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Posted: 03 May 2011 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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dougsmith - 03 May 2011 09:35 AM

Well, truth isn’t relative, so that’s right.

It isn’t?  wink

I kind of just go with the idea there are different types or concepts of truth. Like instead of saying truth is tenseless just one concept of truth is tenseless another is relative. However I know that probably doesn’t help the position of an objective truth.

Kind of not concerned at this point whether truth is objective or not. Or I guess not really ready to take a stand yet.

I’m not sure what you mean by “truth by definition” and “arbitrary assignment”.

We arbitrarily define what time is. It’s not universal. a particular date in history or longitude/latitude location would be meaningless to some visiting alien from another planet. Unless they accepted to agree to our systems of measurement. However no one could force them to. It’s just a matter of convenience to communicate ideas across. No one is under any obligation to accept our concepts of measurement. IOW it’s a truth that requires some agreement as to definition.

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Posted: 03 May 2011 10:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 10:06 AM
dougsmith - 03 May 2011 09:35 AM

Well, truth isn’t relative, so that’s right.

It isn’t?  wink

I kind of just go with the idea there are different types or concepts of truth. Like instead of saying truth is tenseless just one concept of truth is tenseless another is relative. However I know that probably doesn’t help the position of an objective truth.

Kind of not concerned at this point whether truth is objective or not. Or I guess not really ready to take a stand yet.

Sorry, you don’t get to make up your own truth, just like you don’t get to make up your own facts.

Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 10:06 AM

I’m not sure what you mean by “truth by definition” and “arbitrary assignment”.

We arbitrarily define what time is. It’s not universal. a particular date in history or longitude/latitude location would be meaningless to some visiting alien from another planet. Unless they accepted to agree to our systems of measurement. However no one could force them to. It’s just a matter of convenience to communicate ideas across. No one is under any obligation to accept our concepts of measurement. IOW it’s a truth that requires some agreement as to definition.

Of course, but quite banal. All measurement depends on a sectioning of space or time into discrete units. Any aliens we encounter would use different sectionings. But so what? Knowing what sectioning they use would be like knowing that you use Fahrenheit and I use Celsius. The translation is trivial, and what’s true remains what’s true.

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Posted: 03 May 2011 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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dougsmith - 03 May 2011 10:20 AM

Sorry, you don’t get to make up your own truth, just like you don’t get to make up your own facts.

Sorry, I disagree. People create a system and truths are true only within the context of that system. It requires agreement and acceptance of that system.

Of course, but quite banal. All measurement depends on a sectioning of space or time into discrete units. Any aliens we encounter would use different sectionings. But so what? Knowing what sectioning they use would be like knowing that you use Fahrenheit and I use Celsius. The translation is trivial, and what’s true remains what’s true.

The acceptance and agreement of any system is not trivial IMO. Without agreement such truths have no meaning, no value and no necessity. Humans have no particular authority to define “the” system by which truth is measured.

I disagree with the need to define truth objectively. I don’t think there is anymore need for it external to our system of informational exchange then there is the need for a God. However one is certainly free to believe in this need.

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Posted: 03 May 2011 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 10:53 AM
dougsmith - 03 May 2011 10:20 AM

Sorry, you don’t get to make up your own truth, just like you don’t get to make up your own facts.

Sorry, I disagree. People create a system and truths are true only within the context of that system. It requires agreement and acceptance of that system.

So nothing was true before there were humans? There was no truth about how the sun and stars formed? There would be nothing true without humans? Nonsense.

Again, the form that those truths take (e.g., the language in which they’re stated) is human created. But the truths themselves (the facts) are not. Again, one doesn’t get to decide what’s true and false just by willpower or linguistic prestidigitation.

Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 10:53 AM

Of course, but quite banal. All measurement depends on a sectioning of space or time into discrete units. Any aliens we encounter would use different sectionings. But so what? Knowing what sectioning they use would be like knowing that you use Fahrenheit and I use Celsius. The translation is trivial, and what’s true remains what’s true.

