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Passions in Poetry

What is truth?

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jbouder
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50 posted 09-03-2002 07:29 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

quote:
Well, it doesn't look like I'm going to get very far around here until I can at least get you to question the idea that language is representational. That is, I have to ask you to at least give me the possibility that it's not.  

Is a scream of pain a representation of that pain or a reaction to pain?


I think you are confusing the issue.

To a person who is subjected to pain, the scream is a reflex action.  To a person who hears the scream, the association of it to pain is conditioned and, therefore, the scream, to that person, is a representation of that pain.

A baby, who lacks the experience to draw the connection between hearing another's scream and associating it with pain, may be startled by the scream and begin crying.  Over time, and before the baby develops the sophistication necessary to make this connection, the baby may very well begin crying whenever it is startled by a loud noise, not because it associates loud noises with pain, but rather because it associates loud noises with the unpleasant experience of being startled.  In this sense, even a loud noise becomes a representation of something more than it is and elicits a fear response in the child (i.e., crying).

quote:
Is there such a thing as a purely representational sentence? ... I'm hungry


How about, "Roses are red"?  Language (I'm not talking about reflex pain utterances), in its simplest form, manifests as a request or mand to meet a felt need (hunger, cuddling, change of a diaper, etc.).  As human beings develop, language becomes more complex and abstract.  The "roses are red" statement is an example of a tact or labeling.  If you respond by saying, "Well, some roses are yellow, others white, and others yet are pink," then we are engaging in an even more complicated form of communication that has little to do with our physical needs.

"I'm hungry" is a very simple example of expressive language that can result in a more complicated and abstract (or "representational") dialogue.  "What would you like to eat?"  ... "I want an apple." ... "We don't have any apples, would you like something else?"  ... "Do we have any chips?" ... "No, all we have is beer." ... "Cool."

For amoeba, reflex actions will never stray far from being "pure" or unconditioned reflex (I am not certain to what extent reflex actions in amoeba can be conditioned).  Certainly dogs can be conditioned to salivate upon hearing the chime of a bell or monkeys can be conditioned to anticipate an electric shock and experience biochemical changes if that shock is paired with a flash of light.

Language can be both driven by reflex and representational or abstract.  It begins as being driven by physical need and becomes more complex as as person becomes aware that the thoughts of others do not mirror our own thoughts.  I think this awareness is necessary in order for language to become more "representational".

Is language ever purely representational?  Probably not.  But complicated language functions are certainly a result of conditioning and can become very far removed from the early foundations of our language development.

I think it is more accurate to say that language is behavior.

Gotta run.  Enjoying the thread.

Jim

[This message has been edited by jbouder (09-03-2002 07:32 AM).]

Brad
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51 posted 09-03-2002 10:07 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim,

You're making my argument for me (and Ron has helped as well). Alright, what's the difference between representation and saying, "The baby is crying because she is in pain."?

Eventually, I want to get back to your original question. I agree with you basic premise. The problem, I think, is that I'm not sure you want me to. I'm not sure you want this because "with friends like me ...


You know the rest.


Brad
jbouder
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52 posted 09-03-2002 12:28 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

If I seemed to disagree with you, it was probably because I am not familiar with the language you are using to describe the concepts you are asserting.

The answer to you question: It would depend on from whose perspective the statement is being made.  From the baby's, I think the crying, arguably, could be a response to pain.  I don't think that this would fit your definition of "representation" as you describe it.  From the perspective of a parent, the crying would be a "representation", since the baby's crying behavior, in addition to being a response to pain, also communicates the baby's pain to the parent.

I said earlier that language is behavior.  But it is also true many times that behavior is language (and words are not necessary for this to be true).

Jim

P.S. I only fear agreeing with you, Brad, when you are flatly wrong about something.  I'll spare you the examples in this thread.
The Napkin Writer
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53 posted 09-03-2002 12:57 PM       View Profile for The Napkin Writer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for The Napkin Writer

Sorry I got in late on this but here goes it…..

