How about it? Can anyone explain the origins of our beliefs? People tend to think they believe very differently from their neighbor. I would dispute that! We all adhere to much the same Secular ideals and follow much the same moral system which others have called "the Christian ethic." And if we have differences, why and how did that happen? Are we better off because of it?
Truth is satisfying for those who like the idea of "knowing the truth" and therefore can create a hierarchy of those in the know and those who are just plain shlumps that need to be led. Plato was really good at this.
As opposed to saying I believe something, I would say that this is what I observe. I observe. No one else can observe from my vantage point, in my space and in my time. Certainly no one can observe what I observe while I am asleep. If someone says they know the Truth, let them tell me what I dreamed about last night. However, I don't mind people setting themselves up as being better than someone else. I think the name of that game is called King of the Hill.
People who know some truths need not know all truths. So I can know that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, but I need not also know what you dreamed last night.
Sure, people can observe from my vantage point. They can take your vantage point when you leave it, and then make their observation from that vantage point. Of course, no two things can be in the same place at the same time. But why must I be in your vantage point at the same time you are there to be able to observe from your vantage point.
Since more than one person can know the same thing (e.g. that Quito is the capital of Ecuador) knowledge of the truth does not (as you seem to think) a "hierarchy", since anyone, who takes the trouble, can know a lot of things that others know. Lots of people (in fact most people) know that @ + 2 =4.
Things can be true in many different ways, and we often have various sets of different rules and procedures for determining truth. To force truth by definition to always mean "absolute and indubitable truth" is extremely tenuous. First, there is no example of such a truth to be found, and second there is no "truth" that cannot be subject to serious challenge about its absoluteness.
If this be so, then there can be a hierarchy of different kinds of truth. We can be reasonably certain about, for example, 2+2 always equally 4, or that Quito is the capitol of Ecuador, and we have appropriate procedures for determining whether these are true or not. Other truths are judged by their rank as being more or less probable; one could argue that the more perspectives that determined Z was true, the more likely it would (in fact) be true.
In some mathematical systems 2+2=4. In others, not.
There are certain facts that there is a general consensus. Others not. E.g. Sometimes wars are fought over what is or isn't a capital of what.
So, yes, there are such things as general consensus, which may or may not change over time. However, immutable Truths (which is generally what philosophers like to debate about) - I think not.
---------- Post added at 01:18 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:12 PM ----------
I think that on some things, a group can form a consensus on how they view things, and agree upon it, however these consensus of views, cannot be considered Truth. For example, some people believe that Tibet is independent and will refer to it as such. But billions of people in China think not. So which is it? Is Jerusalem part of Israel or not? It is all matter of consensus.
Yes, at one time, most everyone in the world agreed that Time was absolute. And then someone else had a creative idea that overturned this notion.
I distinguish consensus of perspectives between different people from the notion of Truth in order to allow for evolution of what we think we may or may not know.
It is an "immutable" truth that on 8 June, 2009, Quito is the capital of Ecuador. That it may no longer be the capital of Ecuador on 9 June, 2009, is irrelevant.
That in some mathematical systems, 2+2 does not = 4, has nothing whatever to do with the fact that in the mathematical system I was referring to, it does =4.
That people once believed Time was absolute (or the Earth was flat) shows only the people make mistakes about what the truth is. It does not show that there is no truth. For instance, because people made mistakes about the shape of Earth, that does not mean that Earth has no shape. And, whatever shape it has, is the truth about the shape of Earth. The fact that we often do not know the truth, but only believe we know the truth, does not show that there is no truth.
You confuse knowing the truth with the truth. Those are not the same things.
What you call Truth, I call consensus building.
2=2=4, only so long as we agree on the number system we are using. If I disagree, then 2=2=?.
Quito is the capital of Equador as proclaimed by the government. And we agree to accept the government's representation. However, if someone in Equador, or elsewhere, does not accept the government as legitimate (e.g., an Inca of deep roots), who am I to say no. You want to force that person into accepting your Truth, go right ahead and try. That is how wars begin.
