Performative Truth

Meaning that is created by a statement or a symbolic event, or even by a thought. For example, a contract or a commitment between two or more people is brought into being by a deliberately-articulated statement—a performative utterance: “I challenge you”, “I promise”, “we celebrate”, “I do”, “I will”. As the theologian Ian Robinson notes, a change in attitudes can change some things for real—marriage for instance:

Mount Everest will remain the same whatever I make of it in my thoughts and emotions, and will not be changed if others make something quite different. Marriage is not similarly an unchanging object, and is affected by people’s attitudes to it.P17

A religious liturgy brings into being a performative truth; not an as-if truth, but a truth which is as real as—and in many ways the same as—a contract. Something happens.P18


Related entries:

Narrative Truth, Religion.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was an economist, historian and writer, based in London. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, Lean Logic and Surviving the Future. A film about his perspective and legacy - The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation? - was released in 2019, directed by BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong. For more information, including on Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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