NECET will be presenting four approaches to the phenomenon of Truth in its 2019-20 series. Truth is a big and tricky topic. What is truth, how do we know it, how do we verify it? Is there a truth, or are there multiple truths? Is it best understood in classical western rationalist terms (e.g. the “correspondence” theory of truth; truth is not in the phenomenon itself, but in the judgment about it), or in existential terms, or in dialectical terms? What about other cultural notions of truth? How do we understand the struggle over conflicting truths, both within an individual and the larger community? And how can these reflections help us as practitioners of therapy, and active human agents responsible to the world in which we live?
The first talk by Bob Fox, called Claims and Domains: Philosophical Approaches to Truth, will introduce some core concepts about truth, mostly from the western tradition, and emphasize the difference between the classical Greek and rationalist approaches to truth and the existential/hermeneutic traditions exemplified in the writings of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Gadamer. Nietzsche’s statement that there are no facts but only interpretations, Heidegger’s idea that truth is the event of unconcealment (“aletheia”), and Gadamer’s belief that truth comes from dialogue (between cultures, between individuals, and within the self) that is always a surprise and disruptive will be explored. A case will be made to conceive of therapy and social/political activity in terms of appealing to the holding of the tension between conflicting truths.
The second talk by Richard Freid, called From Having Truth to Being True:Transformations in Therapy, is motivated by the astonishment over the ways that truth can show up in the clinical situation, and the tenacity by which “truth” is held as true despite being a source of suffering to the client. It will develop the idea that therapy can be a source of transformation as aspects of the client’s “truth” get elaborated in the therapeutic process.
The third talk by Liz Barragato, called Truths Euphoric and Deadly: Reckonings Across the Cultural Divide, will build on the philosophical discussion of the first two talks to explore the concept of truth in terms of the cultural divisions found in our country, in some of our families, and experienced by the clients we work with. How do we understand truth when it means such different things to people in different cultural contexts? How do we work with clients struggling with these issues? Truths euphoric and deadly will be explored.
The fourth talk (or dialogue) by Ming Chang and Wendy Sharak, called How Our Truths Emerge: A Dialogue, presents the tension and dynamics of truth unfolding through the interplay of both presenters’ historical backgrounds, languages, creative expressions, felt senses, vulnerabilities, and trust (and lack of trust). Parallel learning in clinical settings will be discussed and interwoven into the process.