A Response to Peter Limberg’s “The Truth Will Put You in Prison…”

Justin Carmien
10 min readMar 10, 2024

In a journal entry published to Less Foolish on February 6th 2024, Peter Limberg concluded a series of reflections on “the liberation of the mind”. This series had been concerned with midtwits, intellectual servitude, and psyops. In this final entry, Limberg problematizes truth, or rather a comportment towards the world which he characterizes as “truth-seeking”. Limberg understands truth-seeking as derivative of the correspondence theory of truth. Limberg’s explanation is not wrong; the derivation flows through three movements, with the correspondence theory serving as the definition of truth,

“With the correspondence theory serving as the definition of truth, the sciences are deemed to be the domain where reality is best accurately described. Academic philosophers are no longer in the business of determining what is true but are now intellectual housekeepers, helping truth-seekers clean up their reasoning.”

“With the living premise influencing many philosophers and public intellectuals, their truth-seeking must always reference scientific expertise.”

“An expert class emerges, along with (corruptible) systems that determine what expert consensus is. This emergence results in two broad intellectual domains: “institutional knowledge,” where truth claims are deemed validated by expert consensus, and what political scientist Michael Barkun calls “stigmatized knowledge,” any truth claim that falls outside of that validation.”

Limberg is concerned with a technocratic governance of truth. Of course, this is not a new concern for social critics. However, Limberg does not use the word technocracy explicitly, and I’m not sure why he mentions Michael Barkun. “Institutional knowledge” and “stigmatized knowledge” appear as rudimentary critiques when compared against Ludwig Wittgenstein’s illustration of the rulers of judgement, for example — including his elucidation on the point at which reason reaches “rock bottom” and is delivered over to authority (On Certainty). No matter Limberg’s reasons, this is a petty concern anyway. What strikes most pronouncedly is Limberg’s apparent lack of sight. Limberg states that “I don’t see the truth theory of correspondence itself as problematic.” I understand this lack of sight retards truth’s advance into the emergent economy. It is clear to me that a truth revolution has already been announced; it began with the post-truth media frenzy in 2016. In the product description for How to Nurture Truth and Authenticity, I provocatively wrote that truth will either die as the fact or it will find new purpose in human economy.

Part 1 (of 6) — Problematizing the Correspondence Theory of Truth

Understanding the failure of a technocratic governance of truth and the reason for the emergent economy, including an understanding the value of truth within this economy, requires problematizing the correspondence theory of truth. According to the popular understanding, what is true belongs to the domain of rational knowledge. Here, rational means comparison. In a mathematical ratio, for example, one compares two numbers. Etymologically, the Modern English word reason traces its roots to Latin ratio. A rational process is a comparison process. Such a comparison is grounded on the presumption that a judgement be made. Within epistemology, and when taking the human animal as subiectum, one must distinguish between the judging as a psychical process and that which is judged, as the ideal content. This ideal content stands in a relationship. This relationship pertains to a connection between an ideal content of judgment and the real things as that which is judged about. But we must ask, by what criteria can the real and ideal content agree? What constitution is the agreement such that it can establish criteria for certainty across the two irreconcilable domains? And to which domain does this agreement itself belong? This line of questioning has been explored by “the prince of philosophy”. Martin Heidegger understood that according to the epistemological tradition, the agreement must belong to either the real or the ideal domain. Here we confront a serious problem. When reflecting, Heidegger questions rhetorically, “Is it accidental that no headway has been made with this problem in over two thousand years? Has the question already been perverted in the very way it has been approached…” His conclusion is well known; the dichotomy of the ideal and the real is a perversion. Thus, the correspondence theory of truth loses much of its metaphysical scaffolding.

