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27-08-2012, 09:31 AM
Absolute Truth
So, I want to see if I can learn a bit more about what some people think or believe about the concept of "absolute truth" or "objective truth".

I can give a brief summary of what I believe about it. Then maybe later in the discussion I can elaborate further.

I believe in objective truth and also subjective truth.

The definition of Objective (As defined by Dictionary.com) is:

adjective

4. being the object or goal of one's efforts or actions.
5. not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased: an objective opinion.
6. intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings, as a person or a book.
7. being the object of perception or thought; belonging to the object of thought rather than to the thinking subject ( opposed to subjective).
8. of or pertaining to something that can be known, or to something that is an object or a part of an object; existing independent of thought or an observer as part of reality.

I tend to agree with this definition in that something objective exists regardless of opinion or thoughts.

An example would be -

"I have a Ford Taurus"

In the definition of Subjective is almost in complete opposition to Objective:

adjective

1. belonging to, proceeding from, or relating to the mind of the thinking subject and not the nature of the object being considered
2. of, relating to, or emanating from a person's emotions, prejudices, etc: subjective views
3. relating to the inherent nature of a person or thing; essential
4. existing only as perceived and not as a thing in itself
5. med (of a symptom, condition, etc) experienced only by the patient and incapable of being recognized or studied by anyone else

An example of Subjective would be something like -

"Fords are the best automobiles ever!"

I'm curious to know if anyone disagrees with anything pertaining to the concept of absolute truth.

“What you believe to be true will control you, whether it’s true or not.”

—Jeremy LaBorde
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27-08-2012, 09:42 AM
RE: Absolute Truth
Objective: you're still here.

Subjective: you're still here?

I wonder at your capacity to accept the truth that there is no absolute right, yet it is part of our programming, to be moral to the benefit of society.

These kinda speculations devolve into philosophical masturbation without science; lemme get that out of the way - I love my Gwynnies - what's left is causal, materialistic and/or relative.

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27-08-2012, 09:52 AM
RE: Absolute Truth
I believe an objective truth exists but I can't be certain because the only truth I have access to is subjective. e.g. hypothetically, and this idea is at least as rational as any given religion, I could be plugged into a simulator. So everything I experience as real, e.g. the aforementioned Ford Taurus, I cannot be 100% completely certain of, even though it is right there in front of my eyes. Personally I think that it's objectively there as well, and I think that beyond a certain point we can be certain of stuff because we have this communication gag that enables us to compare our subjective truths. Scientific method etc. But I can't be certain...
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27-08-2012, 10:00 AM (This post was last modified: 27-08-2012 10:41 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Absolute Truth
(27-08-2012 09:31 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  Then maybe later in the discussion I can elaborate further

Tricky, ....tricky....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belief

"Objective", "subjective", "truth" .... meh.
1. All those word's meanings are held ONLY in YOUR brain chemistry. Outside YOUR brain's chemistry, those words do not hold the same meanings.
2. Don't you really mean "truth about" something ? If "truth"exists, she lives down a few blocks on the other side of the tracks.
3. If truth "about " something is verifiable, what are the criteria you employ to determine your standard is met ?

Could you please just cut to the chase, and give us our Bible quotes now, and not make us beg for them ?

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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27-08-2012, 10:50 AM
RE: Absolute Truth
I would say that we are subjectively aware of the objective reality of the world around us.
When I look at a baseball, the image I am aware of exists only in my mind. It's a fabrication of my brain based on the light reflecting off of the ball, entering my eyes and then transmitted as electrical signals to my brain.
Those electrical signals are then interpreted as a baseball.
I cannot sense objective reality. I can only view the subjective translation that my brain creates in the form of sensory awareness.

If all of the electrical impulses from my senses to my brain are cut off, I will be in oblivion, unaware of anything.

When I dream, I am aware of a subjective reality, but the question remains, what is the objective reality ?
If my brain can construct a subjective reality while I sleep with seemingly no objective reality that it's based upon, then maybe our waking lives are just as tenuous.

One thing we do know is that our sense of the objective reality is extremely stable. It's constant and it has laws governing what we view as objective.
It is an environment that we can make changes to and have those changes remain until they are changed by some other force.

In any other kind of environment our subjective minds might go insane without this kind of stability.

