ok kennethamy, from my introduction to the forum post
I would rather avoid your writing style because of the effect it has upon me and my creativity in particular. Sensitive piscean dude that i am tada
What many scientists are trying to do is create a finite text, that can be read universally and contains a complete and unambiguous description of the fundamental laws of the universe, from which all other truths will follow. BUT science can just as easily be continued and practiced effectively without believing in that particular goal ...... or so claim some philosophers, post modern and otherwise
I didn't ridicule you. I criticized you. Those are, by no means the same. Although you may very well think they are. Philosophy, from the time of Socrates has always been a matter of thrust a parry. That is how people learn, and how they test their ideas. If that offends you, take up another hobby. Everyone is nice on the basket-weaving forum.
Hi there pagan,
Enjoyed your description of the different ways to view truth. Thanks.
---------- Post added 07-17-2009 at 09:31 AM ----------
An alternative, which I use with many of my friends is listen, reflect, respond, and change.
well said kennethamy, and in true kennethamy style.
.... t i read your suggestion of taking up another hobby, but i like this one thanks, as well as my others.
Many people who philosophize are wedded to their theories. They are, as Wittgenstein called it, "in the grip of a theory". And they find it impossible to change even under the pressure of criticism.
I have found this often to be the case. I wonder if it was the case with Wittgenstein?
There are all kinds of ways to relate. I don't think there is one way for all relationships. However, I do try them all. And with some people, it is better to relate in a quiet way.
Philosophizing is not, "a way of relating". It is a way of inquiring. Whether or not Wittgenstein was wedded to his views really has nothing to do with the correctness of his views. Einstein, no doubt, firmly believed relativity theory was true. And it is.
Einstein had some interesting views of life:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."
"I think that a particle must have a separate reality independent of the measurements. That is an electron has spin, location and so forth even when it is not being measured. I like to think that the moon is there even if I am not looking at it."
I find Einstein very humble in his thinking and certainly leaves open the possibility of being incorrect. He expresses what he thinks and likes to think - not certainty.
"For example, the Definition of truth. It is observed what can be called truth in almost all situations. Any philosopher needs to just observe the method we use to determine the truth of a statement."
I am not sure how far one can push the analogy between the observation of physical objects and the observation of ethical "objects" without turning ethics into an anthropology.
In ethics, what we observe is at least two elements: the action of individuals, their reported ethical reason for taking a particular action rather than another (or no action at all). But doesn't ethics need a further step by attempting to determine whether the action was taken in good faith and whether the reason(s) for it were "sound"?
Now if a philosopher observes the method used to determine the truth of a statement (or ethical) action, doesn't he find that we normally employ different methods in different ethical situations? But, at the same time, does not the philosopher attempt to determine, from outside as it were, whether the rules and methods supposedly used are "correct" or the action "right"?
Historically we have seen the most atrocious acts committed for the strongest moral reasons. Now would not we rather call these moral reasons deceptions, and not our condemnation of them?
I seem to recall this argument being played out in Ancient Greek Philosophy 101: Protagorus: Man is the Measure of All Things.
I have to agree with Kennethamy in saying that 'truth is not a matter of a consensus view'. In other words, just because society believes the earth rests on a giant turtle, does not mean it is actually true. And of course this implies that I believe that there are things that are actually true and that such things can be discovered by us.
However, from the viewpoint of my exceedingly comfortable and commodious Armchair, I will also dispute that all truth can be discerned as a matter of objective criteria. I maintain there is a kind of truth which is neither subjective - i.e. a matter of opinion or social consensus - nor objective - i.e. subject to empirical verification by independent observers. This was traditionally the species of Truth spelt with a capital T, a kind which is no longer fashionable in secular society. In other words, I believe there is a 'higher Truth' without which, no speculation regarding truth is really meaningful.
I further maintain that we in the Modern World have largely lost sight of this kind of truth, as we no longer have a common Mythos within which it can be meaningfully interpreted. Hence a condition variously referred to as 'Cartesian anxiety' or 'metaphysical embarrasment' whereby the only truths we can agree to agree to are those depicted by scientific hypotheses or mathematical calculations. The rest is relegated to the 'subjective realm' as a matter of one's private view, even if the matters concerned are far beyond the scope of the merely personal.
---------- Post added 07-15-2009 at 10:11 AM ----------
Of course it is undeniably convenient to believe that 'truth is what you make it'. Right up until the time you get mugged by reality. (It always happens, sooner or later.)
Good question jgweed. I don't claim to know the answer, but I can try to reason it out. :bigsmile:
My instincts tell me that a redefinition of what we mean when we say something is "sound" or "right" is necessary for a fuller appreciation of the problem. It is my observation that our perception of an action that is "sound" is related to our will, namely, what we hope to achieve by said action. The "soundness" of an action could be an observation of an observation's suitability towards a person experiencing a certain observation.
I think it natural to say that in ethics we do not always believe that the ends justify the means. But I think it may be more accurate to say that there are many ends and sub-ends that act as criteria for a certain end that we would like to see accomplished. For example: we often would like to possess the end of having money, yes? But there are many, many ends in which money is acquired, and they all have different qualities to those observing those ends. To acheive more control over the particular end one wishes to observe, it is less likely that we should see ethics as "the end justifies the means" and more likely that we should observe ethics as particular means lead to particular ends. It is just as well that we observe the soundness of a means if we can observe that it leads to the particular end that we desire.