Part 2 (of 6) — The Metaphysical Foundations of Truth-seeking

Heidegger does not name this truth-seeking comportment in a word. Yet, he understood the problem of Limberg’s “institutional knowledge”. In order to address the problem, Heidegger searches for “the clearing of truth”. His search was developed in and comes down to us by way of his lecture course material on Parmenides and Heraclitus, conducted during the winter term of 1942–1943 at the University of Freiburg. This lecture course material establishes a precedent which we can follow when addressing Limberg’s social concerns.

Following the precedent myself, I took the liberty to name the comportment as episteme. The word episteme is of Greek origin. The Ancient Greek επισταμαι (epistamai) is a compound of επι (epi, “upon, over, above”) and ιστημι (histēmi, “to make stand”). Therefore, we are correct to translate επιστημη as “to make over-stand”. Standing itself is, of course, a peculiar form of action. It might even be understood as a lack of action. And yet, the word episteme names a non-mechanical action as over-standing. The number five stands over three in that it is greater. The “making” of this standing presents itself when the weight of the larger number’s being exerts itself over the lesser being. In Ancient Greek, such “making” is described by the word ομοιωσις (homoiosis, “making like”).

Beyond the etymological explanation, the word episteme is also contained in the word epistemology — which names a realm of discourse tailored for speaking about knowledge as knowledge. Episteme itself is often translated into Modern English as “knowledge”. When having knowledge, one not only has something in one’s possession, but also over-stands the subject matter (and this is the case even when no causal action is taken).

Finally, while the word episteme is of Greek origin, there exists a rich heritage of its evolution. That heritage can be traced by following the historical record through Ancient Greek, Latin, Modern English texts, up to and including my own coinage. By way of appropriation into imperial economy, Ancient Greek ομοιωσις was Latinized into rectitudo (“rightness, correctness”). Λογος was also Latinized and passed over into the ratio of man. Through Latinization, λογος becomes reason, and the idolization of reason (ratio) in later modernization expedited a counting, calculating, and calculus. This narrative can be traced through the Roman Empire, Christendom and its crusades, to the epistemological project of Descartes and Kant, among others. In modern times, we find Greek ομοιωσις striped from the domain of natural appearance and delivered over to human being as subiectum. The language of Latin, which carries within it the monological essence of the imperial, later became the foundation of the international industrialized sciences — which took hold of the true for understanding the real and the one and only. To understand the climax of this imperial narrative, we only need to revisit the construction of the world’s superpowers in the twentieth century, the space race, and the pride which the victors felt in the accomplishment of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. This project produced one of the most striking images of modernization, the United States flag standing on the moon. There is likely no better image which indicates the primordial comportment of episteme as over-standing and as knowledge.

Of course, such conquests have already come under attack in various forms. Most explicitly, through de-colonial activism. Yet, what should not be overlooked is that in the virtue of de-colonialism, episteme remains. De-colonialism is an attempt at cultural appropriation and, as virtue, domestication of the human animal. We can be sure of this in that de-colonial activism seeks its own domain of “institutional knowledge” and “stigmatized knowledge”. Therefore, in order that we truly de-colonize ourselves, we must also forgo the virtue of truth.

Part 3 (of 6) — The True against the False

From where does the glorification of truth come? I took note that in Limberg’s article, he presents the various well-known theories of truth: coherence theory, consensus theory, epistemic theory, pluralist theory, pragmatic theory, deflationary theory, and redundancy theory. I also took note that in each of these cases, the truth retains its relationship to the false. It is in this relationship that the true is esteemed as the highest goal. It is the essence of this conception that also brought to the world our scientific achievements. And yet, it is also this understanding which has delivered us to imperialism, colonialism, and totalitarianism.

Now, if truth-seeking correctly describes the economy of episteme, then truth-receiving announces itself as an alternative. I have previously described this receiving as a delivering. My change of perspective is not arbitrary. When looking from the position of the delivering, rather than from the receiving, we do not sit in the position of human being, as the recipient of knowledge. Rather, we look at what is being delivered, and assign to it a messenger. We describe the messenger as that which is beyond human being. From this position, truth-seeking (which was once “inside” the individual human animal) is now outside human being altogether. However, this does not mean that this “external” truth-seeking belongs to the world. Rather, it is only on account of this truth-seeking, that the world can be. Only because this truth-seeking is, does the world present itself.

