Varying Versions of Verisimilitude and Today’s Universities

In recent years, the truth became subjective, and that was a justification for many rationalizations. You might need some years to understand this, but the truth you know at fourteen is not the truth you know at twenty-four. It isn’t the world that changes from teenager to adulthood, it is the teenager. We now have high schools that declare all of the students to be valedictorians. The honest truth behind that is that if every student is a valediction, then none of the students are valedictorians.

Some time ago, I was talking with some recent high-school graduates, who told me that their grade-points were four point five out of four point zero. When asked how they could be even greater than the highest achievement of those who came before them, they insisted that they were “smarter” than all of the other students before. I found it sad and almost inconceivable that they were, in point of fact, believing that they were smarter than the students who graduated before them. This was, in my opinion, unfair to the students to be told this distortion, as well as unquestionably inconsiderate and disrespectful to the students before them. But then, youth have, at best, a spotty record for respecting elders.

Generations of the past have made mistakes, but that is not a justification to discard their entire value system. There are few, if any at all, societies that have a perfect past, but that does not demand that they are to be resented or discarded in their entirety.

The flaws of past societies are models for advancement and understanding, not justifications for discarding all of the values of those societies.

The flaws of past societies are models for advancement and understanding, not justifications for discarding all of the values of those societies. In the history of thinking, we once believed that the truth would make you free; whereas now, the truth is a tool that rationalizes resentment and encourages those who believe that they were mistreated to seek reparations. Reparations from who? The laws of American society do not allow the living to suffer punishment for the crimes of one’s fore-bearers, nor should they. We have encouraged the youth of America to create their own truth, and ignore objections that disprove their veracity. Where education has failed, is to teach students that everything in history occurs within a context of events, beliefs and ideologies, and there is a considerable difference between learning from history and becoming enraged and acting out because of it. 

As Aldous Huxley said: “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of all history.”

To Quote George Weigel from First Things published January 17, 2024: “Hard as it may be for normal people to grasp, the notion that there is only “my truth” and “your truth,” but nothing properly describable as the truth, is virtually axiomatic in the humanities departments of American ‘elite’ universities, and has been for some time. Now, following the Orwellian script in Animal Farm, the woke plague has created a situation in which some of those personal ‘truths’ are deemed more equal than others’ ‘truths’—the superior truths being the ‘truths’ of political correctness.

As dean of the Harvard faculty, Claudine Gay was a vigorous proponent of the new axiom that some truths are truer than others. But in her apology, she reverted to the basic, postmodernist absurdity that ‘truth’ is a matter of personal conviction rather than conviction anchored in reality. Her downfall thus illustrates another axiom, one that antedates postmodernism by almost two centuries: The Revolution devours its children (Jacques Mallet du Pan, writing from Paris 1793 as the tumbrils rolled).”

Academics today will tell you of “my truth” and do not attempt to disprove or disparage it. In present-day academia, personal truth has taken the place of verifiable, legitimate facts. No longer presented as a point of view or perspective, these notions are to be carved into stone and worshipped. Except the stones are crumbling, withering away when exposed to the onslaught of reality. 

Academia has adopted a policy that will not serve it, or this nation, well. Where views once were described as “opinions” are now considered facts, they will eventually be recognized for what they are, simply views, and not truth. To quote Weigel one last time: “We must hope and pray that Claudine Gay and the rest of the postmodern academic establishment—which has turned ‘elite’ American higher education into a playpen for rabid anti-Semites, pampered snowflakes, and madcap ideologues” – My suggestion is to stop referring to views and opinions as facts before any more children are devoured.

Jeffrey Neil Jackson

Jeffrey Neil Jackson is an
Educator & Literary Mercenary

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