Objective Truth

 The question of whether or not there is such a thing as objective truth or knowledge has long boggled the minds of men and women throughout human history. To make matters more complicated, there have developed several “lenses” through which the question may be examined. For instance, from an empirical standpoint, it seems pretty clear cut. Science, although not as adept at answering “why”, more often than not can come up with the answers to “how” things work. How do birds fly? How do lungs operate? How is a baby formed? These are all questions upon which science could and does explicate endlessly. So through the empirical lens, it would seem fair enough to say that there are indeed absolute truths to the world. However, if we look through an ethical lens, the answer becomes more opaque and not as easily interpreted. When is it okay to kill? Is it right to lie in order to protect someone? Is stealing okay if it is for survival purposes? These questions are much harder to answer, as it seems that everyone in a given sample of people could give any number of different answers.

If we learn things by experiencing them through our sensory capabilities (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.), then how can there be such a thing as objective truth? If someone were to tell me it was raining outside, but I was never to experience the fact for itself, how am I to know it was raining at all? This brings into the equation the idea of “belief”. I know that it was raining outside because I believe what the weatherman told me. In this mindset, knowledge can be seen as entailing that which is both true and believed. To continue from the previous example, it is true that it was raining outside, and, even though I did not experience it for myself, I know it to be true because I believe it to be true. The fact that it was raining is a conviction of truth based solely upon my willingness to believe it as such.

Objective truths are true everywhere, and at any time. For instance, it is accepted as truth that 1 + 2 = 3. Objective truths are not created, they are discovered. It is assumed that these truths have always existed, and will continue to exist throughout time. In this sense, there is such a thing as objective truth. As addressed earlier, empirical objectivity is more easily proven and more difficult to argue against. In terms of ethics, there are some objective truths, but to make an argument that there is an ultimate, absolute “right” and an ultimate, absolute “wrong” is in vain. Most world religions and cultures have some sort of rule that states that we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us, but not all religions and cultures believe that eating shellfish is impure or sinful. So it seems that the larger, more encompassing the idea, the easier it is to make a case for a single, objective truth.

26 Comments
27 Comments
Posted by BigLemon

 The question of whether or not there is such a thing as objective truth or knowledge has long boggled the minds of men and women throughout human history. To make matters more complicated, there have developed several “lenses” through which the question may be examined. For instance, from an empirical standpoint, it seems pretty clear cut. Science, although not as adept at answering “why”, more often than not can come up with the answers to “how” things work. How do birds fly? How do lungs operate? How is a baby formed? These are all questions upon which science could and does explicate endlessly. So through the empirical lens, it would seem fair enough to say that there are indeed absolute truths to the world. However, if we look through an ethical lens, the answer becomes more opaque and not as easily interpreted. When is it okay to kill? Is it right to lie in order to protect someone? Is stealing okay if it is for survival purposes? These questions are much harder to answer, as it seems that everyone in a given sample of people could give any number of different answers.

If we learn things by experiencing them through our sensory capabilities (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.), then how can there be such a thing as objective truth? If someone were to tell me it was raining outside, but I was never to experience the fact for itself, how am I to know it was raining at all? This brings into the equation the idea of “belief”. I know that it was raining outside because I believe what the weatherman told me. In this mindset, knowledge can be seen as entailing that which is both true and believed. To continue from the previous example, it is true that it was raining outside, and, even though I did not experience it for myself, I know it to be true because I believe it to be true. The fact that it was raining is a conviction of truth based solely upon my willingness to believe it as such.

Objective truths are true everywhere, and at any time. For instance, it is accepted as truth that 1 + 2 = 3. Objective truths are not created, they are discovered. It is assumed that these truths have always existed, and will continue to exist throughout time. In this sense, there is such a thing as objective truth. As addressed earlier, empirical objectivity is more easily proven and more difficult to argue against. In terms of ethics, there are some objective truths, but to make an argument that there is an ultimate, absolute “right” and an ultimate, absolute “wrong” is in vain. Most world religions and cultures have some sort of rule that states that we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us, but not all religions and cultures believe that eating shellfish is impure or sinful. So it seems that the larger, more encompassing the idea, the easier it is to make a case for a single, objective truth.

