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Truth Relativism
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Posted 2/12/08

shibole wrote:


excalion wrote:


shibole wrote:


excalion wrote:
According to this, all of our human beliefs and what we hold to be 'true' are only true under our own frame of reference.

Scientific method flatly refutes this. I think that you'll find that the laws of science hold up regardless who's "frame of reference" is involved in the experiments.


How do you define laws of science? You mean like how people thought the world was flat?

I mean physical properties discovered and proven using experiments that are reproducible. For example, chemical reactions. These things don't change depending on your "frame of reference." The same two chemicals will react the same way and produce the same results regardless of who mixes them together.


Yes but the problem is people a long time ago thought the world was flat no matter who or where or when you looked at it, and held that as truth. Time and time again we have proven our previous misconceptions of reality to be false, so why not now?
Posted 2/12/08

excalion wrote:
Yes but the problem is people a long time ago thought the world was flat no matter who or where or when you looked at it, and held that as truth. Time and time again we have proven our previous misconceptions of reality to be false, so why not now?

No doubt our scientific models of the world still suffer similar inaccuracies, however the incompleteness of our knowledge doesn't further your argument that truth is relative. After all, even though people thought the world was flat that didn't make it true. The world was still spherical even if they couldn't discern that fact.

What matters is that assertions are falsifiable:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiable

"Falsifiability (or refutability or testability) is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. That something is "falsifiable" does not mean it is false; rather, it means that it is capable of being criticized by observational reports. Falsifiability is an important concept in science and the philosophy of science."

If truth were relative then assertions wouldn't be falsifiable.
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Posted 2/12/08

excalion wrote:

The..shady region of 'truth' you are referring to is called 'contingent truths' they are things that may or may not be, and can be right of wrong, we are not sure. An example of this would be like..."there is a teapot in orbit around the sun." Is it true? Probably not. But is it possible? Indeed it is.

Actually, there may very well be a teapot in obit around the sun as well as around the earth (or at least in the near future). As the crews of space stations often dump their garbage and unused equipment into the void of outer space. (provided of corse, teapots are issued as equipment in any space program)

http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg19526143.200-space-station-crew-dump-trash-overboard.html

edit:


excalion wrote:

So point I wish to make: Do we really THINK about all the information we're fed? Or do we just assume it correct if it sounds good, like mindless sheep?

Very good point, there.^_^
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Posted 2/12/08

excalion wrote:

To start things off, let me first explain what I'm talking about. This isn't Einsteins theory of relativity, this is a philosophical one.
Formally named "Truth relativism" is it a doctrine that states:
"There are no absolute truths, truth is always relative to some other frame of reference."

According to this, all of our human beliefs and what we hold to be 'true' are only true under our own frame of reference.

It works quite well with the world, and explains many things, but it doesn't explain one thing. If this doctrine was 'absolutely true' would that not violate itself?
------------

Do you believe in Truth Relativism, and if you do, how would you resolve the problematic paradox above?


Are you fucking kidding? Do you have any idea who posts here? Like a bunch of stupid 15-year-olds are going to understand the fundamental principles of skeptical philosophy. And no, high-school students, getting an A- in philosophy does not make you, like, totally smrt and shit.

Despite that, plz keep this thread bumped. The resulting posts from pseudo-intellectual teeagers (an oxymoron to be sure) will be worth more than a couple lulz.

btw, OP is prly smart though, so don't get me wrong.
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Posted 2/12/08

shibole wrote:
No doubt our scientific models of the world still suffer similar inaccuracies, however the incompleteness of our knowledge doesn't further your argument that truth is relative. After all, even though people thought the world was flat that didn't make it true. The world was still spherical even if they couldn't discern that fact.

What matters is that assertions are falsifiable:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falsifiable

"Falsifiability (or refutability or testability) is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. That something is "falsifiable" does not mean it is false; rather, it means that it is capable of being criticized by observational reports. Falsifiability is an important concept in science and the philosophy of science."

If truth were relative then assertions wouldn't be falsifiable.


Except falsifiability rarely applies to philosophical doctrines, like Freudian theory for example, contains no conventional empirical value, yet it makes a lot of sense.

