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## Do you think that the true is absolute or relative?

How do you define the true? there is such thing as relative true?

• #### Abhiram Lohit

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Jun 29 2011: Truths can be at different levels. So most truths are relative. A truth at one level may not appear true at all from another level.

But the only absolute truth is that the absolute truth can never be known. Unless you define an absolute "level".
• #### Andrew Buchmann

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Jun 22 2011: Yes

It depends on the context. In most cases I would say things are either true or false, not both and not neither. This is the basis of Logic (Frege, Russel, Cantor, Carnap, Godel, Leibniz).

There is also a system of fuzzy logic, although I am not so familiar with it as I am with first order and quantifier logic. But basically it is like "cold, cool, warm, hot" where there are degrees of freedom to move about.
• #### Farrukh Yakubov

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Jun 21 2011: True needs to be without exception in its' 'functional universe". Anything else that fails that rule is false.
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 21 2011: A partially filled glass of water - is it half full or half empty?

Truth is relative..
• #### Steve Bruno

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Jun 21 2011: Both are true, its a matter of perspective. That does not mean that truth is relative. The truth is that the glass is half full, it is also half empty, and at 50% and a number of other ways to describe it.
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 21 2011: But which one's the truth?
• #### Steve Bruno

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Jun 21 2011: They all are. I don't see that as a logical problem. There can be many angles to perceive truth, but they should all point to one logical and consistent point, and in this case it does. We do have a capacity to perceive and that is subjective. I may chose to look at the glass only as half full, but that is to my disadvantage.
• #### Tiago Reiser

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Jun 21 2011: well in this case the absolute true is that both statements are correct . You are talking about the same thing a glass 50% filled with water is also a glass 50% empty that is the absolute true. you cant say anything different then that. if you say that a glass 50% filled with water is also 60% empty that is wrong.
Your statement don't prove that true is relative.
If you believe that the true is relative you must believe that reality is relative and that is the first step toward the chaos
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 21 2011: I guess it comes down to the tree falling in the woods scenario - if there's no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound?

The minute you involve people, the whole thing is opened up to subjectivity.

Still, without the subjective human perspective is there any truth at all? Perhaps truth is that which can't be perceived..?

Well argued. I think you convinced me.
• #### Helen Hupe

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Jun 21 2011: Perhaps truth is that which can't be perceived.

Goodness, are we getting into the spiritual realm ?
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 22 2011: Maybe truth (as I interpret the word) exists the moment we become unable to perceive it. Perhaps that's why those who have claimed to achieve enlightenment describe it as incredibly difficult to retain and hold on to.

As far a spiritual realm goes, I love concepts beyond the black and white, but am loathe to align them with any preconceptions, and spirituality and religion are loaded with preconceptions because they have been with us for as long as we could ponder them.

Material facts and information are nothing to do with truth. They are, essentially, measurements and, ultimately, meaningless.

We live in a material world, so it is only to be expected that we think and operate within it too. I want to believe that there is something grander (or simpler) hidden from us, which means, I guess, that I believe there is.
• #### Nicholas Lukowiak

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Jun 22 2011: I also have a problem with your philosophy.

To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 23 2011: Try to realise the truth - there is no glass (sorry, dipping into the Matrix again)..
• #### Nicholas Lukowiak

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Jun 23 2011: No sir, there is a glass. But the glass is a lie...
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 24 2011: Perhaps it is neither true or a lie, just a suggestion
.
I figure it's the human interpreting the stimulus that renders everything relative.
• #### Steve Bruno

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Jun 20 2011: I believe it is absolute. If you don't start with this assumption there is very little drive to know anything.
• #### Paragon Vessel

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Jul 12 2011: I think it is relative because when you ask a skeptic, he/she will say that you feel or see is not true only an illusion. In indiviual all people wants to think that the person's truth is absolute. But if you ask people you can see the answers changing.

Even your question is a proof that the truth is not absolute. If it was absolute we probably wouldn't need to question it.
• #### Debra Smith

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Jun 25 2011: I think only one thing actually happened (in each event) but many people have different vantage points and different perspectives on what actually happened. We see reality through a tiny window of our own perception so what is true is difficult to establish in this big wide world.

• #### Andrew Buchmann

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Jun 25 2011: Just curious Jim, have you/do you read any anti-realism arguments? I'm a fan of the pessimistic meta-induction personally.

• #### Andrew Buchmann

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Jun 26 2011: No I have not, so thank you for suggesting it!

I would consider myself a skeptical realist who always applies the pessimistic meta-induction to our theories, just as a means to remain skeptical/avoid dogmatism. And I too like Hawking's MDR, a nice "revampment" of instrumentalism. Very Kuhn-ian .
• #### Abhiram Lohit

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Jun 29 2011: Anti-realism is rampant in Buddhism, Spinoza and Hegel to name a few. But I wouldn't call it pessimistic anti-realism.

Again, this relates to the definition of "levels" or "spheres of sight". These spheres of sight are so sharply defined for each individual, that we have all these arguments about who is right and who is wrong.

