Truth

I know this thread is mostly politics but I thought I would post some philosophical questions.
Is truth relative, absolute or non existent?

If things that are true are absolute, would you say lying or speeding are always wrong? I could lie to protect the inocent from murderes or speed to get a pregnant women to the hospital on time. So you could say that there is no absalute because every situation has its exceptions

Is truth relative? I could say that, if all truth was relative, than I might not beileive anything at all. That if i boil everything down to things are only right in certain situations, i could justify everything I feel by saying "in this certain situation I will act how I feel rather than the integrity I was taught by my parents, teacher etc." After all, Hitler truly beileived that the Jews were evil and that he was doing a good thing by comiting genocide.

Or is there no truth at all? Even in that statement there seems to be contradiction, for if there was no truth at all, when we say an absolute statement, like "there is no absolute truth," it seems that we would be proclaiming a absolute truth.

There has already been much debate on this but I thought my few paragraphs might be enough to start us off. I tried to keep my own opinion out but I think this a debate that needs to be discused to figure out what you beileive and who you are. Enjoy!

I think 'truth' is conditional. 'Speeding' is only bad because some people cannot control themselves (via lack of judgement) or their urges (via emotional instability - whether temporary or permanent) and thus limits must be put in place to manage the risk of travelling on given road of a given type.

Speeding in and of itself isn't wrong and truths are not about what is right or wrong - truth is simply truth: a fact.

You can apply this logic to most other truths that we create as well. However, we often place emotional baggage around what we call a truth and in those cases they may not be truths at all but instead beliefs...

Truth should be based on facts - not emotions.

Truth is what you are left with at the end of an investigation into a topic. It should reflect the world correctly, in that later investigations should not contradict it. As to all that stuff about whether it's "relative" or "absolute" or "non-existant", I think there you might be talking more about ethics or morality. Facts are not relative, absolute or non-existent; they just *are*.

Truth is an abstract concept. It is elusive and ill-defined. Colloquially it is a non-falsehood, the opposite of a lie, but it is quite different than a fact.

I agree that truth should be based on facts, but facts are cold and emotionless, while truth should have the opportunity for warmth. It is the embodiment of fact with emotion. Truth doesn't have a moral component, though. Speeding is a social construct, and we decide whether it is right or wrong, but truth doesn't really play a part in it.

Good place to start:
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dicti...

A truth is defined largely by the underlying facts used to support it. It is in some ways more like the operation of a theorem or theory. A truth, like a theory is is a statement made based on experienced, observed facts. A truth like a theorem is something reached along many steps to the conclusion.

A truth, like a theorem is something you prove, never assumed.

A truth is never a principle, it is a conclusion propped up upon by principles and facts.

You assault a truth like a theory or theorem by showing defect in a fact or assumption made along the way.

Example:

In a court of law, a witness makes a statement of which asserted as a truth based on the character of the witness, knowledge that they were at the scene, their statement has been consistent, etc. The witness states that she saw the accused using his left hand to hold a gun up at a liquor store. Security footage shows that the perpetrator in fact held the gun in his right. The accused is on tape signing a sworn statement with his right hand. Photographs of him playing paintball shows him to shoot with his right hand.

The truth of the witness' statement is in question based on attacks from other factual sources. The truth most in question is the assertion that she witnessed the accused holding a gun with his left hand. A more accurate statement, closer to truth is that the witness saw SOMEONE holding up the store with a gun in his left hand.

Well I am of the mind that while I use truths practically, I realize that our most black and white truths are subjective to the planet we inhabit and the solar system and universe it resides in.

So some truths are more absolute under stricter control conditions. While some are more absolute under strict and loose conditions.

I am also very aware of the court of public opinion and how that effects truths locally, nationally and worldly. Truth as it applies to justice is all over the map in those instances.

Sometimes I think truth is a journey, especially when it comes to personal truth. And truth can waiver over decades or centuries.

So I know that doesn't clarify as much as I'd like it to but those have been my thoughts after a few decades under my belt. I guess my mindset now is that I won't stop trying to adhere to truth as an absolute despite the fact that the older I get the more relative it seems.