Even in mathematics, there contains both falsifiable and unfalsifiable information. 1 + 1 = 2 can easily be 'tested' but many things in higher mathematics, for example: integrals and infinities cannot.

In fact, I believe I went over falsifiability in a previous post addressing contingent truths. They are basically the same thing. I also stated the important part of this discussion is realizing whether truth relativism is a contingent truth or a logical necessity/impossibility.

Also I'd like to state that 'truth' is a man-made notion, in other words, it was something we ascribed to try to describe the world, not a reflection on what the world truly is. So it will never be able to perfectly convey the real meaning of it in reality. It can mean two things:
1. What it 'is'
2. What we are able to see and understand to be 'it'
--The problem arises when we take for granted our senses to be perfect and assume what we see to be 'it' is truly 'it' and thus disregard what truly is 'it' and the discrepancies we may have from 'it'. (wayyyyy confusion sentence)

Maybe a stronger argument for truth relativism would be: "There are no perceived absolute truths, because through our perception we have already warped the true form of 'truth'."
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Posted 2/12/08 , edited 4/18/08
^ Very true.. as previously stated, belief in anything [be it religion or science] requires some amount of faith.
Posted 2/12/08 , edited 4/18/08

excalion wrote:

shibole wrote:
If truth were relative then assertions wouldn't be falsifiable.


Except falsifiability rarely applies to philosophical doctrines, like Freudian theory for example, contains no conventional empirical value, yet it makes a lot of sense.

It actually doesn't matter whether it seems to "make sense" but whether you can use it to make valid predictions. In other words, how useful it is. People tend to believe things because those things tend to hold true in that they are useful for predicting outcomes.



Even in mathematics, there contains both falsifiable and unfalsifiable information. 1 + 1 = 2 can easily be 'tested' but many things in higher mathematics, for example: integrals and infinities cannot.

Simply because you can't test them in isolation doesn't really mean anything if they form an intermediate process in something that can be tested.



In fact, I believe I went over falsifiability in a previous post addressing contingent truths. They are basically the same thing. I also stated the important part of this discussion is realizing whether truth relativism is a contingent truth or a logical necessity/impossibility.

Ok, I'll go back and look.



Also I'd like to state that 'truth' is a man-made notion, in other words, it was something we ascribed to try to describe the world, not a reflection on what the world truly is. So it will never be able to perfectly convey the real meaning of it in reality. It can mean two things:
1. What it 'is'
2. What we are able to see and understand to be 'it'
--The problem arises when we take for granted our senses to be perfect and assume what we see to be 'it' is truly 'it' and thus disregard what truly is 'it' and the discrepancies we may have from 'it'. (wayyyyy confusion sentence)

Obviously we are constantly dealing with mental models of reality which can't possibly be totally accurate, however they can be considered "true" in that they allow us to make predictions about cause-and-effect, up to a certain point anyway. Basically I'm arguing that things are true only as much as they can be tied to cause-and-effect in some part of reality, either directly as in "1+1=2" or indirectly as an intermediate stage of a modeling system that still predicts cause-and-effect properly.

I understand what you are getting at. For example, I could say that one law of alchemy is true because water + fire = air. I can prove this by putting a pot of water on a fire and watching it turn into "air." Unfortunately this model of physics isn't very useful because I can't do much with it except explain this one example of cause and effect.



Maybe a stronger argument for truth relativism would be: "There are no perceived absolute truths, because through our perception we have already warped the true form of 'truth'."

It sounds to me like you're trying to say that because there's no perfect truth that perfectly represents reality, there's no such thing as truth at all. Again, I have to come back to the notion of "usefulness" and ask how exactly is this idea useful? It's pretty clear that certain conventionally true ideas better model reality than others. Simply because we can't realize perfect truth doesn't mean that truth doesn't exist, or that the idea of truth as an ideal/goal isn't useful.

So I still say that there is such a thing as absolute truth. And even if human senses and psychology don't allow us to perfectly represent the real world in our minds, humans tend to be similar and tend to perceive the world in the same manner. Therefore a useful model of reality created by one human tends to be useful to other humans as well.

