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Passions in Poetry

What is truth?

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jbouder
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0 posted 08-24-2002 12:35 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Gang:

I think some of the discussion in another recent thread warrants our attention.  I do not believe that the "personal truth" many assert can rightly be called "truth", but rather, is mere opinion (some more sophisticated that others).  If we speak in terms of "my truth" and "your truth", and this is all there can ever be, then I would have to conclude that there really is no such as thing as truth and, resultantly, there can be no justifiable standards for theological leanings, philosophical positions, morality, art, poetry, political opinions, or basic family life.

If truth exists, we must be able to test it.  Granted, in order to test it, we must be in agreement that our observations, to some degree (even if the standard is nothing more than an "average reasonable person" standard), must be objective.

In my opinion, if we confuse truth from either the most sophisticated opinions or the knee-jerk reactions to feelings evoked by cursory observations, then we are opening the door to potentially gross error.  Such a practice not only damages the quality of religious practice and philosophical thought, but will also, invariably, lead to a decline in quality in art and poetry, naive political philosophies, poor and ineffective education, and conflict in social and family life.

While I do not believe this thread will result in the revelation of the elusive answer to the question, "What is truth?", my hope is that we, as a group, are able to make strong arguments for what truth is not.

Jim
Toad
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1 posted 08-24-2002 02:28 PM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad


I agree that personal truth is merely opinion, a best guess based on the evidence, but I donít see how any other truth can be any different, apart from the number of opinions that are involved. Even with an absolute consensus truth still remains largely a conjecture liable to change and biased by interpretation, faced with such truth personal truth starts to seem a little more palatable, if not downright preferable.

You maintain that a confusion concerning the nature of truth is damaging to art, poetry and philosophy, I believe such confusion is, in many ways the creator and life blood that drives them. Itís the not knowing that makes life interesting.
Essorant
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2 posted 08-24-2002 03:50 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think truth is more in feeling than in thought.  Thoughts are just lackeys of feelings that cannot read as well or run as fast.  The more we turn around and make them as leaders the farther we are moving backwards from the truth, because our minds can simply not outstrip our heart, they are less current truth, but yet sometimes when they try more to hurry they become even less accurate in haste and their original wisdom was much better.  Philosophy is thought involving, but above all is  it not a love, "love of wisdom" is not love the hand behind it?  Most of the time it seems our frictioning differences just lie in our complex securities and machinery mediums incompatablitly and ways of try to translate while we strive so harshly to translate we become sometimes more detached from the core of what we are actually trying to translate, and woe betide.  Therefore If I were to call something truth as a general just based on it having more truth in it as I trow, I would say truth is the feeling that is the touch behind all this machinery and mechanics, where we are more common than in the machinery and mechanics.  I hope that makes some sense

[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-25-2002 04:35 PM).]

brian madden
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3 posted 08-24-2002 04:24 PM       View Profile for brian madden   Email brian madden   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for brian madden

Truth is certainly subjective, certain truths can not be disputed e.g the sky is blue, that chair has four legs. Human emotions taints or colours perception. Say four people were in a bank and witness a robber, each would tell the story differently. THe basic facts might be similar, but there might be subtle changes. Which story is the truth? one witness might have hid in fear and tried to cover up his cowardise, so he makes up what he did not see form the previous witnesses recounts of the event. Is his story then a lie even if it is the same as everyone else's.


The sum of the angles of that rectangle is too monstrous to contemplate!

Toad
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4 posted 08-24-2002 05:02 PM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad

The Sky is blue and that chair has four legs?

Blue is the minds interpretation (opinion??) of the reflected light captured on the photosensitive parts of the eye and transmitted to the brain as electric impulses. Blue is a label that isnít applicable for everything or body that views the sky, a dog may see the sky as grey, people with colour blindness or changes in colour perception may see it as green. The sky isnít always blue, it can be grey, red, orange and black, itís only blue when, and while, you see it as blue.

Numbers are ghosts, figments of mans imagination to make what they perceive as truth easier to explain. The legs themselves are as subject to your sensesí interpretation as the colour blue, as is the chair, for all you know the chair, itís legs and the sky itself may not even exist.

