Archive for the GRE Category

Issue 1: “Important truths begin as outrageous, or at least uncomfortable, attacks upon the accepted wisdom of the time.”

Posted in Issues with tags , on September 30, 2008 by Josh Wittner

The application of humanity’s greatest stride forward in the search for knowledge, science, often results in striking and important ideas that are not congruent with the common knowledge at the time of discovery. For many reasons ranging from political to sociological to religious these new ideas can be thought of as outrageous and/or uncomfortable. Socrates was ostracized for his ideas, along with Galileo, Darwin and many others. These great minds punished with death or forced to carry the burden of social shame for sharing their momentous ideas. Many important truths have begun as outrageous and uncomfortable, and so to that point I’ll concede. There are however many ways in which truth can be important.

Truths that are important for society’s ideological changes are the only truths that I think are met with contention by many. And these ideas, these truths, would not be  any less true if they were not met with animosity they would simply be less important or at least less likely to force a societal change or preserve a societal stance and thus warrant less the title of important. The use of evidence for declaring fact, the order of the solar system, the methods by which life begins are all ideas that have great societal and ideological impact, they represent paradigm shifts and so are more recognizable as important compared to the subtle importance of other discoveries.

Brushing your teeth and the great benefit to ones health, not just the health of their teeth, but their general health that comes from it is an important truth. The way silicon behaves chemically thus providing the necessary foundation for computer chips and the vast technology that idea has spurred is an important truth. These truths have had a different kind of impact on society, a more material one perhaps or at least more subtle in their ideological effects. And so I think they are not labeled with equal importance compared to other, more controversial truths but their impact can be great and the importance staggering in areas other than ideological change.

The importance of a truth is not bound to its controversial nature, our memory, our understanding of the truth may be more strongly linked with those that are but I have seen and shown evidence to contradict this understanding. All important truths need not be self evidently important.

Let me know what you guys think of my stance, and any writing tips would be nice as well. I’m not a great writer, but practice should help. 🙂