Three Truths

There are three ways something can be considered true.

  1. Fact truth – Fact truth is mundane reality. A fact truth is empirical, it explains or describes a natural phenomenon but goes no deeper than that. “The sky is blue” would be a fact truth. Science is the best developed way of establishing this type of truth.
  2. Social truth – A social truth is something socially accepted as being true. A social truth is something true in relating to and within a society. Social truths can be both mundane and transcendental. “It is rude to spit on the sidewalk” would be a mundane social truth; “the American Dream” would be a transcendental social truth.
  3. Primal truth – Primal truth is transcendental truth. It is Truth. Truth speaks to the core of our human essence; to who and what we are. It is never mundane.

Of these, fact truth is empirically real, primal truth is the most viscerally real, and social truth is that which is most firmly embedded in a man.

A man needs all three truths to be fully realize his humanity. It is in stories and myths that a man finds these truths and his place in the world.

A story with none of those truths will fail; nobody wants a story that does not talk of these truths, even in opposition. Only a broken nihilist can like a story without truth.

There are no stories of solely fact truth; if there was it would simply be a textbook. Man can not derive meaning from mundane naturalism. This is where economists and new atheists go wrong; economists view all human society and interaction through the fact truth of supply and demand, ignoring social and primal truths, while new atheists try to make fact truths into social and primal truths, something which it can not be. It is no wonder they often come across as spergy; autists are naturally unable to grasp social and primal truths.

Most stories, including almost all popular culture, are the stories of social truths. These truths may not strike us to the core as the deeper stories do, but they can entertain and leave a small implicit moral.

A story of primal truth, of Truth, strikes much deeper. These go to the very soul, to the essence of what it means to be human. These stories can remain popular for millennia and people across cultures and time can appreciate them. We still listen to the Greek myths today because they speak these primal truths.

Myths are something that are both primally and socially true, but not necessarily factually true. They are True, even if they aren’t mundanely true. For example, the Iliad is not factually true, but for the Greeks it was socially and primally true. For us, Greek myths persist because they are primally true, even though we don’t accept them as socially true. When we read them and hear them, we recognize they speak to us on a primal level; they reach into our humanity and teach us something True about war, manhood, life, and death, even if it is not necessarily true.

All societies need myths, a society without myths is dying.

****

Our cultural malaise can be attributed to our society lacking in myth.

America had myths: George Washington freeing Americans from the British; the founding fathers drafting the constitution; the frontier heroes of Daniel Boone, Sam Houston, and Davy Crockett; the freeing of the slaves (or the War of Northern Aggression); the American Dream; all men are equal; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; America keeping the world safe for freedom; and so on.

These myths of civic religion were added to the Christian religious myths and bound Americans together in a common story. These myths created an ideal for Americans to aspire to. It gave them a sense of place, a sense of purpose. They succeeded because they were socially true, primally true, and, to some degree, factually true. They spoke to people.

But these myths are rapidly being destroyed: the founding fathers were hypocritical slave owners; the frontier heroes were racist, genocidal, imperialists; the American Dream has morphed into a consumerist farce; the constitution has been gutted; freedom is eroding. The religious myths have been entirely rejected. They’ve all been destroyed.

Those that haven’t have been mutated into perversions by Whig history. The constitution was no longer about protecting republican freedom, but promoting democracy and diversity. Equality has transformed from a metaphysical myth to a concrete fact. The civil war, probably the most internally dividing myth, was once spoken of as a regrettable, bitter war of brother against brother, but is now merely a righteous crusade against evil bigots. Life & liberty have been subjugated to happiness and happiness that is now guaranteed rather than simply being pursued.

The Whigs have added new myths: the melting pot, the immigrant nation, the defenders of democracy, the sexual revolution.

They’ve tried to enforce these perverted and new myths as social truths and have been mostly successful, but they do not function well as myths. These perverted and new national myths is they are not primally true; in many cases they are not even factually true.

Social truths do not necessarily have to be factually true. Some cultures, such as the Japanese, even make a specific distinction between social (tatamae) truths and factual truths (honne). People can accept some dissonance between the two, especially if the social myths are primally true. Americans though have always been pragmatic folks and have had less tolerance for dissonance between the two. The primarily American phenomenon of Christian fundamentalism and atheist fundamentalism illustrates this. Unable (or unwilling) to distinguish the primal Truth of scripture from the fact truth of scripture, the fundamentalists on both sides rage over the Bible, particularly Genesis, as if reading from a textbook.

