The True Definition of Truth.

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pagan
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 04:32 pm
@jeeprs,
interesting stuff

so is the recognition that the world is ever changing, including fundamental laws, a truth by observation?

.... The original definition of truth offered by would quite easily agree with this.

I also agree with jeeprs that you really feel you know the truth sometimes when you have lost something valuable ..... but even that could be extended to 'observation' as long as we include emotional perception. And again sometimes we find that the observations (either the causal information or the emotional reaction) is false.

But this also brings up another aspect of truth. Now and present truths as compared to those that are believed to be universal through time.

What interests me is the relativity of truth not just to the quality and nature of the observations/language used ...... but the narrative aspect.

The narratives of newtonian, relativistic and quantum science are very different. It is the difference between the latter two of those in narrative, that compels many theoretical scientists to search for a new theory (narrative) that either extends one to include the other ..... or is entirely new and replaces the others by equaling at least their accuracy of scientific observations.

Thus for me on one level 'the Truth' would be 'the Narrative' of the universe as much as an accurate observation adequately expressed in language. Though i also recognise that the phrase 'the truth' can also mean an accurate statement of observation expressed through a particular form of language, without it being part of a narrative. We use this phrase variously.

eg IF 'the Truth' in the narrative sense were present day science, then the statement 'time and space are interconnected' would be the truth within and therefore through that narrative, as well as 'the truth' as an individual observation. But if it were observed today and confirmed by science that there are situations where time and space are independent, that becomes 'the truth' as an observation outside of a yet developed narrative (scientific theory).

ie truth can be the destruction of the completeness of a narrative, or a confirmation by inclusion of an existing one.

eg 'Jesus loves me' might be the truth for someone who is a christian and believes christianity is 'the Truth'. But the subdequent emotional 'observation' that one of your innocent young children is dead by the hands of a violent rapist, might become the truth to the extent that 'Christianity has failed me, and i no longer believe in it'. BUT that could be a temporary truth when later such a person finds comfort and strength in grief through jesus, and the narrative of the Truth of christianity returns.

So richrf, would you see the 'sheldrake' (or buddhist?) ever changing truth has having any narrative? What about at least the narrative of continuity through time and space?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 05:01 pm
@DasTrnegras,
There is an important difference between truth as something you seek out and live by, and truth as a technical or intellectual concept. The narrative in the former case is your narrative, how you live your life, and the value placed on truth in that context. It has a theoretical aspect, but it is also much nearer to home than mere theory.

I do notice there is this apprehension, it seems to me, that there might actually be any kind of bottom-line or absolute truth or reality or even that truth might be a real (as distinct from theoretical) concern. The feeling seems to be that this inevitably results in some kind of absolutism. Hence the wildcard argument of 'well, there are many perspectives'. It obviates the need to actually declare any particular philosophy or attitude. You can easily slip from one perspective to another, none of which signifies any real commitment but within each of which there is bound to be yet another clever perspective or way of deconstructing the argument de jour. This is very much the post-modernist tactic, as far as I understand it. I can see how much fodder it would produce for an academic tenure, but at the end of the day it is all calories and no protein as far as I am concerned.

It is true that Buddhism says that things are 'always changing'. Actually the word is 'annica' meaning impermanent. Everything has three characteristics - dukkha, sorrowful; annica, impermanent; anatta, not-self. But this doesn't mean that the teaching itself is always changing, or that it doesn't have a consistent meaning. It takes a lot of application to begin to see how the 'three marks' are apparent in your own experience of life.
 
richrf
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 05:36 pm
@pagan,
pagan;78349 wrote:
So richrf, would you see the 'sheldrake' (or buddhist?) ever changing truth has having any narrative? What about at least the narrative of continuity through time and space?


Hi there pagan,

I hesitate to speak too much about Sheldrake's views, but this is my current understanding.

Sheldrake suggests that universal memory exists in what he calls morphic fields (fields of energy that are changing). So, over time, people and cultures create these morphic fields and are shaped by them.

