Londoner wrote:If that were true, then to say, as you do, "Objective truth is like a squared circle" is also a nonsense statement. The noun has no referent in reality, according to you. Moreover, it's not objectively true: it's just a statement of subjective feeling.
This is getting mixed up! I didn't write that; you did. I quoted you. Now I have quoted you quoting me quoting you...
A "pink elephant" has no referent in reality. But "pink" is a coherent concept, as is "elephant." It's the combination that has no referent in reality. Likewise, "square" and "circle" are coherent ideas with referents in reality. It is only the combination that is problematic. And in that case, it's problematic in a very particular way: not that the parts have no referent in reality, but in that they contradict.
I would have no problems with 'pink elephant'. There is no reason why an elephant could not be pink. If I said 'fetch me a pink elephant
' people would know what to look for, even if they had problems finding one.
That is not the case with 'square circle'.
Now, do the words "objective" and "truth" have no referents? That seems implausible, especially since we're talking about them, but also because they are widely used in other contexts, such as "subjective truth" or "objective facts." So whether or not they fail to have a referent in reality is an empirical, not conceptual problem. I know of no conceptual analysis that shows objective truth conceptually cannot exist: all critics insist that it does not empirically exist.
Yes, 'objective truth' could exist as a concept, provided we could frame that concept. I do not think we can.
It isn't a matter of searching through an inexhaustible box of truths looking for an objective one (and saying that 'absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence'). The problem is that we do not know what we are looking for. I'm still not clear what 'objective' means.
That's an important caveat. The question of objective truth cannot be settled by appealing to a merely alleged incoherence of the term "objective truth." It can only be solved by empirical demonstration that no such thing exists. But if we ever succeeded in empirically proving it, we would thereby disprove it in exactly the same stroke.
I don't see why the question of 'objective truth' wouldn't be thoroughly settled by pointing out the phrase was incoherent, or meaningless.
You write; ' It can only be solved by empirical demonstration that no such thing exists'. But we still don't know what the 'such thing' would be. (And how do you mean 'empirical'?)
Me: Or do you consider every combination of words is meaningful?
No, it depends on whether the words themselves can be said to be meaningful, and whether their combination makes sense. Empirically, there are no square circles, and this is a result not of a deficiency in the words per se, but in the contradiction their combination entails. Again, the problem that ensues is empirical: no such thing can exist because of the inherent contradiction.
But we have no reason to think "objective" and "truth" are similar. We would have to demonstrate by way of reason or empirical fact that they were, before we could expect to be believed.
I am confused by your use of the word 'empirical'. That 'there are no square circles' is not usually understood as an empirical observation; e.g. 'I see no square circles in this geometry book
'. If 'square circle' does not make sense, then the question of its empirical existence does not arise.
(The language; 'no such thing can exist because of the inherent contradiction
' seems to present meaning as if it was an empirical force. As if a thing, a square circle, might
exist, but the inherent contradiction prevents it. That because of the contradiction, the quantity of square circles that exist in the empirical world is zero. As I say, I think this is mistaken.)
Me: It ("Objective truth is unreal," or "Objective truth is absurd") is in the form of an assertion, it resembles an assertion...
It is one. It may be a true one, it may be a false one, or it may be an irrational one...but if it's in the form, then that is what it is, no?
Not until we have a meaning for 'objective truth'. Until then, the assertion has no subject.
(We can still write it in the form of an assertion because words are also objects. By 'objective truth' we just meant 'that 'objective truth' shaped mark on the computer monitor', or 'two words that appear in an English dictionary'. )
Me: You have not introduced a subject, an agent, only two verbs.
The existence (verb 2) of the subject is deduced from verb 1.
You cannot deduce physical existence by examining the meaning of words, nor is that what Descartes does. But I think that if we want to start a thread on Descartes we should do so elsewhere.
Me: If 'reality' has aspects, such that I might consider one aspect and you consider another, why isn't there more than one 'objective truth'?
I think it's true that people see things from different perspectives. But to say so runs the danger of being overly impressed with the variance, and under-impressed with the commonality. You and I may look at a chair, and I see the north side and you see the south: but the resounding fact is that we both see the chair. To emphasize our perspectival uniqueness too much obliterates the obvious and essential fact that we are in substantial agreement on the nature of the object.
So while perspective is a reality of perception, which I'm happy to acknowledge, we ought never to overlook the massive importance of the fact that our eyes stare out on a common world. And were it not so, all communication, sharing, deal-making, and consensus would be utterly impossible. That they are possible -- and indeed routine -- is a most remarkable observation, one we'd do well to emphasize much more strongly than any subjectivist variability.
I do not agree that we do all stare out on a common world. To stare is not to passively reflect the world; each person sees it differently. Nor do I agree that seeing things identically is necessary for communication (indeed, if we did, communication would not be necessary!) Similarity is enough.
I think how it works is that when we talk we establish context; in science we agree to will only look at certain aspects of experience, in psychology at others. And some things we cannot communicate. We do not have to fix on one.
You missed the conditional in my wording. I wrote "IF INDEED he is writing." I did not say that it would be true IF he were not, so I think perhaps the objection is off point.
If it is conditional, then I agree my objections to it as an example of 'objective truth' would be off the point because you would not have offered it as an example. 'If Londoner is writing then Londoner is writing
' would just describe a logical relationship. We could substitute anything for 'Londoner' or 'writing' and it would not matter. It would read 'If X then X
'. To which anyone might respond 'OK. And if not X, not X
Me: The problem is that we can never equate language to objects in any direct neutral (objective) way. We are never a neutral observer, language is created by social use, every word is part of a system, every particular belief we have is related to the totality of our beliefs.
There's a lot in this paragraph that needs unpacking. The first claim is unclear but possibly true, the second is true, the third is conditionally true, and the fourth and fifth I would say are quite right in very important ways. But I'm not sure we're on the same page there. I would have to ask you a bunch of stuff in order to know.
It relates to attempts to create a logical language, or to describe language logically. Roughly, the idea was that you could isolate the bits of language that relate directly to experience, distinguish them from the bits that relate to the conceptualization of experience, and from the bits that express purely logical relationships. This has not proved possible.