What is, and how to find, Truth?
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27-08-2011, 01:56 PM
 
What is, and how to find, Truth?
Truth, by (scientific) definition, is an observation or theory that has not been contradicted yet by the accumulated knowledge available to us. The very instant an irrefutable contradiction is demonstrated, the theory becomes false and needs to be modified or discarded.

Truth applies to either physical observation (directly with our senses or indirectly with our instruments) or to a theory (which is usually a statement about cause-and-effect relationships). Physical observations have to be repeatable and consistent at ever increasing accuracy, to be considered true; theories have to produce verifiable (by observation) predictions.

The only intolerable state is ‘contradiction’.

Life is not different from science, only a lot more complicated. Basic principles still apply. A while ago, telling someone how to find truth, I used the example of Hercule Poirot. Imagine that you are a detective. A murder has been committed and you have to find out the truth. You question suspects and witnesses; some tell the truth, some lie. You have no idea which. You collect all the evidence, all the statements from those interviewed and build a model in your head. At that point “the little grey cells” ought to do their job.

You arrange the known facts and statements in such a way that you have minimum number of contradictions in the model. You discard those that can not be used without contradicting most of the other facts. Then you try come up with a theory that agrees with the largest number of ‘facts’ and is supported by your personal experience, the experience of those you trust most, and discard as ‘untrue’, all the rest. Then you think you know what the truth is.

You draw logical conclusions and test these in real life. If they check out, you can be reasonably sure. You will never be absolutely sure -- truth is still only those theories that have not yet been contradicted.

Applying this method to our understanding of the ‘human condition’ is no different. The key to a reasonable confidence in knowing truth are:

· have extensive personal life experience (needs observation)
· learn as many facts as you can (needs a lot of reading)
· keep all of these facts in mind most of the time (needs a good memory)
· try to form a theoretical model (needs pattern recognition ability)
· be completely open minded (needs intellectual integrity)

Then you can be reasonably sure, in the relative sense. In the absolute sense you can be only 50% sure. Either you are right, or you are wrong.

However, we can only do the best we can do. For all practical purposes, I can call it truth: 'my truth'. And it stays true until someone proves it false.
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31-08-2011, 10:43 AM
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(27-08-2011 01:56 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  Truth, by (scientific) definition, is an observation or theory that has not been contradicted yet by the accumulated knowledge available to us. The very instant an irrefutable contradiction is demonstrated, the theory becomes false and needs to be modified or discarded.

Truth applies to either physical observation (directly with our senses or indirectly with our instruments) or to a theory (which is usually a statement about cause-and-effect relationships). Physical observations have to be repeatable and consistent at ever increasing accuracy, to be considered true; theories have to produce verifiable (by observation) predictions.

The only intolerable state is ‘contradiction’.

Life is not different from science, only a lot more complicated. Basic principles still apply. A while ago, telling someone how to find truth, I used the example of Hercule Poirot. Imagine that you are a detective. A murder has been committed and you have to find out the truth. You question suspects and witnesses; some tell the truth, some lie. You have no idea which. You collect all the evidence, all the statements from those interviewed and build a model in your head. At that point “the little grey cells” ought to do their job.

You arrange the known facts and statements in such a way that you have minimum number of contradictions in the model. You discard those that can not be used without contradicting most of the other facts. Then you try come up with a theory that agrees with the largest number of ‘facts’ and is supported by your personal experience, the experience of those you trust most, and discard as ‘untrue’, all the rest. Then you think you know what the truth is.

You draw logical conclusions and test these in real life. If they check out, you can be reasonably sure. You will never be absolutely sure -- truth is still only those theories that have not yet been contradicted.

Applying this method to our understanding of the ‘human condition’ is no different. The key to a reasonable confidence in knowing truth are:

· have extensive personal life experience (needs observation)
· learn as many facts as you can (needs a lot of reading)
· keep all of these facts in mind most of the time (needs a good memory)
· try to form a theoretical model (needs pattern recognition ability)
· be completely open minded (needs intellectual integrity)

Then you can be reasonably sure, in the relative sense. In the absolute sense you can be only 50% sure. Either you are right, or you are wrong.