So, in a sense, what you might call a narrative, Sheldrake might call a resonating morphic field of accumulated memories. People, animals, insects have stronger affinities to certain morphic fields (memories) than others depending upon their species, cultural history, etc.

The morphic fields tend to be reinforced by those that share these fields. Thus habits are formed. But new ideas can disrupt these fields and you get evolution, or a continuation of the narrative as you might perceive it.

So, I think your ideas are very compatible with Sheldrake's - and mine.

Thanks for sharing your ideas with me.

Rich
 
pagan
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 05:56 pm
@jeeprs,
ok jeeprs Smile
Quote:

I do notice there is this apprehension, it seems to me, that there might actually be any kind of bottom-line or absolute truth or reality or even that truth might be a real (as distinct from theoretical) concern.The feeling seems to be that this inevitably results in some kind of absolutism. Hence the wildcard argument of 'well, there are many perspectives'. It obviates the need to actually declare any particular philosophy or attitude. You can easily slip from one perspective to another, none of which signifies any real commitment but within each of which there is bound to be yet another clever perspective or way of deconstructing the argument de jour. This is very much the post-modernist tactic, as far as I understand it.
well as someone who adopts the multi narrative approach very seriously and 'as something I seek out and live by', your perspective in itself shows a particular type of feeling Smile Time and again i come across the criticism that post modernism leads to a lack of belief in anything. A sort of nihilism. This is explored as a joke by the Coen brothers in many of their films. eg 'The man who wasnt there', 'no country for old men' and 'the big lebowski'. What you see as a clever avoidance tactic i see as the seeking out of narratives that give meaning to my life as it changes. As a recommitment to life having meaning in the face of important observations that fall outside of any narrative i may have at the time. And as you have pointed out yourself, particularily painful experiences. They can be life changing. They can be painful because they do contradict narratives (grand or mutli ) that we live our lives by.

As a pagan i often hear the criticism that 'you can believe in anything then'. But as i have said before in other threads, pantheism is not a belief in nothing by not believing in one thing to rule them all. I have also written elsewhere that i well remember when i first came across post modernism and i considered it ridiculous, and with rage! Smile Looking back i now see those feelings as an attachment to absolutism. I was brought up that way. So for me views like yours i find perfectly understandable and quite possibly correct. But when i at least had the choice of comparing both, i went for the multi narrative. It has definitely enriched my life. But yes i do recognise there is a possible trap ...... in both perspectives.

I also learned a great deal from buddhism but for me personally, it wasn't 'attached' enough! Smile
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 07:05 pm
@DasTrnegras,
Fair enough. Each to his own. I practise Buddhist meditation and live in accordance with the precepts, as far as I am able. I have a pragmatic approach - it is a vehicle, it is intended to take you somewhere. Ergo I believe there is 'somewhere to go' and I do believe there is an over-arching narritive, but not in a literalist sense, i.e. that one particular cultural form is its custodian of it. It is more like the approach of Hero with a Thousand Faces, that we are all engaged in a great big adventure but through millions of possible guises and personae. So religious in the sense that I believe that there is a benevolent ethical order which is superior to the individual's own predelictions. It may not be God as people think they understand it, but it is certainly more like 'God' than anything in secular philosophy.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 08:09 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78336 wrote:
I studied under David Stove. He was a great guy.


I imagine he was. He had a tragic death. He was a perceptive and intelligent philosopher, and could not abide the nonsense that often goes under the name of philosophy. In particular Idealism of all stripes and colors.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 08:11 pm
@DasTrnegras,
Interesting quote from the Bernstein book I mentioned previously (actually it opens the text): "...Aristotle was profoundly right in holding that ethics is concerned with how to live and with human happiness, and also profoundly right in holding that this sort of knowledge ("practical knowledge") is different from theoretical knowledge. A view of knowledge that acknowledges that the sphere of knowledge is wider than the sphere of "science" seems to be a cultural necessity if we are to arrive at a sane and human view of ourselves or of science." (Hilary Putnam, Meaning and the Moral Sciences, quoted in Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, Richard J. Bernstein).

