The True Definition of Truth.

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pagan
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 06:03 am
@jeeprs,
Quote:
by salima - i think this is why so many of the threads here seem to get bogged down, because nobody wants to say or respond to something that isnt exactly 'corresponding' to what they mean to say and what others will understand when they hear it. in some instances, such as the case of philosophical discussions or law, it is necessary.
yes. Maybe it would be useful to ask those who are still searching for a 'true definition of truth' why they feel a great need to find one? What would be gained if ever such a definition were found?

Is it not in one sense ..... an end to disagreement itself? Thus the frustration of those that cannot find a 'true definition of truth' is in this sense noble.

Or is it not in another sense ...... a search for power and status within a community that understands it, over those that don't? Not quite so noble.

Or is it just endless curiousity in the absence of a proof that such a definition cannot exist? 'Proof' to the satisfaction of the person concerned that is....... which brings the context of narrative and language back in.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 06:17 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;79951 wrote:

It is in my view meaningless to discuss truth in the abstract, because it is 'neither this nor that'. There is no such 'thing' as truth. It can't be defined because a definition only states what something is not. In fact it is only when we have a commitment to truth that it means anything at all. This is one of the reasons, or the only reason, why we study philosophy, is it not?


The dictionary says that the word "brother" means, "male sibling".
That is a definition, and it states what something is, not what it is not.

Of course there is such a thing as truth (although, of course, truth is not a thing). It is either true or it is false that there is extra-terrestrial life. One of those is true. We just do not know which it is.

How can we have a committment to truth if there is no such thing as truth (as you say)?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 09:54 am
@richrf,
richrf;77139 wrote:
I'm in the camp that truth is defined by a group of people by consensus. The primary function of this exercise being the ability to monetize whatever is declared to be true. People pay good money for learning the truth, so why not figure out a way to take advantage of this behavior.

Most economic groups (groups making a profit), are generally involved in some way with marketing something that is true - anywhere from religious organizations, to deodorant products, to research organizations. They all claim to know the truth and make a darn good living promising to deliver. I was a consultant at one time, and of course companies paid me to tell them the truth - which I did to the best of my ability. Smile

I guess, a good question would be, why do humans want to know the truth. Maybe it is just a game - i.e. to learn the truth? Sort of like a jigsaw puzzle. I don't know, but it is interesting. Personally, I love looking for clues, but I don't think I ever feel like I have the truth. Works for me while playing the stock market. A bit of humility has saved the day more than once.

Rich



Well, I am in the camp that truth is not defined by a group of people in consensus. So, is it true that truth is defined by people in consensus, or is it not true that truth is defined by a group of people in consensus?

"A puzzlement", as the King of Siam would say.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 10:20 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;79988 wrote:
Well, I am in the camp that truth is not defined by a group of people in consensus. So, is it true that truth is defined by people in consensus, or is it not true that truth is defined by a group of people in consensus?

"A puzzlement", as the King of Siam would say.


Well, that would depend on the type of truth we're referring to.

If we wanted to know the truth about, say, the attractiveness of someone, consensus would be key. Though, you may not refer to that as truth, many would (I see "truth" used in a laxed, liberal fashion, usually)

But, of course, 1+1=2 is true not because of any consensus, but because it is a tautology. Tautological truths never need consensus, do they? We could cite many examples like this.

In the end, to answer your question, I think truth is and is not defined by consensus (as it depends on what truth we're seeking).
 
pagan
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 10:56 am
@Zetherin,
hi Zetherin

Quote:

But, of course, 1+1=2 is true not because of any consensus, but because it is a tautology. Tautological truths never need consensus, do they?
i think mathematics is an interesting case because it is a very special type of language. Of course 1+1=2 is not necessarily true if we use it to model reality, depending on how we interpret the symbols in that relation to reality. But in and of itself it does have a strange feel about it. It acts upon itself like as you say a tautology, splintering into a myriad of equivalence.

A language that seems to take off into incredible complexity and without contradiction, if the operations and concepts are unambiguously defined. If a contradiction is found, then something is not true. Like an axiom or proposition that leads to the contradiction, or the logic of the chain.