But even Americans can accept some dissonance, but not this much, and not without the primal truths.

Equality, democracy, diversity, hedonism; none of these are primally true. No ancient myths celebrate letting every idiot vote; nobody believes in their soul, in their heart, that they are the equal to both the saint and damned, the genius and the retard, the hero and the fool; no one really feels true kinship to the other; and no one can be moved in their soul by sticking their dick in every available orifice.

Despite progressive attempts to enforce Whig values, there is no primal truth, or even factual truth, in these attempts at whig mythology, but this whig mythology is the only accepted social truth; all other social truths are purged.

So our young men, our young women, are brought up in Whig mythology. They know, on a primal level, they aren’t truth, but they have no alternatives. They are part of a story that doesn’t feel right to them, but they have no other story.

They aren’t fully realizing their humanity. They are adrift, disconnected, unhappy, without meaning, and alone. Their gods are dead, their stories hollow. They are searching for meaning and returning empty.

This then is what reactionaries must do: create new myths. Myths that are primally true, that are factually true.

We must give young men and women a story they can fit themselves into, where they can find meaning and community.

Man lives in myth, he is a creature of myth.

We need myth.

Thankfully, as reactionaries, we already have thousands of years of myth from which to draw.

25 comments

  1. Hi, FN – been reading for a while and I’ve always liked your stuff (particularly the “Omega’s Guide”).

    Your perspective seems very similar to Aurini’s, only difference I can see being vocabulary – he distinguishes between “Relative” “Objective” & “Absolute” truth.

    If I understand the concept of Primal/Absolute Truth (I might not), it could just as easily be referred to as “inspiration” or “aspiration”. To give an example, from The Way of Men:

    “Because masculinity and honor are by nature hierarchical, all men are in some way deficient in masculinity compared to a higher status man. There is always a higher status man, if not in your group, then in another, and if not in this way then in that way, and if not now, then eventually. No one is the strongest, most courageous and the smartest or most masterful man—though some men are closer to the ideal or perfect “form” of masculinity than others. Masculinity in the perfect ideal is aspirational, not attainable. The point is to be better, stronger, more courageous, more masterful—to achieve greater honor.”

    So, my question is, what is the difference – in principle, not in content – between making equality, diversity or democracy aspirational values vs. making masculinity an aspirational value? It seems to me (from an outside view) that the mythological figures of Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela certainly qualify in the same ways as Homer’s writing (ie. lots of aspirational mythology without much objective truth). Cheers (from a spergy autist who’s trying to grapple with how you neurotypicals think ;)

  2. “Man can not derive meaning from mundane naturalism.”

    Bullshit.

    That’s the entirety of the human condition, interpretation of the natural world.

    “economists view all human society and interaction through the fact truth of supply and demand”

    Read a book; and on behalf of all economists, especially behavioural economists, go fuck yourself.

    “new atheists try to make fact truths into social and primal truths, something which it can not be”

    Same thing, but on behalf of all psychologists and sociologists.

    The entire point of this essay, of conflating effective social norms and religious wisdom with Truth is a ludicrous insult to the entirety of philosophy.

    “Our cultural malaise can be attributed to our society lacking in
    myth.”

    Tradition is not myth. The last thing we need is more Whig history.

    The loss of myths is an effect, not the cause, of losing tradition.

    “The Whigs have added new myths”

    Now you’re complaining that we have too much myth? Get your shit straight; this is beyond annoying.

    Textbooks are full of metaphor, I don’t get your point with the Bible.

    “Equality, democracy, diversity, hedonism; none of these are primally true.”

    For some people, they definitely are (taking primal as “that which I feel deeply/strongly”). Fervent support of democracy would be impossible if that were the case; and here we are.

    “No ancient myths..”

    Measure ancient in 100s not 1000s of years and this whole paragraph is nonsense.

    “no one really feels true kinship to the other; and no one can be moved in their soul by sticking their dick in every available orifice.”

    Ha, now you’re the aspie. Yes, some people actually feel differently than you. That’s why creating traditional society is so hard now. We are (in the case of many people) working against “primal truths” to build something greater.

