Private Truth and Reality vs. Actual Truth and Reality

The claim that “Everyone has a unique private truth and a unique private reality,” (“Part 1” 1) is both true and false.  It is true from a metaphysically subjective viewpoint because everyone has their own feelings about what truth and reality are.  It is false from an epistemologically objective viewpoint because people’s feelings, no matter how strong, cannot change actual truth and reality.

Imagine yourself boarding a plane traveling from San Jose to Los Angeles.  You enter the plane, find your seat, stow your luggage, sit down, buckle up, and prepare for the flight.  To your left you see an unprepared businessman who is shuffling through notes at the last minute for a meeting that will start not thirty minutes after touchdown.  To your right there is a ten year old child flying for the first time and no parents in sight. 

            As the plane begins to take off, the businessman is hurriedly trying to prepare for his meeting, and the child is just sitting there speechless with eyes wide open and hands clenched around a beat up old teddy bear.  There is the normal starting of the engines and then the ascent into the sky.  When the plane is done climbing, the flight attendants ask that you listen to some short instructions on plane safety and what to do in case of an emergency.  The businessman is not paying any attention and the child seems terrified at the thought that this plane could possibly crash.  A few more minutes go by, and there is a little bit of turbulence, which the businessman does not notice, and the child, with tears brimming, clearly does.  The flight attendant walks down the aisle to see if anybody would like something to drink and offers a small bag of peanuts.  Once again the businessman is too engrossed in his work to even hear the flight attendant, and the child shakes her head from side to side unwilling to part from her teddy bear for even a second.  The flight attendant tries to explain to the girl that her bear will be safe under the seat while she has a snack, but she is unwilling to part with it.  So the flight attendant moves on.  After your bag of peanuts and soda, the plane begins to land.  The landing goes smoothly, and the flight attendants begin to let people off the plane.  The businessman is still sorting through note cards, and the girl is very anxious to get off the plane. 

Upon entering the airport you see the businessman greeted by some colleagues, and the child rushes into the arms of her grandfather.  At the luggage carrousel, you overhear the businessman speaking to his colleagues of the plane ride and how it almost seemed too short, but it was great because there was no turbulence.  You also hear him become a little disgruntled when he speaks of the rude flight attendants, and how they did not even offer him anything to drink.  Then you see the girl, and she is telling her grandfather all about her torturous first time on an airplane, and how it felt like an 8.3 earthquake, and how it was the longest 3 hours of her entire life.  She even throws in the part where the flight attendant was trying to get his hands on her beloved teddy bear. 

Obviously these two people had completely different and unique experiences on the plane.  [SAL1] The businessman was rushing to finish, so the plane ride felt rushed.  He was offended that the flight attendant did not ask him if he wanted refreshments, although he was asked.  He was so focused on his work that he did not even notice any turbulence.   The girl, on the other hand, was scared and wanted it to be over, so in her opinion, the plane ride seemed to be longer than it actually was.  The turbulence was not nearly as bad as an 8.3 earthquake and the flight attendant’s only sinister intentions [SAL2] were to hand out drinks and peanuts. 

From a metaphysically subjective viewpoint, the claim [SAL3] is true in the sense that these two people each had their own feelings about how the plane ride went.  One felt that the plane was fast and the other slow.  It would be a waste of time to tell each of them that the flight was exactly one hour and fifteen minutes long.  They know how long the flight was just by looking at a clock.  The businessman and girl both felt that time was passing at a different rate than normal.  Of course this could not be true, and they know this, but their feelings “…are no less real…” (“Thinking Critically” 3) just because they are feelings.

From an epistemologically objective viewpoint, the claim is false because the flight was exactly one hour and fifteen minutes long no matter what anybody on the plane felt.  The viewpoints of the businessman and girl do not change the fact that the flight left San Jose at 4:00 P.M. and arrived in Los Angeles at 5:15 P.M.  In a way their senses were deceiving them.  The businessman did not hear the flight attendant ask him if he would like a beverage.  This does not change the fact that he was asked.  The girl felt as if there was much more turbulence than there actually was, and the businessman felt nothing.  Their viewpoints do not change the amount of turbulence that occurred.  The businessman was not paying attention to anything going on around him, and the girl was terrified.  “When conditions like these are present, we cannot completely rely on our senses” (Munson and Conway 107).  Their feelings about what took place on the flight do not change what actually happened.

In conclusion, this claim can be seen as both true and false depending on how you look at it.  True in the sense that what people feel is real to them, and that can not be taken away.  It is also false because feelings cannot change facts. [SAL4] 


Works Cited

LaFave, Sandra.  “Part 1 Essay Assignment.”  WebCT.  February 3, 2003.       



LaFave, Sandra.  “Thinking Critically about the Subjective-Objective Distinction.”  WebCt.

            February 1, 2003.


Munson, Ronald, and David A. Conway.  Basics of Reasoning.  California:

            Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2001.

 [SAL1] This is a really excellent example, and very nicely written!  I am impressed.

 [SAL2] “had no sinister intentions; she only wanted”

 [SAL3] 9 are you referring way back to the claim assigned for analysis?  You need to update the reader a little here.



Very nice job.  20 / 20