What in truth is truth?

Kacey

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But if by "absolute truth" you mean "all truth," as in "The answer" (42!) then mathematics are relegated to fact and logic. Mathematics can't solve most of the problems in my life, which are relational.

This is the point I was fumblingly trying to make in my earlier post. Once one leaves the realm of numbers - even for science - truth will vary based on the person who is determining it.

"Truth" is not within the scope of science. Either partial or absolute. By definition, science is limited to "fact." Science can only answer how, and in fact, modern science is purposefully limited to "how." To get "Truth," you will also need to answer "Why?" To date, no one system has been agreed upon to answer "Why?"

Truth is about "Why?" Facts are about "Who, What, When, Where, and How?"

Indeed. And even facts can vary based on the perception of the people perceiving them.
 

exile

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But if by "absolute truth" you mean "all truth," as in "The answer" (42!) then mathematics are relegated to fact and logic. Mathematics can't solve most of the problems in my life, which are relational.

I don't believe that cs meant what you seem to think he meant. I think what he was saying was that the only truths which are necessary are those of mathematics and logic. No matter what the world is like, 2+2 = 4 simply by virtue of how 2, 4 and the [+] operation are defined. All other truths are contingent in the sense that they could in principle be different in other worlds.

"Truth" is not within the scope of science. Either partial or absolute. By definition, science is limited to "fact." Science can only answer how, and in fact, modern science is purposefully limited to "how." To get "Truth," you will also need to answer "Why?" To date, no one system has been agreed upon to answer "Why?"

Truth is about "Why?" Facts are about "Who, What, When, Where, and How?"

Again, I think this isn't correct. Science explains 'why' something is by virtue of showing that the interaction of fundamental physical laws yields that something as a consequence (there's a terrific explanation of this idea, and how it answers the question that why is answered by understanding the fundamental principles of nature, in the New York Review of Books, by the Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, he of the electroweak unification; see here.) You are construing why to be about human motivations. There is no necessary connection between the notion of truth, on the one hand, and human motivations on the other. Truth simply is the way things are, as opposed to the way they are not, independent of our needs, desires, and beliefs. Why is simply the question we ask when we seek to know the necessary and sufficient conditions for something to happen. Looking for meaning or motivation just reflects our temptation to believe that the universe works the way we do. Science makes no such assumptions—since there is no particularly good reason to believe it does—and has done very well indeed...
 

thardey

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I don't believe that cs meant what you seem to think he meant. I think what he was saying was that the only truths which are necessary are those of mathematics and logic. No matter what the world is like, 2+2 = 4 simply by virtue of how 2, 4 and the [+] operation are defined. All other truths are contingent in the sense that they could in principle be different in other worlds.

You're right, that's not what he meant by "ablosute truth" I was just playing more with semantics, actually to support his point.
Originally Posted by cstanley
There are a lot of semantics involved in arguments about "truth."
Even the idea of "absolute truth" involves a lot of semantics.


Again, I think this isn't correct. Science explains 'why' something is by virtue of showing that the interaction of fundamental physical laws yields that something as a consequence (there's a terrific explanation of this idea, and how it answers the question that why is answered by understanding the fundamental principles of nature, in the New York Review of Books, by the Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, he of the electroweak unification; see here.) You are construing why to be about human motivations. There is no necessary connection between the notion of truth, on the one hand, and human motivations.
More or less, I construe why to be about motivations and intent. It's not limited to humans. Dogs, cats, and horses can also have "why." So can God.

[FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1]The American Heritage簧 Dictionary:[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1]why [/SIZE][/FONT]

[SIZE=-1] ADVERB: [/SIZE]
For what purpose, reason, or cause; with what intention, justification, or motive: Why is the door shut? Why do birds sing?[SIZE=-1]

NOUN: [/SIZE]

pl. [FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1]whys[/SIZE][/FONT]
  1. The cause or intention underlying a given action or situation: studying the whys of antisocial behavior.
  2. A difficult problem or question.
[FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1] how [/SIZE][/FONT]

[SIZE=-1] ADVERB: [/SIZE]
  1. In what manner or way; by what means: How does this machine work?
  2. In what state or condition: How is she today?
  3. To what extent, amount, or degree: How bad was it?
  4. For what reason or purpose; why: How is it that he left early?
  5. With what meaning: How should I take that remark?
  6. By what name: How is she called?
  7. By what measure; in what units: How do you sell this corn?
  8. What. Usually used in requesting that something be said again: How's that again?
  9. Used as an intensive: How we laughed!
[SIZE=-1] CONJUNCTION: [/SIZE]
  1. The manner or way in which: forgot how it was done.
  2. That.
  3. In whatever way or manner; however: Cook it how you please.
[SIZE=-1] NOUN: [/SIZE]
A manner or method of doing something: "The how of research is generated by the why of the world" (Frederick Turner).
In general conversaton, "How" and "Why" are often used synonymously. In this kind of conversation, I strongly believe that they are not synonymous, and should be carefully defined, or confusion is inevitable.

"Pure" Science is strictly limited to "how," (often sloppily addressed as "why" since it's meaning is understood.) Mathematics (What I would consider the "purest" science) has no place for why.

Ex: Q: "Why is 2+2=4?" A: "Because it is!"
Or

Q: "How does 2+2= 4?" A: Because if you start with two (1+1) and add two more (1+1) then you end up with a total of four! (1+1+1+1). Who cares why? Are you trying to get four? (Intent).

"Applied Science" on the other hand, does include intent, usually on the part of the scientist or engineer attempting to harness the "pure science." This is where a lot of confusion comes in.

