• J Hat
  • Brandon, FL
  • United States

This conversation is closed.

Is truth relative?

Is truth relative? Can truth really be different for one person compared to another? What is your thinking on this?

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    Nov 6 2011: .

    It depends on the TYPE of truth.

    Scientific truth is not relative-- One plus one equals two, byproduct of trees is oxygen, earth moving around the sun, etc.

    Moral truth is objective-- That person SHOULD sacrifice their life it will save all those people, but, 'that persons" mother, partner and/or kids might not agree.

    Watch as a plagiarize:
    Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration. ... Relativism is sometimes (though not always) interpreted as saying that all points of view are equally valid, in contrast to an absolutism which argues there is but one true and correct view.
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    Nov 16 2011: You see generalities like this, teach nothing. You need to have a proposed "truth" in order to ask if it is relative to all.

    "Exploring the world holistically is more beneficial than atomistic views" or "You can't eat without praying first" or "Humility is everything" or "Science can answer all questions"

    To some these statements are essential thoughts, to others they do not exist, and to the rest impartial either way.

    So, is truth relative? Is truth absolute? To both; yes, no, maybe, once in a while and sometimes.
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    Nov 8 2011: Truth is a fashionable subject these days but there are different ways of looking at the idea of it and the reality of it. Truth in Western cultures usually refers to consensus whereby competing schools of thought aim to establish consensus and thereby dominance. So, in this version of truth (which is generally the scientific/political/social view) we have fluctuating truths that vary according to the acceptance or rejection of new data. This is something like how the pendulum of truth swung on eggs. The "experts" first thought eggs were good, then bad because of cholesterol, then good a few years later. Truth by consensus is what passes for truth for those that look outside of themselves for answers.

    There is a also the truth of closed systems like mathematics. Simple arithmetic and complex mathematical concepts have proofs to demonstrate their truth. The problem with the closed systems is they operate without the intervening variables that confound "real world" understanding.

    The truth that I find the most important is personal truth - those things that we see, feel, hear or perceive. As simple and rudimentary as these perceptions are, it is unlikely we will find a clearer truth than what is right in front of our eyes. Take two individuals: both are looking a colorful sunset. One is experiencing the beauty of the moment without thought while the other is musing how one of the colors matches the paint in his den. Can any consensus be reached on the meaning of a sunset or would one even want to? I guess a definition, if one wants one, is that truth is what we see, hear and experience (our sensory systems), which could also include those wondrous intuitions that pop up every now and then.
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    Nov 8 2011: Truth works!
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      Nov 8 2011: Lying works too.

      [See any successful political campaign for details.]
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        Nov 16 2011: Thomas, I don't think the Captain meant "honnesty works".
        He meant truth, in a philosophical and epistemological way.
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      Nov 16 2011: Good point.
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    . .

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    Nov 8 2011: Truth is the only absolute, everything else is relative.
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      Nov 8 2011: QUOTE: "Truth is the only absolute, everything else is relative."

      Truth is a word.

      What the word refers to depends on who is using it. That is why these discussions can be nothing but word games.

      I think ....

      You think ....

      We think ....

      They think ....

      She thinks ...

      He thinks ...

      ... truth refers to _____________ [fill in the blank.]

      Based on "this" ( "_____________ " ) definition, truth is relative.

      Based on "this" ( "_____________ " ) definition, truth is absolute.

      Based on "this" ( "_____________ " ) definition, truth is an illusion.

      Based on "this" ( "_____________ " ) definition, truth is all there is.

      And so on.
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        Nov 10 2011: The true nature of Truth is beyond words, hence, the more you describe and disect the farther you get from truth but the better you feel cause your position or point has a name and a description and now one's ego is safe.
        Well said Mr.Jones, I like your style.
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    Nov 7 2011: Truth cannot be relative because the statement "nothing is absolute" is an absolute statement; thus it is self-refuting. One could certainly believe with all of their being that 1+1=3, but they would still be wrong because 1+1=2. It is essential to understand that truth and what one believes, are two separate ideas. As illustrated before, thinking one is right and actually being right are two different things.
    • J Hat

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      Nov 7 2011: anyone else agree?
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      Nov 7 2011: Nothing is absolute outside of its relative context of truth (including the very statement itself) =! nothing is absolute.