    If you define “primal truth” as “that which works best” (which it seems you’re doing later in the essay), then you’re a consequentialist and no better or worse than the Lesswrong crowd.

    Myths are largely silly and irrelevant for the smarter half of the population. Focus on metaphysics (like Bryce does) and actual, timeless, non-context-dependent Truth.

  3. @ roe:Primal truth is not primarily aspirational, although it will often be aspirational. The platonic forms, the higher ideals would be primal truths, but not the definition of primal truth. A primal truth is something which is true and real on a transcendental level.

    @ Beefy: That they do.

    @ Piano:

    “That’s the entirety of the human condition, interpretation of the natural world.”

    Really?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDFFHaz9GsY

    “Read a book; and on behalf of all economists, especially behavioural economists, go fuck yourself.”

    Hmmm… Do you know how a generality works? or are behavioural economics now the dominant stream of economics?

    “The entire point of this essay, of conflating effective social norms and religious wisdom with Truth is a ludicrous insult to the entirety of philosophy.”

    Please name a healthy, functional atheist society.

    Also, a primal truth does not necessarily need be religious per se.

    “The loss of myths is an effect, not the cause, of losing tradition.”

    You make it sound like myth and tradition can be separated.

    “Now you’re complaining that we have too much myth? Get your shit straight; this is beyond annoying.”

    Read the next sentence: “They’ve tried to enforce these perverted and new myths as social truths and have been mostly successful, but they do not function well as myths. These perverted and new national myths is they are not primally true; in many cases they are not even factually true.”

    “For some people, they definitely are (taking primal as “that which I feel deeply/strongly”). Fervent support of democracy would be impossible if that were the case; and here we are.”

    One can feel strongly about anything; some people get worked up over Apple computers. Feeling strongly about something does not necessarily make something primally true. It the kind of deep truth that speaks to the essence of the human condition; what transcends the mundane and animates and drives a man and a society.

    “Measure ancient in 100s not 1000s of years and this whole paragraph is nonsense.”

    Only a liberal would measure ancient in 100s of years.

    “Ha, now you’re the aspie. Yes, some people actually feel differently than you. That’s why creating traditional society is so hard now. ”

    They can feel what they want. Pop a pill, feel fantastic. It matters not what people feel; they have all lost their animating spirit. Our society doesn’t even have enough vitality to to reproduce itself, defend itself, or even to maintain itself. You can all feel whatever, but our society is still dead on the inside.

    “We are (in the case of many people) working against “primal truths” to build something greater.”

    What could be greater?

    “If you define “primal truth” as “that which works best” (which it seems you’re doing later in the essay), then you’re a consequentialist and no better or worse than the Lesswrong crowd.”

    A primal truth is that which is transcendentally true. Because it is both transcendental and true, it is necessary to man. It working is an accident, not an essence.

    “Myths are largely silly and irrelevant for the smarter half of the population.”

    That’s amusing.

  4. @ FN

    Verdi therefore what?

    Economics is the study of human action. It is not “in general” about anything as impersonal as supply and demand. Depending on the economic “truth”, it can be “social” or “primal”.

    I’m an atheist, but I believe that society, at least until the singularity, needs traditional religion to hold it together. That doesn’t mean you’re not conflating completely separate things.

    I think I’m entirely misinterpreting your definition of primal truth.
    You say it’s transcendental, and that it doesn’t need to be religious, that it speaks to us, but you never actually say what it is, and how to accurately discern primal truths from things that are pretending to be primal truths. My position is that such discernment is futile, that until it becomes factual truth, you will never have the unity that you desire.

    Regarding myth, I just mean that if you focus on the metaphysics and the tradition, that the myths will follow. You’re putting the cart before the horse here.

    “It the kind of deep truth that speaks to the essence of the human condition; what transcends the mundane and animates and drives a man and a society.”

    Novelty is part of the essence of the human condition, it transcends the literally mundane, and animates men and women to drive society via acquisition of shiny consumer goods.

    “Only a liberal would measure ancient in 100s of years.”

    Humans are constantly evolving. Just because something is younger and less time-tested doesn’t mean that it’s more right.

    “We are (in the case of many people) working against “primal truths” to build something greater.”