What is the shape of the Earth? What is the Truth?
That it is true that there is a piece of lint on the carpet has nothing to do with consensus building. It is true whether or not there is a consensus built for it, and I doubt that anyone would try to build a consensus for the truth that there is a piece of lint on the carpet. Don't you? It is simply not true that truth is consensus building, and I certainly doubt that you will build any kind of consensus for the belief that truth is consensus building. You certainly will never get my agreement for that view.
It is also the case that we can agree that dogs are mammals only if we agree about the meanings of the terms, "dog" and "mammals". But so what? Aren't dogs mammals?
Of course, Quito becomes the capital, when the proper procedures for naming a capital in that country are followed. That is novel about that? It is, however, false that if a particular individual does not accept Quito as the capital, that there is any doubt that Quito is the capital. Whether it is the capital depends on whether the proper procedures have established it as the capital, and also whether other countries accept it as the capital, and send their representatives there. Why would you think that because some individual did not accept Quito as the capital, that would throw it into doubt whether Quito was the capital. You know that is not true. If you suddenly disputed whether Berlin or Bonn should be the capital of Germany, would that have any affect on whether Berlin was the capital of Germany? Of course it would not. No more than if you disputed whether dogs were mammals would it matter to whether dogs are mammals.
The shape of Earth is spherical. And truth, is as Aristotle described it: "when we say of what is that it is, that is truth; and when we say of what is that it is not, that is falsity".
Wikipedia: The shape of the Earth is very close to that of an oblate spheroid, a sphere squished along the orientation from pole to pole such that there is a bulge around the equator.
Let us be careful with our truths, because Wikipedia disagrees with you.
What's more it is constantly changing:
NASA: The researchers found over the past 28 years, two large variations in the Earth's oblateness were connected to strong ENSO events. Variations in mass distribution, which caused the change in the gravity field, were predominantly over the continents, with a smaller contribution due to changes over the ocean. The cause of a variation in the Earth's mass over the 21-year period between 1978 and 2001, however, still remains a mystery.
Now, we can agree by consensus to call it a sphere for convenience shape, but it is hardly a sphere or anything else you can name.
Lint on a carpet has everything to do with consensus. You may see lint. I may see nothing. Should I trust you? Well that depends on whether we can come to consensus on whether your are trustworthy and whether we can agree on what is lint. Whether or nothing there is something there has everything to do with agreement and consensus by everyone involved.
Whether or not Quido is the capital, depends upon "proper procedures". Who says what are the proper procedures. You? Me? The U.S. government. Without consensus there is no agreement, and yet there may be those who disagree. What about them? For them, they have a very legitimate reason to disagree. They simply don't recognize the procedures as being proper. No consensus.
You may think that just because you say it is so, it is so, but then others may disagree. What are you going to do? Create conflict? Heraclitus says yes. But, even if you allow for your own error and have some humility on what is the Truth, I am sure that something else will arise. It always does.
Disagreement by itself means nothing at all. A four year old child may disagree about what is the capital of a country. So what? What has agreement or disagreement to do with what is true or false? Nothing that I can see.
The the upshot is that the Truth is what ever you determine is the Truth. Nothing new here. Lots of people want to think they have the Truth. And when they get together and disagree, they argue (conflict). I tell you, Heraclitus nailed it.
I know I make mistakes all the time.
You only make mistakes if you tell someone that something is the Truth and then it turns out not be the Truth. The earth is not a sphere according to the authors of Wikipedia and NASA, though lots of people will say that the earth is a sphere. However, if you insist that the earth is a sphere, there will be conflict. I for one, don't think that the earth is a sphere.
I person who claims to know the Truth is bound to make many more mistakes than those who don't. As to what is the Truth, well I guess it all depends upon who or what you want to use as your source, I guess.
Of course the Earth is a sphere. It is not a perfect sphere. But then, I did not say it was.