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What is truth (split from post poll)

Totenkindly

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I believe in a world outside of myself. I do not believe "truth," inherent meaning, exists as anything but an interaction between an observer and the world. Therefore, I believe truth can only be subjective. There are no inherent meanings, everything is absurd.

I also do not believe events necessarily happen in a linear, inherently sensical way. I think we tend to edit out whatever doesn't make sense, and so are not creatures very well made to be totally in touch with reality, let alone objective truth.

Your need for objective truth is more a product of your need for the world to make sense than it is a reflection on reality. The world is absurd, and you doubly so.

Would another way to describe the concept in your last two paragraphs is that there's always more outside our conception/perception than we can pick up, so our idea of "truth" is still always a subset smaller than the totality of all truth?

I guess we could agree on the outside world and what it contains... but as to what those things are exactly, and how we describe them, and the value we place in them, and how we communicate about them to others -- all those things are subjective. Even in a physical/temporal sense -- because I am describing something from a certain physical and temporal location that no one else can exactly occupy (as far as 3D and time coordinates go), my viewpoint is unique compared to another's.

Still, there are things that seem to be static in terms of "objective" truth, in a practical every-day sense. For example, there are processes that for all intents and purposes provide the same results for anyone when measured, regardless of who they are. The brick will be, for all practical purposes, the same length regardless of who measures it. And so forth. Are these just "physical properties" in your world, rather than examples of "objective" truth? (Just trying to grasp the concept.)

I do not understand why 'inherent meaning' should be equivocated with 'truth.' In fact, I do not even know what inherent meaning is supposed to be, nevermind whether or not it exists.

In other words, it's really a mistake to equate "[inherent] meaning" with "[objective] truth"?

Well, I'm not sure how we could possibly discover the "inherent meaning" of things, since "meaning" is what value we personally invest in something, which could be different from person to person. Who decides what is an "inherent" meaning of something, a meaning that is always there, except perhaps on a very generalized basis? (For example, the same item might commonly have the same general "meaning" for a majority of people... but this is still a far cry from an "inherent" meaning generated by the object itself.)

Objective truth would seem to describe properties of the object, not the value of it.
 

meshou

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I do not understand why 'inherent meaning' should be equivocated with 'truth.' In fact, I do not even know what inherent meaning is supposed to be, nevermind whether or not it exists. However, I do believe quite strongly that 'truth' does exist and that it is, and can only be, objective, i.e. that the truth is universal and applicable to all.
By inherent meaning, I mean meaning which exists without an observer.

This sentence seems to contradict your other comments, since here you claim that truth does exist, but question our ability to have knowledge of it.
I have seen nothing to support its existence, and believe it doesn't exist. If it does, it certainly doesn't exist in a form something roughly the size of a large sweetpotato can adequately process

Though for those who believe in truth, that our beliefs may or may not be in correspondence to the facts, you have provided no criticism, only a string of vague assertions and scepticism.
Well, you have provided neither proof nor, really, any logical basis whatsoever for thinking truth exists. Only your strong feeling it does. Well, the only response to that is skepticism your feeling has much to do with reality.

I don't have a great deal of time at the moment to gather my sources and show how I got to my conclusions, but my biases are toward existentialism, absurdism, and my personal belief that consciousness as people experience it is largely an illusion, and that people's actions are much much much more rooted in unconscious whims than in conscious thought.
 

nightning

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What is truth? Truth is the whole universe and everything beyond the universe. Truth is the connections between all concepts. The objective truth of anything can never be comprehended by us mere mortal... so why bother messing up your minds over what it might be? Work with subjective truths... it's good enough in my opinion.

Is there meaning in existence... in the objective sense, we don't know... perhaps this is all just a big joke by whoever "way up there"... perhaps we are just the pieces on a board game of a little child. Or perhaps we are just random chaotic strings... energy functions... that there's no meaning to those wave forms afterall. That kind of thinking gets us nowhere. So let us look a little closer to ourselves rather than to dream of cosmic truths. What does life mean to you and I? What is your perceived purpose in life... how does that relate to mine? Then perhaps we can eventually find a pattern that works for humanity... but to extend that any further is folly.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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I don't know if someone can explain to me what 'subjective truth' is supposed to do that differentiates it from 'ordinary truth,' because at present, I am struggling to understand.

The truth or falsity of a statement has nothing to do with subjectivity and objectivity. For example, statement which we are trying to evaluate may postulate the existence or conjecture the state of something which may be subjective, such as your mood or your meaning for a symbol, or may be objective, such as that the universe never contradicts itself or that the speed of light is finite.

