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1. Originally Posted by FMWarner
To demonstrate my opinion on absolute truth, I like to use the "banana example". If you get ten friends and try to figure out who likes bananas the most, you will fail to find a certain answer. Everyone is expressing their taste for bananas on their own internal scale, and those scales aren't going to match up. That said, there is certainly one person in that group who likes bananas the most. That answer will not and probably cannot be determined, but that doesn't mean that the answer is any less certain or real.
That example also illustrates a point about absolute truth. You have to define the parameters for which it can exist. At this moment in time, in this group of people, based on this particular question, asked in this particular way, at this particular place, one of them likes bananas the most. But if you change any one of those variables, it could change the perceived absolute truth. For example, if you ask all 10 of your friends a week later, and the person who used to like bananas the most had recently succumbed to rare Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome, then that truth no longer exists. Now if every variable has to be defined in order for absolute truth to exist, then it's clear that absolute truth can only exists within relativism. Absolute truth is therefore dependent on something, namely the defining of the variables in any given situation. So by the definition of being absolute, or complete unto itself, it cannot possibly exist. Your banana situation is therefore just a truth, and is in no way, absolute.

Does that make sense?

2. Originally Posted by Kiddo
That example also illustrates a point about absolute truth. You have to define the parameters for which it can exist. At this moment in time, in this group of people, based on this particular question, asked in this particular way, at this particular place, one of them likes bananas the most. But if you change any one of those variables, it could change the perceived absolute truth. For example, if you ask all 10 of your friends a week later, and the person who used to like bananas the most had recently succumbed to rare Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome, then that truth no longer exists. Now if every variable has to be defined in order for absolute truth to exist, then it's clear that absolute truth can only exists within relativism. Absolute truth is therefore dependent on something, namely the defining of the variables in any given situation. So by the definition of being absolute, or complete unto itself, it cannot possibly exist. Your banana situation is therefore just a truth, and is in no way, absolute.

Does that make sense?
I think I see your point, but I tenatively disagree. Doesn't any situation in which a truth is sought bring with it its own parameters? I can't imagine a situation that happens in a parameter-free vacuum. For instance, if my friend was struck with Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome and didn't like bananas anymore when the second poll was taken, that doesn't mean that he wasn't still the biggest lover of bananas the previous week. Nothing can change that truth.

I think we may be operating under different concepts of what "absolute truth" is. I see it as the assertion that there is a true reality unreliant on perception to validate it, as opposed to a viewpoint that contends there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Maybe if (and I'm just guessing at your definition here) "absolute truth" is the assertion that there are truths that remain constant under any conditions or variables, then an example using personal preferences is not the best kind of example to debate.

P.S. now you can see why I have always used bananas in this example. "Banana" is just such a funny little word and when it gets repeated a bunch of times it just amuses me.

3. Originally Posted by Randomnity
I wonder if it is necessary to believe in both absolute morality and absolute truth in order to see one as a subset of the other? ...or, perhaps, disbelieving in both would also make it possible?

I see them as separate because I don't think there is absolute morality, so logically it couldn't be a subset of absolute truth.
Heh, well the empty set is a valid subset.

4. Originally Posted by FMWarner
I think I see your point, but I tenatively disagree. Doesn't any situation in which a truth is sought bring with it its own parameters? I can't imagine a situation that happens in a parameter-free vacuum. For instance, if my friend was struck with Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome and didn't like bananas anymore when the second poll was taken, that doesn't mean that he wasn't still the biggest lover of bananas the previous week. Nothing can change that truth.
I get your point. The only reason that nothing can change that truth is because it has already happened. It is defined by the past, where all the parameters are frozen. Now if you believe in predestination you could say that the past dictates the present and future. In which case, since the dawn of time, everything that will ever happen would have been predetermined. But I don't quite believe that. Without human perception, there effectively wouldn't be a past. Therefore, it is inconsequential to what is and what will happen. How could there be a past if there was nobody to interpret it, and to say "that was the beginning and this is the present"?

I think we may be operating under different concepts of what "absolute truth" is. I see it as the assertion that there is a true reality unreliant on perception to validate it, as opposed to a viewpoint that contends there is no true reality, only perceptions and opinions. Maybe if (and I'm just guessing at your definition here) "absolute truth" is the assertion that there are truths that remain constant under any conditions or variables, then an example using personal preferences is not the best kind of example to debate.
I do believe you are correct. I suppose it can't be said that absolute truth by your definition doesn't exist, but it would be completely unknowable to human beings. Ironically, because the moment we knew it, it would be defined by parameters which wouldn't make it absolute. So since it is inconsequential to human experience, your definition of absolute truth could only be understood as the design of human experience. It would be a reality consisting of all human experience and everything outside of human experience as if it was set in stone. Everything that was, is, or will be would already be defined by such a reality. However, by definition any realty must be experienced by something or someone in order to exist. And since such a reality could only exist if was defined by some absolute being, it requires a belief in God.