My opinion is that they do (probably) exist and I think Brad would say that it was useful to think that way too.
jbouder
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5 posted 08-24-2002 05:08 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Toad:

I agree that a certain degree of doubt or, more correctly, an unwillingness to accept the truth of certain widely held conventions has resulted in many outstanding accomplishments.  In philosophy, Socrates and Plato destroyed Sophistry and Social Darwinism (while I don't believe in its validity) shaped Western thought like no other.  In art, Kandinsky and ... damn ... can't remember his name ... the Sunflower guy who cut off his ear ... helped create new conventions in the appreciation of art.  Similarly, poets who pushed the bar of convention have, in some cased, created very fine works.

The problem lies in those who shirk convention in preference for their own "personal truths".  In philosophy, this can lead to sophistry, in art it can lead to a mess, and in poetry and art it can lead to an acceptance of mediocrity.  The most definitely stifles progress ... not only in the art and poetry worlds ... but uncouraging such behavior stifles the growth of the artist and poet.  THAT is what I meant by the potential for harm.  There are far fewer Shakespeares, Blakes, and Thomases in the world than there are mediocre poets with a potential for turning out great work.  The question is, do we encourage their growth with careful guidance or stifle it by saying, "Well, if you are okay with it, I'm okay with it ... if you think its good, I think its good ... your opinion is no better than mine, so who am I to suggest changes"?

Essorant and Brian:

Don't confuse individual experience with "truth".  Brian ... of course the testimony of several eye-witnesses is likely to differ from witness to witness.  But an eye-witness account is only one piece of direct evidence that a judge and jury consider in determining whether the alleged perpetrator committed the crime.

The legal reasoning process in criminal courts (US courts anyway) attempts to determine whether or not guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" can be ascertained.  If one eyewitness lies, does that mean he is not saying something that isn't true?  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.

This may be the case (1) if other eye-witnesses DID see you and reported it correctly and/or (2) if physical evidence places you at the scene of the crime (hair, your fingerprints on a bullet you used to shoot out a light, a footprint from your Bruno Malis, etc.) and/or (3) whether circumstancial evidence may erradicate your testimony of innocence (you say you were with your girlfriend, but your girlfriend was with Toad, for example).

In legal proceedings, the "truth" is reached by carefully weighing both the direct and indirect evidence that supports or fails to support the charge.  If "reasonable doubt" meant "any doubt", then the "truth" would certainly be unreachable.  While it may not be truly objective truth, I think it is fair to say it is truth's ugly stepsister who isn't quite as ugly as her cousin, "personal opinion" and her VERY ugly sister "knee-jerk".

Essorant:

I cannot accept your position as valid.  Truth is found in feeling and not in knowledge?  If we weigh ourselves down in knowledge, we slow our progress?  Feelings are superior to thought in finding "the truth"?

I think the opposite is true.  If we let our feelings run away with our thoughts, the result is a lack of progress or even harm to self and others.  Did Edison invent the lightbulb because he "felt" it into existence?  He may have finally achieved his goal, in part, because he was passionate about his work, but ultimately, he achieved his goal because of careful thought, planning, genious and discipline.

Or was OJ acquitted because a jury carefully followed the facts presented to them and weighed them against the testimony offered by the defense?  No!  They allowed the feelings roused in them by Simpson's defense team to override their careful examination of a tremendous amount of circumstancial and physical evidence that contradicted their verdict VERY convincingly.

Allowing feelings to preside over thought leads to dark rooms and murderers walking free, folks.  That's not the world I want to live in.

Jim
Ron
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6 posted 08-24-2002 05:45 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
because our minds can simply not outstrip our heart Ö

Separation of thought and feelings is like trying to separate the water from the river. Remove one or the other, and nothing is left. Rivers are water, and feelings are thought. Both thought and feeling originate in the brain, not in the heart. Else, getting a heart transplant from Mary would have profound effects on my social life.  

Truth #1 - You are able to breathe normally right now because the room where you sit has air and oxygen. This kind of truth falls under the same umbrella as "the sky is blue" or "that chair has four legs." It is an empirical truth.

Truth #2 - The movement of molecules in a gas (like that air you're breathing right now) is non-random, but determined by the very complex (and little understood) mechanics of Chaos Theory. We cannot determine the path of any single molecule, but we can "predict" the path of a group of molecules. The larger the group, the more precise our prediction will be. We know, for example, that there is a statistical possibility that every oxygen molecule in your room will simultaneously boom, bounce, careen its way into the kitchen - in which case, you will asphyxiate in, oh, about two minutes. Fortunately, you have a much better chance of winning the lottery in all 50 states on the same day than you do of suffocating in your office.