Posted by buzz_clik

That's great. Was all this actually about aimed at something, though? Or was is just a general "huh, yup, okay" observation?
 
P.S. BigLemons is an angram of Mel Gibson. Also Big Melons and Bong Slime. The moral of this story? I wish you had an S on the end of your name.

Moderator
Posted by SSully

I feel like I am in my morality class in high school again. Like buzz said, where did this come from. There is always a reason people think of stuff like this. Interesting stuff amigo. 

Posted by HistoryInRust
@buzz_clik said:
" That's great. Was all this actually about aimed at something, though? Or was is just a general "huh, yup, okay" observation?  P.S. BigLemons is an angram of Mel Gibson. Also Big Melons and Bong Slime. The moral of this story? I wish you had an S on the end of your name. "
I just wish his name was Mel Gibson.  
 
OBJECTIVE TRUTH.  
 
/THREAD
Edited by beej
@BigLemon: Well if I'm not mistake the problem of induction tells us that the empirical relations between events isn't actually an objective truth.  
Also I'm not sure that you're argument that "people disagree on ethics, therefore it is subjective" is a very good measure, otherwise I could go ahead and say that I disagree on something that you hold to be objective and therefore we can deem it subjective? That seems like an odd standard to me.  
Also it seems to me that 1 + 2 = 3 is in fact created and not discovered, we create these concepts so then they can be seen as objectively true, if someone disagrees then it's not because 1+2 != 3, it's because they're changing what 1 2 or 3 is. Whatever concept those terms references though still has the property of being equal to three when added together. 
Posted by buzz_clik
@BigLemon said:
" How is a baby formed? "
Your typo aside, I'm sure this handy video will explain everything.
Moderator
Edited by GIVEMEREPLAY

 Objective truths are true everywhere, and at any time. For instance, it is accepted as truth that 1 + 2 = 3. Objective truths are not created, they are discovered.   


 
Talk to W.V.O. Quine, who argues that there may be no such thing as "objective" truth since in another universe 1+2 might equal 4.   
 
PS: We all know this is something you wrote for class and wanted more people to see. 
Posted by benjaebe

Reading stuff like this is why I really didn't enjoy my college philosophy course.

Posted by Tonic7

I, too, took a philosophy of human nature class in college. Arrrrgggggg Descartes Arrggggggblarraphhharrggggg. 
 
And this is the part where I delve into a crazy, crazy speech about how we're all locked into Socrates' cave. It's all like the Matrix, people. 
 
To finalize my argument, I shall leave you with this: "When you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you." Phew. That took a lot out of me. 
 
Although it may seem as if I'm belittling your post here, I'm really not. After a week of university exams, though, my desire to grapple with meaningful philosophical queries is at an all time low.

Posted by Mrnitropb

Did you watch Bones last week?  
 
@beej: math is universal. Except for in some obscure book, two plus two makes four, always. 

Posted by jkz

Alrighty. Glad to hear you've started reading some philosophy? 
 
Not quite sure what I'm supposed to get out of this. I would describe myself as someone who does a lot of reading / writing / discussing on/of philosophy, but this seems like a less than ideal forum for such a thing.

Posted by beej
@Mrnitropb said:
" Did you watch Bones last week?  
 
@beej: math is universal. Except for in some obscure book, two plus two makes four, always.  "
I was saying that.... I was just saying it was so because we constructed it mentally
Posted by Claude

  

Posted by Oldirtybearon

My friend Caleb and I had this discussion when I was around 15. Came to the conclusion that nothing is true, so everything must be permitted. 
 
>_> 
 
Nah in all seriousness, there is no objective truth. Glad you came around.

Posted by beej
@GIVEMEREPLAY said:
"

 Objective truths are true everywhere, and at any time. For instance, it is accepted as truth that 1 + 2 = 3. Objective truths are not created, they are discovered.   