    I mean we as in the NRx people. Human nature is a tool that can be used for _actual_ transcendence. Ignoring human nature is suicide, but venerating it as the end-all be-all is stagnation and frankly boring as shit. Transhumanism is inevitable and “primal truths” will change as humans change. Ancient wisdom is only good until the singularity, then all bets are off.

    That does NOT mean that ancient wisdom is one of our most valuable assets in the interim.

  5. Last sentence is wrong,
    “That does NOT mean that ancient wisdom is NOT one of our most valuable assets in the interim.”

    Ancient wisdom is one of our most valuable assets until the singularity.

  6. @BL

    The only things fundamental that you must strictly adhere to is the willingness to publicly make predictions and to debate them when challenged.

    From wikipedia: “At the 2012 Singularity Summit, Stuart Armstrong did a study of artificial generalized intelligence (AGI) predictions by experts and found a wide range of predicted dates, with a median value of 2040. His own prediction on reviewing the data is that there is an 80% probability that the singularity will occur between 2017 and 2112.”

    If your prediction is much different than that, then you have a lot of reading and debate to do.

  7. @ Piano:

    “Verdi therefore what?”

    An interpretation of the non-natural world.

    “Economics is the study of human action. It is not “in general” about anything as impersonal as supply and demand. Depending on the economic “truth”, it can be “social” or “primal”.”

    Economics is, primarily, the study of human action within the economic (productive) sphere. A difference. Although, lately they have been applying the productive model to other areas of life.

    “You say it’s transcendental, and that it doesn’t need to be religious, that it speaks to us, but you never actually say what it is, and how to accurately discern primal truths from things that are pretending to be primal truths. My position is that such discernment is futile, that until it becomes factual truth, you will never have the unity that you desire.”

    The ability to discern primal truths from other truths is known as wisdom; it is not the most common trait among man. In the end only time and tradition (and God if religious) will tell.

    It is hard to define it beyond what I already said, but perhaps an example:

    The fact truth of love is it is neurochemical reaction.
    A social truth of love is that of the soul mate.
    A primal truth of love could include the religious, “greater love has no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends” or the non-religious example of Penelope waiting faithfully for Odysseus to return.

    Now the fact truth is useful, but does it really capture what love really is?

    “Novelty is part of the essence of the human condition, it transcends the literally mundane, and animates men and women to drive society via acquisition of shiny consumer goods. ”

    Novelty has its place, but man can be fulfilled with novelty as its only aim.

    “Humans are constantly evolving. Just because something is younger and less time-tested doesn’t mean that it’s more right.”

    It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, but in general, traditions developed and remain for a reason, so in the majority of cases the more time-tested method will be more right. There are few new ideas under the sun; if one hasn’t been adopted yet, there’s probably a reason for it.

    “Transhumanism is inevitable and “primal truths” will change as humans change. Ancient wisdom is only good until the singularity, then all bets are off.”

    If the singularity does come, things will change.

  8. “An interpretation of the non-natural world.”

    I’m assuming that Dies Irae is a interpratation of a combination of visions and Revelations. Visions are natural in that they are a product of natural, physical neurochemistry. Revelations is clearly a physical text.

    Read Drescher’s Good and Real to at least the end of chapter two for a great defence of physicalism. Conscious beings are “just” the natural, physical world interpreting itself via imperfect, compressed representations.

    In economics: A factual truth: An increase in supply, without a change in demand, leads towards a decrease in price A social truth: Women giving themselves more easily to cads lowers the price of pussy. Encouraging women to be “empowered” by their sexuality actually lowers their power in a relationship with a man. A primal truth: At least in terms of a relationship, men derive power via their masculinity and woman derive power via their femininity.

    Each of these is firmly within the boundaries of economics, and the social and primal truths fall easily from the factual truth.

    “The ability to discern primal truths from other truths is known as wisdom; it is not the most common trait among man. In the end only time and tradition (and God if religious) will tell.”

    Wisdom can discern primals truths from other truths. So then, is more wisdom the only thing that can discern wisdom from non-wisdom? I’d say of course. So, then we’re stuck in a catch 22. The only way to chase wisdom then is to gather up all the at-least-supposed wisdom through history, and each year see which ones still stands up well to the latest factual truths. That’s my point, that yes time and tradition will tell, but only insofar as the development of factual truth continues, as it (science) is the only reliable method of eventually discerning between wisdom and false wisdom.