I don't know if that answers any questions at all or if I'm just talking out of my ass.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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27-08-2012, 10:58 AM
RE: Absolute Truth
..and another thing, from remembering the LC; operating on vast timescales makes shit relative in a hurry. Absolutes can only lead to stagnation.

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27-08-2012, 11:26 AM (This post was last modified: 27-08-2012 11:34 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Absolute Truth
(27-08-2012 10:50 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  the light reflecting off of the ball, entering my eyes and then transmitted as electrical signals to my brain.
Those electrical signals are then interpreted as a baseball.

If all of the electrical impulses from my senses to my brain are cut off, I will be in oblivion, unaware of anything.

In any other kind of environment our subjective minds might go insane without this kind of stability.

Close. The photons enter you eye, and are briefly held UPSIDE DOWN, and your brain "interprets", and combines images.

The eye is a complex organ composed of many small parts, each vital to normal vision. The ability to see clearly depends on how well these parts work together.

Light reflets off a particular object, such as a tree, light is reflected off the tree to the person's eye and enters the eye through the cornea (clear, transparent portion of the coating that surrounds the eyeball).

Next, light rays pass through an opening in the iris (colored part of the eye), called the pupil. The iris controls the amount of light entering the eye by dilating or constricting the pupil. In bright light, for example, the pupils shrink to the size of a pinhead to prevent too much light from entering. In dim light, the pupil enlarges to allow more light to enter the eye.

Light then reaches the crystalline lens. The lens focuses light rays onto the retina by bending (refracting) them. The cornea does most of the refraction and the crystalline lens fine-tunes the focus. In a healthy eye, the lens can change its shape (accommodate) to provide clear vision at various distances. If an object is close, the ciliary muscles of the eye contract and the lens becomes rounder. To see a distant object, the same muscles relax and the lens flattens.

Behind the lens and in front of the retina is a chamber called the vitreous body, which contains a clear, gelatinous fluid called vitreous humor. Light rays pass through the vitreous before reaching the retina. The retina lines the back two-thirds of the eye and is responsible for the wide field of vision that most people experience. For clear vision, light rays must focus directly on the retina. When light focuses in front of or behind the retina, the result is blurry vision.

The retina contains millions of specialized photoreceptor cells called rods and cones that convert light rays into electrical signals that transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve. Rods and cones provide the ability to see in dim light and to see in color, respectively.

The macula, located in the center of the retina, is where most of the cone cells are located. The fovea, a small depression in the center of the macula, has the highest concentration of cone cells. The macula is responsible for central vision, seeing color, and distinguishing fine detail. The outer portion (peripheral retina) is the primary location of rod cells and allows for night vision and seeing movement and objects to the side (i.e., peripheral vision).

The optic nerve, located behind the retina, transmits signals from the photoreceptor cells to the brain. Each eye transmits signals of a slightly different image, and the images are inverted. Once they reach the brain, they are corrected and combined into one image. This complex process of analyzing data transmitted through the optic nerve is called visual processing.

As you can see, this is way too complex for Evolution to accomplish, and had to be designed. Oh wait. No it isn't.

There are many instances of light sensitiveity, in many different species, at varying levels of complexity.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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27-08-2012, 11:27 AM
RE: Absolute Truth
Hey, Idea.

I'm passionate about this.

The question, is there an objective reality, has been flummoxing philosophers for thousands of years. It's not a question that has been answered by anyone satisfactorily.

If there is such a thing, as I suspect, then actuality, that which exists as it exists, even in the absence of our perception of it, exists objectively (and there are quite serious arguments these days being made by physicists that observation, even consciousness, is responsible for existence and that nothing exists outside of it).

Humans, as most organisms, including single celled ones, can perceive the world around them and react to stimuli. Humans have sophisticated senses, a central nervous system and a powerful brain, so we can react in far more complex ways than a single celled organism. But the fact remains, that we are reacting to the signals and not actuality itself. Thousands of years ago, Plato suggested this in his allegory of the cave, an idea that is still respected today and that still informs current notions. Today we would say that our understanding of actuality is mediated and that we cannot understand the real except through mediation. We can't even understand mediation without a system of mediation. What humans do is that we use our sensory experience and our brains to abstract the real. We create models, representations, etc, in our mind. As George EP Box said, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." In short, we give meaning.