As regards David Stove, I am unaware of how he died. He was certainly sceptical of idealism, but he also took a pretty dim view of positivism and Hume's scepticism from what I recall.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 08:28 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78367 wrote:
Interesting quote from the Bernstein book I mentioned previously (actually it opens the text): "...Aristotle was profoundly right in holding that ethics is concerned with how to live and with human happiness, and also profoundly right in holding that this sort of knowledge ("practical knowledge") is different from theoretical knowledge. A view of knowledge that acknowledges that the sphere of knowledge is wider than the sphere of "science" seems to be a cultural necessity if we are to arrive at a sane and human view of ourselves or of science." (Hilary Putnam, Meaning and the Moral Sciences, quoted in Beyond Objectivism and Relativism, Richard J. Bernstein).

As regards David Stove, I am unaware of how he died. He was certainly sceptical of idealism, but he also took a pretty dim view of positivism and Hume's scepticism from what I recall.



Stove died by suicide after learning he was terminally ill. Stove called himself a "neo-positivist", and admired Hume possibly above all other philosophers. The idea of a "narrative" may have a proper place in fiction, but not in science or in philosophy, which aspire to truth. Talking about science and philosophy in term of "narrative" is part of the strategy of the truth deniers to make it seem as if there is no truth, but only different kinds of fiction. Another Postmodernist ploy to distort, and make everything subjective. .
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 08:37 pm
@DasTrnegras,
Saddened to hear that. My most vivid recollection of his teaching about Hume was him quoting the closing words of Hume's essay about 'committing [sophistry] to the flames' and pointing out that the same criticism could be applied to the work in which the statement appears! It was the idea of a 'uroboric statement' - a statement which consumes itself. 'The last bite is always the hardest!'. Direct quote, that.

Actually I was very well treated at the University of Sydney, considering how naively idealist I actually was. David Stove seemed to recognise that in my case, this was genuine personal search for truth. I think he regarded that as something different to professional sophistry and was not at all hostile towards it. I don't know if he 'liked' positivism so much as thought it was really the only kind of approach that was defensible in the modern world. I really believe idealism is genuine, but it requires a personal commitment to the philosophy, a way of living from it and practising it, otherwise it does indeed become empty words.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 19 Jul, 2009 10:59 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78371 wrote:
Saddened to hear that. My most vivid recollection of his teaching about Hume was him quoting the closing words of Hume's essay about 'committing [sophistry] to the flames' and pointing out that the same criticism could be applied to the work in which the statement appears! It was the idea of a 'uroboric statement' - a statement which consumes itself. 'The last bite is always the hardest!'. Direct quote, that.

Actually I was very well treated at the University of Sydney, considering how naively idealist I actually was. David Stove seemed to recognise that in my case, this was genuine personal search for truth. I think he regarded that as something different to professional sophistry and was not at all hostile towards it. I don't know if he 'liked' positivism so much as thought it was really the only kind of approach that was defensible in the modern world. I really believe idealism is genuine, but it requires a personal commitment to the philosophy, a way of living from it and practising it, otherwise it does indeed become empty words.


What does "Idealism is genuine" mean? And how does one live Idealism? Not get one's hopes up about going into an uninhabited room, and finding the same chair you sat it an hour ago, so that one will not be disappointed when it is not there?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 12:04 am
@DasTrnegras,
Thanks. The discussion has become pointless. I am willing to attempt to communicate something about philosophical idealism, but only if I think there is some actual interest in what it might be, and I detect none here.
 
Alan McDougall
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 04:18 am
@DasTrnegras,
AS am armchair philosopher I would say a statement of truth always pans out exactly as stated

Honesty is better, truth can really hurt
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 06:07 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78382 wrote:
Thanks. The discussion has become pointless. I am willing to attempt to communicate something about philosophical idealism, but only if I think there is some actual interest in what it might be, and I detect none here.


