What is Truth made of?

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Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 05:44 pm
Who is connected to the truth, and how? Is truth ever more than justified belief? Is the objective world largely made of consensus?

Is there an essential difference between rhetoric and logic? Or is logic what we call our personal rhetoric?

Do we want the truth in itself? Or only in the pursuit of other goals, as a means? Do those who claim to seek truth as an end do so for quasi-religious reasons?

To quote Pilate: "What is truth?"
 
prothero
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 05:56 pm
@Reconstructo,
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

It is not clear that Pilate waited for an answer, was interested in an answer or even thought there was an answer. In any event Jesus gave no answer.

Truth is one of those elusive metaphysical notions, easy enough to grasp in theory but profoundly difficult to hold on to in practice. Correspondence? consensus? coherence? consistency? A transcendent ideal?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:17 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109362 wrote:
Who is connected to the truth, and how? Is truth ever more than justified belief? Is the objective world largely made of consensus?

Is there an essential difference between rhetoric and logic? Or is logic what we call our personal rhetoric?

Do we want the truth in itself? Or only in the pursuit of other goals, as a means? Do those who claim to seek truth as an end do so for quasi-religious reasons?

To quote Pilate: "What is truth?"


So, if I believe that Quito is the capital of Ecuador, I do not believe what is true? What, then, is the capital of Ecuador. Or, do you think that it is true that Ecuador has no capital? I would just like to find out what it is you are saying implies.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:28 pm
@Reconstructo,
Kenneth, you and I have been arguing this for awhile. I find the issue of proper names to be a less interesting aspect of truth, but we can certainly discuss it.

Let's say that a land is conquered and the conquerors rename it. But the conquered continue to call this land by its former name. Which is the true name? Let's say across the river another society calls this land by a third name. Same question.

Prothero:

I agree. There are many shades of meaning to the word. I find coherence theory to be a better description of truth in regards to real life, the way humans live. They don't just want objective truth. They want status, self-regard, transcendental ecstasies, etc. The correspondence theory of truth takes it for granted that we can perfectly know objective reality in the first place. It's founded on a questionable assumption.
 
ACB
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 07:29 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109362 wrote:
To quote Pilate: "What is truth?"


I recall from another thread that you believe in Kantian things-in-themselves. Well, we could perhaps make that a starting point and say that truth is correspondence with things-in-themselves; the totality of such things is 'the' truth.

Of course, I am perfectly aware that things-in-themselves are not directly knowable. You may reasonably go further and claim that they are not knowable at all. But it is also possible to believe that they are in some way analagous to phenomena, i.e. that their specific nature is a necessary (though not sufficient) condition for the particular set of phenomena that we experience. If they do correspond in this way, then phenomena give us an encrypted (and incomplete) version of the truth. Of course, we can never know that they correspond in this way (we can only assume it on a pragmatic basis), but it is possible that they do.

Given this assumption, it is possible to believe that by studying phenomena closely, and by considering the extent of their stability and/or intersubjectivity, we can get closer and closer to the truth. If, however, one thinks that this is an impossible quest and that things-in-themselves are completely unknowable, I think one should say that the truth also is completely unknowable. It only causes confusion if one redefines 'the truth' (i.e. the set of true things) as something we create. (We do, of course, create the abstract concept of truth.)

I would, however, be interested to hear any opposing views.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 07:31 pm
@Reconstructo,
I agree with everything you said, I think. But I should mention that I consider the "thing-in-itself" to be just a concept, and part of our mental model of objective reality.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:22 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109377 wrote:
Kenneth, you and I have been arguing this for awhile. I find the issue of proper names to be a less interesting aspect of truth, but we can certainly discuss it.

Let's say that a land is conquered and the conquerors rename it. But the conquered continue to call this land by its former name. Which is the true name? Let's say across the river another society calls this land by a third name. Same question.



If there is a real dispute, then the land does not have a true name until the dispute is settled. Obviously. But what has that to do with the fact that it is indisputable that the name of France is, "France", or that the name of Ecuador is, "Ecuador"?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:37 pm
@Reconstructo,
I disagree with you. The land has several true names. What authority declares the TRUE name?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:53 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109496 wrote:
I disagree with you. The land has several true names. What authority declares the TRUE name?


I suppose some international authority, like the UN if there is a dispute. The name of the large island off the Indian sub-continent used to be Ceylon. Now its name is, Sri Lanka, and that name is recognized internationally. Same body of land, different name. No place has an intrinsic name (if that is what you mean by "true name". There are just different procedures and different ways in which places can be named, just as there are different procedures for baptismals.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:55 pm
@Reconstructo,
But why should a person recognize a particular authority? Unless it serves there purposes? If the UN tried to rename New York State, would you agree to that? Or what if the US Fed Gov decided to do so?

What if someone decided to change your name? What then?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 12:04 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109508 wrote:
But why should a person recognize a particular authority? Unless it serves there purposes? If the UN tried to rename New York State, would you agree to that? Or what if the US Fed Gov decided to do so?

What if someone decided to change your name? What then?



Sometimes people have to recognize authorities. But if a name of a land decided by a recognized authority, and if other nations recognize this authority, and call that land by the name, it does not much matter that some may refuse to recognize that the name themselves. It will pass from being de jure to de facto There may have been some who opposed changing "Bombay" to "Mumbai", but it really does not matter. The name of the city now is, "Mumbai". But de jure and de facto.