The acceptance and agreement of any system is not trivial IMO. Without agreement such truths have no meaning, no value and no necessity. Humans have no particular authority to define “the” system by which truth is measured.

I disagree with the need to define truth objectively. I don’t think there is anymore need for it external to our system of informational exchange then there is the need for a God. However one is certainly free to believe in this need.

Um, you’ve made a claim (“not trivial”) which appears to be false on its face. I’ve given the reason why in the quoted section.

The point is not (as it were) the absurd one that humans decide that the foot is the standard measure. The point is that it doesn’t matter which standard measure you use, they’re all interchangeable and produce the same truths, whether you decide on using feet and inches or centimeters and meters, or what have you.

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Posted: 03 May 2011 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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dougsmith - 03 May 2011 12:00 PM

So nothing was true before there were humans? There was no truth about how the sun and stars formed? There would be nothing true without humans? Nonsense.

Truth requires acceptance. There was a process which formed the sun and the stars. Someone develops a theory about how that process took place based on what information is available. Someone develops a system to validate the theory. You agree with the system, theory and validation process in order to accept it as truth.

Are you going to accept something as truth that hasn’t been validated? Truth is a human concept define by and accepted or rejected by the individual.

Again, the form that those truths take (e.g., the language in which they’re stated) is human created. But the truths themselves (the facts) are not. Again, one doesn’t get to decide what’s true and false just by willpower or linguistic prestidigitation.

Sure you do. Is it true that the United States exists? A group of people arbitrarily decided on the borders and defined what a nation was.

So while this may not be the case for all “truths” it certainly can be the truth for some of them.

Um, you’ve made a claim (“not trivial”) which appears to be false on its face. I’ve given the reason why in the quoted section.

Yes, and you’ve also made a claim “it being trivial” which appears to be false on it face. I also provided the reason why in my response. Pointing this out doesn’t really get us anywhere except at where we are. A point of disagreement.

Which is fine. There’s no reason why two individuals can’t come to an honest disagreement on some point especially wrt philosophy. 

The point is not (as it were) the absurd one that humans decide that the foot is the standard measure. The point is that it doesn’t matter which standard measure you use, they’re all interchangeable and produce the same truths, whether you decide on using feet and inches or centimeters and meters, or what have you.

No, your still within the context of the same system, which is why seems it to be true. Actually it is true within that system. You are thinking in terms of time and space.

Suppose I, or really some alien entity did not think in terms of time or space. What value or meaning do you think your truth would have to them?

A majority of people at one time accept the truth that the world was flat. As sure about their truth as you/we are ours.

A few hundred years from now may seem as silly. So while we can agree and justify between ourselves what is apparently true. I’m not going to hang my hat on a particular concept of truth as if it could never change. Man has IMO fooled himself a few times going down that road.

We may never know precisely what formed the suns and planets. However we can develop and validate theories that are true enough that a majority of people accept the truth of it. Twenty years later a majority may agree they were all wrong. I see no need to turn truth into anything other then that.

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Posted: 03 May 2011 06:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 03:39 PM

Truth requires acceptance.

It most certainly does not. The Earth was round long before it was accepted as round.

Or do you think that the Earth used to be flat and then became round? That’s what your theory implies.

Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 03:39 PM

Again, the form that those truths take (e.g., the language in which they’re stated) is human created. But the truths themselves (the facts) are not. Again, one doesn’t get to decide what’s true and false just by willpower or linguistic prestidigitation.

Sure you do. Is it true that the United States exists? A group of people arbitrarily decided on the borders and defined what a nation was.

So while this may not be the case for all “truths” it certainly can be the truth for some of them.

But that’s just the point. It’s not the case that all truths are arbitrary.

Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 03:39 PM

Um, you’ve made a claim (“not trivial”) which appears to be false on its face. I’ve given the reason why in the quoted section.

Yes, and you’ve also made a claim “it being trivial” which appears to be false on it face. I also provided the reason why in my response. Pointing this out doesn’t really get us anywhere except at where we are. A point of disagreement.