In this vague sense 'subjective truth' can be said to exist, in that we can make true or false statements regarding the content of peoples minds, or their subjective interpretations. However, even these such statements, if true, must be true for all, so that if it is 'subjectively true' that you feel calm as of this moment, it is true for everyone that you feel calm at this moment, even if they feel irate, upset or angry.
I understand 'subjective truth' to be an idea or belief that cannot be proven - is not falsifiable. That I feel calm is only true for me because no one else can experience my exact calm, but only their interpretations of it. My calm can, and has been, interpreted as everything from someone else's calm, to hostility, to fear. I understand subjective truth to be that which can only be experienced and understood precisely from individual perspective.

If 'subjectively true' is simply another way of saying 'relative truth,' then the very notion of truth has been abandoned, the law of noncontradiction is is not enforced and from a contradiction, everything follows. That is just epistemological scepticism, to dress it up as 'relative truth' would be a misleading use of language.
So, perhaps this idea of subjective truth (perception) is information that by its nature is unknowable except from the inside view of an individual. There is continual tension and interplay between subjective perception and objective truth. Perhaps superstition is the process of molding the objective world into subjective perception, while science is the process of molding subjective perception into the objective world?

I look forward to further comments. Good stuff. Yum! Yum! :party2:
 

SolitaryWalker

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There could not be a subjective truth.

Truth is your perception that aligns with the way the universe is on the outside.
 

SolitaryWalker

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It's an awfully big leap to equate mere existance with meaning. It does not follow.

If you say that all statements are subjective, you are not in the position to make an utterance and expect me to accept what you say. If you expect me to believe that all statements are subjective, you in effect are accepting objectivity of some kind.

So 'all truth is subjective' is untenable.
 

meshou

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If you say that all statements are subjective, you are not in the position to make an utterance and expect me to believe you.
This is how solipcism is argued against. Note that I am very much not a solipcist. I have repeatedly said there is an outside world that can be, to some extent, known.

If you expect me to believe that all statements are subjective, you in effect are accepting objectivity of some kind.
I believe there is no inherent meaning to the universe, not that there is no universe.

This seems to be confusion over definition. You seem to believe "truth" is merely something physically existing to many or most people. I believe it has to do with inherent universal meanings. Clearly, we are talking about different concepts.

I believe what you're calling "truth" does exist. I do not believe it is truth, however.
 

SolitaryWalker

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I see a computer screen on my desk, and have no reason to believe it isn't there. I wouldn't call its mere existance a truth, though.

What do you understand for 'truth' to be?
 

meshou

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What do you understand for 'truth' to be?
Usually, what people call "truth" is a set of constructs used to describe the physical world for utilitarian ends. As long as these ends are met, actual correspondence with the physical world is usually not further explored.

I personally see truth as a personal synthesis of meaning created when an observer interacts with the outside world.
 

SolitaryWalker

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Usually, what people call "truth" is a set of constructs used to describe the physical world for utilitarian ends. As long as these ends are met, actual correspondence with the physical world is usually not further explored.

I personally see truth as a personal synthesis of meaning created when an observer interacts with the outside world.

Ok, and would you expect a different person to make the same synthesises when looking at a physical object, like a table for instance. It is true that this may be a figment of his imagination, but you also would imagine the same thing.

We get something like this with Transcendental Idealism. We do not create our own reality, but we do not perceive reality for its face value. We translate it into something that we can understand.
 

meshou

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Ok, and would you expect a different person to make the same synthesises when looking at a physical object, like a table for instance. It is true that this may be a figment of his imagination, but you also would imagine the same thing.
I don't think, except in very special circumstancees that the table does not exist. However, I do not expect any two people to nessicarily have the same experience of the table.

I have, about four feet away from me, to my left, a table. If I took a photo of it, you would see it is covered in an extremely thick layer of dust, probably thicker than you have encountered (although if you are an INTP, I may be betting too much). It has an odd design, four fringed edges with handles that fold up and lift off the base of it, one hinge wrenched and nearly broken, and that's likely all you see.

I see my grandfather's butler table, one of the few things my father's father left him, and I remember when that hunge was handled too roughtly by a mover and the gut-wrenching look on my father's face when he saw what happened-- the same look he has when he alludes to himself as a failure to his father's memory. I see the dust as a result of his mental illness, which I have watched unfold all my life, culminating in him asking my help this week end.