Truth #1 is an empirical truth, but because of Truth #2, it isn't an absolute truth. I honestly don't know if absolute truth exists, but I am fairly convinced, if it does, it is likely beyond our perceptions and probably beyond our understanding. Physics rather strongly suggests that every possible empirical truth is really, like the air in your room, a statistical truth. Two plus two equals four MOST of the time (but not within the event horizon of a singularity), so we call it a Truth.

Empirical truths make life livable. I don't keep an oxygen tank next to my bed at night, because I assume all those air molecules are going to stick around just as they have for the past 52 years. Of course, a single oxygen tank wouldn't necessarily disrupt my life, but if I started taking precaution for ALL the statistical truths that aren't absolute truths, I'd never find time to actually live. The air will remain breathable, the sun will come up, and gravity will continue to make me pay for all that chocolate I've been eating. Without some faith in those truths, life would be very different and probably quite impossible.

I really see no valid reason why subjective truth shouldn't be treated the same as empirical truth.

A subjective truth can never be an absolute truth, but that doesn't mean it can't still be useful. Ethics is necessarily subjective, but there seems to be statistical support for "Honesty is the best policy." Accepting that as a "truth" makes life a little easier to live. When situations arise that otherwise present no easy response, falling back on ethical precepts like honesty is often the only answer available. Indeed, I suspect that most of us depend on subjective truth to make life livable every bit as much as we depend on empirical truth.

Truth, in short, is what works. No truth, empirical or subjective, is ever absolute, so we can never be quite certain it will always work. And, because no truth is ever absolute, all truths should occasionally be questioned and possibly reassessed. Not to make them less of a truth, but to perhaps make them more useful.

Jim, the artist you're thinking of was Vincent van Gogh. And while that's not an absolute certainty, I'm pretty sure it's the truth.  
Toad
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7 posted 08-24-2002 09:01 PM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad

quote:
While I do not believe this thread will result in the revelation of the elusive answer to the question, "What is truth?", my hope is that we, as a group, are able to make strong arguments for what truth is not.


Finding out what truth is not would seem, at first, to be the best way to go, given that truth is so hard to pin down, unfortunately the endeavour gets bogged down with the same things that mires the search for an absolute truth.

It rained yesterday.

Canít be an absolute truth unless it rained everywhere simultaneously yesterday, so lets narrow it down.

It rained in London yesterday, well London is a big place and that simultaneous argument is going to bite us if we arenít careful.

It rained in Chelsea, London yesterday.

There thatís nailed it down, or has it? For a person in Chelsea London yesterday that statement could be classed as an absolute truth, of course he/she doesnít know whether it rained on the whole of Chelsea or just in the places they were at the time. For the sake of argument letís say that it did rain in Chelsea. Now we have our absolute truth, or do we? The person in Chelsea on whom it rained certainly does but every person outside Chelsea is relying on the word/ability/honesty of the person on whom it rained to decide an absolute truth. All they can say for sure is that, in their opinion, itís probable that it rained in Chelsea London yesterday, which isnít an absolute truth itís an opinion or interpretation of the available facts. If there were two baskets one for Ďabsolute truthí and one for Ďnot absolute truthí anyone outside Chelsea would be filing that statement in the Ďnotí basket. Looking at the empirical evidence based upon who put what into what basket we have to conclude that the statement is in fact not an absolute truth, By dint of the fact that most people filed the statement in the not basket. So here we finally have it - definitely not an absolute truth - the only minor hitch is that it actually may have rained in Chelsea yesterday.

Obviously we canít let that happen, we just turned a truth into a falsehood, letís reassess using a bit of common sense. Based upon the fact that a whole bunch of people claim it rained yesterday in Chelsea, and they witnessed it, weíre going to use common sense to assume it is in fact an absolute truth. Fine so now we have it our absolute truth, the only minor hitch is it can only be a belief or opinion based on our interpretation of the evidence.

Letís scratch the whole raining and Chelsea thing and choose an honest to goodness 100% solid gold example of something thatís patently not true.

Dragons exist.

Iím hitting the common sense button and filing this one straight into the Ďnot trueí basket, now we have something thatís absolutely not true, the only minor hitch is that they may actually exist on a small planet called Umphal.  ( Take a right at the lights and then straight upwards for several generations and itís on your left).


