What is, and how to find, Truth?

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Ned
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What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Ned » Wed May 06, 2015 4:12 pm

Quoted from my book "Humane Physics":

Truth is an observation or a plausible theory that has not [yet] been contradicted by the accumulated knowledge available to us. The very instant an irrefutable contradiction is demonstrated, the theory becomes false and needs to be modified or discarded.

So Newton’s equation: “force equals mass times acceleration, where mass is an unchangeable constant attribute of material bodies”, was a truth until Einstein, by his special theory of relativity, suggested experiments that produced results contradicting Newton. At that point Newton’s ‘truth’ became ‘false’ and required modification.

Truth can apply to physical observation, directly with our senses or indirectly with instruments, or to a theory (which is usually a statement about cause-and-effect relationships). Physical observations have to be repeatable and consistent at ever-increasing accuracy, to be considered true; theories have to produce predictions verifiable by observation.

The only intolerable state is contradiction.

Life is not different from science - only more complicated. Basic principles still apply. A while ago, telling my students how to find truth, I used the example of Hercule Poirot. Imagine that you are a detective. A murder has been committed and you need to find out the truth. You question suspects and witnesses. Some tell the truth, some lie; you have no idea which. You collect all the evidence, all the statements from those interviewed, and build a model in your head. At that point “the little grey cells” ought to do their job.

You arrange the known facts and statements in such a way as to have a minimum number of contradictions in the model. You discard those that cannot be used without contradicting most of the other facts. Then you try to come up with a theory that agrees with the largest number of ‘facts’ and is supported by your personal experience, the experience of those you trust, and discard as ‘untrue’, all the rest. Then you think you know what the truth is. You draw logical conclusions and test these in real life. If they check out, you can be reasonably sure. You will never be absolutely sure -- truth is still only those theories that have not yet been contradicted.

Applying this method to our understanding of the human condition is no different. The keys to a reasonable confidence in knowing truth are to

• have extensive personal life experience (needs observation)
• learn as many facts as you can (needs a lot of reading)
• keep all of these facts in mind (needs a good memory)
• try to form a theoretical model (needs pattern recognition ability)
• be completely open minded (needs intellectual integrity)

Then you can be reasonably sure, in the relative sense. In the absolute sense you can be only 50% sure. Either you are right, or you are wrong. However, we can only do the best we can do. For all practical purposes, I can call it truth: 'my truth'. And it stays true until someone proves it false.

Unfortunately, when the topic of truth comes up, most people assume we are talking about metaphysics or quantum theory and the conversation becomes highly philosophical and highly impractical. To consider Heisenberg for my modest purpose of learning the truth about the reason we are unhappy and the changes we have to make to set it right is like considering Einstein to plan a car trip to Florida.

We also have to deal with another misconception of our age: it basically claims that no one has a by definition superior value system or opinion; that my opinion is just as good as someone else’s. While I understand the necessity of devaluing arguments based solely on authority, I find that we managed to swing to the opposite extreme (as usual) and tried to be completely egalitarian when evaluating competence and ability.

There are more and less intelligent people, more and less educated, experienced, knowledgeable, wise, honest, etc. people in the world. It is still true that some younger people could learn something from some of their elders, some experts still know more about their fields than some laymen.

Convictions are not entirely relative with identical weighing factors. Before I evaluate it, I like to know how a person arrived at his opinion, what it is based on, how many factors were considered, how much factual knowledge it incorporated.

Wyman
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Wyman » Wed May 06, 2015 5:01 pm

Then you can be reasonably sure, in the relative sense. In the absolute sense you can be only 50% sure.
Can you explain what that means?

Ned
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Ned » Wed May 06, 2015 5:17 pm

Sure.

Either you are right or you are wrong.

It was a casual way to express that in a practically infinite universe, you may be aware only of a tiny fraction of the contributing factors.

You may be right for the wrong reasons or you may be wrong, even though your arguments and observations make perfect sense.

One example: when working on his second planetary law, Kepler made several serious mistakes in his calculation, but the mistakes cancelled each other out and he still ended up with the right conclusion (See Koestler pg 325).

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Bill Wiltrack
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Bill Wiltrack » Wed May 06, 2015 9:57 pm

.



I appreciate you bringing into focus this important philosophical concept.

Can't help but feel you may have slipped into a common misconception about the character of Truth.

Unless we, as true philosophers, take into account consciousness I believe we cannot even approach a reasonable definition of overriding Truth.

Truth cannot be perceived amid the function of the intellect.

The intellectual function alone will never, and cannot ever embrace Truth...and that's Truth with a capital T.


Most distant philosophers never account for consciousness. This characteristic alone negates their opinion as having any credibility at all when it comes to a deeper, more meaningful Truth.

Which is the Truth that I assume you are referring to in the original post.


Truth - any realization in this direction MUST BE EXPERIENCED.

Truth...real Truth cannot be estranged by the overt intrusion of the over-active intellect in any one moment.


