Immanuel Can wrote:
But if the category "fact" is just an empty set, then even the claim that there is no such thing as a "fact" cannot itself be a "fact."
There can still be things we call facts, but I do not think they are the same as 'objective truth'.
How do you conclude this? Are you asserting that "blueness" is not produced by any property in the sky, but rather is a complete illusion generated by the percipient? If it were so, then there's no expectation that any two people would agree at all...and no content to the statement "the sky is _________ (anything).
We wouldn't call it (the blueness of the sky) an illusion, because it does not satisfy the criteria for an illusion, for example other people describe it the same way, it is always there and so on. On the other hand, our perception is a function of our eyes. If we had different eyes (and some creatures do), then we would see a different colour. Indeed, perhaps we all do see different colours; we have no way of knowing.
Me: The claim would not be that the one 'objective truth' does not exist, but that the phrase 'objective truth' does not describe anything. That it is like 'square circle'.
You're still faced with the first problem: how do you know that? And with the second, because even to say "Objective truth is a squared circle" is to make an objective proposition. If objective truth doesn't exist, you really cannot make a statement of any kind at all.
I did not say "Objective truth is a squared circle". I said it was like a 'square circle' in that we do not know what one would be like, so we cannot search for one.
To say a phrase has no meaning is not the same as saying it does not exist. If it has no meaning then we have not made any assertion, so the question of its existence does not arise.
This is wandering into Plato and Strawson and all that lot. If this is a general claim that we can't deny any
claims of existence, then it really needs a seperate thread.
But the square circle defies a universal law of logic, namely the Law of Non-Contradiction. Are you trying to assert that the term "objective truth" contains the same kind of self-evident contradiction? Or are you saying it's empirically untrue? Either way, the old problems resurface.
Once again, the 'square circle' does not defy anything, it is meaningless. By asking me the question, you are giving 'square circle' a form of existence; 'square circle' is now the name of a thing with a property - it defies a law of logic. Thus we have slipped into treating it as meaningful, with a secondary question of 'does it exist?' meaning 'are there any examples of this thing?'
The question of empirical truth do not arise, because we have not asserted anything. The description 'objective truth' may be self-contradictory, but since we do not know what it describes we cannot say. I think this problem emerges below:
Three further problems.
"Cogito ergo sum" still looks very good as a candidate for an objective truth. I may not be able to say what the "sum" refers to precisely, but that it must logically refer to something existent is unimpeachable.
Is that 'sum' something different to the 'cogito', or is it just another name for it? If it is the second, then it would unimpeachable, but that would only be because it is a tautology. Or, if that 'sum' is something different, then we would need something extra to the cogito...
So I do not know how this would qualify as an 'objective truth'. What is it a truth about
? Or to put it another way, what would disprove its truth? If something is a proposition then it can either be true or false; if something can only be true it would be a tautology.
And secondly, to say "I don't know of any universal truths" is certainly suitably modest. But to say, "Therefore you do not either" or "They don't exist" is excessive, rationally speaking. One cannot know such a thing oneself. And to say, "We do not know what we are looking for" is not to say a thing does not exist either. Before we knew the kiwi bird existed, nobody ever went looking for one. And yet they exist.
As I wrote earlier, that there are no kiwi birds (because we had never found one) would be inductive reasoning. But that is not the argument here.
I would suggest that here the situation is that you are asserting that kiwi birds might exist, but cannot explain what a kiwi bird would be.
Finally, even the statement "Objective truth is like a square circle" is a universal predicate, a statement of objective truth. So perhaps your candidate for such a thing is not nearly so elusive and unknown as you suggest: in fact, it's in your own claim there.
I'm saying that the phrases are alike in that neither phrase has any meaning. They do not refer to anything, so the question of their truth does not arise.
Suppose I said 'X is like Y'. When asked what X and Y stand for, I said 'I don't know'. How could we decide if my proposition was true or false? We couldn't, because I would not have presented a proposition.
And if it's not, then surely there's no reason to take your claim as anything stronger than a personal confession of frustration with epistemology -- it certainly cannot be a universal problem. If it were, it would be an objective problem.
I do not follow that. Perhaps it would help if you said what you mean by 'objective'.