Obviously we canít let that happen, we just turned a truth into a falsehood, letís reassess using scientifically proven methods, calculating the probability, however small, of dragons actually existing in the vastness of everything, we conclude that it is a possibility that dragons actually exist. Fine now we have our absolute truth, the only minor hitch is that this is only our opinion based on our interpretation of the evidence.

The allocation of truth-values is hard work, you can never be sure which basket to file things in or whether youíre going to have to re-file them in the other at a later stage.

Letís make a workable truth rule using Ronís closing comment - If a truth is useful at a specific point in time lets call that  ĎThe Truthí until something better comes along. We may as well give it a name tooÖ how about Pragmatism?

The only minor hitch is that Pragmatism is only a belief or opinion based on our interpretation of the evidence.


[This message has been edited by Toad (08-24-2002 09:06 PM).]

Trevor
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8 posted 08-25-2002 06:21 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hello all,

I'm gonna have to side with Ron on this one, we perhaps don't have the equation for the whole truth but our possible wrongs are perhaps right enough to keep some sort of organziation to humanity thereby making it possible for all of us to survive and "progress"(though progress is a very debatable thing, for the term progression implies that we know how our end result will be). However, in my opinion, the truth is not a debatable thing. Truth is the truth....geesh, how profound am I? I should copyright that statement. or better still in terms of describing it in language, truth is something that is infallibly correct....(truth descibes itself?)...now if that statement is true, then there can be no debate on truth itself but rather only on what is true. And that which is true are pieces of the truth. What is true? Perhaps the existence of all things material or otherwise in relation to all things material or otherwise. Basically what is here and why is it here? And of course because we have a limited scope of existence, both physically and mentally, we know very very little to be true or have a very narrow view of the truth. ie. We know there are things that exist which we call atoms, but whoop-di-doo, that's like finding a flake of sand on the beach This may not bring us closer to the whole truth but knowing this does give us more information about the environment we live in, (which one could argue is progress towards knowing the truth), which is quite helpful in terms of survival.  
  
But there is one fraction the truth that I know of...and that is I really don't know much at all, which is a good thing....imagine me controlling the universe!!!??!?!?...a scary premise indeed

Thanks for making me think, I really don't know how much I contributed to this discussion but nonetheless it was a thought provoking read.

Thanks all,

Trevor
Toad
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9 posted 08-25-2002 09:02 AM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad


quote:
though progress is a very debatable thing, for the term progression implies that we know how our end result will be


I think progression, or the possible lack of it, was one of the points that Jim was making in his original post and as itís very debatable it might be worthwhile doing just that to see if we can kill, or at least visit, a few dragons.

It seems that so far weíre pretty much in agreement that truth is transient; that it changes with new knowledge and usefulness (I have some reservations on pragmatism but Iíll save those for another time). As Trevor rightly says progression infers a movement towards something; a journey at the end of which there will be an ultimate destination. Some would say that destination is in fact truth itself, but given that truth is transient we can never be sure that the destination we arrive at is the final stop on the journey.

Some time ago in these forums I used an analogy of how we arrive at truth it seemed to work well and may be useful to resurrect.

Truth is like a railroad, it has a starting point, or station, that is the first understanding or explanation of truth as we know it. At some point new track is added and down the line a new station is created, this new station is now as close to truth as we can possibly get. However it isnít long before new track is laid and the station of truth moves a little bit further down the line. There may be a point when no more track is laid and we can finally say that weíve reached the end of the line but we can never be sure that new track wonít be added and another station of truth will appear.

Now we have the progression; the transience of truth we can return to Jimís original point of how progression can be stifled by a reluctance to investigate truth or the belief in the wrong type of truth.

On the railroad of truth there are many stations and as the train wanders down the track people occasionally find one of those stations that they like the look of and get off the train. Those people have arrived at their individual version of truth, it was built on sound reasoning and at one point was the closest thing to absolute truth you could get. Some never re-board the train before it departs, theyíre happy with the truth they have and feel no inclination to visit any stations further down the line. Some, convinced that this station of truth isnít as good as the last one they were at, catch the first train back down the line. Most re-board the train and the train heads on to the next station in search of their idea of truth. At the next station the same thing happens, some stay, some go back, but some always push on towards the end of the line. These stations of individual truth sprout towns of belief and the people that live in them give them names so people will know they have got there when they arrive. They have funny names too, one is called communism another Christianity and one, strangely enough is called Herebedragons, itís a small town and the people who live there are said to be a little strange, but the train still stops there.