Honestly, lots of philosophy is a bunch of BS that people have created in an attempt to justify whatever actions they want to take. The only philosophy that is useful is that which can be tied to cause-and-effect in the real world. Everything else tends to be bullshit which will eventually lead the believer into conflict with reality itself when the world doesn't behave the way they want it to. For example, the believer in epistemological subjectivism might close their eyes and hold their ears while crossing the street thinking that, if they don't perceive the car, it isn't really there and can't hit them. Unfortunately for them, reality doesn't care about their impressive deep philosophical thinking.


magnus102 wrote:
The problem there is that you assume reality itself is more than illusion. To accept anything is falsifiable is to admit that some things about the world are true. Since we can not prove this beyond our senses (which are flawed and can be fooled) nothing can be proven to me 100% other than the fact I exist.

So again, I have to ask... how is it useful to think that reality is an illusion? If it is an illusion, it's a very consistent illusion that I seem to be sharing with billions of other people.

Honestly I don't know why you think that you exist. Your sense of "I" is actually not consistent, and not shared with billions of other people, so it seems more reasonable to me to say that your sense of self is the illusion.


Science itself is based on assumptions that are not falisifiable anyway.

Everything doesn't have to be falsifiable, but the fact that something is already establishes a notion of conventional truth.
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Posted 2/12/08 , edited 4/18/08
everything we think about is subjective
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Posted 2/12/08 , edited 4/18/08

shibole wrote:

It sounds to me like you're trying to say that because there's no perfect truth that perfectly represents reality, there's no such thing as truth at all. Again, I have to come back to the notion of "usefulness" and ask how exactly is this idea useful? It's pretty clear that certain conventionally true ideas better model reality than others. Simply because we can't realize perfect truth doesn't mean that truth doesn't exist, or that the idea of truth as an ideal/goal isn't useful.

So I still say that there is such a thing as absolute truth. And even if human senses and psychology don't allow us to perfectly represent the real world in our minds, humans tend to be similar and tend to perceive the world in the same manner. Therefore a useful model of reality created by one human tends to be useful to other humans as well.

Honestly, lots of philosophy is a bunch of BS that people have created in an attempt to justify whatever actions they want to take. The only philosophy that is useful is that which can be tied to cause-and-effect in the real world. Everything else tends to be bullshit which will eventually lead the believer into conflict with reality itself when the world doesn't behave the way they want it to. For example, the believer in epistemological subjectivism might close their eyes and hold their ears while crossing the street thinking that, if they don't perceive the car, it isn't really there and can't hit them. Unfortunately for them, reality doesn't care about their impressive deep philosophical thinking.



hmm... You speak of usefulness as though it was the only consideration we should take when deciding whether or not we should pursue any given idea, but where do you draw the line? Yes, the greater part of science serves to improve our standard of living but what about theories regarding the origin of the universe? How is that knowledge practically useful to me? Unless I misunderstand your definition of usefulness.

I seek knowledge for my own amusement, with the exception of that which I need in order to succeed in my occupation. Therefore I am greatly interested in learning that all the conflicting ideas I've heard from others claiming to have absolute knowledge on a particular subject can be easily resolved by looking at all things objectively.

I truly apologize if you feel I am just jumping in unnecessarily and 'double teaming' you, but you seem to be very intelligent and this conversation is too interesting for me to pass up. ; )

Posted 2/12/08 , edited 4/18/08

Kowareta wrote:
hmm... You speak of usefulness as though it was the only consideration we should take when deciding whether or not we should pursue any given idea, but where do you draw the line? Yes, the greater part of science serves to improve our standard of living but what about theories regarding the origin of the universe? How is that knowledge practically useful to me? Unless I misunderstand your definition of usefulness.

By useful I don't necessarily mean improving one's standard of living, but being able to make predictions about what will happen if two chemicals are mixed together, etc. This can lead to the development of technology, but doesn't necessarily have to.

Theories about the origin of the universe aren't generally that useful, right now anyway. As far as I know, most of them are based on extrapolations of models built based on what people have observed in the study of physics, etc.



I seek knowledge for my own amusement, with the exception of that which I need in order to succeed in my occupation. Therefore I am greatly interested in learning that all the conflicting ideas I've heard from others claiming to have absolute knowledge on a particular subject can be easily resolved by looking at all things objectively.