      There are instances where you could propose absolute, such as infinity and totality. However, this is true within its defined limitations and context, therefore, relative.

      You have to define the stage from which you propose a truth. Every truth is dependent upon another relationship.
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        Nov 7 2011: At this level, the discussion is simply a word game.

        Fun? Yes.

        Entertaining? Yes.

        Will it resolve anything that has not been attempted by Socrates, Locke, Lao Tzu, Goethe, Kant, Whitehead, or West?

        Probably not.
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          Nov 8 2011: What was the question attempting to resolve outside of itself?

          Also, are you implying that all discussion is not a word game? Ha ha.
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          Nov 10 2011: some discussions and words bring rise to emotion and have lead to wars. If you see everything you put in your mouth as food vs. using other verbage beside food to describe what you put in your mouth, then your ability to comprehend verbage is perfectly described above. Good point!
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        Nov 8 2011: Well if truth is a relative idea then what happens when my truth completely contradicts your truth? Thus violating the law of non-contradiction.
        For instance, if I went to my mother and claimed that she is a boy. Even though I would hold it as true, my mother would obviously believe she is a girl. Now we are at a conflict. These truths contradict each other. So one cannot be true since it is in complete contradiction of the other. Without an absolute truth, there is chaos, and nothing could be held as true.
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          Nov 8 2011: As Larry Davis stated, situations like this are resolved by persuasion and majority consensus. We encounter relative truths like this everyday.

          There is a lot of chaos in the universe and this does not keep it from perpetuating as it has for some 16 billion years. However, you are right, nothing can really be held ultimately true, it comes down to a matter or perception and the rules defined prior to defining the truth (rules which are also arbitrary).
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          Nov 10 2011: you are refering to your "belief" vs. my "belief". Beliefs have to be presented and defended. Truth Is.
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        Nov 8 2011: QUOTE: "What was the question attempting to resolve outside of itself?"

        If there is no reason to answer a question, why ask it?

        QUOTE: "Also, are you implying that all discussion is not a word game? Ha ha."

        MOST discussions are not word games, they have an achievable outcome. Sometimes the outcome is simply social: bonding, association, and so on (and in that sense every discussion could be said to serve a purpose.) Sometimes it is more "concrete:" How do we improve the brakes in this car; How do we reduce our environmental footprint; What should I get my wife for her birthday, and the like.
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        Nov 8 2011: If the universe is really in chaos, then the laws of nature are not true. They are uniform and quite orderly laws.
        If nothing can be held as ultimately true, then what makes the statement, "There is a lot of chaos in the universe" true?
        Also good rules are not arbitrary rules. Everything must have a reason.
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      Nov 7 2011: In numeric base three: 2 + 2 = 4 is false and incoherent. In base three: 2 + 2 = 11 is true and perfectly coherent. – Marco Dorantes
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    Nov 6 2011: Mathematic truth always starts from axioms then infer facts from that point. Axioms are not proven, they just are commonly agreed as good start statement
    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euclidean_geometry#Axioms

    In other sciences, truth is also what is commonly accepted - with rigorous criteria - until someone finds out something that contradicts this. Look at what happens at the CERN, at the end of this year, we might come up with a situation where the light speed is no more a speed limit, statement which is supposed to be the truth since Einstein.

    @Manos: This is somewhat similar to your girlfriend example: you take for granted that she loves you until you have evidence that she has cheated on you.

    So more generally, is not truth some belief - and the reasons for belief - a quite large group of people share until some contradicting facts are raised and accepted? So is not truth relative to group of people?

    Can anything you, as a person, take for granted as true be defined according to the groups of people you feel you belong and to what statements these groups accept as true?
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      Nov 8 2011: Hi Christophe !

      I really like the way you express yourself !

      "So more generally, is not truth some belief - and the reasons for belief - a quite large group of people share until some contradicting facts are raised and accepted? So is not truth relative to group of people?