What is the truth?  Consider the barer of a message.  Is the message barer believable?  Is the message a true statement, or a statement of truth?  A true statement being, regardless to the message barer, it is the actual truth, and a statement of truth being, the barer recited the message accurately, or truthfully.   Yet, the originator of the message is an unknown liar, and as such we have marked the barer as being a liar!  Therefore, is our opinion of the barer of the message truthful?  And history has proven in many such cases, such as one “example” rendered

Quote:
_____________________________________
An example ... if one eye-witness is asked, "Did you see Brian at the scene of the crime, holding a gun on the teller", and Essorant answers, "Yes" even though she didn't see you, she may be saying something that is true.
_____________________________________

No, you are wrong!
There have been too many cases where individuals have been sent to prison on the testimony of liars.  This so called “eye-witness” swore to tell the truth on what many regard to be the truest document known to man, the Holy Bible.  The question was simple and direct!  

"Did you see Brian at the scene of the crime, holding a gun on the teller"

The “TRUTH” is no!  No I did not see Brian at the scene of the crime, holding a gun on the teller.  How can we as a nation of human beings continue to use examples of a lies, to prove the questions of what is truth?  If this is an example of what truth is, then I question the perception of knowing how to interpret the truth!

As far as the OJ trial is concerned, we can go right back to the example given, or my first paragraph considering the message barer.  In this case that would be Mark Furman.  Is Mr. Furman a racist?  Did he believe OJ to be guilty initially and sought to make sure of his conviction by doing something unjust?  I don’t think that was proven either, but he was proven to be a liar.  Therefore, what do we believe coming from the mouth of a proven liar?  If a liar is the best witness to the truth, the jury did in fact do their job.  They based their verdict on believable evidence, and not on the testimony of a proven liar.  But, when I stop and ask myself what Mr. Furman lied about, after swearing on the Holy Bible to tell the truth, he lied about possibly being a racist.  Now do that mean that the rest of Mr. Furman’s testimony was untrue, “no it does not!”    It means that OJ was acquitted because the prosecution unknowing put a liar on the stand as its major witness!  “As such these type of witnesses chance the possibility of being jailed for perjury!”  And, to use liars as examples of to getting to the truth, are bad examples of finding the truth.

Since I know this question may come up later, I’ll give my answer now, no! No I don’t think OJ did it, I think he hired someone else to do it, and went to see if they in fact had done it, and became freaked out at the site, and high-tailed his butt to Chicago.  


As for what our hearts feel, that is the truth!  Our minds only interpret the feelings and give them meaning.  If we have heartache, of course the heart can’t figure out what’s causing the heartache, we rely on the mind to tell us what’s going on.  Our minds could tell us that it’s heartbreak, or heartburn, or just a simple case of gas, based on what are the happenings surrounding what issues are taking place, that may not even be a concern of the heart.  

If I cut my leg and my mind lead me to believe that it’s nothing, that I’m a big boy and I don’t need a doctor, but in heart I know it hurts like hell, so I go to the doctor, and he says, “good thing you came in, or gangrene would have set in,” then where does the credit go for saving my leg, if I had listen to my mind, I wouldn’t have a lag to stand on!  

We always use the term, “I should have followed my first mind.”  Well that first mind is not your minds evaluation of the issue, that first mind is your gut instinct, your feelings.  Or one might even say, “in my heart I knew it was a lie, or that I knew he was a liar, but I figured!”  You don’t figure anything the heart, you feel with your heart, and you figure with the mind, and our minds have been wrong too many times not to question what we choose to believe as the truth!

Edit:
"The truth is in our hearts!"

[This message has been edited by The Napkin Writer (09-03-2002 01:03 PM).]

Brad
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54 posted 09-04-2002 09:04 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If you follow my animal sequence and Jim's description of how children acquire language, I think the next question is how important is a concept of truth for an animal and an infant? I don't think they worry about it. This is a distinction between meeting one's needs (this is important for all biology) and the specific needs of human beings to separate the true from the false. As a child, at some point (or more likely over the course of time), we begin to see more than what is good and bad for us, we begin to see things as true and false. What's the difference?  We begin to be able to see that some things are true but not good for us and this allows us to make decisions that an infant simply cannot make. As adults, we can decide to drink something that tastes bad because it's good for us (it's true that it's good for us even though it's not immediately obvious.), we don't complain, we do it because we believe it to be true. We can do this without the kind of behavioral conditioning that a dog must go through to salivate to bells or without the ever present authority of a parent. We can decide to do this. This doesn't mean we can't be conditioned, we can and we are, these two ideas (along with genetic dispositions) all interact in such a way to produce a specifically human experience, but it is this third component (the decision) that is what makes humans distinctive.