As a belated example, people often want money. But they don't want just money. They also want their freedom, a good job, to pro-create, to have fun, etc, etc... To say that an individual end justifies any means ignores the observation of all other ends desired. Indeed, this is readily observed!
---------- Post added 07-17-2009 at 02:01 PM ----------
I believe the reason why scientists loathe this kind of "abolute truth" is the very fact that nothing about it can not be observed. How do you find the definition of "higher" in "higher truth"? It seems to me that "higher" is an observable relational and mathematical concept that deals with "regular" truth. To attach it to a definition of truth that includes no observation is not only an Oxymoron, but exceedingly stupid.(not that I'm calling you stupid. I'm not.)
But let's say we could work out a definition of "higher truth". Would you agree that observation of the natural world is a "higher truth" than a statement about the natural world? If so, then what form of reality would you possibly ascribe to be higher than observation?
Your error, you see, is that ancient man started out with just observation. Mankind has a conception of truth that evolved out of it's interaction with observation of physical reality. This conception did not go away the abandonment of observation. But if you abandon observation as the object of truth, then what could possibly be the object of truth? Oh! I know! It "must" be some transcendental truth that has nothing to do with perception!
But that is circular logic. The armchair philosopher would then turn his back on observation in favor of transcendental truth, even though the "proof" of transcendental truth rests on the foundation of the philosopher turning his back on observation in favor of transcendental truth.
Which I must say, strikes me as exceedingly stupid.(once again, not calling you stupid.)
I think this is a good direct way to challenge the complex and subtle ways of defining truth. But i have to say that more recently that i have become much more relativistic with regards to truth. I am not sure if this is contrary to what i see as your clear and pragmatic approach.
For example with regards to the highly pragmatic situation of a court of law. I am sure you recognise that many people were convicted simply because the 'evidence' presented/available to the jury genuinely convinced the jury that they were guilty. ie 'It is true that you are guilty as charged of this crime because guilt is a true statement when compared to what is observed."
..... well i have to strongly disagree with your crucial statement here
Media often distorts and loses information. That has been observed!
Pagan, I'm very grateful for your posts over the incessant bickering of Kennethamy and richrf,(no offense, but you don't seem to be contributing anything new to the conversation).
Sorry. Allow me to give you my brief thoughts on the nature of truth.
I believe truth is a concept conjured up by humans in order to establish a hierarchy of authority by virtue of claimed knowledge that is not yet accessible to those who unfortunately not yet able to grasp this conceived truth.
Those who can establish within a large enough group that they have the truth will reap the rewards of this achievement. We can see this phenomenon occurring all the time in life. Just observe: holder of truth = higher hierarchical authority.
How is that for the definition of truth? A wonderful creation of the mind in order to help ensure a position in life.
It seems to me that "higher" is an observable relational and mathematical concept that deals with "regular" truth
Newton's laws are modified by relativity, they are not completely ignored. In fact, Newtons laws still work for most everyday applications. It seems that it can be observed that more refined observations don't so much as prove truth's wrong as they do refine current truths.
Given that this is the case, I don't think it is absolutely necessary that we NEED to find the end to the infinite regress of ever-finer observations to go on living our lives. Accuracy in truth is directly proportional to the amount of power we wield over phenomena. But given this, it is observed that we don't necessarily need to have an infinitely refined conception of the universe to live in it. In fact, we can get close enough for all practical purposes.
it can be observed that more refined observations don't so much as prove truth's wrong as they do refine current truths.
it is observed that never has any previous statement of truth turned out to be wrong in such a way as to indicate the unreliability of more precise measurements.
it is observed that we don't necessarily need to have an infinitely refined conception of the universe to live in it.
In scientific circles it has all ready been observed that there is a finest measurement possible, beyond which the notion of "measurement" loses all meaning.
But it is observed that information, like energy, can neither be created nor destroyed.
From the point of view of a pragmatist philosophy i can respect this view very much, since you do not imply there is necessarily absolute truth.
However, is shakey ground for me. Newton's theories are amazing but i would not agree that the theories of for example general relativity and quantum mechanics are mere refinements of the same.
Oh i agree. I was merely pointing out that an infinitely refined conception of the universe is quite possibly out of reach from such a definition of truth.
Hawking as far as i know has conceded the point and agrees that information is not lost when matter falls into a black hole. But again, new theories and observations may change all that.
In other words just as the scientific community can have exclusive access to knowledge over others who are not able (in both senses of the word) to get it ....... so it is possible that the spiritual community can have exclusivity over others unable to get their knowledge.
The concept of truth is, doubtless, like all other concepts, made up by people. But that is no reason to believe that the concept does not refer to anything real.
Yes, I agree. But an evolving truth is tricky business. Once we agree that truths evolve (change) over time, then the notion of truth changes. An evolving truth doesn't sound like a truth any more, but rather a changing perception.
More than this, I believe the concept of truth is evoked in order to achieve certain rewards among followers who are seeking the comforts of a non-changing world. Change and non-change can, conceivably, exist in a single mind.
Believing something is true does not make it true. Say it 10 times.
1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another: My belief in you is as strong as ever.
2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something: His explanation of what happened defies belief.
3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.