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Thread: The Fact About Truth

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    The Fact About Truth

    Lately I've been thinking about what it means when people claim to either know, or be on a quest for, the "truth".

    When my 4-year-old son says brussel sprouts taste terrible I know he is telling me the truth according to what his taste buds are telling him. My version of the truth, however, is that brussel sprouts are delicious -- especially when covered in butter. This begs the obvious question: between the two of us, who is telling the truth?

    When it comes to facts, things are less complicated. We can both agree on the fact that brussel sprouts are vegetables that look like tiny cabbages.

    So, as near as I can figure "truth" can have versions as it ultimately rests in the eye (or taste bud) of the beholder, while "facts" exist independently of an individual's experience or perception.


    With me so far? Great.

    Having established that truth is subjective and fact is objective in nature, I found myself confronted with the following dictionary definitions:
    - truth is defined as "a fact that has been verified"
    - fact is defined
    as "a concept whose truth can be proved"

    Wow. Its no wonder in the media we have to contend with so much indigestible and often contradictory information.

    Small wonder I am constantly confronted by people who seem to use the words "truth" and "fact" interchangeably.

    Is there any hope of disentangling truth from fact?

    The way I see it, it is just a matter of time before we start developing truly intelligent machines dotted with artificial intelligence. How are their logic circuits ever going to put up with our idiosyncrasies?

    Clearly our use of language is not keeping pace with the times.

    If we want to have a more prosperous and fulfilling existence in the age of misinformation overload, we are going to need to rationalize our language.

    Consider the following; why is it that in our technologically advanced societies "belief" still takes precedence over "observation". We have a tendency to express ourselves in terms of beliefs, rather than perception; "I believe" is more frequently used in conversation than "I perceive" or "I observe".

    Personally, unless I ask for it, I really
    don't want people telling me what they believe -- I would much rather they tell me what they observe or what they know.

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    Post Re: The fact about truth

    Excellent post, the contradiction in the dictionary is a gross testiment to how overcomplicated the human mind makes things.

    Simple = Efficient.

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    Post Re: The fact about truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Gentilis
    Lately I've been thinking about what it means when people claim to either know, or be on a quest for, the "truth".

    When my 4-year-old son says brussel sprouts taste terrible I know he is telling me the truth according to what his taste buds are telling him. My version of the truth, however, is that brussel sprouts are delicious -- especially when covered in butter. This begs the obvious question: between the two of us, who is telling the truth?


    Both of you are. Unless of course one of you is lying.

    When it comes to facts, things are less complicated. We can both agree on the fact that brussel sprouts are vegetables that look like tiny cabbages.

    So, as near as I can figure "truth" can have versions as it ultimately rests in the eye (or taste bud) of the beholder, while "facts" exist independently of an individual's experience or perception.

    With me so far? Great.

    Having established that truth is subjective and fact is objective in nature, I found myself confronted with the following dictionary definitions:
    - truth is defined as "a fact that has been verified"
    - fact is defined
    as "a concept whose truth can be proved"

    Wow. Its no wonder in the media we have to contend with so much indigestible and often contradictory information.

    Small wonder I am constantly confronted by people who seem to use the words "truth" and "fact" interchangeably.

    Is there any hope of disentangling truth from fact?


    Fact and truth are essentially the same thing in that they both can be verfied. You know your son truely doesn't like brussel sprouts when he refuses to eat them.


    The way I see it, it is just a matter of time before we start developing truly intelligent machines dotted with artificial intelligence. How are their logic circuits ever going to put up with our idiosyncrasies?
    Not possible if you ask me. The human mind is just too complex. The fact that we don't even understand ourselves perfectly leads me to doubt that we will ever be able to create a machine that is capable of perfectly mimicing our intelligence.

    Clearly our use of language is not keeping pace with the times.

    If we want to have a more prosperous and fulfilling existence in the age of misinformation overload, we are going to need to rationalize our language.

    Consider the following; why is it that in our technologically advanced societies "belief" still takes precedence over "observation". We have a tendency to express ourselves in terms of beliefs, rather than perception; "I believe" is more frequently used in conversation than "I perceive" or "I observe".

    Personally, unless I ask for it, I really
    don't want people telling me what they believe -- I would much rather they tell me what they observe or what they know.
    Belief is just our personal interpretation of an observation. Nothings going to change the fact that belief will take precedence over observation because that's how humans relate to the world by internalizing it. By using themselves as a reference point.

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    Re: The fact about truth

    An old thread, I know, but it's an interesting question, and I'd like to add my thoughts.

