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Helium



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PostSubject: is truth relative?   Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:27 am

Is truth relative.

Iíd like to address a discussion that Iíve had with Aaron in the past that has proved fascinating, and that is: is truth relative?

The crux of my argument is that there is an objective truth that isnít relative.

But that as far as subjective truth is concerned, that it is relative.

So I donít quite know whatís happening here, only that itís a bit of semantics.

Iím in complete agreement with Aaron on subjective truth.

And to illustrate, I will scoop an example from another thread. Say there was life forms on the moon that had been hiding in craters all this time.

From their perspective, obviously the earth would appear to revolve around the moon (assuming they were on the earth-facing side).

But now this thought has popped into my head. What if some moon people, as I will call them, lived on the dark side and for whatever reason never went to the side that faces the earth.

Their perspective, I would suspect would be really skewed, because they would have to figure out reality, not knowing that they were a moon circling the earth.

Even for the ďmoon peopleĒ on the earth side, the extent to which they could figure exactly what was going on would depend on how advanced their perception was.

But either way, it illustrates entirely Aaronís point about the relativity of truth.

That is the subjective truth would differ depending whether you were on earth or whether you were on the moon, and which side of the moon you were on.

But my point is that the subjective truth is what is really happening in the relationship of the earth and moon. Obviously we know. We generally accept the moon revolves around the earth. But I suppose technically they do revolve around each other. What can never be in dispute, though, is where the centre of this centrifugal rotation between the earth and moon is, which would be a damn site nearer to the earth.

And that point will never change no matter what the perception may be.

Now up until this point, I would conjecture that Aaron is with me since we are talking purely of the physical universe.

But it is my conjecture that this also applies to the moral universe. And what is the moral universe. The moral universe, I define, as being the decisions that are made between life forms that are enabled to make decisions. That is, Aaron will agree that himself and I can make decisions. For instance, I could use the F-word here. And Aaron could delete it and chastise me.

And Aaron would say that those type of decisions might be relative, might not be.

For instance, if mean Aliens invade the earth, presumably he would relax his standards and allow the F-word in referencing these aliens, if in fact they were vile enough to deserve the F-word.

What Iím saying, though is that the phenomenon of subjective and objective trurth that clearly applies to the physical universe, also applies to the moral universe.

Subjective truth is relative.

Objective truth is. It just IS.
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:31 am

Physical truth is perfect, absolute, unalterable, fixed. Metaphysical truth is whatever those observers choose to say is true. Often we confuse a physical truth with a hypothesis or theorem. Hypotheses or Theorems are various attempts at description of an apparent physical truth. They are not necessarily truth themselves. They are attempts to reveal the physical truth.

Metaphysical truth on the other hand is, while still an attempt to describe physical truth, is one observers attempt to explain or instruct. Given enough observations it begins to look like truth. In this case the explanation becomes the truth. The underlying physical truth is lost or unimportant to the explanation. This is equivalent to saying that the hypothesis or theorem is the objective of the search for truth and the physical truth is an unimportant complication.
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Aaron
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Sun Jan 20, 2008 11:46 am

Well, here's my take on it. There is subjective truth and there is objective truth. Kant called it phenomenal and noumenal knowledge. Since all of our experiences of the world require phenomenal perceptions we can never truly have knowledge of the noumenal or objective world. Which is basically what Nattering Nabob was getting at. (Welcome BTW. Smile )

The question that BH has raised is whether truth is relative. (The dualistic opposite of relative is absolute.) From the point of view of the individual subject truth is relative. From the point of view of the whole (or nowhere) truth is absolute. So to answer the question I would have to say that truth is both relative and absolute at the same time.

Since our view of the world is always subjective our perception of truth will always be relative, however absolute truth does exist (even if the concept itself is a subjective creation) but we have to take that fact on faith since no one has ever truly experienced it.

Helium wrote:
But it is my conjecture that this also applies to the moral universe. And what is the moral universe. The moral universe, I define, as being the decisions that are made between life forms that are enabled to make decisions.

Yes morals are an inter-subjective creation therefore they are relative to the points of view of the inter-subjective group.

Ethics on the other hand are systemic in nature. That is, they are an inter-objective creation (or at least they strive to be). Therefore, at least ideally, ethics (or what they point to) are absolute, if only for a single instant of time.

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The Paineful Truth

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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:36 pm

Helium wrote:
Is truth relative.

Iíd like to address a discussion that Iíve had with Aaron in the past that has proved fascinating, and that is: is truth relative?

The crux of my argument is that there is an objective truth that isnít relative.

But that as far as subjective truth is concerned, that it is relative.

So I donít quite know whatís happening here, only that itís a bit of semantics.

It isn't semantics.
As I've pointed out in my book,
(Ahem)
Quote :

Available at Amazon, Lulu, and other fine booksellers.

