Thinking of truth and ideas that make a difference

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marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Thinking of truth and ideas that make a difference

Post by marjoramblues »

Inspired by recent posts concerning truth,change,paradigms; and the usefulness of philosophy, past or otherwise. Thanks to all contributors.

I have always had a problem with truth. Not that I lie, much. But the philo ways of looking at the capitalized version. Also, the word 'paradigm' - it turns me off. Change, I don't mind - or so I think; but others do, or so it seems.

I've been pondering about 'ideas that make a difference'. Being totally out of them myself, I decided to google, what else ?

I found this:
http://philosophyforchange.wordpress.com/

and the question 'what is poetic truth?' within thoughts about Socrates as a challenging entrepreneur.

So, different types of truth, scientific etc. - how can we talk about it sensibly; and is sticking to one's own truth ( what we believe ) a problem making us resistant to change? How can philosophy make you better at change ? Does 'doing philosophy' make shift happen ? Are Music and Art more or less influential, do they score a direct hit to any truths - the heart of the matter ?

If you have studied philo academically, what difference has it made to your truths or behaviour ? Has a past philosopher changed your mind or behaviour, and how ?

Just something to think about - probably been done before. Got the t-shirt, yeah ? Ideas are us.
simonj28
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun May 06, 2012 10:22 pm
Location: UK

Re: Thinking of truth and ideas that make a difference

Post by simonj28 »

You raise lots of interesting issues in your post. I am new to this forum so forgive me if I go over issues already covered previously.

What is the attraction of truth? Truth provides certainty in a changing world.

In broad terms there are 2 types of truth. Firstly, mathematical truths i.e. 2+2=4. It is argued that these things are true in all possible worlds. The argument being that mathematical truths operate independent of the physical world although somewhat ironically are best demonstrated as being true through the their application in the physical world.

There are other truths that have substance because they are support by perceptions in the world which you experience. These subjective truths are wide and varied. An example could be what side of the road do you legally drive a car on? You could spend your whole life driving on the right hand side of the road and you would state that it is true that all cars drive on the right. Of course it is only in certain countries that this is the case but if you had never been made aware of this point then in your mind your opinion would be true and you would base all your future driving decisions on this truth.

If you did then arrive in country that drove on the left how long would it take before you reassessed that truth?

The same argument can be applied to any other subjective truth. Let's take for example Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than light. Many would say that was an immutable objective truth. However, towards the end of last year test data in the Alps identified particles that did just that. Should we just ignore those test results because they don't fit into our view of the world?

Science is often perceived as being about truth; using immutable laws to give us control over the physical world. Whilst it is right that science has provided some certainties and has enabled huge technological advances let us not be deceived that scientists know everything. What is most important is how they work. They put forward ideas test them and draw conclusions. These they then put to peer review, other scientists do more tests, until finally a fairly substantive conclusion is drawn.

Philosophers are often seen in the same light as scientists pursuing the ultimate understanding of the world that will provide all answers. However, the philosophers skill like the scientists is to look at the world ask questions about it and challenge our understanding of it. The greater we hang on to what we perceive to be objective truths the more challenging it will be for us to accept and adapt to change.

Bringing this round to your main question about ideas that make a difference. I would say in the main these are ideas which are put forward when people's current understanding of the world has been challenged and help create a new certainty about the world.
marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Re: Thinking of truth and ideas that make a difference

Post by marjoramblues »

Thanks, Simon, for your reply; and welcome to the forum !
I have only quickly scanned your most thoughtful post but will have to return to it later...
The PN forum seems to be very busy right now - I almost forgot I'd started this thread :)
Speak soon, or forever lose your place...
marjoramblues
Posts: 636
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:37 am

Re: Thinking of truth and ideas that make a difference

Post by marjoramblues »

simonj28 wrote:You raise lots of interesting issues in your post. I am new to this forum so forgive me if I go over issues already covered previously.

Thanks. Issues will more than likely have been raised before; the important thing is that they might be 'new' to you and discussion may lead to further insights. For all concerned.

What is the attraction of truth? Truth provides certainty in a changing world.

I really don't know - what are we looking for ? Certainty ? What are the only certainties, or constants, in our personal lives ? We were born, we live, we die.

[Some]truths that have substance because they are support by perceptions in the world which you experience. These subjective truths are wide and varied.

So, how 'substantial' can subjective truths be if they are 'wide and varied'; shifting shaky sands ? Or concrete truths if one never travels, or opens one's mind.

The same argument can be applied to any other subjective truth. Let's take for example Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than light. Many would say that was an immutable objective truth. However, towards the end of last year test data in the Alps identified particles that did just that. Should we just ignore those test results because they don't fit into our view of the world?

Many might think that such theories are static and unchangeable; many might not even know about particular scientific theories. Usually, if something matters to you, then you don't leave it alone; people poke and play - and either are surprised or dismayed when an event changes their perceptions. Ignoring change doesn't make it go away.

Science is often perceived as being about truth; using immutable laws to give us control over the physical world....What is most important is how they work. They put forward ideas test them and draw conclusions. These they then put to peer review, other scientists do more tests, until finally a fairly substantive conclusion is drawn.

Yes, a continuing process of discovery based on certain truths; but what if the start point could be changed...

Philosophers are often seen in the same light as scientists pursuing the ultimate understanding of the world that will provide all answers. However, the philosophers skill like the scientists is to look at the world ask questions about it and challenge our understanding of it. The greater we hang on to what we perceive to be objective truths the more challenging it will be for us to accept and adapt to change.

What objective truths do philosophers hang on to?

Bringing this round to your main question about ideas that make a difference. I would say in the main these are ideas which are put forward when people's current understanding of the world has been challenged and help create a new certainty about the world.

Thanks for all your helpful examples.

Our individual ideas may not necessarily 'make a difference', be put forward as 'new' philosophical insights to solve the problems of the world; philos are probably the least likely to help create a new certainty even if one existed. What is important is - as you suggested earlier - how they work and what they concentrate their energies on.
I think that challenging our own and others' 'truths' in discussion is a good step forward. The PN forum allows that exchange and perhaps even a change of mind.

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