Count Dracula(TM) on Sesame Street(TM) is one of the few people who care about facts apart from any underlying meaning.
Most people however are interested in facts mostly for their meanings. Not even scientists pursue facts without explanatory propositions.
A fact disconnected from any semantic framework is meaningless and a nuisance.
But if the meanings of facts are tied to propositions, then care is needed lest facts be made to serve some not-so-harmless propositions.
Unfortunately, our cultural habit of equating facts with meaning hinders us in questioning the hidden, but all-important propositions that impart meaning to even the simplest of facts.
While science has a strong reputation for indisputably linking physical effects with natural causes, ideology is the mechanism for linking facts and experiences with their meaning.
Ideology is so contentious because facts, experiences, and meaning can relate to each other in so many ways:
- False propositions can produce authentic experiences:
For example, Mary Magdalene was heartbroken– an authentic experience– by the “stolen” body of Jesus– a false proposition.
- True experiences can produce false propositions:
The natives of Malta judged Paul as evil– a false proposition– when he was bitten by a snake– a true experience.
- False experiences can support true propositions:
Jacob’s impersonation of Esau– a deception– helped rationalize Jacob’s claim to his brother’s birthright– a true proposition.
- True propositions may not produce true experiences:
The hearers of God’s Word– true propositions– may not be doers of God’s Word– true experiences.
- The same fact can have more than one true meaning:
In New Testament times, the coming war between Rome and the Jews in AD 68 had one meaning– salvation– for NT Christians, but a different meaning– “perdition”– to unbelieving Jews.
- The meaning of a fact can change:
The death of Jesus gave the original meaning of the cross– a curse– a new significance– a sign of salvation.