Well, if the conflicts occur because you have truth conflicting with falsehood, testing things objectively might prove some assertions true or false.

Until we have a single perfectly consistent model of reality (if that's possible) we'll necessarily have models of the universe that appear to conflict in some areas. Some assertion might be true in terms of one model but not true in terms of another, but that doesn't mean that everything is relative. Both models are still based on objective reality or they wouldn't be useful, but they're obviously imperfect if they don't match up.

And, if you're seeking knowledge only for amusement, does it even need to be true? Plenty of people are amused by pure fiction (for example, novels.) What counts as knowledge? Is alchemy knowledge?
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Posted 2/12/08 , edited 4/18/08

shibole wrote:

Until we have a single perfectly consistent model of reality (if that's possible) we'll necessarily have models of the universe that appear to conflict in some areas. Some assertion might be true in terms of one model but not true in terms of another, but that doesn't mean that everything is relative. Both models are still based on objective reality or they wouldn't be useful, but they're obviously imperfect if they don't match up.

And, if you're seeking knowledge only for amusement, does it even need to be true? Plenty of people are amused by pure fiction (for example, novels.) What counts as knowledge? Is alchemy knowledge?


Very well put, but I think the most important purpose for doctrines of philosophy like Truth Relativism is pointing out the flaw in assumed 'truth' and thus encouraging a more open minded discussion on any given topic. In this sense it is useful to some. To often am I forced to hear the angered rantings of a devoted follower of one particular point of view or another, asserting that what they know is verifiable truth because "the experts said so."

Now I know that we must all believe in something, in my opinion Truth Relativism cannot stand on it's own as a system of beliefs (In that, I agree with you). We must all sort through the information that we are given as it is presented to us. So to answer the OP's first question (If this doctrine was 'absolutely true' would that not violate itself?) Truth Relativism is self defeating, but I believe that it is a very important idea to keep in mind... especially when discussing differences in 'truths'.
Posted 7/9/08

number1sculler wrote:

um im not really understanding this (ne1 wanna clarify :sweatingbullets:) but goin by the post by HayatellAyasaki the first instance im guessing would be like the earth is round, but based on our perception its flat. i mean its not really that stupid that people used to think that the world is flat, its common sense after all.

correct me if im worng here, and sum1 please explain whats goin on here. this sounds like a realy ineresting topic but kinda hard 2 follow


Looks like someone is crying to be let out of the cave.

Ask yourself two questions: How much and to what extent can I trust my sensory experience? How much and to what extent can I trust any given "facts"?

You know, there is a dashing film on a being who has a severe depletion of skepticism. A classic, it's titled "Gaslight". Of course, the being who is being gaslighted is a female -- stereotypical. However, if you can somehow manage to suppress the extreme feminist in you, it's a worthy watcher, I promise.

The question originially posed is only going to lead into a tautological mess, and everyone should despise any form of a circle with every nano (i've come to realize that synonyms are a sign of severe douchebagery syndrom, though who can deny that it produces a better taste for readers?) atom in their carcass.

Find a solution to the problematic conclusion(s) of truth relativism? Well, why the fuck don't you throw Induction into the mix since apparently both old and new riddles in this area are still heavily flawed.

To which, inevitably, you will have to consider how much self preference are you using to judge the noise [i say noise because more likely than not (for the lolz, someone could use the induction method to disprove or prove me) the "facts" received by your ears and eyes will be regurgitated ideas from past philosophers] what you are informed with. So I have to say, if you really want to "shed light" (take that lightly since you are attempting to steal a morsal off of the forbidden fruit and would then have to bear the burdan of knowledge on your shoulders for the rest of your life and will never sleep at ease unless you can somehow revert back to idle bliss and the eager willingness of accepting any given word. though, i don't know how long you would last since your bliss would be a refusal to accept what you already know, which will always remain with you) into your head, you might as well start reading the works of philosophers starting from ancient greece to our modern era (though you must be careful in choosing the correct essays to waste your time on since our modern era has birthed very little theories which contrast with the past claimed and thought), pull a "Descartes" and soak in every word objectively. Sound rather simple? Might I remind you that you also have to regulate the amount of skepticism you take with you to judge the thoughts of others. For philosophers typically would like to place themselves on either side of the fence, rarely will they ever settle to be on the fence (after all, that would renounce them of their fabulous title and they would be reduced to the average, indecisive common folk, whom which we all know philosophers cast condescending glances upon). I mean, after all, they are trying to prove a point, aren't they? And possibly to even have something named after themselves.