 Talk to W.V.O. Quine, who argues that there may be no such thing as "objective" truth since in another universe 1+2 might equal 4.    PS: We all know this is something you wrote for class and wanted more people to see.  "
I'm assuming that last part is a joke? 
Posted by Aetheldod
@Mrnitropb said:
" Did you watch Bones last week?  
 
@beej: math is universal. Except for in some obscure book, two plus two makes four, always.  "
He is referring to that we gave 1 the name of 1 so on and so forth , also that there is  no " fisical " numbers , or are you telling me that you have seen an actual 1 in motion? Numbers is just a darned system created by man which happens to be able to measure almost all possible phenomena in the universe , except when it comes to appreciation of things like art .... numbers cannot tell me if something is sublime or utter crap ... although  there  is a release of hormones which can be measured by math and science , I dont think they can determine by them if I will like/ hate something or not , just the result of the process ( yes they can make a probability prediction but it can never be %100 accurate ) . Never the less all this talks are interesting and all opinions welcomed so no hard feelings if I come as a douche ;) ?
Edited by lilburtonboy7489

1 + 2 = 3 is an objective truth?  Well any axiomatic system we create is objective truth i suppose. If I define the word bachelor to be "an unmarried man", then the statement "all bachelors are unmarried" is objectively and universally true as well. But these statements are tautologies and are completely meaningless. Show objective truth in a sentence with meaning. For example, we should not murder. Show the objective truth of that statement. Good luck.   

Posted by Mrnitropb
@Aetheldod said:
" numbers cannot tell me if something is sublime or utter crap ... 
Just stop and consider that you said that on the forum for a website that reviews things on a 1-5 scale. 
Posted by Aetheldod
@Mrnitropb said:
" @Aetheldod said:
" numbers cannot tell me if something is sublime or utter crap ... 
Just stop and consider that you said that on the forum for a website that reviews things on a 1-5 scale.  "
They are stars not numbers :P , also as this same forums has shown not everyone will like a *****  game , and maybe someone will like a *  game , as always they are not objective and always subjective
Posted by beej
@Mrnitropb said:
" @Aetheldod said:
" numbers cannot tell me if something is sublime or utter crap ... 
Just stop and consider that you said that on the forum for a website that reviews things on a 1-5 scale.  "
Clearly everything about an experience in a video game is encapsulated in those three stars? They obviously don't inform us about the entirety of the experience, or else the review itself would have no meaning, the numbers can REPRESENT some of the experience to an extent, but they do not fully define it.
Posted by TheSeductiveMoose
@BigLemon said:
"

Objective truths are true everywhere, and at any time. For instance, it is accepted as truth that 1 + 2 = 3. Objective truths are not created, they are discovered. It is assumed that these truths have always existed, and will continue to exist throughout time. In this sense, there is such a thing as objective truth.

"
As others have, I too will disagree.
Posted by BigLemon

Hahaha wow, I had no idea I would get this response. I actually just copied all of the OP from a paper I wrote in my Philosophy class back in college, and I honestly did it just to get that "Create a blog" quest accomplished. But great responses everyone! Good discussion.@buzz_clik said:

" P.S. BigLemons is an angram of Mel Gibson. Also Big Melons and Bong Slime. The moral of this story? I wish you had an S on the end of your name. "
That is the best observation of all. I feel compelled to switch my name now.@GIVEMEREPLAY said:
"

 Objective truths are true everywhere, and at any time. For instance, it is accepted as truth that 1 + 2 = 3. Objective truths are not created, they are discovered.   

 Talk to W.V.O. Quine, who argues that there may be no such thing as "objective" truth since in another universe 1+2 might equal 4.    PS: We all know this is something you wrote for class and wanted more people to see.  "
I honestly didn't think anyone would respond to this. As previously stated, your observation about my motivation is somewhat true, but not entirely. 
 
