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Thread: Absolute Truth

  1. #1
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    Absolute Truth

    Socrates' arguments were designed to show that people really know nothing.

    There is truth with a "t" and truth with a "T". Little t truth involves things we are reasonably sure of, i.e. I am sitting at my computor. Big T truth involves certainty, reality. Big T truth probably exists. But no one can come up with a satisfactory example.

    The Socratic method forces people to realize that what they hold to be Big T truth really isn't, but rather, is little t truth. People who hold beliefs about metaphysics tend to also contend that what they know is Big T truth, when it isn't. Socrates said: "All I know is that I know nothing" and I believe that he was correct.

    My question is: is realizing that you "know nothing" not an absolute certainty? Truth with a Capital T?

    I meant to ask my prof that the other day...
    My brain is trying to kill me...

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Was Socrates commenting on the state of 'Athenian youth' when he referred to, 'knowing nothing?'

    We have relative knowledge. 2 + 2 = 4 appears to have been the case, at least into any kind of recorded history. It appears to be the case today. It is likely to be the case tomorrow. It is perhaps the TRUTH. Some knowledge appears to enduring, other knowledge is perhaps more suspect.

    Perhaps the TRUTH is that my thinking is suspect, but then again, perhaps not.
    As we cannot see back beyond a certain point in time, and as we cannot divine the future, much would appear to lie out of our reach. In lying out of reach, a timeless, enduring and CERTAIN definition of anything is an impossibility.
    Last edited by FruitandNut; January 15th, 2005 at 03:19 AM.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by FruitandNut
    Was Socrates commenting on the state of 'Athenian youth' when he referred to, 'knowing nothing?'
    Socrates talked to all sorts of different people. Merchants, politicians, artitists, etc. He would ask, say, the artist, "What is beauty? What is it's nature?" and they would give him examples of beauty, but never a definition. Same thing with the other people. So it was definitely more than the youth he was challeneging.

    It's funny that one of the charges against him that led to the hemlock drinking was the Socrates had corrupted Athenian youth...


    Quote Originally Posted by FruitandNut
    In lying out of reach, a timeless, enduring and CERTAIN definition of anything is an impossibility.
    Are you certain of that?
    My brain is trying to kill me...

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Did I say for absolute certainty that we know any TRUTH. I just said that some phenomena appear to be enduring - please reread. My comment on So Crates was an attept at humour. British humour seems to be fragile traveller across The Pond. Over this side, most people would see the humourous intent, and a few might even laugh.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." - Anais Nin.
    Emitte lucem et veritatem - Send out light and truth.
    'Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt' - Julius Caesar (rough translation, 'Men will think what they want to think')
    Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? - Homer Simpson.

  5. #5
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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by FruitandNut
    Did I say for absolute certainty that we know any TRUTH. I just said that some phenomena appear to be enduring - please reread.
    Gotcha.


    Quote Originally Posted by FruitandNut
    My comment on So Crates was an attept at humour. British humour seems to be fragile traveller across The Pond. Over this side, most people would see the humourous intent, and a few might even laugh.
    I'm confused...but that's ok.
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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Where is happylady when we need her. She is the foremost expert on big t's and little T's. At least, she appears to have a heady grasp of this topic. I couldn't say for sure since that would imply a sort of knowledge and it is clear I know nothing. I am certainly telling the truth, but am unsure if it is True.
    The U.S. is currently enduring a zombie apocalypse. However, in a strange twist, the zombie's are starving.

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    I asked the teacher today. He gave me a satisfactory reply.

    No Proposition Without Presupposition....in short, propositions cannot be made with presupposing something first. What we presuppose is based on experience, culture, education, society, etc. To use the caveman scenario Zhavric described in another post, the cave people proposed that allowing one caveman to harm another is detrimental to the cave society. They base this on the presupposition they draw from what happened. Someone was hurt, which in turn caused the tribe to go hungry because they couldn't effectively hunt without the injured caveman. THEREFORE...hurting people is bad.

    In relation to the question, "Is knowing that ultimately we know nothing an absolute Truth?", the above statement means that we really don't know that we know nothing, because we are assuming that the context we view the question in is the right one. Context goes as broad as language and as narrow as personal beliefs. In other words, we don't know that what we think is wrong. What we know and/or think to be true could end up to be not true. How do we know we're interpreting things properly? What language, what viewpoint...what context, is the right one?

    Absolute Truth may not even exist yet, for all we know. Notice I said "yet". If we are asking under the wrong contexts, perhaps the correct contexts (for example, new languages, ideologies, etc) do not exist yet either, and when/if they do, only then will we know Absolute Truth.
    My brain is trying to kill me...

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    But what's the point when you get down to it? The famed disc world philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle was once asked at a party, "So, what are you here for?" and reply supposedly took 3 years.

    He was also famed for such philosophic musings as, "What's it all about really, when you get down to it? Really?"

