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Author Topic:   How do you know truth?
funkmasterfreaky
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 114 (25966)
12-08-2002 6:56 PM


quote:
John, in the previous post you said that you look for truth. I was wondering, what is your definition of truth? And how do you know it when you find it?
This was a question posed by Chara in another thread which got burried. No response was given and I thought it might make for a good discussion.
------------------
saved by grace

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 7:52 PM funkmasterfreaky has not replied
 Message 5 by Quetzal, posted 12-09-2002 4:06 AM funkmasterfreaky has not replied
 Message 108 by judge, posted 01-19-2003 7:43 PM funkmasterfreaky has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 114 (25978)
12-08-2002 7:52 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by funkmasterfreaky
12-08-2002 6:56 PM


quote:
Originally posted by funkmasterfreaky:
quote:
John, in the previous post you said that you look for truth. I was wondering, what is your definition of truth? And how do you know it when you find it?
This was a question posed by Chara in another thread which got burried. No response was given and I thought it might make for a good discussion.

it is a good question and i'll await replies so i don't attack a straw man...

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 12-08-2002 6:56 PM funkmasterfreaky has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by John, posted 12-08-2002 11:13 PM forgiven has not replied
 Message 4 by John, posted 12-08-2002 11:22 PM forgiven has not replied

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 114 (25995)
12-08-2002 11:13 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by forgiven
12-08-2002 7:52 PM


quote:
Originally posted by forgiven:
it is a good question and i'll await replies so i don't attack a straw man...
Yes, it is a good question.
I don't have one and I don't know. If I did I wouldn't be looking.
The proces is one of sifting through the relationships of countless ideas-- surfing a sea of chaos.
------------------
No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 7:52 PM forgiven has not replied

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 114 (25996)
12-08-2002 11:22 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by forgiven
12-08-2002 7:52 PM


quote:
Originally posted by forgiven:
it is a good question and i'll await replies so i don't attack a straw man...
Yes, it is a good question.
I don't have one and I don't know, on the most basic level. If I did I wouldn't be looking.
The process is one of sifting through the relationships of countless ideas-- surfing a sea of chaos.
------------------
No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by forgiven, posted 12-08-2002 7:52 PM forgiven has not replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 5 of 114 (26012)
12-09-2002 4:06 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by funkmasterfreaky
12-08-2002 6:56 PM


I'm also a tad curious - not for John's take on it, but for others. What is "truth" as you understand it? Second, related question, "Why is it important to seek it?" IOW, what is this concept that everyone seems so hot and bothered about seeking?
Most theists of whatever stripe seem know what truth is, so I'd be interested in hearing what they think.
Most non-theists of whatever stripe seem to agree they don't know what it is. Some claim to be seeking it, some argue there isn't any such thing. Some claim that it's an unapproachable ideal.
So what is it?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by funkmasterfreaky, posted 12-08-2002 6:56 PM funkmasterfreaky has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 10:46 AM Quetzal has replied
 Message 11 by forgiven, posted 12-09-2002 8:33 PM Quetzal has replied
 Message 55 by nator, posted 12-18-2002 9:55 AM Quetzal has not replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 114 (26023)
12-09-2002 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Quetzal
12-09-2002 4:06 AM


To say that there isn't any such thing as truth doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps someone can explain that. That's not the same thing as saying we have no access to it.
I take the view that the physical world is "formalistic" (or mathematical)in nature and that our common sensical, sense-data view of the world is misleading.
The problem with philosophy (or religion) is the inability of language to express any proposition other than vaguely. In my attempts to define "consciousness," say, or "mentality," no matter what I come up with, the terms in the definition beg the question.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Quetzal, posted 12-09-2002 4:06 AM Quetzal has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by John, posted 12-09-2002 11:36 AM robinrohan has replied
 Message 12 by Quetzal, posted 12-10-2002 3:20 AM robinrohan has not replied

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 7 of 114 (26029)
12-09-2002 11:36 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by robinrohan
12-09-2002 10:46 AM


quote:
Originally posted by robinrohan:
To say that there isn't any such thing as truth doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps someone can explain that. That's not the same thing as saying we have no access to it.
I think you started to hit on the answer towards the bottom of your post. People mean sometimes very different things when they talk about truth.
One way to view truth is as an entity, a thing in itself existing independently of everything else. It is a bit of an odd idea but this was the view expressed by Plato in his theory of Forms. Also, if you watch carefully, a lot of people think this way. You can detect the hints of it is speach and writing. From this perspective I think is quite easy to understand how Truth might not exist.
Another way to think of truth is as a perfect description of how the universe functions-- a perfect chain of causes predeeding effects. Well, quantum physics suggests that there isn't such a perfect chain. At small enough scales there is an element of randomness. If this apparent randomness turns out to be what it seems, there is no formula that can completely describe how things work. Think about writing a formula to describe the roll of a die. If that roll is truly random, there is no formula that can describe it. You can describe it as a an expectation over a certain number of throws. In other words, you can calculate probability and have a statistical definition, but there is no formula that will predict each and every roll.
Some people have considered truth to be an aspect of god. Thus, if god does not exist, neither does truth.
Most people use the term very relativistically, as a component of the relationship between two or more ideas. Does this exist? Not in the same sense that we say an apple exists.
Just a few thoughts...
------------------
No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 10:46 AM robinrohan has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 11:56 AM John has replied
 Message 13 by Quetzal, posted 12-10-2002 3:30 AM John has not replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 114 (26032)
12-09-2002 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by John
12-09-2002 11:36 AM