      Can anything you, as a person, take for granted as true be defined according to the groups of people you feel you belong and to what statements these groups accept as true?"

      I am afraid that if too many people here "get" what you are saying... they will end up looking the way you do !
      What a great photo !

      All the Best!

      Have you read any Nietzsche by any chance ? He too believed that the "truth" is created !
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    Nov 16 2011: It all depends, but I'm not sure I agree with that statement either....
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      Nov 17 2011: QUOTE: " It all depends, but I'm not sure I agree with that statement either...."

      That was relatively funny.
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    Nov 16 2011: It is not my intention to diminish the vigor of this debate, but knowing that it will perpetuate itself without ever coming to resolution leads me to share this quote from the greatest intellect so far:
    "If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor." Albert Einstein
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    Nov 16 2011: first of all what is truth really?
    secondly what do we know about it and why should we know anything related to it at all?
    will time demonstrate that there has never been any truth at all?or will it turn out to be vice versa?
    Is truth seperate from us?
    will we ever reach it?

    sorry to answer your Q with Q...
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    Nov 16 2011: The truth lies in whatever framework of reality you subscribe to, or have created for yourself.

    There is no ‘one truth’.
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    Nov 16 2011: Conjecture separates truth from falsehood.
    Nothing else.
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    Nov 16 2011: Objective truth, and relative truth, as absolutes, are both absolute nonsense
    : p

    We can approach objective truth but never seperate from our perspective. We can believe truth is relative, up until the point there are demonstrable consequences... ; )
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    Nov 10 2011: "I think, therfore I am"
    I was just making ao observation on your opening sentence. I believe truth in your eyes and understanding, and my Truth are alike only in name. I would say keep seeing to feel the truth in all things. peace to you.
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    Nov 10 2011: now, sense is truely relative Lawrence. Great point.
    The less verbage one uses to explain the simplest form of an answer always looks obscure to one who writes a dissertation on something as simple as SEE DICK RUN.
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    Nov 10 2011: Truth is not bound nor affected nor diminshed nor enhanced by any term or label or point of perception or calculation of relative importance.
    Truth Is.
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    Nov 10 2011: Relative to what?
  • Nov 9 2011: Since truth is a perception (hopefully yours) the question is not whether it is true or not in any sense other than your own perception. Case closed??
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      Nov 10 2011: that would be a belief one holds to be true, not truth itself.
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    Nov 7 2011: I do not think so.

    there are many things that are truthful and for the sake of not sounding redundant I'll not comment on those. What I will say is all because one may never know the truth does not mean that the truth does not exist. There are many truths out that touch on a lot of areas in life (from personal to social).

    I think there are moral truths out there. I think there are right and wrong actions (I cannot practically state all the possible actions that will constitute well-being or cause misery) but this does not take away from the fact that there are truths out there.

    I think we run into issues if we state that rather or not truth can be different from person to person and this is why: people have the right to believe what they want. They are entitled to their opinion. What I do not agree with is everyone opinion has equal validity (mines included) and if these opinions do not serve a reasonable suitable purpose or is imposed on other individuals or really make false claims about the nature of the world, they should not be tolerated (in the sense of questioning) or at least kept private.
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      Nov 10 2011: The mere fact you have to "think" removed Truth from your discussion. Your defending a belief or position you "think" something about. That is not Truth. Truth is.
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        Nov 10 2011: What? OK, I'm quite perplexed

        Nothing in my post amounted to any certainty and to actually state that "I know" moral truths exist and that truth is not relative would actually be intellectually dishonest. Its almost like me saying that "I know for certain that Zeus does not exist". My lack of knowledge about moral truths does not lend any credence to the claim that truth is relative.
  • Nov 6 2011: Relativism is the denial of absolutes.
    Such a view appears to be correct because:
    1/ No one seems able to state any absolutely correct assertion
    2/ The notion of unquestionable assertions seems to be an extrapolation of questionable ones to an ultimate degree (with the paradoxical consequence that all our uncertain truths can no longer be said to be true i.e. we are left with no truths at all)
    3/ We can question, quite literally, any assertion

    People judge assertions to be true. The relative truth of these assertions lie in their power and comprehensiveness, which is to say, the idea of truth is based on the fact that language works (and poor language works badly).