Jim seems to be worried that people arenít visiting enough stations and towns, heís not asking them to permanently move, he just wants them to visit other places and try and understand the history and reasons why they were built. They can always make the return journey if they donít like what they find.

Where do philosophers fit into all this?

Some would say that theyíre the gang laying the tracks way out at the end of the line but I think they only work there on a temporary basis. Most of the time theyíre the hobos riding the train back and forth visiting every station but happier to travel than to arrive.

Sorry for the tangent, next stop reality.
Brad
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10 posted 08-25-2002 09:53 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Truth is not:

ds;lfkzsf;oiefjdlkvn;selva;ifgnsdlkfno;svnodkfheoif

In order for something to be true, it must first be understandable.
Toad
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11 posted 08-25-2002 10:41 AM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad

quote:
In order for something to be true, it must first be understandable.

Nice attempt to muddy the water with linguistics Brad but I donít think it works.

The above gibberish isnít, I agree, an example of truth, however it may be an attempt to describe a truth but itís obviously going to fail because the language used is unrecognisable.

The sky is blue.

This may not be true either, it is however an attempt to describe truth but the truth and attempts to describe truth arenít the same.

Perhaps a more serious problem with your statement is the inference that truth cannot exist without an entity to understand it, taking that even further would suggest that a truth does not exist until it is understood. That would result in the conclusion that gravity couldnít exist without an entity to understand it (before the advent of man) or it didnít exist, even with such an entity, before it was understood.

Iíve a suspicion that isnít quite what you mean, I think you mean that the description or explanation of truth has to make sense or itís simply not useful.
Ron
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12 posted 08-25-2002 10:42 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Interesting.

I'm not at all surprised some would question Truth because of humanity's imperfect perceptions; i.e., any Truth is an interpretation. I was much more surprised to read that all those people outside Chelsea were relying on the word/ability/honesty of others to define Truth, and Brad pretty much blew me away with the implications of his short little post.

I just flipped a coin and, before looking, immediately covered it. There is a statistical certainty the coin landed either heads up or tails up. Let's take a look.

It's heads.

Is that a Truth? Was that a Truth before I looked? Is it a Truth even if you don't believe me? Does it become less of a Truth a hundred years from now when we discover a previously imperceptible dimension where coins always land on their insides?

What I'm reading in this thread is the old "What sound does a falling tree make if no one is there to hear it?" quandary. Does Truth depend on our ability to verify it? To understand it? Put another way, does mankind invent Truth? Or do we discover it?
Toad
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13 posted 08-25-2002 11:13 AM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad


Ron

The Chelsea phenomenon isnít hard to understand, there are so many truths possible that without a reliance on the word/ability/honesty of others our truths would be limited to only those things we experienced and understood personally.

Iíve never seen an atom, Iíve never seen a black hole either, all I have to go on is the word of others and their ability in a particular field, if I trust their honesty then Iíll form an opinion based upon the evidence they give me.

I saw a pink elephant

This statement from an alcoholic would be rejected along with the truth that pink elephants exist.

I saw a pink elephant

From the Professor of Elephant Studies at the African University of Animal Behaviour would possibly be more plausible, unless of course he was an alcoholic or compulsive liar.

Seeing is believing, but belief isnít quite the same as truth because I donít have to see it for it to be true, or do I?
Ron
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14 posted 08-25-2002 11:57 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I understand, Toad. And agree. But doesn't that have more to do with the usefulness of a Truth than with the existence of Truth? For it to be useful to us, a Truth must be at least tentatively accepted and, agreeing with Brad, it must be at least partially understood. But are either of those necessary for the existence of Truth? Does disbelieving in a black hole change the nature of the universe? Does failing to understand the math keep you from being sucked into its event horizon?

Put another way, is it possible to separate Truth from verification?
Toad
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15 posted 08-25-2002 04:12 PM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad


Yes, no, no, no, yes. (but not necessarily in that order)

Truth is hard to quantify because itís actually two things, one the actual existence and the other the description, understanding and our explanation of that existence. Separation of Truth (the actuality) from truth (our understanding of the actuality) is essential, without such a separation false truths become absolutes and instead of laying track we start ripping it up.
Trevor
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16 posted 08-25-2002 04:18 PM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hi all,

TOAD:

"It seems that so far weíre pretty much in agreement that truth is transient; that it changes with new knowledge and usefulness (I have some reservations on pragmatism but Iíll save those for another time)."