Both subjective and objective Truth exist in their own realms--art/beauty and natural law, respectively. The former is individual Truth which may or may not be shared with other individuals and is totally emotionally based, the latter is universal, immutable and unaffected by our emotions. Also the two are blended in such areas as justice and love.

Quote :
And to illustrate, I will scoop an example from another thread. Say there was life forms on the moon that had been hiding in craters all this time.

From their perspective, obviously the earth would appear to revolve around the moon (assuming they were on the earth-facing side).

As you have inadvertently pointed out, the Earth would appear to hang in the sky with only the light from the Sun waxing and waning on the Earth in an annual cycle. Or you could say that the Sun appeared to revolve around the Earth and Moon once a month. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that the rotation of the Moon on its axis was more or less than once a month, causing the effect you were citing. Smile

Quote :
But now this thought has popped into my head. What if some moon people, as I will call them, lived on the dark side and for whatever reason never went to the side that faces the earth.

Their perspective, I would suspect would be really skewed, because they would have to figure out reality, not knowing that they were a moon circling the earth.

Even for the ďmoon peopleĒ on the earth side, the extent to which they could figure exactly what was going on would depend on how advanced their perception was.

In this case, how advanced their reasoning, because the combination of sunlight on the Earth and the Moon and the movement of the star background could only lead to one conclusion.



Quote :
But either way, it illustrates entirely Aaronís point about the relativity of truth.

Only the relativity of perception and misperception. The underlying physical Truth remains unchanged.

Quote :
That is the subjective truth would differ depending whether you were on earth or whether you were on the moon, and which side of the moon you were on.

(You have just inspired a minor epiphany.) Actually, since we're looking at the objective Truth of something, there would be no subjective Truth involved, only the correctness of one's perception. Subjective Truth is is an intentional disregard for the objective while still recognizing that the objective still exists. Misperception is unintentional.

Quote :
What Iím saying, though is that the phenomenon of subjective and objective trurth that clearly applies to the physical universe, also applies to the moral universe.

I'm afraid you lost me there.

Quote :
Subjective truth is relative.

Objective truth is. It just IS.


Or:
Subjective Truth is relative.
Objective Truth is not.

Nabob wrote:
Quote :
This is equivalent to saying that the hypothesis or theorem is the objective of the search for truth and the physical truth is an unimportant complication.

That certainly happens more often than we would care to admit, as in where science becomes political like with Creationism or global warming being something other than a solar cycle.

Pretend I didn't say that last, and welcome to the board.
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Sun Jan 20, 2008 10:37 pm

Ahh, if only it were that simple!

Even that which we consider to be absolute truth is subjective.

If we were all able to stand around a table and look at what is called a "Red Delicious Apple", we would all agree that the apple was red (assuming none of us is color-blind). But, of all the colors in the spectrum, red is the only color the apple reflects. All the other colors are absorbed by the apple. So, although the apple appears to be red, it actually contains every color but red.

All truth is subjective, "colored" by our perception.
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The Paineful Truth

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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:28 am

Paul Anthony wrote:
Ahh, if only it were that simple!

All truth is subjective, "colored" by our perception.

So, what if my subjective Truth is that all natural law is objective Truth? If it's just objective for me, doesn't that make it subjective, thus wouldn't my original subjectivity be contradicted?
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:20 am

NN said
Quote :
Physical truth is perfect, absolute, unalterable, fixed. Metaphysical truth is whatever those observers choose to say is true. Often we confuse a physical truth with a hypothesis or theorem. Hypotheses or Theorems are various attempts at description of an apparent physical truth. They are not necessarily truth themselves. They are attempts to reveal the physical truth.

I agree with that completely, and that has beennoted, I think by Aaron. You say that we can never know the objective truth of things, we can only make theories that seek to illuminate it. And yeah isn't that the whole thinkg, the theories have to be falsifiable or they ain't truth. And then Aaron was entirely correct in that we always have to grope for the objective truth, the perfect truth, with our subjective truth which could be wrong. In fact, basically we determine what we figure the objective truth is by correlating our subjective truths, and if more than one agrees, and their are no contradictions presented, then it becomes the theory as NN pointed out which is just our subjective representatin of objective thruth, until the theory is disproved by a contradiction.

Quote :
Metaphysical truth on the other hand is, while still an attempt to describe physical truth, is one observers attempt to explain or instruct. Given enough observations it begins to look like truth. In this case the explanation becomes the truth. The underlying physical truth is lost or unimportant to the explanation. This is equivalent to saying that the hypothesis or theorem is the objective of the search for truth and the physical truth is an unimportant complication.

this I didn't quite follow.