@beej said:
" @BigLemon: Well if I'm not mistake the problem of induction tells us that the empirical relations between events isn't actually an objective truth.  Also I'm not sure that you're argument that "people disagree on ethics, therefore it is subjective" is a very good measure, otherwise I could go ahead and say that I disagree on something that you hold to be objective and therefore we can deem it subjective? That seems like an odd standard to me.  Also it seems to me that 1 + 2 = 3 is in fact created and not discovered, we create these concepts so then they can be seen as objectively true, if someone disagrees then it's not because 1+2 != 3, it's because they're changing what 1 2 or 3 is. Whatever concept those terms references though still has the property of being equal to three when added together.  "
Mental constructs aside, this brings into view the question of whether or not something is true simply because we have observed it. Such are questions on a quantum level, perhaps, but nevertheless, would 1+2=3 still be true even if we never observed it being thus? 
Posted by MarkWahlberg

I was really afraid this was going to be a thread about Ayn Rand. Glad that is not the case.

Posted by Veektarius

The existence of objective truths is not conditional on whether we have correctly identified them.   We must always display a cautious optimism about the veracity of our truths - one cannot cross a bridge without adopting a non-confirmable faith that it will not collapse should he attempt it.  At the same time, his optimism should not extend to crossing even if the guy in front of him falls through it.  So it goes with 1+2=3.

Online
Posted by BigLemon
@Veektarius said:
" The existence of objective truths is not conditional on whether we have correctly identified them.   We must always display a cautious optimism about the veracity of our truths - one cannot cross a bridge without adopting a non-confirmable faith that it will not collapse should he attempt it.  At the same time, his optimism should not extend to crossing even if the guy in front of him falls through it.  So it goes with 1+2=3. "
Clearly you love David Hume. As should we all.
Edited by HitmanAgent47

Well from my observation, most ppl uses the 5 senses and by manipulating what is in front of them, what they see or hear, you control the invidual. These ppl are called sheeple. They are repeaters, they repeat information how they heard it creating a lot of misconceptions and repeating it.
 
There are those with a higher form of conciousness than others, they are called conspiracy theorist or politicians, business owners, the elite.
 
Then you have ppl who just doesn't care if the world burns.  
 
The first thing you can do for yourself is not to let others draw conclusions for you. Did you know psychology wise, your brain is always drawing a conclusion. If hitman said something negative about the ps3, ppl calls me a troll, yet I was being factual. Another truth is, someone said carbon gasses are causing global warming, that's bullshit, the sun is getting hotter lately. Someone is profiting from this green product trend and global warming agenda. So before you catch yourself drawing a conclusion about anything, how about being aware of it first. You will snap out of any hypnosis that is upon you from your five senses. This phenomenon is called attributions. You will realise your reality is your own, not at the mercy of others. There is no right or wrong, there is only cause and effect, action and reaction. Also whether or not you are getting the results you are looking for. Ppl tries to be rational, in my research no one is really rational, they are emotional and visual too. Rational ppl thinks they make sense when the results doesn't always work on the battlefield. I'm sure all u.s army tactics seems rational, yet it doesn't always work for peace keeping. So it's important to be able to produce a result and to adapt if you can't. Also researching things for yourself is a good way to gain knowledge, just understand concepts and don't get so boggled down with detail or you can't see the big picture. I hope this post makes a bit of sense, the bible calls this wisdom and maybe it's something that you can gain with time. Your belifs changes all the time, over time.

Posted by Ethan_Raiden

 

There is no ultimate objective truth, as anything that is recognised as an objective truth is a social or mathematical construct that we’ve created for ourselves. To further this thought, if we had not developed the ability to communicate, there would be no way for us to represent an objective truth, or an objective state of living, as we would all be individuals unable to conceive the difference between fact and perception.

 

Some cases seem clear cut as an objective truth, such as the 1+1=2 theory. While in our society 1+1 does indeed equal 2. However the numbers, the equations used and the methods of working these issues out, are all constructed from the thoughts, beliefs and perceptions of human beings, and thus, must be subjectively created, as we have no understanding of a complete objective truth.