    I suppose the quest for "Truth" is important at some level, but I have always been more interested in facts. Facts support the universe, whereas truth or Truth always seem more relative to those in pursuit of them.
    But if you do not find an intelligent companion, a wise and well-behaved person going the same way as yourself, then go on your way alone, like a king abandoning a conquered kingdom, or like a great elephant in the deep forest. - Buddha

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    But what's the point when you get down to it?
    I dunno...I just find it interesting, particularly because so many people claim to have knowledge on the TRUTH level, when really, it's more on the truth level.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipnish
    I suppose the quest for "Truth" is important at some level, but I have always been more interested in facts. Facts support the universe, whereas truth or Truth always seem more relative to those in pursuit of them.
    Facts are more interesting, I agree. Debating something that you can't prove is no fun, but again, I just found this subject interesting.
    My brain is trying to kill me...

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    I disagree with this (And Soc's vies) on so many levels it taint funny.

    Firt of all...
    Quote Originally Posted by DeviantNorm
    Socrates' arguments were designed to show that people really know nothing.
    Just the very statement:

    "People know nothing" is a problem. It's self-defeating...or, it denies what it affirms. If you know that people know nothing, then you at least know that much. And just that much invalidates the claim.

    There is truth with a "t" and truth with a "T". Little t truth involves things we are reasonably sure of, i.e. I am sitting at my computor. Big T truth involves certainty, reality. Big T truth probably exists. But no one can come up with a satisfactory example.
    I disagree w/ t vs T. At least in the sense that you have described. I do agree that there are degrees of certitude, but I disagree that we cannot know T. I also disagree that t = I'm sitting in front of my computer. THAT, is a fact. It IS T.

    2+2=4 is T.
    I exist is T.
    I'm using a computer is T.

    While we may not know all T's, we can know SOME T's. And since we can know SOME T's, the claim is disproven that we can't.

    The Socratic method forces people to realize that what they hold to be Big T truth really isn't, but rather, is little t truth.
    But all it does is make the CLAIM that it is the case, it never SUPPORTS the claim.

    People who hold beliefs about metaphysics tend to also contend that what they know is Big T truth, when it isn't. Socrates said: "All I know is that I know nothing" and I believe that he was correct.
    Again, a claim w/ absoloutely NO support. There, now we have another T.

    [quote]
    My question is: is realizing that you "know nothing" not an absolute certainty? Truth with a Capital T?
    [QUOTE]
    I disagree that people know nothing. People know some things.
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    Re: Absolute Truth

    There is no such thing as "Truth with a big T" or "truth with a little t." There is only truth. There are not degrees of truthfulness, there is only truth and non-truth.

    Here is something to ponder: When someone says that "There is no such thing as truth," they have just asserted a truth claim. When someone says that "There is no such thing as absolute truth," they have just made an absolute truth claim.

    Either a series of words accurately describes the way the world is, or it does not. There is no truth that is not completely true. If something is at all untrue, then it is not truth.

    This is a hard concept to realize in our overly relativistic society, but when one thinks about it, truth must be non-relative, because when one makes a statement, even one denying the existence of truth, they have just used words to symbolize something in reality, and it either fits with the way reality is, or it does not. That is the nature of truth.

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    I define : t and T as "certitude".

    Example:

    2+2=4 is not the same as:

    "I will arrive safely to work today."

    The equation is absolute. It is of 100% certainty. The 2nd statement is also a truth claim, but it is not 100% known, it is not "beyond a shadow of a doubt", but rather "beyond a reasonable doubt".

    I don't think the op was speaking of absolutivity in relation to relativeness...but rather degrees of certitude. This is what Socrates played around with a bit and is what I believe he was getting at with many of his arguments.
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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Hello deviantNorm

    I believe you are missing something important by limiting Socrates' assertion to "t" and "T". The real reason we know nothing is that we are not conscious to know it. What knowledge can a sleeping person have? Jesus, Buddha and how many others have stressed that we are not awake and need to awaken. How can we possibly discriminate between levels of truth if we lack the consciousness to appreciate and digest it always being caught up in the superficiality?

    Plato referred to the human condition in the famous "cave allegory."

    http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/platoscave.html

    The idea is that we are so fixated on shadows that we cannot by definition know and understand anything truly objective. this is why we know nothing.

    I admire Simone Weil as an extraordinary thinker. I appreciate her understanding of the cave allegory and how it asserts that we cannot, as we are, know anything not to mention how annoying this is to the "intellectuals."

    http://rivertext.com/weil4.html

    How many will ever have the courage to admit that they really don't know anything simply because as we are, we lack the consciousness necessary for it. That's a true "black sheep."

    My question is: is realizing that you "know nothing" not an absolute certainty? Truth with a Capital T?
    Not really. You lack the consciousness to really "know" it. Only a part of you knows it and much of you finds it extremely annoying and just a waste of time to consider.