I disagree. I don't believe truth to be transient but rather a constant even if that constant is the defining "order" of chaos.ie. The truth of the universe is that it is the result of random and undetermined events. Now with this in mind what is true can still be transient but the whole truth remains constant.

"Truth is like a railroad, it has a starting point, or station, that is the first understanding or explanation of truth as we know it."

I like the analogy of a railroad but I think it is important to seperate, "truth as we know it" from the actual truth. Like I said in an earlier post, truth is an infallible correctness, and for once I'm actually gonna stick by what I said, and as we all realize, truth as we know it moves with the swiftness and accuracy of a man's hand as it digs for a lit cigarette he dropped on his lap while driving on the highway

"At some point new track is added and down the line a new station is created, this new station is now as close to truth as we can possibly get."

But that's if you are assuming that we form the tracks rather than just move foward on them. Perhaps the tracks and station have always been there and we just have to find the train and fuel to take us there. ie. we know that there is more knowledge to be gained, (there is already track laid), that will give us a new understanding into the nature of things (there is already other stations built). So its not a matter of building a truth but rather travelling on it, not so much a matter of being on a train, but rather finding a way to move it forward. And what we all are trying to find on this journey; "who" is the monopolizing railroad tycoon and why did "he" build the tracks?

"Sorry for the tangent, next stop reality."

Make sure you write down the directions so the rest of us can get there too

BRAD:

"Truth is not:

ds;lfkzsf;oiefjdlkvn;selva;ifgnsdlkfno;svnodkfheoif

In order for something to be true, it must first be understandable."

For arguements sake lets say that your statement is true. Yet your random typing existed before its explanation, and the explanation existed before we read it...before we understood what is true it existed in the form of your random typing and its attached statement.

Perhaps, your statement is true but what I think would be a more accurate statement is, for us to percieve what is true, we must first be able to understand it...rather than we create what is true through our understanding. I don't think we decide what is true but rather realize it. We can not know what we can not percieve, and we can not understand what we do not know. But if we seperate what is true and human comprehension of what is true, then something that is true can exist without us understanding it. I may not understand that meteors fall from the sky, I may never see a meteor fall from the sky and I may not be able to explain why they do so but that will not lessen my chances of getting hit by one...because the truth of meteors and their relativeity to my life exists without me even knowing it.

RON:

"Put another way, does mankind invent Truth? Or do we discover it?"

Does the glass tank a fish inhabits only exist after it runs into the glass?

"Put another way, is it possible to separate Truth from verification?"

What kind of a loaded question is this!!! Can nothing exist? Sure but there will be nothing there to prove it. I think in terms of what humans are capable of it is impossible for us to realize the truth without being able to verify the truth...Though I still believe that this may not lessen what the real truth is, only us being able to verify it. I guess we can have faith in what we feel to be true..ie, religions... but without some experience to make one "feel" there is a god (which is a form of verification), then there can be no thought on whether or not there is a god. There's more but I'm out of gas.  

But anyways, that's all I can muster up right now. Thanks for all the interesting reads.

Trevor
Toad
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17 posted 08-25-2002 04:39 PM       View Profile for Toad   Email Toad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Toad

Trevor

Truth (the actuality) is constant, truth (our understanding of the actuality) is transient (see my last post   )
--------------------------------
EDIT..

That's only my opinion of course, it sounded like I was writing it in stone instead of wandering about in the dark, darn language I'll get the hang of it some day.
--------------------------------

With regard to the laying of track, it is indeed possible the track was already there, itís only my understanding of the railroad that I was describing, but all that would signify is that the one(s) who laid it are susceptible to the same mistakes. There are a whole heap of spurs and branch lines that lead to dead ends which seemed good ideas at the time. The train of thought doesnít turn down them too often but strangely enough the hobos still visit them.

The ultimate destination for every traveller is the town they want to get to and feel most comfortable in and the railroad is run as a co-operative, all fares pay for the new track and maintaining the stations.  

Thanks for the chance to read and reply.


[This message has been edited by Toad (08-25-2002 07:19 PM).]

Essorant
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18 posted 08-25-2002 05:47 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Even if we knew it all for a while, we wouldn't be able to write it all down and remember it all.  So  perhaps truth is only how much we remember?