That's where questions about the intent of horses, for instance, come into play. "Why did the horse chase off the other horse?" "Because it wanted to establish dominance." Pure science regarding horses would be along the lines of how it digests food, uses it's eyes, coordinates its muscles, etc. Or, to use the above illustration, "How did it chase off the other horse?" Different question, different field of study.


Truth simply is the way things are, as opposed to the way they are not, independent of our needs, desires, and beliefs. Why is simply the question we ask when we seek to know the necessary and sufficient conditions for something to happen. Looking for meaning or motivation just reflects our temptation to believe that the universe works the way we do. Science makes no such assumptionssince there is no particularly good reason to believe it doesand has done very well indeed...
Personally, I would define the bolded part above as "Fact." The "necessary and sufficient conditions" is the question of "how." Therefore, science has done very well to address these questions.

[FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1] fact [/SIZE][/FONT]

[SIZE=-1] NOUN: [/SIZE]
  1. Knowledge or information based on real occurrences: an account based on fact; a blur of fact and fancy.
    1. Something demonstrated to exist or known to have existed: Genetic engineering is now a fact. That Chaucer was a real person is an undisputed fact.
    2. A real occurrence; an event: had to prove the facts of the case.
    3. Something believed to be true or real: a document laced with mistaken facts.
  2. A thing that has been done, especially a crime: an accessory before the fact.
  3. Law The aspect of a case at law comprising events determined by evidence: The jury made a finding of fact.
[FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1] truth [/SIZE][/FONT]

[SIZE=-1] NOUN: [/SIZE]
pl. [FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1]truths[/SIZE][/FONT]

Conformity to fact or actuality.
  1. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.
  2. Sincerity; integrity.
  3. Fidelity to an original or standard.
    1. Reality; actuality.
    2. often [FONT=arial,sans-serif][SIZE=-1]Truth[/SIZE][/FONT] That which is considered to be the supreme reality and to have the ultimate meaning and value of existence.
Truth conforms to fact, but includes more than fact. One way to put it is that truth is the sum of several facts, and how those facts relate to each other, sometimes in tangible ways, sometime esoteric.

Of course, this is THE question of Methodology. How do we define truth, and what method do we use to determine it?

However, Science itself cannot tell us how to determine the method to finding truth. Science is a method that was determined by outside factors: logic, experience, and faith are some of the obvious ones. (Since religious beliefs prevented the proper study of the solar system, "Science" should follow a method that does not allow religion to affect the outcome, for instance.)

1. Use your experience: Consider the problem and try to make sense of it. Look for previous explanations. If this is a new problem to you, then move to step 2.

2
. Form a conjecture: When nothing else is yet known, try to state an explanation, to someone else, or to your notebook.

3
. Deduce a prediction from that explanation: If you assume 2 is true, what consequences follow?

4
. Test: Look for the opposite of each consequence in order to disprove 2. It is a logical error to seek 3 directly as proof of 2. This error is called affirming the consequent.
Where did the above system (the backbone of "pure science") come from? It couldn't have been from science, since that would make a circular argument. It had to have come from something else, that "something else" is where truth is separated from fact.

If your methodology is "Rationalism," then it's likely that "fact" is synonymous with "truth," "how" is synonymous with "why", and science is a source of truth.

If your methodology is "Fideism" then "Fact" and "Truth" are only tenuously related.

If it is "Experientialism" then "Truth" is a matter of "Facts" interpreted through your own experiences.

I am familiar with seven different forms of formal Methodologies, and several informal ones. My own is a form of the quote I left from Sherlock Holmes, above. Each one has a different use of "Fact" in the method of finding "Truth."

Personally, "Facts" act as a filter. If you could start with every option (practically, or theoretically), then filter out those options which don't fit the facts, what you are left with is truth. (But that's just me!)

I suppose that would be the methodology of deduction.
 

Monadnock

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No, I don't think that follows, and down that slope lies the pit where no atrocity ever 'really' happened. No one's child was killed by a drunken driver, no one's relatives died in a concentration camp, no one was ever enslaved, or persecuted, or convicted unjustly... or anything.

I think that's stretching it a bit.

Different perceptions of the same event each do not point to the 100% truth. That is not to say that the event never happened. That's a bit far fetched.
 

exile

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I think that's stretching it a bit.

Different perceptions of the same event each do not point to the 100% truth. That is not to say that the event never happened. That's a bit far fetched.

Well, obviously, I agree. :) But if the event happened, thenregardless of our own viewsthere is a domain of reality that exists independent of our perceptions and attitudes.

And if that's so, M., then it's not just atrocities that belong to it: events in general do. Which is my point: there are our perceptions, attitudes, views, preconceptions, and so on... and then there is that domain of what actually happened and what actually is. And the goal of science and reason is to enable us to form a picture, an analogy in our own minds that encodes the essential features of what we can tell about that domain.

Modern science is the acid test and best proof of this. There is no way we can make sense of quantum theory; it is simply not compatible with the way we experience the world. Yet we devised the theory and it has never failed when confronted with measurements of the world. If we were guided merely by our own views of things, how we picture the world, we would never know about molecules, atoms, or the distortion of empty space by masses that causes light to bend.

The point is that once you accept the existence of a domain of the universe outside our own subjectivities, the argument is essentially overthe existence of that distinction is what's at issue, and you basically have to accept that while we have our own vision of things and beliefs, the truth is something fundamentally different from those things.
 

diamondbar1971

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If you believe in God and believe that God can do anything, then can God make a rock so big that he can't pick it up...In The world of theory, either an answer of yes or an answer of no would disprove God... But yet, is this truth.
 

Gyakuto

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As Pontius Pilot said, Quid est veritas?
 

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