    To really know something like this means to know it with the "whole" of yourself". Then, IMO, it would be true and things would be different. Very difficult to do.

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinBrowning
    Either a series of words accurately describes the way the world is, or it does not.
    How accurately must the description be for it to be true?
    they have just used words to symbolize something in reality, and it either fits with the way reality is, or it does not.
    How snuggly must it fit?

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Galendir
    How accurately must the description be for it to be true?How snuggly must it fit?
    You aren't discussing the nature of truth, but rather the nature of language. There's quite a difference. Regardless of how we word something, it will not change truth...only how it is communicated.
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    Re: Absolute Truth

    We choose our truths. Even when discussing truth, you have several philosophers' theories to choose from, as it seems to be a favorite topic of theirs to ponder. I prefer William James pragmatic approach that states a truth is only a truth in so far as it is "useful." According to James, all truths are personal truths, however, many people may share that truth because it is useful to do so.

    2+2=4 because it useful for determining and deciding other things. It helps us measure.

    A belief in God is useful to some, so it is a truth for some. It is not useful to others so it isn't a truth for others.

    If you tie in a Platonic view of reality here, it is obvious why this theory of truth is well...the most useful. The individual stream of consciousness means the only thing we really have is our perception...and even that is not a Truth. It is only a truth. One of Plato's most famous examples is of the person sitting in a cave. His entire existence is one of viewing shadows on a wall. To him, the shadows on the wall are reality. The shadows are truth. But what he can't see is that behind him, there is activity going on that is causing the shadows to be cast on the wall. In essence, there is more to reality than the man in the cave can perceive. The shadows are truth. But the activity behind him is also truth. Do the two together make Truth? No. Because on another cave wall, there may be other shadows. One might ask if that means that whatever is in the center is Truth. No. Because if that were Truth, there would be no shadows on the walls. In other words, there is always more or different possible perceptions. And we can't have them all. To tie it back to Pragmatism, for the man viewing the cave wall, the shadows are his truth because that is what is useful for him. He is unable to turn around to perceive anything else. It is useful for him to call the shadows on the wall "reality."

    In essence, there is no Truth that we can be aware of because perception is a limitation. The use of a truth is limited.

    As for "knowing nothing", this is a false statement. Little "t" is the implication that we know "something". "T" is the implication that we know "everything." There's an infinite number of little "t".

    Whether absolute Truth exists, we can not know from our limited perception whether it does or not. In the end, theories are all we have. Even our theories of truth. And we all know those are just little "t"s.
    Souls of the animal kingdom: eagle, fox, bottle-nose dolphin, octopus, house cat. Okay, let's jump this jump. -- Rod Kimble

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    And now, an homage to the late Douglas Adams who mused of Life, the Universe, and Everything...



    42

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhavric
    And now, an homage to the late Douglas Adams who mused of Life, the Universe, and Everything...
    And while we're at it, let's pay homage to one of the greatest scientists of all time who stated,

    An atom is not a thing.

    And lets add my new sig to that, as well.
    Souls of the animal kingdom: eagle, fox, bottle-nose dolphin, octopus, house cat. Okay, let's jump this jump. -- Rod Kimble

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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Quest9
    The real reason we know nothing is that we are not conscious to know it. What knowledge can a sleeping person have?
    Claimed, but not supported. And your statement is self-refeating. It's saying:

    I know that we are not conscious so we cannot know anything.

    You say you don't know anything, yet you KNOW we can't know anything. Contradictory.

    Jesus, Buddha and how many others have stressed that we are not awake and need to awaken.
    Can you support this? I'm more interested in what Jesus said.

    How many will ever have the courage to admit that they really don't know anything simply because as we are, we lack the consciousness necessary for it. That's a true "black sheep."
    1) You are not supporting that we are not conscious. And even if we were, what is our conscious state?

    2) It's not a matter of "courage" (or lack therof) that prohibits such an admission, it's the lack of logic in the claim.
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    Re: Absolute Truth

    Quote Originally Posted by HappyLady
    We choose our truths.
    So a truth only exists if it is useful to an individual? If I'm not a pilot, so the truths that exist in aerodynamics really don't exist (for me)?

    2+2=4 because it useful for determining and deciding other things. It helps us measure.
    But for someone who has no understanding or use for arithmatic, 2+2-4 is false then?

    A belief in God is useful to some, so it is a truth for some. It is not useful to others so it isn't a truth for others.
    Sort of like a bullet being in a gun. Since I don't believe there is a bullet in the gun, I can play with it or give it to my daughter to play with. Children play with and get hurt by guns all the time. Yet, according to what your saying, their belief should be enough to keep them from getting hurt...the MISBELIEF that there was no bullet in the gun.

    Let me ask you, are beliefs ever wrong? If someone can be wrong...then do you really think that is a good measure of the validity of truth?
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