Too bad we couldn't just remember it all      


[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-25-2002 07:04 PM).]

Brad
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19 posted 08-25-2002 09:59 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Donald Davidson writes:
quote:
Truth isn't an object,and so it can't be true; truth is a concept and is intelligibly attibuted to things like sentences, utterances, beliefs, and propositions, anything with a propositional content


In his essay "Truth Rehabilitated" Rorty and His Critics, p. 65.

Notice the title. He's not getting rid of truth, he's making it make sense again.
Brad
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20 posted 08-26-2002 12:22 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Trevor and Toad,

We can collapse the distinction between our knowledge and things-in-themselves by arguing that it's all our knowledge, our knowledge in a causal, not representational, relationship to the world. Our use of language and of concepts, of thought itself, is a reaction to the world, not a picture of it.

How does this work?

Okay, if my first stunt was successful, you had a momentary confusion followed by a realization of what I meant. You did indeed make sense of what I said. The difference, however, is that it makes no sense for most of our concepts to be mind-dependent. Many of them have mind-independence already built into them. Therefore Trevor is correct when he said that the random letters had to be there before he read them, but not because of a real world. They have to be there because it makes no sense (it is not useful) to think otherwise. As a result, we drop the 'make sense' of it and proceed as if it was 'out there' rather than 'in here'.

But that conceptual change is 'in here'. This doesn't deny a mind-independent world, it demands that it be there, but in the same way that our brains turn visual data right side up so that we can see correctly, our thoughts and concepts do the work of dealing with the world in a causal way.

What does that mean?

Well, what it means is that, in order for us to live in this world, most of our beliefs must be true, but that there is no way to tell which particular belief is true or not.    

Essorant
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21 posted 08-26-2002 03:21 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

A couplet attempt:


Truth's how what's on page
chimes with what's on stage


Does it chime??
Trevor
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22 posted 08-26-2002 04:35 AM       View Profile for Trevor   Email Trevor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Trevor

Hello all,

TOAD:

"That's only my opinion of course, it sounded like I was writing it in stone instead of wandering about in the dark, darn language I'll get the hang of it some day."

Me two, eye wood very much like too master thee art off language

"The ultimate destination for every traveller is the town they want to get to and feel most comfortable in and the railroad is run as a co-operative, all fares pay for the new track and maintaining the stations."

I forgot to ask, is there a bar cart on this train? And what is the featured movie?   ....but you're starting to lose me on the analogy by introducing towns and economic theory...next I'll have to retort that the railroad is not actually run as a co-op but rather as a front for a money laundering racketeers and that its not the town we are searching for but the sofa within the house, within the town...just messing around of course The "truth" be known, it is beyond my present ability to further this conversation in a helpful manner. I am at a standstill of thought regarding this subject and until I can aquire new knowledge....or remember some old knowledge that was lost to the bottom of a rye bottle, then I don't think I can be any more helpful than the odd silly quip.


BRAD:

"....Our use of language and of concepts, of thought itself, is a reaction to the world, not a picture of it."

Indeed, very well stated.

"Well, what it means is that, in order for us to live in this world, most of our beliefs must be true, but that there is no way to tell which particular belief is true or not."

I guess theoretically there is no pure 100% steadfast way to prove or disprove anything in complete entirety (ie. Ron's emperical truth ref.) but its hard not to be bothered by the fact that the moon might actually be constructed of cheese and we simply don't realize it because to think that way doesn't make sense any more....but my troubled mind is eased a bit when I think of the fondue possiblities. Like I said to Toad, it really is beyond my capabilities to add anything really helpful to this conversation, so I'll just delegate myself to being the ass of the bunch.

One more fleeting thought,

"that there is no way to tell which particular belief is true or not."

The irony of that statement is we can't even prove that to be true or not.

Thanks again to all for a really interesting discussion.

Trevor
Brad
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23 posted 08-26-2002 06:10 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ah damn, I said this:

quote:
"but that there is no way to tell which particular belief is true or not."


too quickly. It doesn't mean that anything goes. What I mean is that there is no way to determine a truth outside of our context because there is no outside outside of us, it's not that we are separate minds observing the universe, we are in the universe, we react to the universe. This means, following Rorty, that no description of Reality gets Reality more Right than another because our descriptions, all of them, can only be tested, have to be tested, in a normative situation in order for them to be true. In this, they are used for specific purposes. But this doesn't free any description from observational agreement, from peer review or any of the other things that Jim mentions as being important. I think they're important too. We can never be free of the concept of truth, we don't want to be because we wouldn't be able to think without it.  But truth is a concept, it isn't a free-floating thing waiting for us out there. It's a tool we use.  

quote:
I guess theoretically there is no pure 100% steadfast way to prove or disprove anything in complete entirety (ie. Ron's emperical truth ref.)