Reality is not the real. Reality is actually the relationship between actuality and meaning. Reality is a construct that lives in our minds. It is wrong, but it is extremely useful. It is culturally contingent and it is not fixed. Reality can change. Reality is ideological.

Different cultures have different experiences and they create different meaning. Reality is something that is relative from culture to culture.

So when we speak of relative truth, we're speaking of reality as a construct as it is understood by a specific group.

As an analogy, imagine 50 artists in a room with a nude model. Some artists paint (acrylic, oil, water based) some draw (pencil, pen, charcoal) some use scratch board, some sculpt (clay, marble, wire, papier mache)... the list is long. Each artist views the model from a different vantage and works using different materials, aesthetics and skill sets. The work of art they produce is like reality. It is the result of a relationship. What it is not, what none of them are, is the nude model.

Because we all experience not just actuality differently, but our cultural constructs, then subjective truth has to do with what is true to you. To one person it may be cold outside. To another it might be warm. Perhaps one is skinny and the other fat. These are subjective truths.

Your statement "I own a Ford Taurus" is rife with culturally contingent meaning. The letters. The syntax. The language. The concepts. Within the context of a culture that understands all of that to mean what you intend it to mean (accepting that perfect communication is a myth) then that statement is true. Within the context of a culture that does not understand those things or that has conflicting notions, it is not necessarily true. Most importantly, the statement corresponds to your culturally constructed model of reality, not to reality itself.

"You own a Ford Taurus" is a truth, not the Truth (lower vs upper case). A truth is something that is true in some context. Truths can conflict, overlap, anything. The Truth is objective. There can be only one Truth.

The problem with objective Truth is that based on what we know about human cognition, it's unlikely that any human anywhere actually possesses an objective Truth. But when someone BELIEVES they have the objective truth, then all other truths must necessarily be wrong. Someone who has objective truth fancies themselves as the keeper of something unique and important, not just a single understanding. Something that threatens that Truth must be destroyed. That means all other truths.

Truths leave room for other truths. Truth is the Highlander, there can be only one.

This notion leads invariably to two things, suffering and a reduction in diversity.

The Christianisation of Europe, the Killing Fields, the Salem Witch burnings, the residential school system, book burnings, all of these things are attempts to destroy truths.

The more truths we destroy, the fewer their are in the ethnosphere; the sum total of cultures in the world; analogous to the biosphere. Just as in the biosphere, diversity is key. Just as monocropping and speciocide are bad, monoculture and cultural genocide are bad; all because they reduce diversity.

Reducing diversity seems to make life easy because it reduces competitors, but the long term cost is that the system will collapse.

As Daniel Quinn says, "There is no one right way to live." This is a notion that safeguards diversity. The opposing idea is that "Our way to live is the right way and all others must be made to live like us."

Witness the aboriginal genocides of the colonial era that persist to this day. Behold the growing global monoculture thanks to globalisation and cultural imperialism (US imperialism above all others).

The greatest pitfall of allowing ones self to fall victim to the siren song of objective Truth is that on a long enough time line, one of them will emerge victorious. What happens if it's not yours?

Wade Davis, anthropologist in residence at National Geographic, points out that fully half of the 7 000 languages on the earth today are going to disappear in the next generation because they are not being taught. He this to say about this tragic loss:

Wade DavisI Wrote:---This is a key point. There's a tendency for those of us in the dominant Western culture to view traditional people—even when we're sympathetic to their plight—as quaint and colorful, but reduced to the sidelines of history, while the real world, which of course is our world, continues moving forward. We see these societies as failed attempts at modernity, as if they're destined to fade away by some natural law, as if they can't cope with change. That's simply not true. Change is the one constant in history. All societies in all times and in all places constantly adapt to new possibilities for life. It's not change per se that threatens the integrity of the ethnosphere, nor is it technology. The Sioux Indian did not stop being a Sioux when he gave up a bow and arrow, any more than an American farmer stopped being an American when he gave up the horse and buggy.