If someone decided to change my name, and could not do it, I would not care. If he could do it, I would not like it. If he could do it, then it would not matter whether I agreed to it or not. These are obvious answers you could have given yourself.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 12:07 am
@Reconstructo,
But de facto refers to facts, and facts are descriptions. It sounds like an appeal to consensus, behind this appeal to authority. Or perhaps I should say the consensus of authority. And to what degree is authority based precisely on consensus? And consensus upon persuasion?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 12:49 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109516 wrote:
But de facto refers to facts, and facts are descriptions. It sounds like an appeal to consensus, behind this appeal to authority. Or perhaps I should say the consensus of authority. And to what degree is authority based precisely on consensus? And consensus upon persuasion?


I also said, de jure. What I meant by de facto was that when "Ceylon" was changed to, "Sri Lanka" cargo was addressed to Sri Lanka: people got Sri Lanken passports; and envoys were accredited to Sri Lanka, and the Embassy were the Sri Lanken Embassy; and so on. And this was true whether or not some people protested and did not recognize the name change. It depends on who recognizes the name change.
 
prothero
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 12:54 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;109531 wrote:
I also said, de jure. What I meant by de facto was that when "Ceylon" was changed to, "Sri Lanka" cargo was addressed to Sri Lanka: people got Sri Lanken passports; and envoys were accredited to Sri Lanka, and the Embassy were the Sri Lanken Embassy; and so on. And this was true whether or not some people protested and did not recognize the name change. It depend on who recognizes the name change.
Surely, proper names are not the best example of truth that can be given?
on the other hand one could argue proper names have correspondence (mail delivery), consensus (maps), consistency (till they change) and coherence.
Still, not a good example of truth with a capital T.
How about Newtonian mechanics versus the theory of relativity?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 12:56 am
@Reconstructo,
Is this not selective consensus then? Is this not the persuasiveness of authority? What is the truth of proper names made of?

Sounds like you find the consensus of authority persuasive. But we could have a party defining authority, couldn't we?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 01:20 am
@prothero,
prothero;109534 wrote:
Surely, proper names are not the best example of truth that can be given?
on the other hand one could argue proper names have correspondence (mail delivery), consensus (maps), consistency (till they change) and coherence.
Still, not a good example of truth with a capital T.
How about Newtonian mechanics versus the theory of relativity?



That it is true that the name of Quito is "Quito" is as good an example of truth as any other I know of. That names are established by convention is true, but when they are established, it is true that what they name, they name. That fact that you were given your name in no way implies that it isn't true that your name is your name. We should not confuse how names are acquired with whether they are the name of what they name. Nothing I know of is a good example of truth with a capital "T". But I am not an authority on what is true or not true with a capital "T", since I have no idea what the capital "T" means. How about that elephants are bigger than mice. Is that true with a capital "T"? Why talk about technical examples like Newtonian mechanics, when we can talk about elephants being larger than mice? I am not a physicist, but I do know about elephants and mice, and their size. And so do you.

---------- Post added 12-09-2009 at 02:25 AM ----------

Reconstructo;109535 wrote:
Is this not selective consensus then? Is this not the persuasiveness of authority? What is the truth of proper names made of?

Sounds like you find the consensus of authority persuasive. But we could have a party defining authority, couldn't we?


Well sure I find the consensus of authority persuasive. Why on earth shouldn't I if they are authorities? Authorities are people or groups who have recognized expertise in a particular field. That is clear enough. And this expertise is confirmed (or not) by their credentials. Not particularly complicated, I think. Is there any doubt that a professor of medicine at a well-known medical college is an authority?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 01:32 am
@Reconstructo,
But this goes back to my description of proof as persuasion. And of course I have always repeated that truth is largely the product of consensus, rather than correspondence to "reality" -- which is a mental model largely constructed by consensus.

The issue here, as the thread title indicates, is what is truth made of? The name game is pretty clearly based on persuasion.

And credentials are given out when the authoritative consensus is persuaded to give them out. If if authority is based on credentials, as it often is, then authority too is based on persuasion.

Rhetoric is logic in the nude.
 
Fido
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 06:18 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109362 wrote:
Who is connected to the truth, and how? Is truth ever more than justified belief? Is the objective world largely made of consensus?

Is there an essential difference between rhetoric and logic? Or is logic what we call our personal rhetoric?

Do we want the truth in itself? Or only in the pursuit of other goals, as a means? Do those who claim to seek truth as an end do so for quasi-religious reasons?

To quote Pilate: "What is truth?"

The truth is made of uncertainty...
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 06:57 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo wrote:
But this goes back to my description of proof as persuasion. And of course I have always repeated that truth is largely the product of consensus, rather than correspondence to "reality" -- which is a mental model largely constructed by consensus.


What makes you think that my name is not part of reality?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 9 Dec, 2009 07:36 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109543 wrote:


And credentials are given out when the authoritative consensus is persuaded to give them out. If if authority is based on credentials, as it often is, then authority too is based on persuasion.



That is all right as long as the credentials are supported by evidence (which they are, in general). And when those who award the credentials are persuaded by the evidence, that is exactly what we want. However, when credentials are awarded because of evidence, then those who award them are not "persuaded" but convinced by the evidence. Persuasion is the consequence of emotion; but conviction is the result of reason. So, if correctly established, authority is the result of reason. I may be persuaded in several ways that the right answer to the sum of a long list of numbers is X. But, it is only after adding up the numbers that I can be convinced that the answer is X. And the answer I get after adding up the numbers need not be the same as the answer I get from being (say) threatened to accept an answer. Threats persuade, reason convinces.
 
 

 
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