A dream language for abstract determinists Smile apparently timeless. Very enticing in a search for 'the truth'. If only we didn't have to slip something like a scientific narrative on top in order to get it to model reality as a whole.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:14 am
@pagan,
pagan;79996 wrote:
hi Zetherin

i think mathematics is an interesting case because it is a very special type of language. Of course 1+1=2 is not necessarily true if we use it to model reality, depending on how we interpret the symbols in that relation to reality.


1+1=2 is necessarily true. It's true by definition - the concepts in the system (mathematics) define. And I'm not sure mathematics is an interesting case - what makes it so special... intersubjective consensus, perhaps? We are simply assigning variables, concepts, and operations, like you said. Most of us have the ability to do this.

Quote:
A language that seems to take off into incredible complexity and without contradiction, if the operations and concepts are unambiguously defined. If a contradiction is found, then something is not true. Like an axiom or proposition that leads to the contradiction, or the logic of the chain.


Yes, and we can do this with anything. You could make your own "mathematics" up if you wanted, making sure it flowed logically. "rsokfoak" could be "1", "iyihokdo" could be "2"... you could have a ball! Indeed, our semantic capacity is breathtaking Smile

Quote:
A dream language for abstract determinists Smile apparently timeless. Very enticing in a search for 'the truth'. If only we didn't have to slip something like a scientific narrative on top in order to get it to model reality as a whole.


Well, I think we slip the mathematics on top the scientific narrative, not the only way around. Mathematics conjoined with our semantics (application of meaning, in this case), give us the "model of reality", as you say. "The truth" is simply a metaphor for our yearning for something absolute, I think. We're making of it what we will.

Thanks for your response, pagan Smile
 
richrf
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:15 am
@pagan,
pagan;79996 wrote:
hi Zetherin

i think mathematics is an interesting case because it is a very special type of language. Of course 1+1=2 is not necessarily true if we use it to model reality, depending on how we interpret the symbols in that relation to reality. But in and of itself it does have a strange feel about it. It acts upon itself like as you say a tautology, splintering into a myriad of equivalence.

A language that seems to take off into incredible complexity and without contradiction, if the operations and concepts are unambiguously defined. If a contradiction is found, then something is not true. Like an axiom or proposition that leads to the contradiction, or the logic of the chain.

A dream language for abstract determinists Smile apparently timeless. Very enticing in a search for 'the truth'. If only we didn't have to slip something like a scientific narrative on top in order to get it to model reality as a whole.


There are occasions when 1+1 = 10, if the consensus is to use base 2 notation as it is done in computer science. And there are totally imaginary numbers i2 = − 1. I love the idea of imaginary numbers in mathematics. It opens up a whole new realm of thinking. An imaginary number.

Rich
 
pagan
 
Reply Tue 28 Jul, 2009 11:29 am
@Zetherin,
well for me Zetherin mathematics is like an incredible crystal. I remember the day in casual conversation with a mathematics professor at the start of my physics degree and he wrote

e^i*pi = -1

on the blackboard. I just stood and stared at what appeared to me to be such a magical equation. I still do. I think it is beautiful. It does not obviously follow from

1 + 1 = 2

which i agree can be part of axiomatic definition within a mathematical scheme. Changing the symbols wouldn't alter this effect, this creative discovery in the history of mathematics.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 01:16 am
@DasTrnegras,
I completely agree that truth is not defined by consensus. Nor do I subscribe to relativism. However:

Quote:
How can we have a committment to truth if there is no such thing as truth (as you say)?


1. The point I have been trying to make, obviously unsuccessfully, is that truth is more than the attribute of propositions (although it is partially that). In other words, I am not saying there is no truth, but the attempt to define it in the abstract, or say what it is, must fail. So you might say 'truth is an attribute of those propositions which are true.' This is very similar to what Ayer says in Language Truth and Logic. But I really think the post by BERJM on the shortcomings of the correspondence theory addresses this point if you read it carefully:

Quote:
According to this theory (correspondence), truth consists in the agreement of our thought with reality. This view ... seems to conform rather closely to our ordinary common sense usage when we speak of truth. The flaws in the definition arise when we ask what is meant by "agreement" or "correspondence" of ideas and objects, beliefs and facts, thought and reality. In order to test the truth of an idea or belief we must presumably compare it with the reality in some sense.
1- In order to make the comparison, we must know what it is that we are comparing, namely, the belief on the one hand and the reality on the other. But if we already know the reality, why do we need to make a comparison? And if we don't know the reality, how can we make a comparison?
2- The making of the comparison is itself a fact about which we have a belief. We have to believe that the belief about the comparison is true. How do we know that our belief in this agreement is "true"? This leads to an infinite regress, leaving us with no assurance of true belief.