On the contrary, philosophical Idealism, is, essentially, according to Berkeley (and he should know) the principle that, "Esse est percipi", "to be is to perceived" (called "subjective idealism") and I am very much interested in it. Only, of course, it turns out that it is false. Now, you may, of course, have some other view about what PI is, but it really ought to conform with the views of the great philosophical Idealists, and not something that you have invented and call, philosophical Idealism. Don't you agree? After all, a scientist may have a number of interesting insights about relativity theory, but if he is going to call it "relativity theory" it ought to be what Einstein understood as relativity theory, and not something the scientist invented, and calls, relativity theory. Don't you agree?
 
pagan
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 07:28 am
@Alan McDougall,
jeeprs

Quote:
Ergo I believe there is 'somewhere to go' and I do believe there is an over-arching narritive, but not in a literalist sense, i.e. that one particular cultural form is its custodian of it.
i agree with this, and for me the multi narrative approach embodies the tolerance of others and recognising that one particular cultural form is not custodian of 'an over-arching' narrative. But this discussion is about defining truth. Truth for me is not the be all and end all with regard to living our lives with integrity and 'getting somewhere'. For sure it is important and sometimes critically so with regard to decisions we make, but as i am sure you appreciate sometimes we live by our principles and ethical codes in the absense of clear cut observations. In that sense the way we live our lives is a greater narrative than just the narratives of truth.

eg. loyalty and love. These are important to the way we live our lives and at times challenge us as to whether we stick to being truthful and honest, in the sense that this pragmatic discussion of truth is being considered. Sometimes the 'truth' of the situation is not only irrelevant in that sense, but maybe even something to be avoided.

Of course for some this is an anathema since the ideal is to live truthfully at all times wherever possible. Honesty becomes a necessary part of a grand narrative. Thus to turn a blind eye would always be ethically wrong.

But honesty is not the same as truth. A dishonest person can consciously be so in the face of recognising a truth.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 08:43 am
@pagan,
pagan;78404 wrote:
jeeprs

i agree with this, and for me the multi narrative approach embodies the tolerance of others and recognising that one particular cultural form is not custodian of 'an over-arching' narrative. But this discussion is about defining truth. Truth for me is not the be all and end all with regard to living our lives with integrity and 'getting somewhere'. For sure it is important and sometimes critically so with regard to decisions we make, but as i am sure you appreciate sometimes we live by our principles and ethical codes in the absense of clear cut observations. In that sense the way we live our lives is a greater narrative than just the narratives of truth.

eg. loyalty and love. These are important to the way we live our lives and at times challenge us as to whether we stick to being truthful and honest, in the sense that this pragmatic discussion of truth is being considered. Sometimes the 'truth' of the situation is not only irrelevant in that sense, but maybe even something to be avoided.

Of course for some this is an anathema since the ideal is to live truthfully at all times wherever possible. Honesty becomes a necessary part of a grand narrative. Thus to turn a blind eye would always be ethically wrong.

But honesty is not the same as truth. A dishonest person can consciously be so in the face of recognising a truth.


You mean I should believe Earth is flat so I can be tolerant of those who believe Earth is flat? How about people who believe that Earth is round? How am I going to be tolerant of their beliefs if I am also tolerant of the Flatearther's beliefs? You are getting me confused.
 
ACB
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 01:31 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;78416 wrote:
You mean I should believe Earth is flat so I can be tolerant of those who believe Earth is flat? How about people who believe that Earth is round? How am I going to be tolerant of their beliefs if I am also tolerant of the Flatearther's beliefs? You are getting me confused.


You can tolerate a person's belief without sharing it. In some cases it is laudable to tolerate a belief you do not share; in other cases it is not. For example, if a child of four believes that their dead pet has been carried up to heaven by angels, it seems pointless to disillusion them. Likewise if a dying relative asks you to pray for their soul but you do not believe in God. On the other hand, if someone refuses life-saving treatment because they think that prayer alone will cure them, it would certainly be wrong to tolerate their belief without seeking to change it. And if they refuse life-saving treatment to their child, you should not tolerate their belief at all.

As far as Flatearthers are concerned - well, it depends what you mean by intolerance. If you just mean robust disagreement, that's fine.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 03:13 pm
@DasTrnegras,
Quote:
After all, a scientist may have a number of interesting insights about relativity theory, but if he is going to call it "relativity theory" it ought to be what Einstein understood as relativity theory, and not something the scientist invented, and calls, relativity theory. Don't you agree?