Part 4 (of 6) — The Venue and Forum for Truth

We understand quite well that reason is not a prerequisite for judgement. A spoon can be picked up and be put to use without any conscious attention. This is most obvious in walking and breathing. Yet, in each of these cases, we do say that a discernment was made. If one is walking, then we say that one has discerned the sidewalk. If one is breathing, one has discerned they are above water. In such cases, we can speak of the discernment as judgement. In my own writing, I have found the need to name the primordial moment of judgement. It is primordial because it precedes the world. I have taken the liberty to describe the moment as the venue for truth. When looking to explain the conditions for this judgement, we not only notice this moment, but something more — namely, the here and now of the moment. Of that which is now, we might say “the time for breakfast”. Of that which is here we might say “my hunger”. I have previously called the conditions for judgement the forum for truth. This forum is the conditional totality.

In the realm of theory, this is all well. And this description likely meets with little opposition. But this stands to be the case in practical life and our everyday commerce as well. It is this commerce which I concerned myself with when I subtitled my first book A Metamodern Economic Reform Proposal. That book ventures to usher truth into the emergent economy via the venue and forum just described.

Part 5 (of 6) — Truth as Disclosive and Projective

When we look more closely at the conditions for the venue and the forum for truth, we find a yet more primordial action: projection. Only on account of projection can the moment occur, and only then can the forum produce its judgement. In such a judgement the truth is disclosed.

True and false trace their etymology back to Roman verum and falsum. Such a relationship is pronouncedly lacking in Ancient Greece. An interpretation of the Greeks offers relief from epistemological truth-seeking, grounded in the conflictual true/false dichotomy. The ancients understood projection as τελος (telos). However, already in Aristotle, we find that bias towards the human animal which modern science later repeats — namely, that τελος is contained within human being. In Aristotle is called αληθευειν (aletheuein), meaning “to truth”, as in “to walk”. Today, I find it impossible to maintain this bias. Consider that non-human animals, together with machines, intelligent programs — and even algorithms — present the moment in its twofold shape by “speaking” and “asserting”. And after all, why should I consider a Mongolian who I have never met to have more presencing power than my pet dog, which I am in daily commerce with? The answer to this question seems obvious to me. I find no reason to emphasize something like “human being”. Once this emphasis fades, this way of being dissolves.

In the event of such a collapse of the special priority of human being (heretofore, christened with the metaphysical category “man”), what reveals itself as the conditional totality for the possibility of human being. Αληθευειν describes a primordial comportment prior to the world and counter to episteme. It describes the non-mechanical “action” of the conditional totality which allows human being to receive the world and rationalize knowledge about it.

Part 6 (of 6) — Governance-as-Projection

Modern political economy demanded technocracy. At the same time, the criticisms of the social critic are nothing new. Alienation, rootlessness, estrangement, and apathy are consequent of the technocratic rule of truth. I also agree. Without the necessary fora for sincere and meaningful encounters, truth is stripped from the human mouth. The modern state is a nation without a campfire, so to speak. Facts have become gossip and what follows are prophesies entertaining the destruction of our current political economy.

While I assume it is pointless to quell the fears of technocracy, I do not share in the doom imagery. However, disappointingly, I find few contemporaries who understand the demands of the revolution. The problem of truth is a political problem and many of my acquaintances have retreated to spirituality, tradition, or the market. What is required for the revolution are politicians who understand that the venue and forum for truth be encouraged. In a work titled The Nascent Demographic: A Story of the American Disengaged and an Argument for Democratic Nationalism various opportunities for campaigning local platforms are offered.



Justin Carmien

Public speaker on metaphysics, political philosophy, and political metamodernism