This is why logical positivism on the whole was rejected decades ago.
Difficulty of definition - the more general the word, the harder it is to define. It is dead simple to define 'screwdriver' - a screwdriver is a particular kind of tool, and it is also not a hammer. When it comes to very general words, and few are more general than Truth, it is very difficult, or impossible, to provide a definition in the same sense. Maybe all you can usefully say 'truth is not falsehood' and 'truth is an attribute of true statements'. But I don't think this amounts to a definition.

I guess you can go down the route of providing an entire theory of knowledge and discuss what are the valid sources of knowledge and types of reasoning (e.g. inference, deduction, calculation, etc). Big undertaking. (Although I did find a very interesting new title on the subject at Oxford Uni Press called 'Truth as One and Many' )

Most of what I have posted in this thread was in response to the initial post, the main points of which is that the correspondence theory of truth is all that is required, and the idea of an absolute truth is false. I have said that I think truth is something that has to be sought out, and that the finding of it is difficult and may require facing a lot of hard truths about yourself. In saying this, I am not offering a 'veridical proposition' or a 'true definition of truth'. I am speaking from experience, allegorically if you like, and from what I understand philosophy to mean. Take it or leave it. Certainly it is not the way philosophy is taught at University. But then, I'm an amateur.


Anyway I have done my dash on this topic. Thanks to all for interesting feedback, ideas and insights. No doubt similar questions will come up again.
 
pagan
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 07:50 am
@jeeprs,
i missed your post rich

yes thats a good point 1 + 1 = 10, it shows a different but mathematically consistent interpretation of symbols. 10 instead of 2.

But this shows that the language of mathematics, with its number schemes, can generate infinite and unique 'words' from a symbolic notation system. Other languages do have systems but nothing as powerful as that. And not just 'nouns' like numbers, but verbs too like +,-,sin, log etc. The grammar has rules that again has a system of interpretation.

The systematic quality of mathematical language itself generates an infinite progression which maintains systematic consistency. The axioms are usually overt and an intrinsic part of a mathematical narrative.

Ordinary languages are much more loose and slippery. The history and meaning of a common word is not obvious from its form or relation to the narrative it is a part of. There is gain and loss in both.
 
richrf
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 09:17 am
@pagan,
pagan;80170 wrote:
Ordinary languages are much more loose and slippery. The history and meaning of a common word is not obvious from its form or relation to the narrative it is a part of. There is gain and loss in both.


Yes, I agree. But at least in this time and place, mathematics is greatly inadequate in describing the nature of existence ... worry, attachment, greed, happiness, dreams, fear ...

Nothing really is adequate, though we keep trying to figure out who we are and where we are .. and why?

Cya,

Rich
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 10:30 am
@pagan,
pagan;80170 wrote:

Ordinary languages are much more loose and slippery. The history and meaning of a common word is not obvious from its form or relation to the narrative it is a part of. There is gain and loss in both.


It generally is when you know some Latin or ancient Greek, since many of our words (but not all) originate in those languages. Of course, meanings of words change through time, so the etymology of a word is often misleading. For example, as everyone seems to know, the etymology of, "philosophy" in the Greek is something like "love of wisdom". But, of course, that would be very misleading for what philosophy is today. If ordinary language proves too loose and slippery for the analysis of a philosophical issue, ordinary language can usually be clarified, and tightened up by the use of devices like definition, and formal logic. That is part of the philosopher's job; to clarify what is confused.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 07:29 pm
@pagan,
pagan;80004 wrote:
well for me Zetherin mathematics is like an incredible crystal. I remember the day in casual conversation with a mathematics professor at the start of my physics degree and he wrote

e^i*pi = -1

on the blackboard. I just stood and stared at what appeared to me to be such a magical equation. I still do. I think it is beautiful. It does not obviously follow from

1 + 1 = 2

which i agree can be part of axiomatic definition within a mathematical scheme. Changing the symbols wouldn't alter this effect, this creative discovery in the history of mathematics.


You mean you appreciate the aesthetic quality of that group of symbols [e^i*pi = -1]? That is, you just like the way it... looks? What would you otherwise be appreciating? The concepts behind the numbers (e.g. "e" has an exponent "i", the multiplying of the "pi", the equaling of "-1")?

