Sunday, September 15, 2002

Thought of the Day: marriage and absolute truth
There's nothing like marriage to make you doubt the idea of absolute truth. I've been down on absolute truth anyway lately, after taking a Social Psychology course last spring that convinced me much of what people perceive to be absolute truth actually depends on relative social norms. But marriage is another blow struck against ontology. When you enter into a union you surrender your self-oriented worldview--you are no longer the magnetic body around which the world whirls. You are no longer the only frame of reference as life happens to you. You must reconcile it with the worldview of the person you love more than anyone.

When the two differ, at least on the smallest level, it's not only frustrating, it's worldview-altering. You have to look in the mirror and say, Am I perceiving this right? A question you seldom ask when single, when there's less occasion to question your judgement. You don't think twice about the assumptions you live by. This summer, my first as a married man, I keep asking myself, in the last two days, was I really a self-absorbed jerk, as she says, or an altruistic saint, as I recall? The truth, of course, is in between. But the point is, we each operate with complete certainty that our perception of recent events and how we reacted to them is certifiably accurate. We're each reasonably intelligent people who can sympathize with other opinions, and yet we struggle to tolerate each other's viewpoints, as do all married people. People function as though their perceptions and memories perfectly correspond to reality, but marriage is just another reminder that while truth is indeed absolute, our perceptions of it are flimsily relative.
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