You “pointed it out” without giving an argument as to why it’s false. I gave an argument. So it’s more than a mere point of disagreement.

Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 03:39 PM

The point is not (as it were) the absurd one that humans decide that the foot is the standard measure. The point is that it doesn’t matter which standard measure you use, they’re all interchangeable and produce the same truths, whether you decide on using feet and inches or centimeters and meters, or what have you.

No, your still within the context of the same system, which is why seems it to be true. Actually it is true within that system. You are thinking in terms of time and space.

Suppose I, or really some alien entity did not think in terms of time or space. What value or meaning do you think your truth would have to them?

A majority of people at one time accept the truth that the world was flat. As sure about their truth as you/we are ours.

A few hundred years from now may seem as silly. So while we can agree and justify between ourselves what is apparently true. I’m not going to hang my hat on a particular concept of truth as if it could never change. Man has IMO fooled himself a few times going down that road.

We may never know precisely what formed the suns and planets. However we can develop and validate theories that are true enough that a majority of people accept the truth of it. Twenty years later a majority may agree they were all wrong. I see no need to turn truth into anything other then that.

I don’t know what your point is here, except (so it seems) to argue that the world used to be flat and now it’s round: an absurdity if ever there were one.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Gnostikosis - 03 May 2011 10:53 AM

Sorry, I disagree. People create a system and truths are true only within the context of that system. It requires agreement and acceptance of that system.

Yep. But given a system that is exact enough, in which the concepts are clear cut, truth becomes more and more fixed. Given the concepts of ‘round’ and ‘square’, one cannot say the sun has the form of a square. You can make a fuzzy system in which truth is not well defined, of course. But you would not step into an airplane based on technology that was designed with help of such a conceptual system, would you?

I have to say, I hate it when people say something like ‘it is your truth’. ‘Truth’ is not private, it is shared per definition, even if it cannot be checked. The earth is round, that is true for everybody. Of course, if you start shifting the concepts of ‘round’ and ‘earth’, then it might not be true anymore, but then you go into a fuzzy system. Also, when I say I am not angry, this might be true or false, even if there would be no way I can check this.
  And what if I say a painting is beautiful? There are 2 aspects of it: the fact that I really think it is beautiful. Again this is true or false. But the content, if the painting really is beautiful, is not true or false.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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dougsmith - 03 May 2011 06:58 PM

It most certainly does not. The Earth was round long before it was accepted as round.

Or do you think that the Earth used to be flat and then became round? That’s what your theory implies.

No the point here is that their truth was based on what they knew. No one can based truth on what they don’t know. So while there maybe an objective truth, you can’t base your concept of truth on what you don’t know and are not aware of.

For example, “God’s” existence maybe an objective truth. However without validation, you are under no obligation to accept it as true are you? 

But that’s just the point. It’s not the case that all truths are arbitrary.

Yes but some are. However the examples you provided didn’t really seem to fit into this category of objective. Actually I suspect a lot of what is commonly accepted as “truth” is probably not objective.

I don’t know what your point is here, except (so it seems) to argue that the world used to be flat and now it’s round: an absurdity if ever there were one.

My point is that IMO one should never assume nor fail to question on a regular basis the objectivity of the truths they accept.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 11:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Gnostikosis - 04 May 2011 11:14 AM
dougsmith - 03 May 2011 06:58 PM

It most certainly does not. The Earth was round long before it was accepted as round.

Or do you think that the Earth used to be flat and then became round? That’s what your theory implies.

No the point here is that their truth was based on what they knew. No one can based truth on what they don’t know. So while there maybe an objective truth, you can’t base your concept of truth on what you don’t know and are not aware of.

For example, “God’s” existence maybe an objective truth. However without validation, you are under no obligation to accept it as true are you? 

But that’s just the point. It’s not the case that all truths are arbitrary.

Yes but some are. However the examples you provided didn’t really seem to fit into this category of objective. Actually I suspect a lot of what is commonly accepted as “truth” is probably not objective.