No matter how creative a mathematical equation looks, it still follows a "mathematical scheme". Changing the symbols wouldn't alter the effect (mathematical outcome, I suppose you mean), but changing the concepts sure would.
 
richrf
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 08:15 pm
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;80278 wrote:
You mean you appreciate the aesthetic quality of that group of symbols [e^i*pi = -1]? That is, you just like the way it... looks? What would you otherwise be appreciating? The concepts behind the numbers (e.g. "e" has an exponent "i", the multiplying of the "pi", the equaling of "-1")?

No matter how creative a mathematical equation looks, it still follows a "mathematical scheme". Changing the symbols wouldn't alter the effect (mathematical outcome, I suppose you mean), but changing the concepts sure would.


Hi,

Not everyone looks at mathematical symbols as a simple equation. Some may see a lot more. If your appreciation and awareness of form has not changed over time, then give it time, it might. I always am looking forward to the opportunity to grow in awareness and appreciation of that which I cannot yet appreciate - e.g. poetry.

Rich
 
pagan
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 08:41 pm
@richrf,
Quote:
You mean you appreciate the aesthetic quality of that group of symbols [e^i*pi = -1]? That is, you just like the way it... looks? What would you otherwise be appreciating? The concepts behind the numbers (e.g. "e" has an exponent "i", the multiplying of the "pi", the equaling of "-1")?
The way it all fits together. What each of the symbols mean in the mathematical world. The surprise! The exponential number, pi, imaginary numbers even negative numbers and 1 itself. These are interesting concepts in and of themselves. To learn what x^2 means, and then x^1/2 and then imaginary numbers and then see what happens when the exponential number is raised to what at first looks like a non sensical power of i*pi. And the answer is -1! .... and yes the simplicity and even the way it looks.Smile

Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder i guess. The truth of that equation is still amazing to me, even after i learned to use it in understanding concepts in physics ..... even after i had to use it as a sausage machine for number crunching results.

it looks even better hand written lol
 
richrf
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 08:47 pm
@pagan,
pagan;80284 wrote:
The way it all fits together. What each of the symbols mean in the mathematical world. The surprise! The exponential number, pi, imaginary numbers even negative numbers and 1 itself. These are interesting concepts in and of themselves. To learn what x^2 means, and then x^1/2 and then imaginary numbers and then see what happens when the exponential number is raised to what at first looks like a non sensical power of i*pi. And the answer is -1! .... and yes the simplicity and even the way it looks.Smile

Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder i guess. The truth of that equation is still amazing to me, even after i learned to use it in understanding concepts in physics ..... even after i had to use it as a sausage machine for number crunching results.


Hi pagan,

For me e=mc**2 is amazing. It only took thousands of years to get a mathematical formula for a concept that Heraclitus and the Daoists intuited. Now, how long will it be before we get an equation equating consciousness/mind to energy? :detective:

Rich
 
pagan
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 09:10 pm
@richrf,
Smile rich

yes relativity equations are cool.

.... c=me

:a-ok:
 
richrf
 
Reply Wed 29 Jul, 2009 09:12 pm
@pagan,
pagan;80291 wrote:
Smile rich

yes relativity equations are cool.

.... c=me

:a-ok:


Now that is SUPERB!!! YEOOOWEEE!!!!

Rich
 
salima
 
Reply Thu 30 Jul, 2009 12:36 am
@pagan,
pagan;80284 wrote:
The way it all fits together. What each of the symbols mean in the mathematical world. The surprise! The exponential number, pi, imaginary numbers even negative numbers and 1 itself. These are interesting concepts in and of themselves. To learn what x^2 means, and then x^1/2 and then imaginary numbers and then see what happens when the exponential number is raised to what at first looks like a non sensical power of i*pi. And the answer is -1! .... and yes the simplicity and even the way it looks.Smile

Well beauty is in the eye of the beholder i guess. The truth of that equation is still amazing to me, even after i learned to use it in understanding concepts in physics ..... even after i had to use it as a sausage machine for number crunching results.

it looks even better hand written lol


they say 'to each his own'....isnt it great? the thing i really love is bookkeeping-and it bores most people to death. Laughing
in fact i think i'll go put that on my profile...
 
 

 
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