Truth doesn’t matter, if you can’t assure it is relevant. But this idea cracks the foundation of our world.
Our olde friende Hobbes thought that there is error and there is untruth, and that knowing exactly what each word you use means you will never incurr in untruth, even if you might err.
The difference between error and unthuth is that error is just a temporary problem with experience. You didn’t have enough data to achieve good conclusions. Either you didn’t witness all the outcomes or you saw one that was very unlikely. When you get more data, you will achieve Truth™.
Now Untruth for him is wrong use of words, which is more serious. Why? Because error is particular, a thing of the moment. But Untruth is universal. Truth (and Untruth) will remain true, no matter what.
So, one of the characteristics of Truth is that it is universal. You can rely on universal ideas. You can rely on Truth. That is why Hobbes and the rest of scientists care so much for truth.
But what is better: to know something that is valid in every possible circumstance except the present, or something that is valid now but not anywhen else?
And Truth-ness is no guarantee of relevance. Example: Inertia. A moving body will remain moving except if something stops it. This is as true as possible, but on no place in earth it really does happen. There is always something to stop the bodies, so they never retain their amount of movement.
Besides, the only proof of universality is making tests forever. Impossible and undesirable.
The need of Truth is more like a fear of insincerity, which is a childish reflex.
Putting Truthness over Relevance is dangerous. The idea of Truth is the immunity to questioning. Truth is solid, relevance is mutable. But relevance is also adaptable.
If Truth is the goal, knowledge can never be more than description. There is no room for creativity. The search for new tools is not about Truth. Episthemology has lost it’s fruitfulness in the search of this Truth.
Most of our institutions and traditions — most of our world — is geared to look for safety. It is geared to abhor the unsafety of relevance. And this must change. And it is actually changing fast, and causing a lot of pain, as we do not yet comprehend this.
So, Universality is one of many criteria for relevance of the ideas. Knowing something to be universal is not the most important thing.
And it might be tempting to ask: “what are the criteria for relevance?” But we cannot assure the relevance of ideas through banning unsafe modes of inquiry. It is not enough to prescribe a fixed number of “tried and true” criteria and methods. We need to enhance our power of comprehension.