Self-published, I assume, it's something of a gift from the gods; straightforward, plainly written, lovely in that way you know you must have articulated these simple things before, you just can't quite remember doing it. And they are crucial things.
He has an important argument to convey; he does it well; it's crucially important. I hope it sells millions and goes to every high school senior, and every person in political and religious and scientific office in the country.
Believing truth is truth, we know it when we see it, and those disagreeing must be either evil or irrational, people today are angry that the country can't agree on the nature of our problems or their solutions. William Gardner's fascinating "Handling Truth" gives us an understandable and well-written explanation of why this is inevitable. Identifying the four differing domains of truth seeking found in rhetoric, religion, logic, and research, he shows how each arrives at and defends its version of reality. Reconciling the four is virtually impossible when one is debating, another proselytizing, a third demanding logical proofs, and a fourth accepting only replicated research findings. This lack of convergence necessitates accommodating those differences if peace and harmony are to prevail. Gardner shows why democracies must impose the methods of rhetoric, logic, and research, while allowing freedom of, but not domination by the authoritarian truths of religious and ideological faiths. A must read for today's volatile world.
Although I'm not 100% sold on what Mr. Gardner has to say in this book it has me thinking. Any book that can get me to question the current way I think about things is certainly worth reading. These 4 domains of Truth are cultural, and I would imagine some cognitive dissonance must be navigated through when re-framing reality into Mr. Gardner's truths. Whats best about this book is how accessible it is; it can be very hard to digest certain books (especially after a long day at work), but I can understand and retain it all. A delight to read. Highly recommended!
Getting at the truth has for millennia challenged philosophers, theologians, scientists, and jurors, along with private detectives and the rest of us. It turns out, as in the song "Lookin' for Love," we may have been looking for truth in all the wrong places. William Gardner's interesting, readable book Handling Truth helps us look in the right places.
According to Gardner, there are four domains of truth: Mystica (which includes religion), Rhetorica (common sense), Logica (reason), and Empirica (research). Each domain has its own rules for deciding what is true; this means the domains often conflict with one another. For instance, in the Empirica domain, truth is revealed only through supportive research data. Reason alone is insufficient. In the Mystica domain, "God created man," is a truth unacceptable by the rules of Empirica. In Empirica, "Human beings evolved from an earlier species." Is any domain superior to another? No, but each has its own assumptions; and the listener or reader should learn to recognize each domain and the boundaries of its truth claims.
In Chapter 9, "Truth, Language and Information," Gardner connects human language development with emergence of the four truth domains. From primitive referential gesturing, humans evolved to speak, then write and read. The printing press invention made information available to all, and computers further accelerated its supply. As language and its dissemination methods evolved, so did our conceptions of truth. Thanks to abundant print materials and the Internet, we are more informed now than ever before, but also less discerning. Gardner reminds us that information is true only within its domain of origin.
Handling Truth is an excellent book, one you will find yourself referring to long past the first read. I particularly recommend it for college undergraduate courses. As a retired teacher education professor, I regret that Handling Truth was unavailable when I was teaching.
"Handling Truth" is a fun and informative piece, which has me analyzing arguments in a new way. By clearly and methodically outlining four strains of thought and debate -- dubbed Rhetorica, Mystica, Logica, and Empirica -- the book has enabled me to spot each "domain" a mile away in public discourse, news reports, and everyday conversations. My copy of the book is now full of highlighted passages, both to affirm and to dispute. So, what's The Truth? Basically, that depends where you're coming from!