Here is something to consider: if there are no truths because we don't exist at all, wouldn't it be a pickle that fiction's sole purpose in its non-existence is to find and document truth?

fangblackbone wrote:

Here is something to consider: if there are no truths because we don't exist at all, wouldn't it be a pickle that fiction's sole purpose in its non-existence is to find and document truth?

*Brain assplode*

If there are no truths because we don't exist, then nothing. If you accept that we don't exist, then there's no point debating anything from that point on.

FiveIron wrote:

Is truth relative? I could say that, if all truth was relative, than I might not beileive anything at all. That if i boil everything down to things are only right in certain situations, i could justify everything I feel by saying "in this certain situation I will act how I feel rather than the integrity I was taught by my parents, teacher etc." After all, Hitler truly beileived that the Jews were evil and that he was doing a good thing by comiting genocide.


I don't really see that these questions of ethics have much to do with whether or not truth is relative or subjective. We certainly try to use "true facts" to make moral judgements but that strikes me as a derived use of "true statements".

Whether true things are relative (to us) or absolutely (independently) true strikes me as an issue about whether or not information can be regarded as true if there are no minds present to regard/understand that information.

*Brain assplode*

If there are no truths because we don't exist, then nothing. If you accept that we don't exist, then there's no point debating anything from that point on.

Let me restate: We don't actually exist because it is a fictional existence. (from presumably someone who does exist) Anf thus our fictional existence is used to discover truth.

fangblackbone wrote:
*Brain assplode*

If there are no truths because we don't exist, then nothing. If you accept that we don't exist, then there's no point debating anything from that point on.

Let me restate: We don't actually exist because it is a fictional existence. (from presumably someone who does exist) Anf thus our fictional existence is used to discover truth.

If fictional existence is indistinguishable from a real existence then I don't think you can make the distinction. Hence the whole "we could be in the matrix" ideas several years ago. As long as our senses and mind tells us it's real then it's as real as it's ever going to get.

Truth (for me) is based on observation (things get wet when it rains: Truth). If my observations state something different then that is truth. If my truth is part of a dream that I wake up from then my truth was conditional to being within that reality but it was no less true.

fangblackbone wrote:
*Brain assplode*

If there are no truths because we don't exist, then nothing. If you accept that we don't exist, then there's no point debating anything from that point on.

Let me restate: We don't actually exist because it is a fictional existence. (from presumably someone who does exist) Anf thus our fictional existence is used to discover truth.

If this is a fictional existence, then there is no truth. There's only the fiction that "someone" is creating. Fiction != Truth.

If this is a fictional existence, I demand an extensive rewrite, because no one will want to watch this sh*t.

Where'd FiveIron go, anyway?

Did you check your bag of clubs?

I can check my bag of *knives*...

What's the point?

Robear wrote:
Where'd FiveIron go, anyway?

still here, I've just been enjoying what other people have had to say.

Strewth was right, that truth is incredibly complex and hard to define. Personally, I'm not sure where my beliefs are at the moment. The one thing that I know about truth, is that if something is true, it will work in every situation and for everyone. Truth, has no meaning unless it is universal and objective (not subjective) for everyone. If this is not true, Then there is no point in philosophy and in education. That if truth is relative then there is no point in bettering our selves because, if truth was relative, then no matter what i do I should be able to have good results if I only have good intentions.

FiveIron wrote:
Truth, has no meaning unless it is universal and objective (not subjective) for everyone.

Personally I think there are objective truths (or statements about the universe that could be said to be objectively true). Most (or at least many) or them are probably highly contingent. I also reckon that the nature of being a subjective being probably means that I can not have direct access to objective truths, I can only have access to some subjective approximation.

FiveIron wrote:
If this is not true, Then there is no point in philosophy and in education. That if truth is relative then there is no point in bettering our selves because, if truth was relative, then no matter what i do I should be able to have good results if I only have good intentions.

I don't really see that most of these must follow from the realisation that we only have access to subjective truths. We can use induction and majority rule type reasoning to assess the likelihood that some subjective belief/truth is a good representation of the objective truth and work from there.

Truth is a many-faceted word that is used for many, many things, generally in a positive way. It indirectly condemns several social conventions and processes that I deem important.

