JU faculty discuss “truth”

Interdisciplinary panel examine ideas of truth


Christina Kelso

Matthew Groe, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, discusses the different perceptions in “Truth.”

The term “truth” can be defined many ways according to each person, even Jacksonville University professors.

Six professors from the College Arts and Sciences had 10 minutes to speak about what truth was from their own perspectives in the context of their disciplines on Thursday night in the Terry Concert Hall beginning at 6:30 p.m..

After President Tim Cost said a few words in introduction, Matthew Groe, Ph.D., associate professor of philosophy, spoke about how philosophy has always searched for truth and its meaning in “Rethinking the Search for Truth.”

Groe mentioned two philosophers in his presentation– William James and Friedrich Nietzsche.

James believed that humans were limited to reality and therefore truth, according to Groe.

Nietzsche believed that there are no facts; rather, there are interpretations that humans are trained to see through language.

Ultimately, he ended with Bruce Lee—“the highest art is no art.” Basically meaning, there is no truth.

The second speaker was Steven Davis, Ph.D., associate professor of education. His presentation was called, “Truth in Education: Is it on the Syllabus?”

There is a difference between a teller and a teacher, Davis said. Davis says there is one question a person should ask his or herself: does the role that the teacher is teaching actually fit with the content being taught?

Through constructiveness, truth depends on the content and the role and match of the instructor and is up to the student to do the analysis. He also notes that it is a continuum.

Jeremy Stalker, Ph.D., assistant professor of marine science, was the third to speak on truth in his presentation “It’s Just a Theory.”

Being a scientist, Stalker put everything into a hypothesis. At the beginning, he alluded that the only way to discover the truth is through a scientific experiment, which will provide the facts.

However, he said that there is no truth in science.

“The realm of science is to make good observations, do good science and poke holes on other’s science,” he said. “Science seeks consensus through scientific certainty. It is meant to disprove a theory.”

Stalker ended with saying that it is up to the individual to decide the truth based on findings a measurement.(what?)

As the fourth presenter, Keith Saliba, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, shared why the “News is Not the Truth.” 

Saliba referenced the author Walter Lippmann’s theories from one of his books, “Public Opinion.”

“Public Opinion” says that the public cannot know all of the news due to limited time and resources.

Lippmann argued that stereotypes distort our point of view and we create pseudo-environments, or false realities, and act in it daily.

Saliba said that even in a prefect world, journalists and reporters could not provide the truth because they are blinded by their own stereotypes, even if it is unintentional.

Nathan Rousseau, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, spoke on “Personal Truth: A Modern Oxymoron.”

Rousseau said he believes there is a range of reactions of truth and that there is a marketplace of beliefs for truth. Truth is different to everyone, Rousseau said.

He said that although they are all different, truth is relative to each person and the common ground.

Capt. Herbert Hadley, USN-NROTC unit commanding officer, discussed the ethos of truth in “The Liar’s Paradox.”

“The Liar’s Paradox” is people say that lying is wrong, but still do it.

He notes, however, that although we lie, we are loyal, and will lie to protect or cover those we care about.

Although freshmen in the USN-NROTC  unit are initially taught to never lie, as seniors preparing to fully enter the complexities of the military and civilian workforce, they are told that in some situations, it’s okay to lie, Hadley said.

To illustrate his point, he referenced an anonymously authored statement of organizational wisdom.

“When an organization wants you to do right, it asks for your integrity,” he quoted. “When it asks for you to do wrong, it asks for your loyalty.”

Dean Hazzard moderated the panel discussion throughout the night and allowed for questions from the audience after each speaker.

“This is our fourth year doing this and I think it is pretty successful,” Hazzard said. “It’s good for the students to come and listen to their professors about a topic, and for the professors to show off a little bit.”