I don’t know what your point is here, except (so it seems) to argue that the world used to be flat and now it’s round: an absurdity if ever there were one.

My point is that IMO one should never assume nor fail to question on a regular basis the objectivity of the truths they accept.

I don’t disagree with any of that. But one has to distinguish truth (which we may not be aware of) from what we now believe true.

Sure, what we now consider true may in fact be false. But that doesn’t mean that one needs to consider something true in order for it to be true, or that what makes something true is simply believing it so. Much the opposite: for it to be the case that we can always be in error, it must be that truth can always go beyond our beliefs about what’s true. We can always be wrong. If truth depended on belief, then we could never be wrong, because believing something would make it so. (And then to paraphrase Godwin, if the Nazis took over, the Holocaust would never have existed).

So, we can always be wrong. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we therefore have to reject everything we believe. It’s possible that we’re wrong about global warming. It’s possible we’re wrong about the speed of light. It’s possible we’re wrong that the universe is x-billion-years old. Perhaps it just began twelve minutes ago with everything just as though it were older. It’s possible we’re all brains in vats or images in the mind of some alien dreamer.

But do we have reason to believe any of this? Not at all.

That’s why we always have to be very careful to distinguish epistemology from metaphysics.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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GdB - 04 May 2011 02:25 AM

Yep. But given a system that is exact enough, in which the concepts are clear cut, truth becomes more and more fixed. Given the concepts of ‘round’ and ‘square’, one cannot say the sun has the form of a square. You can make a fuzzy system in which truth is not well defined, of course. But you would not step into an airplane based on technology that was designed with help of such a conceptual system, would you?

People board a plane who have no idea how or why a plane flies. I often step into “systems” designed by some unknown person using some unknown ideology. I have to create a truth for this system with limited or no knowledge. Whatever “truth” I create may not be precise however it’s true enough to work, function test and validate within know but arbitrarily accepted margins of accuracy. A lot of other people step into these truth I create. I actually feel a bit sorry for them that they have to rely on me for truth. (actually do the best I can to verify what is true but I’m only human you know) However people have been very successful relying on truths I create.

I have to say, I hate it when people say something like ‘it is your truth’. ‘Truth’ is not private, it is shared per definition, even if it cannot be checked. The earth is round, that is true for everybody. Of course, if you start shifting the concepts of ‘round’ and ‘earth’, then it might not be true anymore, but then you go into a fuzzy system.

Actually it’s my truth that others rely on. I don’t think they should. I think they should validate everything anybody claims as true.

So my concern is unless people really validate for themselves what is true they are usually relying on someone like me to determine what is true. Now I’m aware of the accuracy, and limitations of what I claim as being true. They aren’t, yet it seems the nature of most to look for someone else to define what is true for them. Then they run with it as if it were their own truth and they will defend it as if it were absolute.

So really what does one accept as truth?
What they’ve personally validated? Which is anecdotal.
Truth one accepts from authority? Not personally verified or validated
Truth one accepts from collaboration? Via a system of validation we’ve agreed to be governed by.

So where does “objective” truth lie? Outside this system of validation? If so should anyone be required or expected to accept it’s truth?

Also, when I say I am not angry, this might be true or false, even if there would be no way I can check this.
  And what if I say a painting is beautiful? There are 2 aspects of it: the fact that I really think it is beautiful. Again this is true or false. But the content, if the painting really is beautiful, is not true or false.

Personally I think you are allowed to determine what is true for you. It doesn’t have to be true for me. And I don’t know how one could get more subjective then the concept of beauty.  smile

There are different ideas of truth. Truth needs a lot of qualification to get close to being objective. I don’t know that we can get precisely to that point. However we can agree to a system that provides enough accuracy to work with.

Sorry had to edited my “Truth one accepts” to make them understandable.

[ Edited: 04 May 2011 01:32 PM by Gnostikosis ]
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Posted: 04 May 2011 01:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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dougsmith - 04 May 2011 11:37 AM

That’s why we always have to be very careful to distinguish epistemology from metaphysics.