    (Obviously, this is the entire point of Catholic scientists, to help discover the wisdom of God via examination and interpretation of the natural world.)

    Individual pieces of wisdom are partial towards factual truths and are thus in a way falsifiable. If a bunch of independent computer simulations (somehow) showed that a technologically advanced Western society that destroyed Christian marriage stabilized after about ten generations and was twice as productive as before for the forseeable future within the simulation, then the “wisdoms” of Chrisian marriage would be called into doubt, or at least severly augmented.

    “Now the fact truth is useful, but does it really capture what love really is?”

    It probably wouldn’t work for you, but for a superintelligence, the configurations and firings of neurons during love would be plain-as-day, self-evident factual wisdom, similar to you noticing that the pythagorean theorem holds up with 3, 4, and 5 as the sides of the triangle. (It’s just another, albeit elegant and beautiful, example of an elementary truth.) Just because scientific systems of thought are “lifeless” to you does not mean that it’s not all relative to you distance from the subject in terms of intelligence.

    A hypothetical superintelligence could read and understand you in love like a programmer reading through part of a mature codebase and reasoning about the implications with variables and memory and why it is this way and not some other way given the rest of the code.

    Everything “just is”. The profundity of the truth is relative to the difference in intelligence/complexity between you and the subject.

    “There are few new ideas under the sun; if one hasn’t been adopted yet, there’s probably a reason for it.”

    Right, and the rest of the new ideas are to be discovered, as fact truths, via science, and then interpreted and distilled in order to find the wisdom that they bring.

    “If the singularity does come, things will change.” Do you personally believe it will come? Prediction on the year?

    My main positions: 1. Discover and falsify wisdom via science, rather than via your current wisdom however great. 2. Unity on metaphysical positions, rather than unity via common myth, is currently much more important to unite NRx.

    The people who you want in NRx are not going to be easily drawn in by whatever myth is created. As long as we men keep lifting weights, focusing on intellectual energy via creating a proper metaphysical foundation is the best use of our time. I guess if you want to be on the myth-making Taskforce for when the time comes, go ahead, but you seem smarter and not old enough for that.

    Another, very antagonistic point that I just thought of: Myths will take generations to properly synthesize, and the singularity might happen by then, so there might not even be a point.

    (I mention synthesize, because NRx is not inherently Christian nor American, so you’d have to synthesize the entirety of non-prog Western myth (Unless you don’t care about creating meta myths, which in that case I guess the Bible is all you need.))

    And, myths will probably be derived easily from the metaphysics, similar to wisdom falling easily from science facts.

  9. I enjoyed your post, here are my own thoughts for your possible reflection.

    “We still listen to the Greek myths today because they speak these primal truths.”

    I disagree, but agree with the following: “they reach into our humanity and teach us something True about war, manhood, life, and death, even if it is not necessarily true.”

    The reason I disagree is that even if a story contains primal truths, that alone will not ensure its success and popularity or promotion from just more fiction into myth status. The enduring popularity of Greek myths I think is more because they’re ancient and very limited in quantity and have alone survived the filters imposed on them over time in the form of surviving in oral tradition long enough to be recorded, and the written records surviving library burnings and other purges. It also helped that the Romans were so obsessed and they and following civilizations have remixed and recast the source material so many times, and that for the longest time knowledge of Latin and Greek was the mark of an educated man. More modern tales in literature and other mediums like the original Star Wars trilogy that follow mythic motifs such as the hero’s journey and attain high levels of popularity are unlikely to be as popular in thousands of years as certain individual Greek myths are today, even though for some works of fiction I think they capture the primal truths much better and more deeply than the ancients did. This brings me to:

    “This then is what reactionaries must do: create new myths. Myths that are primally true, that are factually true.”

    I read this as “create good sci-fi.” Sci-fi is a perfect medium for coupling strong primal truths with factual truths and near-factual plausibilities. I can name works of sci-fi (television, books, games, and movies) that I think are superior to any Greek myth and deserving of mythic elevation… but how to convince others? For existing or new works being written that deserve the status of myth, how can those signals cut through the noise of lesser fiction and reach billions?

    I would be interested in a reactionary mythic bible more so than new tales outright — an anthology of fiction curated specifically for its mythic qualities.

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