Here's a truth for you: Epistemology is one of the most arse-clenchingly boring subjects to study or discuss. Talk about a wasted year of uni.

It only gets interesting at the point it intersects with cognitive neuroscience. Gazzaniga and Sperry et al

The worst thing about those kinds of philosophy 101 discussions is they sound exactly what a student share house sounds like when the nintendo is broken but the weed hasn't run out yet.

All we need now is someone's girlfriend who hasn't taken a unit in philosophy but has some really strong opinions on the subject and her boyfriend who doesn't give a toss but is forced into defending her and the cycle will be complete.

FiveIron, this article may be of interest as an overview of the topic. You sound a bit like a realist, but that whole bit about truth being objective and universal, as opposed to "relative" (to what?), seems to be conflating truth with ethical principles or the like.

The idea that truth is something that "will work in every situation and for everyone" isn't really about truth. Truth doesn't *do* anything; in fact, in some theories, truth is *redundant*; if something exists, it is true, and nothing more need be asserted to make it so. It's either a claim about the existence of an objective reality (something that underlies most theories of truth) or a claim about ethical principles in some way. This is reinforced by your connection of truth (the assessment of statements about the world) with the idea of "bettering one's self", which is a real non sequitor. The "good results for good intentions" idea being connected to truth is even more logical jumps away...

Do you see a difference between ethics and truth? What is it? How is ethics (a code of behavior based on moral beliefs) connected to whether we can make accurate assertions about the world? For example, Jewish ethics claim that one should not eat pork, or touch a menstruating woman, although the latter could be cleansed in the Temple, when it existed. Are these behaviors based on accurate assertions about the world? Should they be? Should every moral principle be based on an assessment of the truth of it's assumptions? Consider "Thou shalt have no gods before me." This is a moral principle, but is it based on an accurate claim about the world? Should it be?

You may find a recent book by Harry G Frankfurt interesting. It's called "On Truth". He's professor emeritus of Philosophy at Princeton. I just picked it up; it looks like it would fit the discussion.

Maq wrote:
All we need now is someone's girlfriend who hasn't taken a unit in philosophy but has some really strong opinions on the subject and her boyfriend who doesn't give a toss but is forced into defending her and the cycle will be complete.

You have my applause, sir. Or a reasonable simulation thereof.

Hypatian wrote:
Maq wrote:
All we need now is someone's girlfriend who hasn't taken a unit in philosophy but has some really strong opinions on the subject and her boyfriend who doesn't give a toss but is forced into defending her and the cycle will be complete.

You have my applause, sir. Or a reasonable simulation thereof.

Bloody Baudrillard students.

For more information, consult Welsh, 1996, "Trainspotting", or Welsh, 2012, "Skagboys". These are clinical examinations of the behavior of students and their friends, including notional analysis of morals, ethics and other topics scattered throughout the text. A familiarity with 1980's Scottish culture and dialect is assumed.

Robear wrote:
For more information, consult Welsh, 1996, "Trainspotting", or Welsh, 2012, "Skagboys". These are clinical examinations of the behavior of students and their friends, including notional analysis of morals, ethics and other topics scattered throughout the text. A familiarity with 1980's Scottish culture and dialect is assumed.

See also: 68 Cleveland Street, Chippendale, front room. Circa 1994

I understand opportunities for first hand exploration of the topic can be found at most colleges and universities, after hours, in the presence of alcohol. However, I have not tested the proof of this proposition since the mid-80's.

Robear wrote:
I understand opportunities for first hand exploration of the topic can be found at most colleges and universities, after hours, in the presence of alcohol. However, I have not tested the proof of this proposition since the mid-80's.

Not in MY chemistry course!!

(are any of the characters in Trainspotting and Skagboys students?)

Yes. Renton was for much of the time in Skagboys, and several of the others had attempted higher education. Even in Trainspotting, they still socialize like (and with, if I recall) college students.

Robear wrote:
Yes. Renton was for much of the time in Skagboys, and several of the others had attempted higher education. Even in Trainspotting, they still socialize like (and with, if I recall) college students.

In England they are called Secondary school students..... BIG difference!