Today, I watched a little girl about 5 try to put together a jigsaw puzzle. As time went on, she continued to try to place pieces where they didn’t belong. She would force them to fit and with joy called out, “I did it!” Not knowing it wasn’t right, despite there being a little hole in the middle. Occasionally, she would take the right piece and attempt three ways of putting it in and give up, not realizing the fourth was the way. I must admit, it was adorable, but it got me thinking. This is a good allusion to truth and how we treat it.
Some people make the case that truth is relative. Of course, that claim is dependent on that being not relative. While in some cases, that may be true, for truth in general, relativity isn’t right. However, like I said, it is correct for some cases and those are pieces to the giant puzzle.
Many people have pieces of the giant puzzle, however, that does not mean anyone has every piece of the puzzle. Some people have duplicates. We share knowledge and ideas. However, some ideas don’t belong to the puzzle, but we try to force them to fit anyways. While others might point out that it is wrong, we can be stubborn and insist we are right because it might be inconvenient to fix it. Of course, this sort of behavior will lead to trouble and controversy later.
So why, if we don’t have the right piece, do we try to fit other pieces in? The thing is that, despite not having the piece, we can infer. We may not have the exact piece, but we can guess what goes there based off the other pieces we do have and what appears to fit. This does work occasionally, and since it works, people will use it. After all, it is based off the pieces we do have that we determine whether or not we accept another. The other problem is whether or not the pieces we are basing our decision on truly belongs to the puzzle.
This is the fundamental reason for education. We need to learn how to judge what pieces belong to which puzzle, and if a piece is fuzzy, how to make it clear. Logic is the basic tool of determination. Science is the process of obtaining new pieces, valid or not. Of course, if you cannot articulate your ideas, then no one will accept the pieces you have found. The purpose of rhetoric is to make it easier for other people to accept your pieces, whether through written or oral persuasion. As a result, the goal of education is the progression of truth.