Apologies for being dismissive. I must learn to be less impatient.

Actually I don't know if Berkeley's is the only representation of idealism. Also I believe there is an attitude which is known as 'objective idealism'. I certainly believe that the depiction that 'reality only exists in the mind' is a crude charicature of idealism and is nonsensical ('the wheels of the train dissappear when you're sitting in it' to quote Russell's musings on Berkely). Without recapitulating what has been written in a number of other posts, there is an important sense in which 'idealism' has actually become what is nowadays known as 'constructivism' - that is, our knowledge of the world is not knowledge of a reality completely independent of our perception, but is knowledge of an objective reality constructed by our sensory and intellectual facilities into a coherent 'world picture'. This world picture, it turns out, is organised very much along the lines suggested by the Platonic archetypes, which are neither 'subjective' (all in the mind) nor 'objective' (existing in the material realm.) I have to sign off now but I do have a link to a summary of this argument and will look for it later.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 05:28 pm
@ACB,
ACB;78459 wrote:
You can tolerate a person's belief without sharing it. In some cases it is laudable to tolerate a belief you do not share; in other cases it is not. For example, if a child of four believes that their dead pet has been carried up to heaven by angels, it seems pointless to disillusion them. Likewise if a dying relative asks you to pray for their soul but you do not believe in God. On the other hand, if someone refuses life-saving treatment because they think that prayer alone will cure them, it would certainly be wrong to tolerate their belief without seeking to change it. And if they refuse life-saving treatment to their child, you should not tolerate their belief at all.

As far as Flatearthers are concerned - well, it depends what you mean by intolerance. If you just mean robust disagreement, that's fine.


I mean contempt. And the same for those who believe that no man walked on the Moon, and the same for those who disbelieve in the Holocaust.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 06:44 pm
@DasTrnegras,
I am a a pluralist in that I believe there are a number of different, valid ways to understand or approach truth, be they philosophical, scientific, spiritual, or whatever. Often these will be in conflict, but this doesn't mean that we can't learn something from all of them. In fact, I think this is a large part of the type of understanding that is called 'dialectical'.

On the other hand, just there are a number of different ways to truth, there are also infinite varieties of nonsense, falsehood, mistaken beliefs, confusion, arrogance, ignorance, and so on. I share a disdain for flat-earthers, conspiracy theorists, dogmatic secularists, and religious fundamentalists, and above all those who think they understand something but don't (and I pray not to be one of them!) - but generally I try and avoid getting drawn into arguments with them. The ideal is to be 'polite but firm'.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 20 Jul, 2009 06:49 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;78512 wrote:
I am a a pluralist in that I believe there are a number of different, valid ways to understand or approach truth, be they philosophical, scientific, spiritual, or whatever. Often these will be in conflict, but this doesn't mean that we can't learn something from all of them. In fact, I think this is a large part of the type of understanding that is called 'dialectical'.

On the other hand, just there are a number of different ways to truth, there are also infinite varieties of nonsense, falsehood, mistaken beliefs, confusion, arrogance, ignorance, and so on. I share a disdain for flat-earthers, conspiracy theorists, dogmatic secularists, and religious fundamentalists, and above all those who think they understand something but don't (and I pray not to be one of them!) - but generally I try and avoid getting drawn into arguments with them. The ideal is to be 'polite but firm'.


We can certainly learn from false beliefs by learning why they are false so we do not make that mistake. But false beliefs are still false. And, that we can learn from them does not change that fact. I can be very closed and narrow minded about the truth.

---------- Post added 07-20-2009 at 10:12 PM ----------

jeeprs;77132 wrote:
With some trepidation, I beg to differ. There are factual propositions of various kinds which may be true or false.


But why would the fact that there are different propositions that are true mean that the word "true" means different things in each of those cases. After all, there are different things that are red, but that doesn't mean that they are red in a different sense of that term. It is true that table salt is NaCl, and it is true that Quito is the capital of Ecuador. But the word, "true" means the same thing in both instances: corresponds with a fact.
 
 

 
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