Aaron said
Quote :
Yes morals are an inter-subjective creation therefore they are relative to the points of view of the inter-subjective group.

Ethics on the other hand are systemic in nature. That is, they are an inter-objective creation (or at least they strive to be). Therefore, at least ideally, ethics (or what they point to) are absolute, if only for a single instant of time.
I agree entirely with the first part of your post.
But for this second post, I know you've explained the difference between morals which are subjective and ethics which are objective but I'm still confused.
And I'm still confused about ethics being subjective but only for a moment in time.
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:35 am

Paineful said
Quote :
Only the relativity of perception and misperception. The underlying physical Truth remains unchanged.
Yes the underlying physical truth remains unchanged.
But is not our perception the same as our subjective truth.

For instance if you time machine it back to a scientist who thinks the earth is the centre and everything revolves around it. And say he's saying it because he totally believes it and not toeing any party line. Then that's the truth for him. To judge it as a misperception isn't quite fair.

Actually, since we're looking at the objective Truth of something, there would be no subjective Truth involved, only the correctness of one's perception. Subjective Truth is is an intentional disregard for the objective while still recognizing that the objective still exists. Misperception is unintentional.

Don't quite follow.
Objective truth is what is.
That which is unchanged by observation.
It is the underpinnings of thte universe that continue its dance oblivious to our perception of it, oblivious to our theories of it. In fact it would continue it's dance were we no longer to exist. That is the objective truth.
And NN and Aaron are right. We can only view the universe through subjective truth. I guess what a theory is, is an attempt to catch an objective truth. And while we can never be sure were entirely right, we can still make damn good bets on it (for instance that the sun will rise tomorrow and gravity will still work).

So if you could time machine it back to 0 Ad, for instance, and take a representative poll of the world's population. I would conjecture that you would only sample a negligible representation of anyone who would come close to our understanding of earth and it's relationship to the other plantets, the sun, the galaxy and the universe.

So their perception is their subjective truth which, in their case, isn't close to the objective truth
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:46 am

Helium said
Quote :
What Iím saying, though is that the phenomenon of subjective and objective trurth that clearly applies to the physical universe, also applies to the moral universe.

Paineful said
Quote :
I'm afraid you lost me there.

Okay what I'm trying to say, is that all this objective/subjective stuff that applies to the physical world also applies to morals/ethics. But I await Aaron's input as to the difference between morals (subjective)/ethics (objective) before I remodify my assertion.

paineful said
Quote :
Subjective Truth is relative.
Objective Truth is not.

Yes, that reflects entirely what I was trying to say.
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:55 am

PA said
Quote :
If we were all able to stand around a table and look at what is called a "Red Delicious Apple", we would all agree that the apple was red (assuming none of us is color-blind). But, of all the colors in the spectrum, red is the only color the apple reflects. All the other colors are absorbed by the apple. So, although the apple appears to be red, it actually contains every color but red.

Ah yes, PA, but my point of objective truth is that that object which we call apple does not change no matter what the observations by the subjective scrutineers may be whether they're colour blind, whether they can even see it all and are forced to rely on touch or smell.

My point is that that thing which we call apple does not change regardless of our perceptions. And whether a colour blind person is looking at it, whether a fruit fly is looking at it, it is what it is. And that is the objective truth. And yes, we can never know the objective truth for sure. But ya know what. both the fruith fly and the human are able to make certain predictions regarding this object. Namely that it's good. And namely that it's desireable to eat!
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 10:25 am

Helium wrote:
Aaron said
Quote :
Yes morals are an inter-subjective creation therefore they are relative to the points of view of the inter-subjective group.

Ethics on the other hand are systemic in nature. That is, they are an inter-objective creation (or at least they strive to be). Therefore, at least ideally, ethics (or what they point to) are absolute, if only for a single instant of time.

And I'm still confused about ethics being subjective but only for a moment in time.

What I said was that ethics are absolute, rather than relative, even if only for a single instant of time. (or at least that's what they strive for) While morals (in the context that I define them) are always relative.

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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:07 am

Helium wrote:
Paineful said
Quote :
Only the relativity of perception and misperception. The underlying physical Truth remains unchanged.
Yes the underlying physical truth remains unchanged.
But is not our perception the same as our subjective truth.

For instance if you time machine it back to a scientist who thinks the earth is the centre and everything revolves around it. And say he's saying it because he totally believes it and not toeing any party line. Then that's the truth for him. To judge it as a misperception isn't quite fair.

Life isn't fair which means that neither is the Truth. Forget the misperception of the Earth centered universe (even though I'm sure that's the objective Truth). I can't think of anyone who misperceives that a square wheel would roll better on a flat surface than a round one.
Quote :

Actually, since we're looking at the objective Truth of something, there would be no subjective Truth involved, only the correctness of one's perception. Subjective Truth is is an intentional disregard for the objective while still recognizing that the objective still exists. Misperception is unintentional.