The ability to make this decision, I believe, is the result of complex language.

If you find this silly, go back and read what Ron is willing to concede on what language does, it is these factors that allow us to see things as true or false as opposed to good or bad.  

If this is right then that means we live in a semantic world and that true and false distinctions are not mind independent, the mind needs them in order to be independent, however slightly, from genetic dispositions and behavioral conditioning. That is, these concepts are needed in order to have minds.

Now, before people jump on me tell me that this or that is true, it's important to see that this says nothing about what is or is not true. I've attempted to explain Davidson's theory of truth which says nothing about particular truths. It does say however that when one attempts to leave the semantic world for the sub-semantic ("Truth is in the heart") and/or the super-semantic ("Truth is discovered, not created"), we run into a problem. In either case, we can't decide on whether it is true or not for we have no conditions (contained in the semantic) to judge their truth or falseness.

The Heart (the sub-semantic) and the World-Out-There (the super-semantic) can never be wrong.

But that means they can never be right.

Truth isn't created or discovered, it is decided upon.

Now you can jump.   
Stephanos
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55 posted 09-04-2002 12:58 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

"The Heart (the sub-semantic) and the World-Out-There (the super-semantic) can never be wrong.
But that means they can never be right."

Of course if you insist on this, it also of necessity means that we can never be right.  Because if there is no absolutism (in any form) to be found without us, on what basis can you say that it is to be  within us?  But you might say that we decide corporately what is right or wrong... but that is the same thing as arbitrarily deciding isn't it?  Ultimately everything including all our decisions and language ends up merely "being".  Nothing is right or wrong, or true or false, at best, it just "is".  


Unless of course the super-semantic is rather personal ... unless that which can be called truth has a will and a mind.  If that is so, it is of necessity possible for us to be right and also wrong.  Deep inside we also know it is very possible to be right and wrong.  This is where we cannot shake the ideas of morality which are imposed on us by conscience... If all moral convictions are societally formed and defined then they are abitrary and I ask why should I feel obliged to keep them?  On what basis are we to assume that society is "right", especially if there is no ruling standard to which it can be compared?


"Truth isn't created or discovered, it is decided upon."


This is the point of debate isn't it?  You assert that we author and define truth.  I assert that truth is authored by the Creator of all things.  It puts him along with his created universe in the realm of that which is unknown by us (though not altogether unknown) ... and it puts us in the realm of responsibility, to seek out knowledge ... both in the realms of science and spirituality.  But why seek, and why strive for a "better" (whatever that might mean) world if there is nothing firm or absolute to be found or known.  This whole thing is an epistemology which I cannot accept because it is self contridicting.  How can any form of societal punishment (by Governments or anyone else) be justified on the basis of solidarity alone?  We can't say they are wrong... we can only say their opinion is not the same as the majority.


Stephen.

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-04-2002 01:00 PM).]

jbouder
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56 posted 09-04-2002 01:23 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad:

Ahhh.  Now I think I see where our positions depart.  

I don't think the next question has anything to do with whether infants worry about truth.  In acquiring functional communication, the infant relies on predictability.  If, for example, crying did not lead to consistently being fed but, rather, cooing and smiling was reinforced with feeding, the infant would stop crying to request food and begin cooing and smiling when fed (behaviorists have verified this).

Whether the baby worries about why a feeding follows crying doesn't matter.  What matters is that the infant's acquiring functional communication depends on the predictability of the response of another to its utterances and the consequence that follows.

As the child matures into adolescence and adulthood, the "why" becomes more important because, in order to acquire more sophisticated skills, a greater understanding of contingencies is often necessary.

In a sense, truth IS discovered progressively thoughout a person's development ("truth", in this case, being rooted in the scientific theories of operant conditioning).  In my opinion, our ability to make right decisions is limited by our capability of ascertaining consequences of those decisions.  Our ability to reason helps us to identify antecedants outside of ourselves that influence or even control the decisions we (and others) make.  Once we identify these antecedants, we gain more control over our selves and over our immediate environment.