quote:
Originally posted by John:
Another way to think of truth is as a perfect description of how the universe functions-- a perfect chain of causes predeeding effects. Well, quantum physics suggests that there isn't such a perfect chain. At small enough scales there is an element of randomness. If this apparent randomness turns out to be what it seems, there is no formula that can completely describe how things work. Think about writing a formula to describe the roll of a die. If that roll is truly random, there is no formula that can describe it. You can describe it as a an expectation over a certain number of throws. In other words, you can calculate probability and have a statistical definition, but there is no formula that will predict each and every roll.
I suppose you are talking about total truth, and I suppose you are saying that if you don't have total truth then you have no truth at all. Particular truths, a statement that corresponds to reality ("The sun will set at 5:15 CST") are dependent on total truth. Is that what you are saying? Suppose the events of the universe are random. Why isn't "The events of the universe are random" a truth?
{Quote structure fixed - AM}
[This message has been edited by Adminnemooseus, 12-09-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by John, posted 12-09-2002 11:36 AM John has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by John, posted 12-09-2002 3:02 PM robinrohan has replied

  
John
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 114 (26055)
12-09-2002 3:02 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by robinrohan
12-09-2002 11:56 AM


quote:
Originally posted by robinrohan:
I suppose you are talking about total truth
To talk about truth you have to know what the word means. I defined it in the first sentence of the paragraph you quoted. That is what I am talking about.
quote:
and I suppose you are saying that if you don't have total truth then you have no truth at all.
It all depends on how truth is defined, at least insofar as human discussion of it goes. As defined by me the example I gave, your conclusion follows. Though you'd still have relative truths and close approximations, but not THE Truth.
quote:
Particular truths, a statement that corresponds to reality ("The sun will set at 5:15 CST") are dependent on total truth.
Why? Everything about that statement is relative? Why is there a need for a total truth?
quote:
Suppose the events of the universe are random. Why isn't "The events of the universe are random" a truth?
You can think of it that way. What you did is offer a way to view, or define, truth that I did not offer. All I did was name a few examples of ways to think about truth such that Truth need not exist at all.
------------------
No webpage found at provided URL: www.hells-handmaiden.com

This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 11:56 AM robinrohan has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 3:37 PM John has replied

  
robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 114 (26065)
12-09-2002 3:37 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by John
12-09-2002 3:02 PM


In order to answer Quetzal's other question, "Why is it important to seek the truth?" I wanted to find out if he meant total truth or particular truths.
There are obvious practical reasons why it is important to seek particular truths, but I assume that Quetzal is referring to total truth. Actually, come to think of it, total truth might be just as practical.
Suppose Christian doctrine is a candidate for total truth. It would be very important to find out if Christianity is true so that one would know how to behave in this world (for example, if one should be baptized or not--and so on).
But let's assume for a moment that orthodox religion, with doctrines of an afterlife dependent upon one's behavior in this world, is not a serious candidate. There is no practical difference between agnosticism and atheism. There is, I suppose, no practical reason for believing in evolution or not believing in it (apart from possible careers, but I suppose we can ignore that aspect). So the reason for finding it important is non-practical. Still, to my mind, it is important to find out the truth. And the reason is that one wants to know if one's little stay here on Earth has any meaning or
not. If not, life is a tragedy.
[This message has been edited by robinrohan, 12-09-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by John, posted 12-09-2002 3:02 PM John has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Quetzal, posted 12-10-2002 3:43 AM robinrohan has replied
 Message 19 by John, posted 12-10-2002 9:59 AM robinrohan has not replied

  
forgiven
Inactive Member


Message 11 of 114 (26107)
12-09-2002 8:33 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Quetzal
12-09-2002 4:06 AM


hi Q...
quote:
Originally posted by Quetzal:
I'm also a tad curious - not for John's take on it, but for others. What is "truth" as you understand it? Second, related question, "Why is it important to seek it?" IOW, what is this concept that everyone seems so hot and bothered about seeking?
Most theists of whatever stripe seem know what truth is, so I'd be interested in hearing what they think.
Most non-theists of whatever stripe seem to agree they don't know what it is. Some claim to be seeking it, some argue there isn't any such thing. Some claim that it's an unapproachable ideal.
So what is it?

