Traditionally, the opposite of fiction is fact.
But where does fiction end and where does fact begin? What about when you write it down? If I write “I am hungry” now, in a few hours after I’ve eaten, it will no longer be a fact. Does it become fiction? Or does it become an invalid, obsolete fact?
OK, let’s go for a different example that isn’t influenced by the fluidity of mood or satiety:
“The sky is blue”.
Sure, the sky is blue right now. This is a fact. I can even see the clouds and sunlight. But in a few hours, when the sun sets, this will not be true. According to Google:
“A thing that is known or proved to be true.”
In the above example (“the sky is blue”), I suppose you could argue that we can prove it to be true – film it or take a picture.* But then, when it gets dark, does that cease to be true? Does that statement become fiction? Again according to Google:
OK, so if fiction is something untrue, does it then mean saying “the sky is blue” after 10pm (for example) is fiction? Or is it just a lie? What’s the difference between a lie and fiction? Why does the truth get a certain super-sacred status (even – and especially -in secular societies)? The death of God, empiricism, and all that jazz (no,I’m not going to list it all) seem to be sacrifices on the altar of some ultimate TRUTH. In some cases, they even believe there is a universal truth – a universal reality (ask the structuralists for that one).
And what about other stuff? Simply because something is known (or, if you like, believed) to be true, doesn’t mean it IS true. I mean, up until recently (that is,the 20th century?), women were not allowed to vote – they were considered inferior creatures. Being gay or trans was ‘known’ to be a disease/disorder (in the case of the former, in some countries it was – and still is – so grave that it was/is a capital offence forbidden by law).
We humans think we’re the ultimate logical being – and seem to think that raises us above other animals. How do we know we are? How would we even conceive of a being further up the ‘chain’? As Eagleman pointed out in SUM, such a being might not even be on our radar – in the same way bacteria in a petri dish aren’t able to conceive of us because we are way outside their cosmic scale. Maybe such a discovery would blow our minds, like that of the paralyzed horse in Bravest Warriors? (And yes, I did just refer to a cartoon in philosophical discourse)
Or maybe we just don’t have a word for it yet? [just check this out: http://uk.businessinsider.com/what-is-blue-and-how-do-we-see-color-2015-2 ] Having said that, my previous remark about filming/taking a picture of the sky to prove “the sky is blue” falls flat on its face. How can you trust your senses if it’s impossible to ‘see’ something (that is, perceive its presence?) without having a word for it?
Maybe a word for such a creature would be as ‘normal’ as the colour blue is now – as Mulder might put it:
Maybe we’ll never know.
OK, scrap that tangent… if we go back to the fact-fiction “binary”: where does philosophy lie on this spectrum? Are thoughts and musings classified as fact, fiction, in between, or somewhere outside this? What about things like love, hate, anger? I mean, you could say you feel love or hate or anger, but you wouldn’t say you know love ? (This is where the song ‘I want to know what love is’ just falls apart and stops making sense) After all, just because you feel something doesn’t make it true… And yet, experience (that is, the events and things we experience as a result of certain situations) does a lot to inform the way we see the world. To a degree.
Alright, that’s it.
My brain is going to explode.
I think I may have broken it.
SO MANY QUESTIONS.
*I guess this is where context becomes important?