P.S. now you can see why I have always used bananas in this example. "Banana" is just such a funny little word and when it gets repeated a bunch of times it just amuses me.
.

5. I'm just buzzed enough that it seems like a good idea to answer this OP!

I personally think that truth is purely situational- I don't think that I could possibly blame someone who robbed a store to support his/her starving family, though I'd happily hold it against someone who robbed a store for thier own personal gain!

I think that you have to look at each individual stuation in order to judge it properly- and it depends from person to person what the truth is- I beleive that life is just a series of grey areas and that some areas may fall closer to the black side and some closer to the white, but no area is totally black or white. Truth is an idea made up by human beings, therefore it differs from person to person and is flawed- it's not like the law of gravity or that the sun will rise every day- you can't prove truth.

I've taken a few too many pre law classes- and the basic point you can take from them is that truth is what you make of it based somewhat within a loose structure based on laws that were made by humans- meaning laws that are bendable. There's nothing absolute in the realm of truth- innocent people go to jail and guilty people go free- the only thing that matters is a warped system of money, influence and power. Truth doesn't matter- if it exists at all- because it's abstract and you can't grasp it or buy it.

please forgive any major lapses or spelling mistakes- I'm not really all that sober right now! G & T night was tonight because MLK day is tommorrow!

6. Originally Posted by whatever
I'm just buzzed enough that it seems like a good idea to answer this OP!

I personally think that truth is purely situational- I don't think that I could possibly blame someone who robbed a store to support his/her starving family, though I'd happily hold it against someone who robbed a store for thier own personal gain!

I think that you have to look at each individual stuation in order to judge it properly- and it depends from person to person what the truth is- I beleive that life is just a series of grey areas and that some areas may fall closer to the black side and some closer to the white, but no area is totally black or white. Truth is an idea made up by human beings, therefore it differs from person to person and is flawed- it's not like the law of gravity or that the sun will rise every day- you can't prove truth.

I've taken a few too many pre law classes- and the basic point you can take from them is that truth is what you make of it based somewhat within a loose structure based on laws that were made by humans- meaning laws that are bendable. There's nothing absolute in the realm of truth- innocent people go to jail and guilty people go free- the only thing that matters is a warped system of money, influence and power. Truth doesn't matter- if it exists at all- because it's abstract and you can't grasp it or buy it.

please forgive any major lapses or spelling mistakes- I'm not really all that sober right now! G & T night was tonight because MLK day is tommorrow!
While I still believe absolute truth and absolute morality are two completely separate subjects that have nothing to do with each other, I'm inclined to respond to your ideas on both!

As for your assertion that absolute truth doesn't exist or that truth can be manipulated, you seem to be going on the assumption that if truth can't be discovered by human efforts, then it doesn't exist. In a court of law, which is the example you used, a decision is often reached by an imperfect system subject to manipulation and obfuscation. But the decision reached by a court has nothing to do with the truth. It's simply the best effort of a flawed system to determine the truth. For instance, if a man is convicted of murder and then exonerated ten years later by DNA evidence, it doesn't mean that truth is relative; it just means that the court was unable to find the truth initially. The truth never changed, only the opinions and perceptions of the people involved. The same goes for discredited scientific theories like alchemy and a flat Earth. They never were true; the fact that people believed them to be true doesn't mean the truth changed, it just means that people weren't aware of it.

As for the absolute morality part of your post, I am intrigued by your assertion that gray areas result in moral relativism. I don't believe in gray areas in pretty much any area of life. I think that we act in black and white and we think in black and white, it's just that sometimes we have to make so many separate small decisions that it appears gray. Take your example in which a store is robbed...many individual questions make up your decision as to whether it is morally wrong or not. Kind of like a flow chart.

Was the store owner robbed of money? YES
Is robbing the store legal? NO
Was the robber in a desperate financial situation not of his making? YES
Do the robber's personal circumstances affect my opinion of his act? YES
Does my sympathy for the robber's plight supersede my respect for the law? YES
Do I therefore believe that the robber committed a morally wrong act? NO

That's the kind of thought process you might have if you find it morally okay for the robber to steal to feed his starving family. You likely don't think through all these individual steps consciously, because you've answered these questions for yourself a million times. But each is a tiny statement in black or white. I think that gray areas are like gray printing in a newspaper. It appears gray from a distance, but when you examine it up close it's a million little dots of black or white that make up that gray.