However, we can only do the best we can do. For all practical purposes, I can call it truth: 'my truth'. And it stays true until someone proves it false.

Truth is subjective.

Here is an analogy.

You and me sit at a table with an apple on it. The side that you see is red.....and the side is see is green.......when asked what colour it is we would have different answers.....but none of us would be wrong.

Where does that leave "truth"???
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31-08-2011, 12:25 PM
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(31-08-2011 10:43 AM)bemore Wrote:  Truth is subjective.

Here is an analogy.

You and me sit at a table with an apple on it. The side that you see is red.....and the side is see is green.......when asked what colour it is we would have different answers.....but none of us would be wrong.

Where does that leave "truth"???
The truth is that the apple is half red and half green. You are both wrong. Neither one of you has enough information to make a statement on the color of the whole apple. All either of you can say with any certainty is that the portion of the apple you can see is red/green. You may assume that the whole apple is the color on your side, but this assumption come from two things: a lifetime of observing naturally grown apples being only one color at a time; this apple is a naturally grown apple.
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31-08-2011, 12:30 PM
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(31-08-2011 12:25 PM)xander Wrote:  
(31-08-2011 10:43 AM)bemore Wrote:  Truth is subjective.

Here is an analogy.

You and me sit at a table with an apple on it. The side that you see is red.....and the side is see is green.......when asked what colour it is we would have different answers.....but none of us would be wrong.

Where does that leave "truth"???
The truth is that the apple is half red and half green. You are both wrong. Neither one of you has enough information to make a statement on the color of the whole apple. All either of you can say with any certainty is that the portion of the apple you can see is red/green. You may assume that the whole apple is the color on your side, but this assumption come from two things: a lifetime of observing naturally grown apples being only one color at a time; this apple is a naturally grown apple.

Wow, that was a really good, clear explination Xander! Well put. Next time I start prattling on trying to explain something, I'm gonna get you to edit it!! LOL

[Image: StarkLord01.gif]
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31-08-2011, 12:46 PM
 
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
I am so happy that this thread was resurrected. The concept of Truth is a very important element of critical thinking.

It also has an aspect worth considering: relativism. It basically states that no one has a ‘by definition’ superior value system or opinion; that my opinion is just as good as someone else’s and my ‘truth’ is just as valid as his.

While I understand the necessity of devaluing arguments based solely on authority, I find that we managed to swing to the opposite extreme (as usual) and tried to completely ‘level the playing field’.

The playing field, in real life, has never been level.

There are more and less intelligent people, more and less educated, experienced, knowledgeable, wise, honest, etc. people in the world. It is still true that some younger people could learn something from some of their elders (or the other way around), some experts still know more about their fields than some laymen.

Convictions are not entirely relative with identical weighing factors. Before I evaluate it, I like to know how a person arrived at his truth, what it is based on, how many factors were considered, how much factual knowledge it incorporated.
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31-08-2011, 02:56 PM
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(31-08-2011 12:25 PM)xander Wrote:  
(31-08-2011 10:43 AM)bemore Wrote:  Truth is subjective.

Here is an analogy.

You and me sit at a table with an apple on it. The side that you see is red.....and the side is see is green.......when asked what colour it is we would have different answers.....but none of us would be wrong.

Where does that leave "truth"???
The truth is that the apple is half red and half green. You are both wrong. Neither one of you has enough information to make a statement on the color of the whole apple. All either of you can say with any certainty is that the portion of the apple you can see is red/green. You may assume that the whole apple is the color on your side, but this assumption come from two things: a lifetime of observing naturally grown apples being only one color at a time; this apple is a naturally grown apple.

Coming from a logical perspective I cant disagree with you.

However you rely on experience to add to your "truth". Also you have the advantage of being able to see both sides of the apple.

You bring up a good point with the word "assume"........I think all of us "assume" that we know stuff.....these are our "truths"...however to other people they may see things differently.

Truth is merly subjective, dependent upon the observer. In the grand scheme of things I dont think "truth" exists......it is a variable that is allways subject to change with new information.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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31-08-2011, 03:06 PM
 
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(31-08-2011 02:56 PM)bemore Wrote:  I dont think "truth" exists......it is a variable that is allways subject to change with new information.