Don't quite follow.

For those who believed that the Earth was flat but didn't have any facts to the contrary, that was misperception. For the members of the Flat Earth Society who know better, their position is intentional subjective Truth. Van Gogh knew that his Starry Night wasn't a painting of the objective Truth (if he was sane). It wasn't his perception of it. It was his artistic impression of it and his subjective Truth.

Quote :
Objective truth is what is.
That which is unchanged by observation.

Absolutely.

Quote :
So if you could time machine it back to 0 Ad, for instance, and take a representative poll of the world's population. I would conjecture that you would only sample a negligible representation of anyone who would come close to our understanding of earth and it's relationship to the other plantets, the sun, the galaxy and the universe.

So their perception is their subjective truth which, in their case, isn't close to the objective truth

I admit I'm making a distinction between perception and subjective Truth which I haven't done before, but I think it works and contributes to the clarification of the issues here.
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:23 am

Aaron wrote:


What I said was that ethics are absolute, rather than relative, even if only for a single instant of time. (or at least that's what they strive for) While morals (in the context that I define them) are always relative.

I think, as I define morals, that is backwards. Immorality is the trespass by one individual on the rights of another. Murder for instance. It is objective if you don't include all the things that have been added under the heading of morality by the church over the eons. Virtue is a personal code of conduct: courage, loyalty, an objective self-image. Ethics, something I've always been fuzzy on, could be a combination of the two, which makes things unnecessarily complicated since so many people think that "morality" combines the two as well.

I know I'm messing with the dictionary here, but only because it's been messed with, or was irrational, before
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Mon Jan 21, 2008 1:29 pm

I don't think you can truly discuss morality and ethics without discussing culture, and how culture impacts both.

Without a cultural definition of morality, there is no ethics. Ethics, of course, is simply a term for the values, traditions, and customs of a specific group of people. There's nothing really fuzzy about that at all.

From an individual perspective ethics is really only applicable when measuring one's behavior against accepted cultural mores.
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:42 am

Helium wrote:


Ah yes, PA, but my point of objective truth is that that object which we call apple does not change no matter what the observations by the subjective scrutineers may be whether they're colour blind, whether they can even see it all and are forced to rely on touch or smell.

My point is that that thing which we call apple does not change regardless of our perceptions. And whether a colour blind person is looking at it, whether a fruit fly is looking at it, it is what it is. And that is the objective truth. And yes, we can never know the objective truth for sure.

True enough. You might see the apple as a tasty treat. A dietitian sees its nutritional value. A particle physicist observes that it is composed of atoms with a particular density....And you would all be correct.

Truth is in the eye of the beholder.
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Helium



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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Tue Jan 22, 2008 12:55 am

Quote :
Truth is in the eye of the beholder.

No subjective truth is in the eye of the beholder.

My point, again, is that the object didn't change. What changed was people's perceptions or subjective truths.
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Tue Jan 22, 2008 1:45 pm

Paul Anthony wrote:


True enough. You might see the apple as a tasty treat. A dietitian sees its nutritional value. A particle physicist observes that it is composed of atoms with a particular density....And you would all be correct.

A tasty treat is subjective, but the other two are fact based. When we gather enough evidence to create objective facts, those facts are part of the objective Truth. Each fact doesn't usually show the whole picture.
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:28 pm

Just a few definitions...
morals: 1. concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character 2. conforming to accepted standards of behavior.
The root word for Moral is Latin "mos," meaning "custom".

ethics: The philosophy or code pertaining to what is ideal in human character and conduct.
The root word for Ethical is the Greek "ethos," meaning "character."

culture: the social and religious structures and intellectual and artistic manifestations etc. that characterize a society.

society: a group of interacting people who share a geographical region, a sense of common identity, and a common culture.

Uriah wrote:
I don't think you can truly discuss morality and ethics without discussing culture, and how culture impacts both.

I agree. Culture effects both morals and ethics just as society does. In many ways morals and ethics are like two sides of the same coin. IMO morals (as I use the term) pertain to culture and ethics pertain to society. Culture is the subjective aspect of society and society is the objective aspect of culture.

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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Tue Jan 22, 2008 11:56 pm

Aaron wrote:
Culture is the subjective aspect of society and society is the objective aspect of culture.

Could you given an example?
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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:13 am

The Paineful Truth wrote:
Aaron wrote:
Culture is the subjective aspect of society and society is the objective aspect of culture.

Could you given an example?

Artistic and musical styles are examples of cultural phenomena however the technology behind the techniques of painting, or photography, or recording and distribution are societal based.

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PostSubject: Re: is truth relative?   Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:41 pm

Hmmm. OK.
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