But it’s very difficult to live this way, not to mention it being highly impractical. We rely on mind-independent universal truths in order to think clearly, to navigate life. Otherwise, we quickly get lost. There must be some things that just are—things that are true. This way points North for everybody, no matter what anyone happens to prefer or sincerely believe.
So, what is truth? At its root, truth is a match-up with reality. A story, a statement, or belief is only true if it lines up with what’s real. It’s like a socket wrench fitting perfectly onto a bolt. Reality is the truth-maker; reality makes something true. To say “the earth is flat” or “the moon is made of green cheese” is false. Why? Because it doesn’t match up with reality.
Until quite recently, the purpose of all education in large part was the pursuit of truth. The motto of Harvard University, for example, is “veritas,” Latin for “truth.” No more. Anyone who says education should be about the pursuit of truth is immediately shot down with the comeback: “Whose truth?”
Increasingly, people speak of “my truth,” or say “it’s true for me,” or “your reality”—as though truth is merely a matter of opinion or perspective. At the 2018 Golden Globe awards, Oprah Winfrey famously said that “speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.” Now, you can have your experience or your perspective. But there is no such thing as “your truth” or “my truth.” There is only the truth—that which is true for everyone.
Truth can’t be relative. If it is relative, it’s not truth. To say “there is no truth for all people” is to declare a truth for all people. In effect, you’re saying, “It’s true that there is no truth!” And to declare that both your and my opinions are true even if they contradict one another is to speak nonsense.