we’ve given the task our best shot then we are unconcerned that another’s perception of success is that we scored 9/10.  The fact that we’re happy with our best endeavour doesn’t make success in those terms a truth; We are successful because we believe that the effort is more worthy than the mark.   Here!  Here!

On the other hand our beliefs, and therefore perspective, are rarely revisited or challenged.  An upheaval in our personal circumstances may cause us to take a closer look at what we Reality and Truthbelieve.  For example, what we believe as a young adult (that old people are dim-witted and slow) would definitely not be what we believe as we become ‘old’ ourselves.  Our belief may well change to:  old people are store houses of history and wisdom.  We might hold the (ugly) opinion that all people receiving social security are ‘dole bludgers’ until we ourselves become vulnerable and in need of support and suddenly our opinion changes and we see others receiving financial support in a completely different light.

I believe our opinions are ever-changing, as is our perception based on our beliefs.  And no our opinions are not fact and our perspective of things does not make them truths.


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