It's neither change nor technology that threatens the integrity of the ethnosphere. It is power—the crude face of domination. In every instance, these societies are not failed attempts of modernity. They're not archaic, destined to fade away. They are dynamic, living, vital cultures that are being driven out of existence by identifiable external forces. Whether it is diseases that have come into the homeland of the Yanomami in Brazil, or the fact that the Ogoni in the Niger Delta find their once-fertile soils poisoned by effluent from the petroleum industry, or whether in Sarawak the forest homelands of the Penan have been destroyed, there is always an identifiable element. This is both discouraging and encouraging, for if human beings are agents of cultural destruction, we can also be facilitators of cultural survival.

---Indigenous cultures are not failed attempts at modernity, let alone failed attempts to be us. They are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart, unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When asked this question, the peoples of the world respond in 7,000 different voices, and these collectively comprise our human repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that will confront us as a species over the coming centuries.

Truths enrich us as a species. Truth diminishes us.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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27-08-2012, 11:44 AM (This post was last modified: 27-08-2012 12:52 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Absolute Truth
(27-08-2012 11:27 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Idea.

I'm passionate about this.

The question, is there an objective reality, has been flummoxing philosophers for thousands of years. It's not a question that has been answered by anyone satisfactorily.

If there is such a thing, as I suspect, then actuality, that which exists as it exists, even in the absence of our perception of it, exists objectively (and there are quite serious arguments these days being made by physicists that observation, even consciousness, is responsible for existence and that nothing exists outside of it).

Humans, as most organisms, including single celled ones, can perceive the world around them and react to stimuli. Humans have sophisticated senses, a central nervous system and a powerful brain, so we can react in far more complex ways than a single celled organism. But the fact remains, that we are reacting to the signals and not actuality itself. Thousands of years ago, Plato suggested this in his allegory of the cave, an idea that is still respected today and that still informs current notions. Today we would say that our understanding of actuality is mediated and that we cannot understand the real except through mediation. We can't even understand mediation without a system of mediation. What humans do is that we use our sensory experience and our brains to abstract the real. We create models, representations, etc, in our mind. As George EP Box said, "All models are wrong, but some are useful." In short, we give meaning.

Reality is not the real. Reality is actually the relationship between actuality and meaning. Reality is a construct that lives in our minds. It is wrong, but it is extremely useful. It is culturally contingent and it is not fixed. Reality can change. Reality is ideological.

Different cultures have different experiences and they create different meaning. Reality is something that is relative from culture to culture.

So when we speak of relative truth, we're speaking of reality as a construct as it is understood by a specific group.

As an analogy, imagine 50 artists in a room with a nude model. Some artists paint (acrylic, oil, water based) some draw (pencil, pen, charcoal) some use scratch board, some sculpt (clay, marble, wire, papier mache)... the list is long. Each artist views the model from a different vantage and works using different materials, aesthetics and skill sets. The work of art they produce is like reality. It is the result of a relationship. What it is not, what none of them are, is the nude model.

Because we all experience not just actuality differently, but our cultural constructs, then subjective truth has to do with what is true to you. To one person it may be cold outside. To another it might be warm. Perhaps one is skinny and the other fat. These are subjective truths.

Your statement "I own a Ford Taurus" is rife with culturally contingent meaning. The letters. The syntax. The language. The concepts. Within the context of a culture that understands all of that to mean what you intend it to mean (accepting that perfect communication is a myth) then that statement is true. Within the context of a culture that does not understand those things or that has conflicting notions, it is not necessarily true. Most importantly, the statement corresponds to your culturally constructed model of reality, not to reality itself.

"You own a Ford Taurus" is a truth, not the Truth (lower vs upper case). A truth is something that is true in some context. Truths can conflict, overlap, anything. The Truth is objective. There can be only one Truth.

The problem with objective Truth is that based on what we know about human cognition, it's unlikely that any human anywhere actually possesses an objective Truth. But when someone BELIEVES they have the objective truth, then all other truths must necessarily be wrong. Someone who has objective truth fancies themselves as the keeper of something unique and important, not just a single understanding. Something that threatens that Truth must be destroyed. That means all other truths.

Truths leave room for other truths. Truth is the Highlander, there can be only one.

This notion leads invariably to two things, suffering and a reduction in diversity.

The Christianisation of Europe, the Killing Fields, the Salem Witch burnings, the residential school system, book burnings, all of these things are attempts to destroy truths.