It all depends on how we define truth, doesn't it?

I tried to give a scientific definition of truth in the OP and I stand by it. In that sense, it does exist.

My truth, for me, the way I defined it.

Of course if you want to talk about independent, absolute truth that exists without human awareness, then you run into serious trouble, like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle or the dual nature (wave AND corpuscles) of light, not even mentioning Schrodinger's cat.

Unfortunately, when the topic of truth comes up, most people assume we are talking about metaphysics or quantum theory and the conversation becomes highly philosophical and highly unpractical.

To consider Heisenberg for my modest purpose of learning the truth about “the reason we are unhappy and the changes we have to make to set it right” is like considering Einstein when planning a car trip to Florida.
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31-08-2011, 03:34 PM (This post was last modified: 31-08-2011 03:47 PM by xander.)
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
I am not very educated in the area of epistemology. I just have the basic "History of Western Philosophy", Decartes, etc. overview from back in college. I would have to say, though, that I am not a relativist. I do believe in objective truths.

1+1=2. We may call these things by different names, such as one, uno, un, eins, or unum, but that is simply language (a human construction). The essence is the same. Whether you say one or un, you are talking about the essence of oneness. It is this oneness that is objective. To say that 1+1=anything else is a meaningless statement. Therefore, to say that a child that doesn't know better and says, "I think 1+1=3" is as equally valid an opinion, I think is just nonsense. We don't fault the child simply for not being as enlightened as the majority of humanity, but that does not make "it true to the child."

The old saying, If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around to hear it, does it still make a sound? is the same sort of thing. I believe that it does. Make sound, that is. I don't believe that sound is a subjective substance that needs a receiver in order to exist. Regardless of whether anyone heard it or not, when the tree crashed into the ground it doubtlessly caused a vibration that travels through the air, reverberating off of other trees and rocks until it's energy is spent.

Similarly, there is a planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. This planet may or may not have life on it. I doubt I will never know one way or the other. Humankind may never know for sure one way or the other. But it is still the case that there either is or is not life. Our knowing has no bearing on the objective truth of the matter. For all we know there could be intelligent life, thinking the same thoughts we are, about us. Grant, for a moment, that humankind will never reach the technological capacitance to observe this planet (we will never know), does this mean that no truth exists?

Human knowledge is limited. Personal knowledge is severely limited. But, just because I don't have all of the information to find the truth myself, does not mean there is no truth. Just as in the example of the red and green apple, it is not the case that it is true the apple is red for one person and green for the other. There is an objective truth about the color of the apple. Neither person knows it, but it is still there.

-Tim

EDIT: I started writing this post a couple of hours ago and then had to leave my computer. When I came back and posted there had been two more post I had not read. Obviously, then, I had not read those two posts when I wrote this response.
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31-08-2011, 03:52 PM
 
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(31-08-2011 03:34 PM)xander Wrote:  I do believe in objective truths.

Theoretical Physicists are a crazy bunch.

Two of the most prominent scientists of the 20th century (Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner and world-class mathematician John von Neumann) suggested one of the most dramatic philosophical interpretations of the weird world of atoms: consciousness is an essential part of reality, neither the physical world, nor consciousness can exist without the other.

If this is true, what does it do to objective reality?
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31-08-2011, 04:38 PM
RE: What is, and how to find, Truth?
(31-08-2011 03:52 PM)Zatamon Wrote:  Two of the most prominent scientists of the 20th century (Nobel Laureate Eugene Wigner and world-class mathematician John von Neumann) suggested one of the most dramatic philosophical interpretations of the weird world of atoms: consciousness is an essential part of reality, neither the physical world, nor consciousness can exist without the other.

If this is true, what does it do to objective reality?

I don't know anything about the theory you are presenting, but based on your quick description, three things come to mind. 1) They are using 'consciousness' to mean something different than we do colloquially. 2) What do they have to say about the first several billions of years the universe existed before life with consciousness came around? 3) These guys are into some weird bastardization of solipsism. Big Grin



Like I said, I am not very learned on these topics.

-Tim
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