But of course, I agree, it does get tiring reading essays which claim facts; to which, a couple of paragraphs or less into, you will say to your self: if there is no absolute truth, (swell, another paradox to throw into the mix!) then this theory can be disproved by another. Then the cycle repeats with disproving the latter theory which was used to disprove the former theory.

Although we strive to obtain an absolute truth, not only is it futile, but logically and perhaps even idealistically, if a theory has no point to deflate by another, then it is not considered to be a good theory. (i.e.: god created everything that you perceive and know in your mind five minutes ago. please, go ahead and attempt to disprove it.)

Letting the ironic cat out of it's bag: philosophers strive for the absolute truth, but denounce all of it.

Right now, Socrates is probably spinning up there in his heaven for we all know that he is the "wisest one of all" and spent his life attempting to disprove that title, given to him by an oracle. Why was he the wisest? He was able to admit, to renounce his own self with a simple "I know that I know not". All knowledge (then there is that sticky mess of discerning what is and isn't considered to be knowledge. you can use Gettier's belief, truth, and justification reasoning but we all know there are some good flaws in that as well since both of his proposed cases involves a sufficient amount of chance with the theoretical proof that all truth cannot be realized) is unobtainable in one lifetime because there is still a future ahead after your earthly existance has long expired. I like to think of Socrates as the original, godly father of the devil's advocate method.

Philosophy, it's a big fucking mess, isn't it? But no doubt, it's a ridiculously fun topic to chew over when you want to put yourself above the norm and think outside of society's given box.

But really, if you wish to be quickly enlighted, here is my own flimsy theory: Philosophy can be viewed as the ultimate time waster for those who are egotistical and desire to sway others into the same thought process as themselves only to find their theory disproved by another in a never ending tautological cycle. With that, previous beliefs will be claimed as complete bullshit, you might as well believe that the earth is being held in place by a giant elephant in outer space who is in turn supported by turtles ... all the way down to infinity. Philosophy is riddled with "what if's", debate exposes doubt, doubt leads to debate, society never gave value towards this open ended subject because philosophy produces those who are willing to cast society's idealism away and those who become extremely apathetic and therefore useless towards the developement of economic prosperity and growth. Our modern era has very little revolutionizing theories because the modern era is hard wired to be more dependent on society, on happiness, social achievements, et cetera. Cheap thrills are indeed, much more exciting than attempting to wrap our heads around something we couldn't possibly entirely conceive (otherwise philosophy would be no more and there would be only one absolute set of truths). Proceed into the forest of instability, there is a guruantee that you will not make it out and feel the same way, with caution.

Is the struggling path towards enlightenment worth your present contentness?

Only you can decide.
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Posted 7/9/08
no...i believe in absolutism...but im not vehemently saying relativism is incorrect.....whatever...no need to argue about it... just believe what you think is most convincing....
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Posted 7/9/08

excalion wrote:

To start things off, let me first explain what I'm talking about. This isn't Einsteins theory of relativity, this is a philosophical one.
Formally named "Truth relativism" is it a doctrine that states:
"There are no absolute truths, truth is always relative to some other frame of reference."

According to this, all of our human beliefs and what we hold to be 'true' are only true under our own frame of reference.

It works quite well with the world, and explains many things, but it doesn't explain one thing. If this doctrine was 'absolutely true' would that not violate itself?
------------

Do you believe in Truth Relativism, and if you do, how would you resolve the problematic paradox above?


hahaha, lol i actually find the question funny.. but i cant seem to answer it either. Seriously, people think to much.

okay ill try, theory of relativity states that "There are no absolute truths, truth is always relative to some other frame of reference"

okay first of all, it's a theory, it is not a fact or law. It might be false or errornous. So basically it cannot be absolutely true..... hmmmm, lets stop there.... that pretty much is all you need to know. DOnT ThiNk Too MuCh! hahaha

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