i find this interesting because i've never (never!! can you believe?) met an atheist who said anything other than "there isn't any such thing as truth"... or, "truth is subjective, an objective truth doesn't exist"... if one possesses truth (granting the existence of this entity), one possesses knowledge... would you agree?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Quetzal, posted 12-09-2002 4:06 AM Quetzal has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Quetzal, posted 12-10-2002 4:02 AM forgiven has replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 12 of 114 (26148)
12-10-2002 3:20 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by robinrohan
12-09-2002 10:46 AM


Robin:
quote:
To say that there isn't any such thing as truth doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps someone can explain that. That's not the same thing as saying we have no access to it.
I think it would only make sense if you had an operational definition of "truth". Without that, I agree the question is fairly meaningless. As far as "no access" to it, we need to figure out what "it" is...
quote:
The problem with philosophy (or religion) is the inability of language to express any proposition other than vaguely. In my attempts to define "consciousness," say, or "mentality," no matter what I come up with, the terms in the definition beg the question.
I agree, although I would probably say that it wasn't begging the question so much as trying to define something using terms that are themselves undefined. One of the reasons I tend to prefer science over philosophy - scientific terms usually have fairly precise meanings (consider "theory", for instance).

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 10:46 AM robinrohan has not replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 13 of 114 (26149)
12-10-2002 3:30 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by John
12-09-2002 11:36 AM


Nice reply, John. I think I probably subscribe to the view you mentioned in the last line:
quote:
[Truth is] a component of the relationship between two or more ideas...
However, I'm not sure that's a complete thought. To say that one idea is "true" or at least "truer" than another means what, exactly? How is it determined?
I would be inclined to rely on empirical evidence, inference, etc to determine the relative "truth" of an idea (using the principles of sufficiency, replicability and falsifiability a la Popper). However, this still begs the question: is there Truth? Or is there only little bitty truths?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by John, posted 12-09-2002 11:36 AM John has not replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 14 of 114 (26153)
12-10-2002 3:43 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by robinrohan
12-09-2002 3:37 PM


quote:
There are obvious practical reasons why it is important to seek particular truths, but I assume that Quetzal is referring to total truth. Actually, come to think of it, total truth might be just as practical.
That is certainly the question I asked. The problem is, I'm not sure what "truth" is we are supposed to be seeking. Evaluating the relative truth or falsehood of a particular claim, for instance, is certainly a valid undertaking. It's something we all do on a daily basis to a greater or lesser extent. In that, the "search for truth" has practical value. If, as I suspect, all that exist are itty bitty truths, rather than a whopping Big Universal Truth, then my question is answered because the whole thing is pretty trivial. On the other hand, if you postulate Truth as a goal, I'm looking for 1) a definition of what it is (and how you expect to know it when you find it), and 2) why is it important to seek it?
I pretty much follow the rest of your post, and have no real comment, except on this bit:
quote:
And the reason is that one wants to know if one's little stay here on Earth has any meaning or
not.
It seems like you're saying Truth is the same as Purpose. Is it? Also, I disagree with the quoted statement - I think you are presenting a false dichotomy. There is a third option (at least): that one can make their own "meaning", thus making purpose intrinsic rather than extrinsic. Your life is what you make of it (all other things being equal), for "good" or "ill".

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by robinrohan, posted 12-09-2002 3:37 PM robinrohan has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 18 by robinrohan, posted 12-10-2002 9:35 AM Quetzal has replied

  
Quetzal
Member (Idle past 5951 days)
Posts: 3228
Joined: 01-09-2002


Message 15 of 114 (26156)
12-10-2002 4:02 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by forgiven
12-09-2002 8:33 PM


quote:
i find this interesting because i've never (never!! can you believe?) met an atheist who said anything other than "there isn't any such thing as truth"... or, "truth is subjective, an objective truth doesn't exist"...
Well, to be honest, that was the question. Is there any such thing as objective Truth? If so, what is it and how do you know? Are there alternatives (i.e., is your Truth the only possible Truth, or are there others)?
I'd say from the standpoint of metaphysical naturalism, the default position would be that there "ain't no such animal". That only the itty bitty everyday "truths" exist. However, theists tend to claim that there IS a Big Universal Truth. My problem with this idea is that ALL theists - of whatever stripe - make this claim and their respective Truths often appear to be quite contradictory. I would be curious as to your take on the question...
quote:
if one possesses truth (granting the existence of this entity), one possesses knowledge... would you agree?
Hmm, not sure whether I agree with this or not. How is Truth related to knowledge? In my experience, it is quite possible for us to "know" something that isn't true. This observation is especially accurate when we make claims about things that are "self evident", or assign values to something. Utility is another concept that gets squishy when we talk about knowing something. The validity of our knowledge, IMO, depends on the confidence level we assign to the evidence we use to determine what is "known", if that makes any sense. How does this relate to Truth?
[This message has been edited by Quetzal, 12-10-2002]

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by forgiven, posted 12-09-2002 8:33 PM forgiven has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by forgiven, posted 12-10-2002 6:52 AM Quetzal has replied

  
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