I'm not saying my version of the table is any less real than yours, but it is certainly a different table than you can see, even with my descripton of my perception.
We get something like this with Transcendental Idealism. We do not create our own reality, but we do not perceive reality for its face value. We translate it into something that we can understand.
Yes.
 

reason

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By inherent meaning, I mean meaning which exists without an observer.
First, the notion that inherent meaning does not exist in the object itself is quite apparent, and in fact can be deduced from what we usually mean by meaning, since meaning is had in the relationship between an object and its interpreter. An obvious instance of this would occur when a common word is used by two languages to have different meanings. In such instances where two individuals interpret different meanings onto the same object there is no contradiction, it can be simulataneously true that each interprets a different meaning from the same object.

However, to conflate truth with meaning is in error. This is presupposed by the argument that there is no inherent meaning, since it must be true that people can interpret the same object differently, but since it is the same object it must have properties common to both observers (or else it wouldn't be the same object!) and some statements about that object may be true or false.

I have seen nothing to support its existence, and believe it doesn't exist. If it does, it certainly doesn't exist in a form something roughly the size of a large sweetpotato can adequately process
Nobody can support their beliefs, so I cannot meet your challenge, and nor do I intend to. However, this is a philosophical error on your part, to demand support for beliefs leads to inconsistency, even for your own beliefs, since what supports the supports? No matter how many answers you are given nothing will ever really be supported at all; even worse, all those supposed supporting statements are circular!

In other words, you have confused justification with criticism. I am happy to expose competing theories to critical fire, including my own, by showing my own theories to be logically inconsistent, in conflict with the facts or some other wellestablished theory, but the demand that I support (or justify) such theories is a standard I flatly reject as inconsistent, so your criticism against the theory of truth, that you see no reason or suppport to believe it exists, must necessarily condemn your own position; though not my own.

That being said, I can use reason (even if I can't give reasons) to explain my beliefs. In short, the existence of mistakes, the fact that we err, that we fall short of an ideal and are constrained in our choices. The view of truth I believe in is one of exceptionless patterns, and that such exceptionless patterns exist in the universe, thus allowing our statements to be either true or false. (edit: You would be right to consider this argument circular, but it does not follow from its circularity that it is false. See the comments below for more.)

Well, you have provided neither proof nor, really, any logical basis whatsoever for thinking truth exists. Only your strong feeling it does. Well, the only response to that is skepticism your feeling has much to do with reality.
The idea that I could provide proof or a logical basis for truth is absurd, since logical proofs presuppose truth. I am well aware that any such argument would be circular. Though as previously mentioned, this claim that I do not have a basis for my belief is one that inevitably leads to inconsistency, and a standard I do not pretend to satisfy.

The fact that critical argument presupposes a minimal logic, including truth and falsity, means that your own argument here is to be rejected, since presumably if no statement can be closer or further from the truth, then your own argument can no more correspond to the facts than my own. That doesnt mean you cannot hold the postion you hold, only that it is disingenuous to argue for it. (edit: the form or a valid argument is such that the conclusion is truth preserving from premises which are presupposed true. If you do not believe that truth exists, then how is it you suppose your conclusion that truth does not exists can follow from your premises?)

As soon as we reject the notion that any of our beliefs can be supported, founded or justified, these sceptical arguments are irrelevent, since I agree that our beliefs cannot be supported, founded or justified. However, that does not mean it is impossible to be a rational, to have beliefs and to engage in critical discussion, and to have critical preference for competing theories. (edit: It is interesting to note that while any mere feeling that something exists has no bearing on whether it exists or not, it does not follow that the feeling in question is false.)
 
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reason

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I understand 'subjective truth' to be an idea or belief that cannot be proven - is not falsifiable.
That betrays a misunderstanding of falsifiability. In fact, the problem with unfalsifiable theories are that they are always proven, in that every possible empirical observation is consistent with their predictions, since they predict everything! The classic example is the Fruedian psychoanalyst who theorises that his patient is suffering from a neurosis due to abuse while he was a child. If when challenged the patient admits to the abuse then the psychoanalyst's theory was true; if the patient denies any such abuse then that is a sign of denial or repressed memories and the psychoanalysts theory is true. Thus, the psychoanalyst's theory is always true and unfalsifiable, at least in respect to this particular test. However, unfalsifiability in science should not be confused with unrefutability. For example, logical positivists once asserted that all statements which could not be verified with sense-data are meaningless, but quite clearly the statement "all statements which can not be verified with sense-data are meaningless" cannot be verified with sense-data, and thus, is meaningless.

The upshot of falsifiability is that no scientific theory is ever proven. From the notion that all beliefs for which we cannot contruct a logical proof are subjective, it necessarily follows that no scientific theory can be objectively true. In other words, that the prediction that light has a finite speed or the inverse square law of gravity is true, is not true for everyone, which in turn defeats their universaility and renders them unscientific; so science does not exist.