The more truths we destroy, the fewer their are in the ethnosphere; the sum total of cultures in the world; analogous to the biosphere. Just as in the biosphere, diversity is key. Just as monocropping and speciocide are bad, monoculture and cultural genocide are bad; all because they reduce diversity.

Reducing diversity seems to make life easy because it reduces competitors, but the long term cost is that the system will collapse.

As Daniel Quinn says, "There is no one right way to live." This is a notion that safeguards diversity. The opposing idea is that "Our way to live is the right way and all others must be made to live like us."

Witness the aboriginal genocides of the colonial era that persist to this day. Behold the growing global monoculture thanks to globalisation and cultural imperialism (US imperialism above all others).

The greatest pitfall of allowing ones self to fall victim to the siren song of objective Truth is that on a long enough time line, one of them will emerge victorious. What happens if it's not yours?

Wade Davis, anthropologist in residence at National Geographic, points out that fully half of the 7 000 languages on the earth today are going to disappear in the next generation because they are not being taught. He this to say about this tragic loss:

Wade DavisI Wrote:---This is a key point. There's a tendency for those of us in the dominant Western culture to view traditional people—even when we're sympathetic to their plight—as quaint and colorful, but reduced to the sidelines of history, while the real world, which of course is our world, continues moving forward. We see these societies as failed attempts at modernity, as if they're destined to fade away by some natural law, as if they can't cope with change. That's simply not true. Change is the one constant in history. All societies in all times and in all places constantly adapt to new possibilities for life. It's not change per se that threatens the integrity of the ethnosphere, nor is it technology. The Sioux Indian did not stop being a Sioux when he gave up a bow and arrow, any more than an American farmer stopped being an American when he gave up the horse and buggy.

It's neither change nor technology that threatens the integrity of the ethnosphere. It is power—the crude face of domination. In every instance, these societies are not failed attempts of modernity. They're not archaic, destined to fade away. They are dynamic, living, vital cultures that are being driven out of existence by identifiable external forces. Whether it is diseases that have come into the homeland of the Yanomami in Brazil, or the fact that the Ogoni in the Niger Delta find their once-fertile soils poisoned by effluent from the petroleum industry, or whether in Sarawak the forest homelands of the Penan have been destroyed, there is always an identifiable element. This is both discouraging and encouraging, for if human beings are agents of cultural destruction, we can also be facilitators of cultural survival.

---Indigenous cultures are not failed attempts at modernity, let alone failed attempts to be us. They are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart, unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When asked this question, the peoples of the world respond in 7,000 different voices, and these collectively comprise our human repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that will confront us as a species over the coming centuries.

Truths enrich us as a species. Truth diminishes us.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Great post. I would quibble about "perception", as opposed to "detection". Organisms which have no internal mechanism to relate the detection to, are not "conscious", in the way we usually mean that, (even though no one agrees where whence that arises, exactly). The use of the word "perception", implies "comprehension", (over a range of none to complete, ... which is also arguable), or "understanding".
1. So there are organisms which can perform detection which have no "perception".
2. When we imagine, (believe), we understand something, we assume, we posses a knowledge of it's truth, or essential realness, and a relatively complete comprehension.
3. There are good reasons not to trust this belief methodology.

Edit : Absolute Truth is a mental construct. It does not "exist". It's an idea or representation of something *else*. As an idea, it exists, temporarily, in a brain.
From Uncertainty, we know a human brain can never, at one moment in time, encompass the complete amount of information about an object, in time.
One can say, "I get it". That means I "think" I understand something. The understanding is not the thing. For me, "truth" is the veracity of my understanding of the object.
The understanding of the thing is neither the thing, nor me. It's the relationship, between me and the object. "Truth" is a word used to mean that relationship. So could that be absolute ? Never. (And I can prove it.) The word "truth" is (a) naming the relationship between a brain, and the object of the brain's perception of the object of perception. Perception will always be less than complete. The goal might be complete perception. Without infinite energy, total perceptive completeness is impossible.

Hint : The antidote for Absolute Truth is in the laxative isle.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
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27-08-2012, 12:08 PM
RE: Absolute Truth
Believe whatever absolute truth you want; it will either be trivial or take more than a lifetime of investigation to verify. Wink

(Hell, it'd be hard enough to verify the statement "I have a Ford Taurus.")
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