There's no sure way to do this because this doesn't do anything. You can't prove or disprove something outside of a context anymore than something is true outside of a context. That context is us and that's how we can indeed have truths, we have to have truths, but there are no outside truths. It is this rehabilitation of truth that Davidson is shooting for.

quote:
but its hard not to be bothered by the fact that the moon might actually be constructed of cheese and we simply don't realize it because to think that way doesn't make sense any more....


Exactly. There is no way we can fit this description of reality with our other beliefs. It is the relationship with other beliefs that matter (but not all beliefs have to matter to all beliefs), not a privileged mind to a universe.

quote:
"that there is no way to tell which particular belief is true or not."

The irony of that statement is we can't even prove that to be true or not.


But who do we prove it to? The sceptic will always have a foot in the door if we think like this. True, it is true that there might be a description that is better out there (this is called the cautionary use of truth) for our purposes, but for the moment there is no irony if we both agree that it fits our beliefs.

More later, gotta eat,

Brad


[This message has been edited by Brad (08-26-2002 06:29 AM).]

Stephanos
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24 posted 08-26-2002 05:33 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

you said "What I mean is that there is no way to determine a truth outside of our context because there is no outside outside of us".

Is this the truth?  This statement when analyzed must be either absolutely true or not.  Is it possible for it to be false?  And if it is possible that this could be false, how are you certain that it is true?  You are still  making an assertion, but the reasoning is circular... ie we can't know truth because there is none to know... But you have to Know the truth in order to say this statement with any authority at all.  


The statement that there is no absolute standard of truth outside of the universe, reflects naturalism.  Naturalism says ,"Everything is in the realm of Nature, or the seen and temporal universe, and so there is nothing wholly unique and independent which may stand apart from it."  So Naturalism actually attempts to assert (strangely enough in an authoritative way) that there is nothing "outside the whole show" which can claim any authority or absoluteness, because it too would only be a part of this universe which is subject to change and temporality and a limited existence.  In other words, there is nothing or no one which can have any "original" insight, because all we know is our own insight which is by nature dependent and fragmentary... we are the teacher, the student, and the subject matter all rolled into one.  Having our particular existence in nature imposed on us, we are limited in what we can say absolutely about it... because we are only part of it.   But it is a great assumption to say "there is nothing or no one apart from nature which stands independently and possesses absolute attributes".

A supernaturalist asserts that it is at least possible for something to be "outside" the natural universe as we know it.  This is exactly the claims of Christianity ... there is a being who is not a dependent being but a self-existent being.  A Template or original above all the copies ... A maker in contrast to those who are made...one who can rightly and with authority interpret the universe and give it's directives, because he created it and knows it intimately.  A voice coming not from within but from without, or "through" his own created world.  

But the Christian world view does not come from assumption, but from revelation.  It doesn not say as naturalists do, "The Supernatural (as any being distinct  and apart from nature) cannot exist because we don't know it does".  It goes back to what Ron said about truth ... Do we create it or discover it?  The same applies to the idea of supernature ... Can it exist apart from our knowledge?  Does God exist whether we think he does or not ... or do our own thoughts (which naturalism has rendered unauthoritative) determine "truth"?  If our own thought is the standard, then I have no foundation to really believe either the naturalist or the supernaturalist view.  The naturalist view claims that we cannot get beyond thought to determine truth ... inadvertently making any opinion equally valid or more accurately equally invalid.  But here is the dilemma. . . Either the naturalistic view is true or false... it cannot be both ways.  To think it can is to live with irreconcilable contradiction and confusion.  If you assert that it is true, what is the basis for believing it is?  Where is the standard?  Is there nothing more than opinion to judge thoughts and ideas concerning such things?  To answer "no" is contradictory and plunges us into a desperate futility.  It is quite depressing to think all we have are the shifting sands of our thoughts to judge what all of this means.  I'm glad to know there is a voice that can be trusted, whose thoughts are "higher than our thoughts".  


Stephen.

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