    This is the way I see it, from an epistemological standpoint:
    • Facts are attributes of the real world that are as they are regardless of what anyone thinks about them. My height is a fact, and no matter how tall I or anyone else thinks I am, I am exactly as tall as I am.
    • Truth is a potential attribute of propositions that resides in those propositions that accurately represent facts. The proposition (coming from me) "My height has been measured at six feet and two inches" possesses truth, because it accurately represents reality (though of course, most of you are unable to verify the truth value of the proposition for yourselves).
    However, I can also see additional meanings of truth. In the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the title character tells his class that "Archaeology is the search for fact, not truth — if it's truth you're interested in, Doctor Tyree's philosophy class is right down the hall." This tells me that at least some speakers of English see truth as referring to things that have no relationship with fact or with the real world. I can sympathize with this idea — but I do think it leaves epistemology and enters the realm of metaphysics or even spirituality, and so goes beyond the bounds of this discussion.

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    Re: The fact about truth

    I agree with what Leofric says and I think the Indiana Jones quote is a very good quote. I like the one, "There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth." This quote demonstrates what the original poster was saying about Brussel sprouts. His son views them in one way, he views them in another, and the truth...... is something entirely different. Most of life deals with perceptions. There are entire studies on things such as whether you and me both see blue in the same way. Even Leofric's height is not an absolute fact... because he is taller in the morning, he settles at night, and the doctor's measuring tape was set slightly off when the nurse put it up on the wall last week. But, I understand what he is saying in using this example of a fact (I am just being difficult here). What is truth? Truth is something that wise men seek and only death finds.
    "I do not know what horrified me most at that time: the economic misery of my companions, their moral and ethical coarseness, or the low level of their intellectual development." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

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    Re: The fact about truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    "There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth."
    Add a good handful billions,
    and the conventions on relative truths will still be numerous...

    Most of us agree axiomily at the existence of matter, solid stuff. But when we take a closer look at this table for example, its atoms consists mostly of hollow space. The protons, neutrons and electrons are of microscopical substance comparing to the area that the construction of the whole atom covers.

    "- Please do not leave display-atoms at the table..."


    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    What is truth? Truth is something that wise men seek and only death finds.
    In this world of contradictions and paradoxes,
    anything finds it opposing balance.
    When a truth is uttered, it creates manifold possibilities for subjective interpretions, every word, its associations, opposites, and between the lines.

    It will be misunderstood, and maybe such is not possible to communicate in words. It is arch-achetyphical, and REAL TRUTH is so strong, and implies more responibility than most humans can carry. So we filter it out according to what we individually can handle .

    Hi power on a low power net does not work on the fuses, and the funnyfarms are already filled up. It may be just to much, human intellect and language are not made to grip such, but maybe gradually.

    Truth is a word very easy to misunderstand.
    I like the greek Gnosis, knowledge. Also in an archetypical view, these ideas are situated in subconscious, instinctive, spectres of the personality, deeper, this is the main power line.

    The layers of personality that implies language and intellect are of newer origin. Symbols may sometimes be useful, subconscious understands that very well. That may go both ways. I consider the archetypes to be experts on their considerations, and twoways communicable via symbols.

    Lithurgy or high poetry may sometimes be useful, if every element is calculated and awakes the right associations, and nothing else.

    And to the display atoms at the table,
    Maybe its the same atoms that are used everywhere? When I am in the living room, the kitchen does only exist imaginary. When I goes into the kitchen, the atoms from the living room are quickly rearranged to make the kitchen? Who knows if this is the truth?

    Others universes may of course be constructed different.

    The angels and spirits that conducts this job works very fast. Atoms may be just like RAM.

    And if it is true that we can find the biggest in the smallest, there may even be life at the protons? Billions of tiny intelligent inhabitants of atomspace, adoring their gods in Micropian choruses?

    " - Oh Atomlord,


    -Dont brush away the atoms from the table...,
    but put us carefully in a bag,
    and keep us in a bankbox."

    Time would probably go much faster in such spheres. They would probably have very tiny voices too, and a thousand years to them may pass in a second to us.

    Last edited by Hoarsewhisper; Friday, February 17th, 2006 at 11:16 PM.
    .

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    Re: The fact about truth

    "What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins." - Nietzsche

    Concisely, truth is nothing more than a collection of words fused with potent discourse; overly used talk which eventually becomes the "truth".

    Food for thought if I say so myself.

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    Re: The fact about truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Polaris
    "What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins." - Nietzsche

    Concisely, truth is nothing more than a collection of words fused with potent discourse; overly used talk which eventually becomes the "truth".

