There is no reality which is not mediated by perception. That does not mean there is no reality, the famous “I refute you thus”, kicking a rock, applies. It does not mean there are no natural laws, no phyics, chemistry, or even truth—or Truth. It means that we decide what reality means through a thick lens of belief. This lens picks out what is important, obscures the unimportant, and distorts everything, and most people are hardly even aware that it exists....Ian provides us with a preview of the book he is working on. Nice analysis. Highly recommended.
A New Ideology
This is indeed the epistemic paradox: "Knowledge is in accordance with the mode of the knower," and therefore human knowledge is for the most part limited in its capacity to arrive at universal and unchanging truth. While a few humans have asserted attaining it, and the record of this is perennial wisdom, there is no publicly available criterion for either confirming or refuting such claims. However, humans are driven by the desire to attain absolute knowledge and so they posit it on different grounds — reasoning from principles claimed to be self evident (rationalistic philosophy), profound depth of feeling (romantic philosophy), the authority of those held to be in a position to know (religion), or observation corroborating theory (science).
Of course, the problem is that there are many claimants and no agreed up on criteria for judgement. Therefore, the options are skepticism and relativism, or the assertion that one position is correct and the others wrong, or that different positions capture a part of the truth, which for humans is complex and emergent.
Where one stands along the spectrum that runs from absolute skepticism to complete absolutism depends on many factors, likely both innate and acquired. Individuals tend to band together with others of like mind and heart. Most people don't reflect on this and make a conscious choice. They either find themselves gravitating to compatible surroundings or are socially alienated.
But the exigencies of life force individuals to act. Thought, speech and action independent of a world view is impossible owing to the way that the brain functions and language operates. Even the absolute skeptic has to think, speak and act as if the adopted world view is operative.
This is the existential conundrum. We are thrown (Heidegger) into a world that is neither of our choosing nor construction and have to make the best of it. Most people try to adapt to it, while a few have the resolve to shape it and acquire some power to do so. They become the leaders.
Yet, in a democracy all those who are eligible to vote are put in the position of having the power to fashion their own course in concert. Thus, politics compels choice, even if one chooses not to participate. And informed choice requires reflection on values, including truth value and criteria. Thus, life in a democracy requires those who are eligible to vote to examine the issues and full examination requires consideration of one's ontological, epistemological and ethical position and how that affects subsidiary knowledge such as social, political and economic.
Most people just gravitate to a view toward which they are attracted, or just fall into the one they were born into. Only the curious or creative strike out on their own, not even realizing that too is a choice of sorts, even though not a conscious one. Or perhaps, it is an abdication of choice.
In any case, an informed choice requires preparation through education. Democracy cannot function without "liberal" education. Liberal education is education that is oriented to the breadth and depth of approach that is capable of leading to a life lived at full potential individually and socially. It is sometimes said that humans don't come equipped with operating manuals. Others say they do, but it is within and can only be found by looking within.