The only way to see what is the absolute reality or "non-reality" is to shatter all, each and every one, of these spheres. But that also implies shattering of distinct consciousnesses. An amalgamation, if you will.
• #### Chandramouli Pandya

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Jun 21 2011: Truth is a concept and hence will always be relative. We need to differentiate between facts and truths. Facts are bits of information with no right or wrong attached. Truths on the other hand automatically suggests that there is a false or a lie. This makes the "truth" relative to the person / people who perceive it. What we "perceive" as red may not be red to someone else (Bird's eyes perceive colors differently from ours). Does that mean that a red ball is no longer red? Ofcourse not, it just means that for a human the ball is red, but not for a bird and both facts are true.
• #### Steve Bruno

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Jun 22 2011: "truth is a concept and hence will always be relative". I don't mean to be facetious, but that is an absolute statement.

Again, I think we are getting stuck on semantics.

You are correct my interpretation of red may not be the same as your interpretation of red, however, there is an objective wavelength that we have been able to measure and attribute to red. There is no interpretation or subjectivity involved. The same goes for someone who is colour-blind. They will never see certain colours, to a relativist they don't exist to him. I say they do exist, he would just have no way of knowing it. There are things in life that I cannot conclusively prove, but I start with the assumption that there is an objective, and unbiased truth, and I seek that truth in everything that I do (or at least I hope that I do this). Again, science rests on the fact that there are absolute laws that govern our universe. It does go down to a framework of beliefs.
• #### Chandramouli Pandya

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Jun 22 2011: I guess it boils down to "our" definition of truth. :)

To me, the objective wavelength is a fact, data, information. It cannot be true or false. It exists.

For discussion sake, I could state that the wavelength measured is also subjective and hence not absolute. It is subjective to the our space-time instance. At a different instance, the same colour may be produced by a different wavelength OR light may not have a wave-form at all.

The "facts" that we take as absolute truths as also measured / experienced relative to our physics.

If the question is "Is there an absolute scale of reference?", there probably is.
• #### Richard Dawson

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Jun 21 2011: Depends on what you mean by "the truth". To me "the truth" is the way the universe actually is. And truth in this context is our description or perception of of this truth.

For example the Shape of the Earth, or how the Universe actually began, or what Gravity actually is and how it actually behaves etc etc.

So in this context truth is relative. There is a beautiful essay by Isaac Asimov on "The Relativity of Wrong". In this he is ticked off by an English literature student on his belief that we were close to the truth in understanding the Universe.

"I RECEIVED a letter the other day. It was handwritten in crabbed penmanship so that it was very difficult to read. Nevertheless, I tried to make it out just in case it might prove to be important. In the first sentence, the writer told me he was majoring in English literature, but felt he needed to teach me science...

It seemed that in one of my innumerable essays, I had expressed a certain gladness at living in a century in which we finally got the basis of the universe straight.

The young specialist in English Lit, having quoted me, went on to lecture me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong. The young man then quoted with approval what Socrates had said on learning that the Delphic oracle had proclaimed him the wisest man in Greece. "If I am the wisest man," said Socrates, "it is because I alone know that I know nothing." the implication was that I was very foolish because I was under the impression I knew a great deal."

• #### Helen Hupe

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Jun 21 2011: It is both.
• #### Nicholas Lukowiak

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Jun 21 2011: How broad are we talking here? How existential?

Human reality? or natural reality?

We (the random norms who live in societies separated by cultures, nations, and ideologies) can only label reality with words and ideas that we are given and taught to use to live life. What I call "red" as a color, a tribe in rain forest I never met could use a clicking noise in reference to the color red. What is absolutely true is all humans can see "red" normally, what is not absolutely true is what we all call "red".

So indeed, there are absolutes as well as relativism, in some kind of actual "reality" or absolute reality.

In the American English language, we are very wordy, because we never had "word smith's". A lot of languages have brilliant writers and artist declare new phrases and words.

Costa Rican's say "Pura Vida" which is a phrase for a few ideas, usually pertaining to life and morality.

America does not have a shared culture like that, apart of American culture is to be part of a communal subculture or a sub-subculture. We have MANY accents. So, it is difficult to have phrases and new words to be made that IS NOT related to pop culture, but in regards to everyday communication.

So all we have to communicate is relativity, not just America, but everywhere.

Even if I do not speak someone elses language, when I am holding my stomach, they know I am hungry. Language is only a verbal communication, in reality, human eyes are more of the 'listener" then the eyes. The absolute reality is we are all similar, the realistic reason behind divides is superficial based on lack of information and knowledge to the relative reality of the human existence.

Consider, we are all animals with high intelligences. Often humans perform anthropocentrism, therefore, we think we know everything, but in true reality in reference to the universe. We know little to nothing in comparison.

And what we do know we only interpret in our languages, our limited perspectives.
• #### Tiago Reiser

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Jun 21 2011: OK i understand what you are saying i just can't see how can someone live if he separates the human reality from the natural reality.
You can call the color red whatever you want, but when it show up in the traffic light you must stop or else you will be in danger.
I just can't see true as a semantic problem for me true is reality.
• #### Nicholas Lukowiak

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Jun 21 2011: I don't understand, explain. "i just can't see how can someone live if he separates the human reality from the natural reality."