    Food for thought if I say so myself.
    False. Facts are useful knowledge. Facts have reference to reality - they are not simply thought processes or hot air. Knowledge structures our action, and our identities. Nietzsche was only half right
    All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream at night, in the dusky recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams, with open eyes, to make it possible.

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    Re: The fact about truth

    Fact, as you stated, is reference to reality itself; an actual occurence which has happened here on earth. But this dispute is not over fact my friend. No, the questions we are pondering regard truth; truth being rhetorical and poetic eloquence fused with figurative language.

    Or it can be a cogent statement made by a numerous amount of people or an individual and conceived by society as the 'truth'. Take the Holocaust as an example of this "numerous truth". A handful of Hebrews claim their people were oppressed and slaughtered by the Nazi Regime, the world recoils at this "atrocity", and after the recurring theatrics a new truth is born: Hitler orchestrated the slaughter of the Jews.

    So then, what is truth? Truth is literally a statement which is occaisonally rooted in fact. Other times, truth is no more that selected phrases reinforced with complexity and imbued with emotion. Basically an utter concoction of the human mind that persuades the masses to believe a lie.

    Apologies if I'm not making much sense

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    Re: The fact about truth

    Quote Originally Posted by Gentilis View Post
    Personally, unless I ask for it, I really don't want people telling me what they believe -- I would much rather they tell me what they observe or what they know.
    But aren't our observations and our knowledge just as faulty as our beliefs?

    Also aren't beliefs more important for us?

    A man will die for his beliefs, but as Camus said, when was the last time you heard anyone dying for the "ontological argument"?

    And as our observations are dependent on our senses, don't these latter often 'play tricks' on us?

    Were our senses developed to find 'truth', or were they developed to aid our survival?

    If the latter case is true, then falsehood may actually be more useful to us than truth.

    Indeed, truth may actually be harmful to us and so it is not in our interest to find it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Northern Paladin View Post
    Fact and truth are essentially the same thing in that they both can be verfied.
    But how do you verify the verifier?
    This leads to an obvious vicious circle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leofric View Post
    This is the way I see it, from an epistemological standpoint:
    Facts are attributes of the real world that are as they are regardless of what anyone thinks about them. My height is a fact, and no matter how tall I or anyone else thinks I am, I am exactly as tall as I am.
    Truth is a potential attribute of propositions that resides in those propositions that accurately represent facts. The proposition (coming from me) "My height has been measured at six feet and two inches" possesses truth, because it accurately represents reality (though of course, most of you are unable to verify the truth value of the proposition for yourselves).
    But this fact only boils down to the (trivial) statement that:

    'you are the size you are'.

    It is not a truth that adds to our understanding of the world but just points to an item (no offence) in the world.

    I can sympathize with this idea — but I do think it leaves epistemology and enters the realm of metaphysics or even spirituality, and so goes beyond the bounds of this discussion.
    'Epistemology', being the theory of knowledge, looks at how we can know things, as we all know.

    If we can be sure that we know that you are an extended body in space, then can't we also know about your beliefs?

    Surely you have qualities about you that go beyond your spatial-temporal extension; how can we know these too?

    Why are the metaphysical and spiritual 'realms' 'unknowable'; is it because they are non-existent, or is it because we have not been able to work out a way of satisfactorily demonstrating our knowing of them?

    How is it that man's spiritual qualities have more of an impact on history than does his height?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thore Hund View Post
    REAL TRUTH is so strong, and implies more responibility than most humans can carry. So we filter it out according to what we individually can handle .
    ... Symbols may sometimes be useful, subconscious understands that very well. That may go both ways. I consider the archetypes to be experts on their considerations, and twoways communicable via symbols.
    Yes - I agree with this; there is knowledge to found in symbols that goes beyond 'verification'. And as Nietzsche said: "how much truth can a spirit bear?"

    Quote Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
    Concisely, truth is nothing more than a collection of words fused with potent discourse; overly used talk which eventually becomes the "truth".
    Yes, metaphors become hardened. Metaphor is probably the roots of our language: and our minds work metaphorically too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    False. Facts are useful knowledge.
    So many facts are useless - they are trivialities.
    The important things in life, like spiritual power, are beyond such petit facts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Polaris View Post
    No, the questions we are pondering regard truth; truth being rhetorical and poetic eloquence fused with figurative language.
    Yes; truths are the facts that matter.
    Why are there beings at all, & why not rather nothing?
    [Leibniz/Heidegger]

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