The topic of truth has been a debated topic for many century, defining it has been very complicated due to the many loopholes and exceptions involved; hence many philosophies have been developed. The two opposing statements, “different cultures have different truths” and “truth is what can be universally accepted”, create implications for knowledge when one concurs with them. What is the truth? Are the two statements really opposites? To what extent would each statement be considered accurate in their assertion?
Truth gives us the basis in reality and preliminary point to launch from in the world’s pursuit to progress. As to not constraint oneself in this essay, the definition of truth is conformity to fact or actuality. To understand the significance of the two statements, one must understand the inference of truth made in each one. Universal truth pertains to a truth that can be applicable world wide. However, nothing can be completely accepted as the truth by all organisms for each one is unique. Different cultures have different attitude concerning many issues.
Hence, the facts that a culture accepts as truth may vary. Culture truth is relativistic, meaning that the conception of truth is not absolute but is pertinent to the person or group holding them. One must understand the conception of truth that an individual has in order to understand the reason why different cultures have different truths. Culture refers to a group or community which one share common experiences that shape the way one understands the world. A knower’s interaction with others is limited to those surrounding them as one is unable to interact with everyone that exist or has existed in this world.
One’s culture would include the groups that one is born into, like gender, race or national origin, and also the groups one joins or become part of. Therefore, an individual conforms to the truth that is held by the group of people they belong with. “One’s own culture provides the ‘lens’ through which we view the world; the ‘logic’… by which we order it; the ‘grammar’ … by which it makes sense,” explained by the anthropologists Kevin Avruch and Peter Black. This explanation demonstrates that culture is central to all the characteristics of human behavior.
These factors create filters of biases and prejudices which one may not be able to penetrate through to realize that some truths are only true to a limited extent. Sometimes, a knower may not even be aware that one has cultural values and assumptions that differ from others. So if one agrees with the statement that different culture have different truth, then truth does exist as truth can co-exists with other truths. But if one was to concur that the truth is that which can be universally accepted then there is no such thing as the truth.
The areas of knowledge greatly affected by cultural truths are human sciences, ethics, the arts, and history. These areas of knowledge concern human characteristic and behavior as knowledge, none which has substantial basis as facts. These types of knowledge are obtained through emotions, perceptions, and language; such ways of knowing are significantly affected by the filters one carry, so the truth may vary depending on the factors that makes up one’s filter. These ways of knowing impact the truths of a culture as different cultures would have different communication styles and approach to knowledge.
There is a notable difference among cultural groups when it comes to epistemologies. European culture tends to contemplate information through cognitive means like counting and measure. Asian cultures emphasize the validity of knowledge through striving towards transcendence whilst African cultures prefer to use symbols, imagery and rhythm as the foundation of obtaining knowledge. These different cultures have different truths on the most effective method to acquire knowledge. As cultural truths are transpired by the biases of one’s culture, it would then mean that the knowledge that each culture knows would differ.
If members of a certain culture, culture A for example, are learning about its history on the dispute with another culture, culture B, then culture A’s truth on the events may differ from that of culture B’s truth. Both culture A and B’s truth may not be accurate as each has their own biases, but the culture believes in that truth as true. The Chinese culture believes that the ‘swallow’s nest,’ a secretion made by swallows, has medicinal properties thus is a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. Whether this is true is in fact unknown but the Chinese believe it to be true.