Seeking Truth: How to move from partisan bickering
to building consensus
Elgin L. Hushbeck, Jr.
Inspirational, Epistemology, 292 pp
April 26, 2022, Energion Publications, Gonzalez, FL
Reviewed by Lisa Lickel
Using examples from our past in science and philosophy, politics, and communication, Hushbeck sets out to show us a more perfect way to disagree while not having to be of the same mind in his compelling book, Seeking Truth. It’s a big topic and timely as the world has become more polarized in action and reaction. Hushbeck’s approach to guiding readers on this journey out of the pit of partisanship is a thoughtful, pedagogical study of applying critical thinking to distill “absolute, objective truth.”
The book is not terribly long but well detailed and covers considerable ground from the antiquities to recent US polls of opinion. The book is divided into three main parts with digestible chunks: one – a study of history to set the table for establishing truth; two – how disagreement and error shape society and understanding; and three – a reasonable guideline for purposeful discussion. It’s not an easy read, but honest and forthright and best of all, sensible and objective.
I appreciate the examples from science and history about how theories of elements, disease, and energy have evolved as the methods of testing improved; how the Lincoln-Douglass debates of the mid-nineteenth century US show that complexities of context shape public opinion, echoing down through the generations.
Moving beyond bickering can only happen when people are willing. “Reason does not work on those who embrace irrationality,” Hushbeck points out. “For some, truth is just a power structure, a tool for oppressors to use on the oppressed.”
Offering plenty of advice for defining and refining disagreements and errors and avoiding repression and censorship, Seeking Truth is not an answer, but a process. Reaching a common goal is a commitment, a constant testing of theory and practice, and keeping communication open. “Hopefully, if a side consistently loses because of bad arguments, they will seek to develop better ones. As a result, the level of discussion will improve.”
We are fallible, Hushbeck concludes, but learning better arguments “can only improve the process of seeking and bringing us all closer to the truth.”
Recommended for readers interested in learning more about applying and practicing critical thinking.
Wisconsin Writers Association
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