That I feel calm is only true for me because no one else can experience my exact calm, but only their interpretations of it.
For this to be true, it would have to follow that my statement, "Toonia is feeling calm" is false, even if it is true that you feel calm!. In other words, this notion of subjective truth is inconsistent. It is trivially true that I cannot experience your feelings, but it does not follow that my statements about your feelings cannot correspond to how you feel.

My calm can, and has been, interpreted as everything from someone else's calm, to hostility, to fear. I understand subjective truth to be that which can only be experienced and understood precisely from individual perspective.
That would be quite a perverse twist of the word truth. In fact, you appeal to the fact that others may sometimes guess incorreclty how you feel, which can only mean the rest of the time they guess correctly, and their conjectures about the state of your mind are true.

So, perhaps this idea of subjective truth (perception) is information that by its nature is unknowable except from the inside view of an individual. There is continual tension and interplay between subjective perception and objective truth. Perhaps superstition is the process of molding the objective world into subjective perception, while science is the process of molding subjective perception into the objective world?
I am quite unsure where these objective and subjective worlds have come from. Last time I checked there was only one universe.
 

Siúil a Rúin

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That betrays a misunderstanding of falsifiability... However, unfalsifiability in science should not be confused with unrefutability.
That is probably the term I was searching for.

The upshot of falsifiability is that no scientific theory is ever proven. From the notion that all beliefs for which we cannot contruct a logical proof are subjective, it necessarily follows that no scientific theory can be objectively true. In other words, that the prediction that light has a finite speed or the inverse square law of gravity is true, is not true for everyone, which in turn defeats their universaility and renders them unscientific; so science does not exist.
Since the human mind on one level is only observable from the inside, this results in information that is known only from that perspective. Other truths are gained through external observation. The distinction I am trying to show has more to do with the manner in which the truth is arrived at. Since in scientific inquiry the attempts to prove a truth are based on specific measurements and consistency in observation. The laws of physics effect each individual in precisely the same way.

For this to be true, it would have to follow that my statement, "Toonia is feeling calm" is false, even if it is true that you feel calm!. In other words, this notion of subjective truth is inconsistent. It is trivially true that I cannot experience your feelings, but it does not follow that my statements about your feelings cannot correspond to how you feel.
You see I don't consider that trivially true. Why would it be? Your statement about my state of calm is an approximation only. I'm suggest it is that approximation that is trivially true. If you were to state the gravitational force on my mass, it would be precisely true, whereas "toonia is calm" is an approximation. While it may hold enough meaning in certain contexts, on one level such an approximation is without meaning.

Maybe this example will help. "The sky is blue" has a measurable meaning and is true for all. The truth can be determined by specific, measurable way in which light interacts with the atmosphere. How would you convey this truth to a non-sighted person? If a sighted person became blind and was told "the sky is blue", it would be impossible for them to arrive at a precise truth about the sky at that moment as well. There is also no way to measure how the individual ever perceived the sky. There would be emotional associations with the color based on experience.

When I experience the sky, I sometimes see it as a canvass on which the outlines of trees and blossoms are painted. It is unlikely I see the canvass that others see on reading this. I see metaphorical relationships between the sky and what it envelopes. Sometimes when I look into the sky I feel a deep fear as I feel the earth's gravity holding me close. My sister sees giant blooms with invisible stems connecting them to the earth. When she tells me this, I reinterpret in into my own experience, as hers remains unknown to me. This kind of approximation of the specificity of experience is the basis for artistic communication. The artist attempts to most precisely convey their experience, knowingly falls short, is perceived by another who internalizes it into their experience in a fresh, equally unknowable manner. It is all part of the same universe. Just because something is unknowable doesn't mean it is separate in its existence in any way.

That would be quite a perverse twist of the word truth. In fact, you appeal to the fact that others may sometimes guess incorreclty how you feel, which can only mean the rest of the time they guess correctly, and their conjectures about the state of your mind are true.
I am suggesting that it is impossible for anyone to guess correctly. Measuring my heart-rate, overall physiology can reveal truths about my state that are consistent for all. My experience is also the result of the complex interplay of memory and perception knowable only to myself. Other experiences of calm are only an approximation of my experience. While those factors are, it is a incomplete truth. I'm suggesting that there is a level of truth that goes beyond such approximations that is only known to individual experience. It is unknowable and unobservable outside the individual.

I am quite unsure where these objective and subjective worlds have come from. Last time I checked there was only one universe.
I'm not suggesting the type of schism you refer to here. Of course it is one universe, but viewed from different angles. Not everything is observable from the outside. Part of the problem is that language itself is an approximation.
 
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