Even our verbal behavior is often under stimulus control, even when we aren't aware that it is.  The "truth" of this has always been there ... our discovery and understanding of this "truth" is rather recent ... and for some little guys, the continued exploration of these truths is very, very important.

Jim

Jamie
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57 posted 09-04-2002 11:51 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

The baby is crying because of the diaphram ( a group of muscles underneath the front part of our rib cages specifically designed to draw breath in and push breath out of the lungs ) and the larnyx. They are responsible for making the sound or sounds that comes from the larnyx or vocal chords. They are what make the sounds we hear as singing, speaking crying and so on.

The baby may however be considered to be crying due nociceptors activating, thus transmitting signals to the brain that may result in pain.

Of course the ancient greeks believed pain was an emotion.

J
jbouder
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58 posted 09-05-2002 07:16 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Jamie:

Actually, the baby is ABLE to cry because all of these physical functions are able to operate properly.  Ability to cry and the purpose of crying should not be confused.

Pain is not an emotion ... it is a stimulus that elicits emotional responses (e.g., anxiety).

The other "J"

P.S. And some ancient Greeks thought all matter was composed of air.  They were wrong about that too.
Jamie
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59 posted 09-05-2002 07:22 AM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

I don't recall thinking they were right--lol
Brad
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60 posted 09-05-2002 07:25 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephen,

quote:
Of course if you insist on this, it also of necessity means that we can never be right.  Because if there is no absolutism (in any form) to be found without us, on what basis can you say that it is to be  within us?


As far as I can tell, you're saying that we can never be certain that we are right. I think that's right. This is the cautionary use of truth: We can explain everything and predict everything but our explanations may not be true. I used to laugh at such statements, I used to say, "So what?" I still think that sometimes, I now think that's a good thing to have. However, I still think that it's only a good thing to worry about in certain contexts, in certain times and certain places.

quote:
But you might say that we decide corporately what is right or wrong... but that is the same thing as arbitrarily deciding isn't it?


I don't know what you mean by 'corporately' here, perhaps it's 'cooperatively'? Not criticizing because I do the same thing sometimes, I just don't understand what you mean. If Davidson's semantic theory of truth or as Rorty and Ramberg have said, a semantic theory of error, is indeed correct, our decisions aren't arbitrary and true at the same time. The decision making process is backed by all those other beliefs you have, it's also backed by how it works in the world. We do not randomly decide things.  

quote:
Ultimately everything including all our decisions and language ends up merely "being".  Nothing is right or wrong, or true or false, at best, it just "is".


Only if you work from a picture that's outside the universe, does this work. A math test may merely 'be' at one level, but at another it's pretty important to get it right.  

quote:
Unless of course the super-semantic is rather personal ... unless that which can be called truth has a will and a mind.  If that is so, it is of necessity possible for us to be right and also wrong.  Deep inside we also know it is very possible to be right and wrong.  This is where we cannot shake the ideas of morality which are imposed on us by conscience... If all moral convictions are societally formed and defined then they are abitrary and I ask why should I feel obliged to keep them?  On what basis are we to assume that society is "right", especially if there is no ruling standard to which it can be compared?


This is a nice trick. If a linguistic community is what sets up the ability to determine true and false, can you question that linguistic community? Sure, you can do that. What you can't do is jump completely outside that community and pretend you are going to be understood. Ron and that article make much of the ambiguity inherent in linguistic community, but I don't think it's such a big deal. Are we part of multiple linguistic communities? Yes, we are. How do we know we're a part of linguistic community? Our vocables seem to work in the way they think they should. How are you sure that you aren't in a particular linguistic community? It doesn't look like they understand you. It doesn't work. Is there a sure line between any of these points? No. Do linguistic communities change? Sure. Can we change them? Yes.  

quote:
"Truth isn't created or discovered, it is decided upon."


This is the point of debate isn't it?  You assert that we author and define truth.[/quote]

No, I didn't. I said that we decide what is true and false. I said that in order for something to be true it can be false. That's it.

I want to address your other points in a little more detail. I want to do this by pretending that we are taking a math test in the same class.

Later,

Brad
  How can any form of societal punishment (by Governments or anyone else) be justified on the basis of solidarity alone?  We can't say they are wrong... we can only say their opinion is not the same as the majority.

Stephanos
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61 posted 09-05-2002 11:57 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

Sure, I love Math tests!  ...  

