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Feather staffer Bryce Foshee explores age old philosophic issue

Kaylie Clem | The Feather Online

Campus teacher Scott Falk earned a masters degree from Fuller Seminary and taught college philosophy.

A person born in one city can move to another thousands of miles away with less than a day’s travel. People no longer need a publishing house or professorship to disseminate their ideas; a computer or iPhone will do. Wars are not fought on a far-off battlefield or the high seas; today they are fought in the skies, in space, online and globally.

The 20th and 21st centuries have also seen social and political change. Topics like social equity, relevance of truth, female roles in society and welfare faced reexamination, both in America and around the world.

For all this change, humans still grapple with age old questions. One such question was recently highlighted in a Feather article after interviewing professional journalists about fake news in March. Studying the impact of falsehood, whether in completely fabricated articles, misconstrued opinions published by foreign agents or deliberately deceptive pieces, became front-and-center in the most recent U.S. election. 

Answering the question, “what makes news false?” leads one to deeper, older questions about the nature of truth. The list of thinkers who weigh in on this topic stretches back thousands of years.

Avery Jones | The Feather Online

Feather staffers Addison Schultz, ’21, right, and Morgan Parker, ’21, center, speak with Juliet Williams as part of an effort to understand the issues of fake news, Feb. 27.

In Ancient Greece, Plato argued that truth was not defined by human consciousness. In his cave analogy, prisoners in a cave could only observe shadows on a wall, not the actual objects casting the shadows. He likened humans to these prisoners, whose views about reality did not necessarily match with the truth.

On the other hand, another philosopher, a Sophist, Protagoras, set forward that “man is the measure of all things.” To Protagoras, reality has subjective values, and truth is determined by humans.

The question of, “what determines truth,” also has relevance aside from philosophy. The Founding Fathers cited “self-evident truths” in the Declaration of Independence, as the basis on which they would build the United States of America.

In an effort to explore how truth and what impacts society as truth, The Feather and this author will explore what students today believe and what shapes their perspective in an upcoming occasional series.

For more articles, read City leaders look to impact homeless crisis, pt. 1 and Journalists, scientist discuss growing mistrust in science journalism.

Bryce Foshee can be reached via Twitter @brycer_f and via email.

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