*...can only label reality with words and ideas that we are given and taught to use to live life.*

You and I know red means stop because that was our idea of what red means. Again everyone WILL know the color is "red" but everyone will not know to stop.

Life is nothing but semantics.

"Free will" "freedom" "reality" "time" are just some of the most debated concepts throughout time. We must accept alternative views to these philosophical questions, concepts and ideas.

We believe we are experiencing "time" but in reality we are experiencing the gravity of our planet, the temperatures, the environments, the order/chaos of nature etc. "Time" does not exist is reality, rotations of stars, planets, galaxies, do occur. To make a system of calculating we needed to make a measurement, time is not absolute, but we live our life by it everyday. Time to some is different for others, it is perspective. Yet we all experience it in life naturally without having to think about it.
• #### Tiago Reiser

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Jun 21 2011: not knowing that red means stop don't change the really that you will be in danger if you don't stop.
i respect your point of view, you think that reality is based in what you know,how you perceive the world and how do you describe it. I in other hand think that reality is independent of any human interaction .
For example
The moon is a reality you can call it a goddess,or a piece of cheese that fly above your head, but the absolute true is that the moon affect the tides and a primitive culture that doesn't know this will be still suffering this effects, if they need to fish in order to survive this effect is very important to them even if they doesn't know it
For me a statement can be three thing:
1 if the statement correspond to reality it is true, if not; it can be:
2 A lie: when you deliberately say something the not correspond to reality,or
3 A mistake: when you believe what you are saying is true but in fact it isn't.
In resume true is reality and reality exist without the humans
• #### Nicholas Lukowiak

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Jun 22 2011: I agree about the red light, but the meaning that comes with "red" is a social education, but every person will be able to see that the light is red, but not all will stop.

Description is part of language. All we have as humans are languages and "science" to break down reality. Humans are apart of absolute reality, just an irrational numbers... a fragment of a fraction in how much space we take up in the cosmos.

Reality should never be a "left or right" "yes or no" consideration. Logic can only get you so far. "Free will" "freedom" "reality" "time" are just some of these examples where logic gives either a yes or no. This isn't how reality works; in reality things change constantly, must anticipate the change. Nature should be looked at with the mind set that there are levels/plateaus/degrees into all ideas.

A good example is the idea of introverted people and extroverted people, you are either an introvert, extrovert or ambivert. Often psychologist have considered people were one of the three... Non-sense. Some people are just more intro- or more extro- than others. Usually on some type of line chart like this => [Extroverted---------Ambivert----------Introverted] is how specialist would dictate your personality... Just crazy. Everyone is ambivert; how introverted and how extroverted you are depends on a lot of contributing factors based on environments and educations.

Everyone at times is extro- and everyone at times is intro- but everyone is always ambiverted.

Reality never works on "either-or" there are always options; even if it is the manipulation one of the "either's" or one of the "or's".

Humans can accomplish absolute truths, no question, because we have and still do. We create them in our formulas of language and math. Using our symbols, our consensuses, and by knowing we are not perfect.

True reality is what is truly in proportion in the universe and what creates the universe. We are no where near knowing it all, but we can.
• #### Tim blackburn

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Jun 20 2011: maybe relativity is the one truth?
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 20 2011: There is no one truth. Different strokes for different folks. Diversity continues to triumph over singularity and so it should. It's only the imperfect human brain that demands a universal theory - convenient terms of reference..
• #### Steve Bruno

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Jun 20 2011: I have a problem following that thinking. Lets look at an example. Many people in the past believed the earth was flat. It was still true that the earth was round back then, they just did not know it. Truth exists outside of our knowledge or understanding of it. That is how we can have science. Without absolute truth every opinion is valid.

I would like to discuss this concept further. I would really like to know how one could believe that truth is relative.
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 21 2011: You're talking about facts.

I interpret 'truth' as something deeper and far less observable (and impossible to measure!) than data or information.

The scientific approach is just one organised way of viewing and measuring the material world.

But it fails utterly as soon as you step beyond the measurable - It can tell you what, when, how, where and who - none of which has anything to do with 'truth', only observable phenomena that occur consistently enough to be isolated and labelled.

What science cannot tell us is Why - it is through finding the answer to this particular question that we can come close to truth.

It's difficult to explain but to quote the Matrix - "I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."
• #### Steve Bruno

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Jun 21 2011: This sounds to be more of an issue of semantics. Your definition of "truth" is my definition of "meaning". I use the word truth to mean: "that which is".
• #### Scott Armstrong

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Jun 21 2011: Hence - truth is relative..
• #### Yehia Kh.

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Jun 20 2011: My take on it is both, as we can only see our own perspective and perspectives that is lower than us, it is truth, but to higher beings and by that I do NOT mean god, our truth is just relative.
• #### anthony bruni

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Jun 20 2011: I believe the truth is absolute, but their are different ways of processing it. What often passes as unbridgeable differences is just our lack of comprehension. Sort of like the story of the blind men each feeling a different part of the elephant.