Sorry for the long post! This is just one of my favorite topics and it has always fascinated me

7. Cowbutt posted this link on INFPgc. I found it extremely interesting. A bit long, but well worth the read, I think.

On Morality

8. Nicely said FMWarner...what you mentioned above makes sense to me. And yes, I agree that absolute truth and absolute morality are two different but related concepts.

9. Originally Posted by Kiddo
...For example, if you ask all 10 of your friends a week later, and the person who used to like bananas the most had recently succumbed to rare Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome, then that truth no longer exists.
How do you know that the person also does not possess an odd fetish that results in them very much appreciating Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome (BIDS)?

So it would make them eat bananas all the more.

(One man's plum is another man's pudding, so to speak.)

Originally Posted by FMWarner
... For instance, if my friend was struck with Banana Induced Diarrhea Syndrome and didn't like bananas anymore when the second poll was taken, that doesn't mean that he wasn't still the biggest lover of bananas the previous week. Nothing can change that truth.
Yes, in this case you simply are tacitly adding another qualifier: A "time-space" identifier. It is still a pointer in itself and has to be set up relative to an arbitrary time/position; but it reflects the higher truth that, at that place in space, at that particular unique moment in time, that person did indeed enjoy bananas more than the other nine people, even if their personal scales of satisfaction were not calibrated to each other's.

Originally Posted by Kiddo
I do believe you are correct. I suppose it can't be said that absolute truth by your definition doesn't exist, but it would be completely unknowable to human beings.
Yes, you're right. FMW addresses this in a later post of his -- that you are correct. And you are emphasizing the "unknowable" part, and yet it doesn't change the fact that there is SOME actual fixed reality, even if we cannot perceive or articulate all of it.

(The Court of Law example was good -- people trying to uncover the actual truth by the best means available, and yet the whole truth will never be exactly articulated or uncovered... even if we can perceive an approximation.)

Originally Posted by FMWarner
I don't believe in gray areas in pretty much any area of life. I think that we act in black and white and we think in black and white, it's just that sometimes we have to make so many separate small decisions that it appears gray. Take your example in which a store is robbed...many individual questions make up your decision as to whether it is morally wrong or not. Kind of like a flow chart.

Was the store owner robbed of money? YES
Is robbing the store legal? NO
Was the robber in a desperate financial situation not of his making? YES
Do the robber's personal circumstances affect my opinion of his act? YES
Does my sympathy for the robber's plight supersede my respect for the law? YES
Do I therefore believe that the robber committed a morally wrong act? NO

That's the kind of thought process you might have if you find it morally okay for the robber to steal to feed his starving family. You likely don't think through all these individual steps consciously, because you've answered these questions for yourself a million times. But each is a tiny statement in black or white. I think that gray areas are like gray printing in a newspaper. It appears gray from a distance, but when you examine it up close it's a million little dots of black or white that make up that gray.
Thank you for the example, it's making me think a great deal. (For some reason, the nature of light being both particles AND waves is popping into mind... I wonder what that means. iow, is there a duality here where both gray AND black-and-white exist?)

10. wow- I made sense in what I typed! good job me! *pats self on the back*

I have a hard time beleiving in an absolute truth at all- or at least one that humans can comprehend- because truth seems like an abstract concept invented by people in the first place to me. And I have a difficult time grasping abstractions. For instance- if you have 10 people in a room together and they all witness the same event, each one of them will have seen and described something somewhat different- and all of them will be telling what is the absolute truth to them. Which one of them is the truth?

Here- for another example I'll quote one of my favorite books- this is from Tim O'Brien's book The Things They Carried

"If Rat told you, for example, that he'd slept with four girls in one night, you could figure it was about a girl and a half. It wasn't a question of deceit. Just the opposite: he wanted to heat up the truth, make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly the way that he felt. For Rat Kiley, I think, facts were formed by sensations, not the other way around..."

Is Rat lying? Or is he telling the truth? I would say that it was HIS truth, since that's the way that he experienced it, but the author says that it's a lie since it's not "the truth."

I just find truth to be a bit subjective- and it's because the truth is uncovered or covered by human beings- and is a concept invented and argued over by human beings- that it is NOT perfect and never will be.

I also find it hard to beleive that morality can be easily split down into a set of yes or no questions that divide it up into black or white! To me, if you can have questions as to whether an act was right or wrong at all it should fall into the gray area category! I don't think that there's any act out there that is PURELY good or PURELY evil- I don't think that's possible at all! that's just me though

sorry for the length of this post- I was just trying to explain things as well as I could! and I have trouble doing that without plenty of examples! this is what you get when you have a sensor arguing something far out and theoretical!

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