Ah, ok…

Maybe you can help me out here. I hate to show my ignorance but I have to be willing to ask to fix it…  red face

It’s been a little difficult for me to get a good grasp of the concept of “metaphysics”. The concept seems a bit abstract.

I’d just like to be more accurate in expressing my thoughts.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 01:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Gnostikosis - 04 May 2011 01:26 PM
dougsmith - 04 May 2011 11:37 AM

That’s why we always have to be very careful to distinguish epistemology from metaphysics.

Ah, ok…

Maybe you can help me out here. I hate to show my ignorance but I have to be willing to ask to fix it…  red face

It’s been a little difficult for me to get a good grasp of the concept of “metaphysics”. The concept seems a bit abstract.

I’d just like to be more accurate in expressing my thoughts.

It’s a tough one to define. But roughly, metaphysics is the way the world is, as different from epistemology which is about how we know about the world.

Now, you’re going to say that how we know about the world is how we know how the world is, so these are the same. That’s a standard confusion. It’s true that we learn about how the world is through reason, science, etc., which leads us to speculate about a metaphysics of atoms and forces. Our metaphysics basically is what our best science tells us the world is made of.

But we have to keep metaphysics conceptually distinct in our minds because we could be wrong. We’ve been wrong in the past, e.g., with past sciences. So although our epistemology tells us that atoms and forces are the correct metaphysics, since metaphysics is a separate thing, we’re only giving it our best guess.

An analogy (from Wittgenstein): when we’re born we’re given a closed box, and we’re never able to open it. Metaphysics is about what’s really in the box if we were able to open it. Epistemology is about how we rattle the thing around and weigh it and scan it with instruments and so come up with a reasoned conjecture about what’s in the box. Maybe our epistemology gets things right. And maybe we can have a high degree of confidence about that. But we can never know absolutely 100% for sure because we’re never able to open the box and see it.

(And to be snarky, even if we were able to open the box we could still be in error, because we could be hallucinating or dreaming or ...)

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Posted: 04 May 2011 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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To be pedantically clear: the analogy from Wittgenstein was (IIRC) about other minds rather than metaphysics generally. I’m editing it slightly.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 02:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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dougsmith - 04 May 2011 02:02 PM

To be pedantically clear: the analogy from Wittgenstein was (IIRC) about other minds rather than metaphysics generally. I’m editing it slightly.

Interesting…

I’ve had Christians use the concept that we can’t verify the existence of other minds to argue that naturalism has no foundation for truth. I suspect that was somehow derived from here.

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Posted: 04 May 2011 03:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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dougsmith - 04 May 2011 01:40 PM

It’s a tough one to define. But roughly, metaphysics is the way the world is, as different from epistemology which is about how we know about the world.

Now, you’re going to say that how we know about the world is how we know how the world is, so these are the same. That’s a standard confusion. It’s true that we learn about how the world is through reason, science, etc., which leads us to speculate about a metaphysics of atoms and forces. Our metaphysics basically is what our best science tells us the world is made of.

But we have to keep metaphysics conceptually distinct in our minds because we could be wrong. We’ve been wrong in the past, e.g., with past sciences. So although our epistemology tells us that atoms and forces are the correct metaphysics, since metaphysics is a separate thing, we’re only giving it our best guess.

An analogy (from Wittgenstein): when we’re born we’re given a closed box, and we’re never able to open it. Metaphysics is about what’s really in the box if we were able to open it. Epistemology is about how we rattle the thing around and weigh it and scan it with instruments and so come up with a reasoned conjecture about what’s in the box. Maybe our epistemology gets things right. And maybe we can have a high degree of confidence about that. But we can never know absolutely 100% for sure because we’re never able to open the box and see it.

(And to be snarky, even if we were able to open the box we could still be in error, because we could be hallucinating or dreaming or ...)

Thanks, that helps. wrt “truth” I was trying to express my concern about metaphysics. Maybe next time I can sound a little smarter.

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