    If one retains the notion of absolute truth but claims that this truth is relative to persons or cultures - then such a viewpoint is NOT relativism but rather personal absolutism or cultural absolutism. Such a view maintains irreconcilable contradictions and is quite rightly derided and dismissed.
    So individuals and cultures do determine what they say is true (obviously) but some persons/cultures are better than others.

    Which means we should pride ourselves on collecting the most powerful understandings rather than deluding ourselves that our understanding is perfectible and that we have perfected it.
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      Nov 10 2011: If you are able to hold the opposite position of a belief you hold to be "true" as equal to your original belief, then your one the path toward Truth
      • Nov 10 2011: If you are able to make statements that are grounded in the particular and the concrete then you are on the path toward making sense.
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        Nov 16 2011: QUOTE: "... then your one the path toward Truth"

        Do you mean, "then you're on the path toward Truth?"
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      Nov 16 2011: Lawrence,

      You seem to equate absolute truth with absolute understanding. That we cannot understand (or adequately express) something to be absolute does not imply there are no absolutes.
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    Nov 6 2011: Define truth?
    • J Hat

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      Nov 6 2011: Truth: conformity with fact or reality
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      Nov 16 2011: Truth is hard to vary.
  • Nov 6 2011: Yes. A person who believes 1+1=3 because that is what he has been taught or discovered, believes it to be true. When he is asked the question, he speaks his version of truth by stating the answer of 3. It is only when he is confronted by others of differing opinions does he realize that perhaps there is a different truth. Something has to trigger his curiosity to go and further investigate if his knowledge is truth. If he goes uninspired, believes he cannot be wrong, does not care, or would rather argue than continue the search, then his version of truth does not change. It is only those seeking to discover more about the truth that will learn that the truth can change with new discoveries.
    • J Hat

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      Nov 6 2011: But even if he does not seek out another answer out of curiosity is his truth really "the truth?"
      • Nov 6 2011: "The truth" for whom?

        Not sure how you know when you have found "truth in general". Something has to compel you to think you have not already found the truth in a situation. If you believe something to be truth, wouldn't it be a waste of your time to continue to look for truth? For example, I no longer seek any different truth than 2 for the 1+1= question.
        • J Hat

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          Nov 6 2011: truth in general
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    Nov 6 2011: 1 + 1 does not always equal 2. Many truths are relative. Some truths are absolute. It is absolutely immoral to gratuitously torture innocent children for no particular reason. Anyone disagree? Is truth always true? Wittgenstein.
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    Nov 6 2011: One plus one equals two within the mathematical framework implied in the statement. It is unnecessary to clarify the context of one of plus one because assumingly most of us are already aware of the context. However, this is indicative of a relativity.

    There are absolute truths within realms, and there are realms in which truths are subjective. There are no truths which are absolute outside of their relative context.
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    Nov 6 2011: A man to another one standing at distance:

    - "How you don't see it, looks like you are an idiot"

    Other man:
    "From where I look at you, you seem same to me sire"
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    Nov 6 2011: What i mean is we have common sense which is a general truth for everyone,but there are 'smaller' ones that vary from person to person.For example Christians believe that Jesus was really the son of God (that's common sense for them) but atheists don't.Another example in everyday life:I might love my girlfriend so much but she might be cheating on me and i don't know it.Then for me the truth is that she loves me too.But it's not true for her or someone else who knows what's going on.Now,i'd be glad to read your opinion! :)
    • J Hat

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      Nov 6 2011: i believe the same way you do some truth is relative by how you were brought up and raised but i also strongly believe that a person has a moral truth that is in everyone's nature.
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    Nov 5 2011: I believe that truth is different from one person to another because of their experiences in life,their beliefs and so on.On the other hand the are some certain truths about humanity in general which are common for every person.That's my opinion.
    • J Hat

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      Nov 6 2011: Can you explain this more so I can better understand your opinion?