In short, we will never know the Truth however we can experience a heightened being. A being that exists closer to an infinitesimal moment of Truth.









.

Ned
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Ned » Wed May 06, 2015 10:00 pm

Bill, you are right of course, however you did not realize that I was talking about practical human truth and not the esoteric, philosophical, religious or theoretical truth.

The first sentence of my essay should have made it clear. :)

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Bill Wiltrack
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Bill Wiltrack » Wed May 06, 2015 10:03 pm

.



OKay. Very good. I agree with you and I stand corrected.

Excellent thread my friend.





.

Ned
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Ned » Thu May 07, 2015 10:27 am

Thank you, Bill, I think truth is one of the most important concepts in the human mind, yet so few people know how to discover it.

In our social lives there are so many lies: politicians, businessmen, military leaders, the media, advertisers all have their spin on things and the citizenry is totally lost in the jungle of lies. The dumbing-down process has been highly successful by not teaching critical thinking rules in school.

I am surprised that there is no more interest in this thread here -- I had thought that on a philosophy forum this topic would be of prime interest.

Anyway, maybe later.

For now, I think another of my poems would be appropriate here:

Most people

Most people I know
(or even just talk to on the net)
are mostly nice, most of the time.
They work hard, pay their bills,
kind to their neighbors, their pets, their kids,
they do not want to cause any harm.

But, when it comes to thoughts
on politics, religion, social organization,
they haven’t got a clue
beyond what’s poured on them by the media.
Most don’t know how to process information...
...it wasn’t a subject in their education.

It’s not their fault –
dark forces are lined up against us,
by those who don’t want us to know
how our lives on Earth could be simple and beautiful.

Oh, no, they want citizens confused and dutiful,
paying their taxes, rocking no boats,
propaganda rammed down their throats
so they can’t possibly form their own thoughts.

Those of us who know what’s going on
are helpless in helping the masses --
the victims will fight you tooth and nail,
that’s how tough the task is,
every effort that you make will fail.

After a while
you don’t even try --
who enjoys to fry
on the flames of ignorance?
Write your poetry that no one reads
hoping to plant a few desperate seeds.

van Keister
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by van Keister » Mon May 11, 2015 12:27 pm

I agree with the "Truth must be experienced" and because of that truth will always be subjective and limited. I tend to agree with those who aver that our intelligence is designed more for picking berries than ultimate truths. You are right in that ultimate truth may be beyond our capabilities, but to remove it beyond reason and intelligence and consign it to consciousness is as old as Hegel. Consciousness is always conscious of something, and whether it is the ground for some ultimate truths in the universe or whether it is just a function of the brain is a matter of temperament and taste. As an analytic philosopher I ask the question, "What ultimate Truths have Consciousness delivered?"

Ned
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Ned » Mon May 11, 2015 12:30 pm

van Keister wrote: "What ultimate Truths have Consciousness delivered?"
How do we know that there are any "ultimate Truths"?

How would we recognize it if we ever met one?

Melchior
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Melchior » Tue May 12, 2015 2:25 am

Is there a scientific name for what is wrong with you?

van Keister
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by van Keister » Tue May 12, 2015 6:27 pm

Typisch, as soon as someone disagrees and questions someone's basic truth the argument reverts to ad hominem verbiage. Go kneel down to your absolute truths whose steps will never find my blood sacrificed over them!

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HexHammer
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by HexHammer » Tue May 12, 2015 7:10 pm

OP is nothing but incoherent babble, makes me wonder what he suffers from?

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WanderingLands
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by WanderingLands » Wed May 13, 2015 1:47 am

Wanna know the key to Truth?

The Seven Principles of Hermeticism (from the Kybalion):

1. All is Mind
2. As Above, So Below
3. Everything vibrates
4. Everything is in polarity
5. All things are in motion
6. For every cause, there is an effect
7. All is gender (Male & Female)

Aside from, and beyond that, Truth is something more than Scientific Truth(s), since Truth (capital "T") is encompassing all of reality. More than grasping it from either intellectual, or emotional, spiritual, or mystical means; it is lived.... constantly! Whether one knows it or not.

Ned
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by Ned » Wed May 13, 2015 2:09 am

WanderingLands wrote:Wanna know the key to Truth?

The Seven Principles of Hermeticism (from the Kybalion):

1. All is Mind
2. As Above, So Below
3. Everything vibrates
4. Everything is in polarity
5. All things are in motion
6. For every cause, there is an effect
7. All is gender (Male & Female)

Aside from, and beyond that, Truth is something more than Scientific Truth(s), since Truth (capital "T") is encompassing all of reality. More than grasping it from either intellectual, or emotional, spiritual, or mystical means; it is lived.... constantly! Whether one knows it or not.
Huh???

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WanderingLands
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Re: What is, and how to find, Truth?

Post by WanderingLands » Wed May 13, 2015 1:09 pm

Just conversing with you on the subject of.... Truth.

Gotta bring in different perspectives, you know?

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