Stephen.  

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (09-06-2002 12:00 AM).]

Ron
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62 posted 09-06-2002 12:54 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
The decision making process is backed by all those other beliefs you have, it's also backed by how it works in the world. We do not randomly decide things.

The Truth and how we arrive at the truth are very different topics.

And, hey, I want to give a math test, too!  
Opeth
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63 posted 09-08-2002 12:14 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

If anyone believes that OJ Simpson did not murder his wife, I have some tickets to sell you for the upcoming comet lift to the 3rd heavens.

Seriously...

If one does not believe that OJ commited the act of murder then that person either:

1. Did not follow the entire trial and therefore did not digest all the facts of the case.

2. Subjectively, for whatever reason(s), does not want to believe this fact.

3. Cannot understand the evidence presented.

There may be more reasons, but these are most likely the three major ones.

Proving OJ Simpson's guilt was lost during the jury selection process, period.

IMO ~ Mark Furman's testimony coupled with an incompetent Judge only accounted for the jury's quick decision.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (09-08-2002 12:17 PM).]

Ron
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64 posted 09-08-2002 01:23 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

If you'd like to start a new thread, Opeth, by all means do so. But let's try to stay on-topic and not go into splintered directions.
Midnitesun
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65 posted 09-08-2002 11:46 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

The truth is, this is an interesting thread that could go on and on. I still have trouble with courtroom scenes: "Yes, it's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." How many times have I heard an accomplished liar say "so help me, God" as they've sworn on a stack of Bibles to tell the truth. Sometimes truth seems to be the same as beauty...it's in the eyes of the beholder. Yet I do believe it is a truth that the earth is more globelike than rectangular. And I do believe (or hope?) that the truth shall set you free. But what truth? free from what? free to do what?

I do know one absolute truth. I love my daughter, unconditionally.
  
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66 posted 12-22-2002 06:13 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

The truth is:  We give up?


Brad
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67 posted 12-22-2002 06:38 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

No, I just dropped the ball.

Part of the problem is Ron's point. The Truth and the process of getting there are two different things. Yet, Jim makes noises about both in his opening comment. I think the Truth is a 'category mistake' (to follow Davidson, who I quote somewhere around here.). Truth is a necessary part of how we think, we can't 'think' without it, but that doesn't mean 'the Truth is out there'.

Truth is something we decide upon, but it's not decided upon arbitrarily. I've described this here, but the term Davidson uses is triangulation: you, another speaker, and the world interact to decide upon the truth.

This isn't much different, from my point of view, that truth is inter-subjectively defined with the presupposition that it works, but Davidson takes it much further. He argues that, if this is true, most of our beliefs must be true already.

When someone says, "That's your truth and this is my truth," it's a mistake, I suspect it's a way of arguing that whatever it is that is being talked about isn't significant at that moment. If it were, what is true becomes damn important.

Ron
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68 posted 12-22-2002 07:42 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
… defined with the presupposition that it works


Bingo?
Brad
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69 posted 12-22-2002 08:08 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Uh, help?

Stephanos
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70 posted 12-22-2002 08:41 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

"When someone says, "That's your truth and this is my truth," it's a mistake, I suspect it's a way of arguing that whatever it is that is being talked about isn't significant at that moment. If it were, what is true becomes damn important."


But Brad, people are in error quite often about what is significant or not, at any given moment.  There are such things as ignorance, denial, and even unethical motives at play in the human psyche.  For example, what do you think of the man who chooses to drink Alcohol right up until his family is destroyed and his liver is beyond repair, and who still asserts that drunkenness is "his truth"?  Do you think this is in actuality something which is not significant in his life, or is he rather in denial of the significance ... which affects his life and the lives of others in a profound way?  


Stephen.

Brad
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71 posted 12-22-2002 08:57 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If I want to do anything else here, I want to argue that is misplaced use of 'truth'. It may be his satisfaction, his slavation, his revelation, his hobby, or whatever, but it is not his truth.

Look at it this way:

Truth=(his drunkeness)

Truth=(plug in your personal preference)

2+2=4

2+2=(plug in your personal preference)

If you can plug in your personal preference, truth, in much the same way that 2+2 loses all use value.

You can't be wrong and therefore you can't be right.

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