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disillusioned

Truth, Knowledge, and Belief: An Exploration

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The question of what truth is, what we believe, and what we know has come up a few times somewhat recently. I've written a bit about this in other threads, but I thought it might be helpful to have a discussion that is solely focused on these issues.

 

At the outset, I want to say that I'm not, by any stretch, an expert on philosophy. I'm really just trying to piece some ideas together here. There are some aspects of this that I have thought about quite a bit, and others where I clearly need to spend some more time developing and exploring ideas. I'm hoping that this thread will be a place where that can happen. So please challenge things that don't seem right, offer alternatives if we get stuck, and ask questions when things just generally aren't clear. I would appreciate it if people would try to stay on topic, but by all means feel free to offer dissenting views.

 

I'd like to start with a classic problem. Suppose I assert that a proposition P is true. You are then free to ask me how I know this, in which case I will offer justification or proof. But you are then perfectly entitled to ask why you should trust the proof. There would seem to be, ultimately, three possibilities:

 

1) I offer a second proof justifying the first proof. But then, you can ask the question again. This leads to an infinite regress.

2) At some point, I make an argument which falls into circularity. In this case, my initial claim reduces to "P is true because P is true".

3) At some point, I appeal to a certain set of axioms which are, at the end of the day, simply assumed.

 

This problem is commonly referred to as the Munchhausen trilemma. The usual conclusion is that all three options are equally unsatisfactory, so we are left with skepticism as the only viable view.

 

I want to say that the axiomatic approach is probably the best one to take in general, but I think there may be exceptions to this. Traditionally, those who take the axiomatic approach are called foundationalists. I don't think I'm exactly a foundationalist, for reasons that will probably become clear as the discussion progresses, but I definitely do think that there is something to foundationalism. More on these issues later. For now, I want to try to proceed with an axiomatic approach. So let's have some axioms.

 

Axiom 1: I exist, and am capable of thought.

Axiom 2: There exists a natural world external to me, of which I exist as a part, and which contains many parts other than myself. Some of these other parts are capable of thought, just as I am.

Axiom 3: Things in the natural world have definite properties, and natural processes occur in definite ways. That is to say, there exist certain brute facts about the natural world.

 

The first axiom says I exist, the second says you and the rest of the world exist, and the third says that there are actual facts in the world. I want to give anyone who wants to object a chance to challenge or disagree with these axioms, so I won't go too much further for now, save to say that it seems to me that based on just these three axioms we can offer the first basic tenet in a theory of truth: there is a kind of truth which corresponds to brute facts about the natural world. These are the kinds of truths that I will be referring to as ontological truths, and I think that this can be shown to form the basis of the classical correspondence theory of truth.

 

Thanks in advance to any and all who decide to engage in this discussion.

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Thank you for starting this thread, Disillusioned.

 

Like you, I'm no expert in philosophy.  More of a newbie, actually.  But I might be able to comment on some of the things you've written so far.  How about this?

I've seen YEC Christians roundly deny science, because they believe that all truth comes from God.  However, these same deniers use the science of computers to denounce said science.  They can't seem to see the contradiction between what they say and what they do.  How does this relate to the trilemma and the axiomatic approach?  Perhaps, like this.  

 

 

 

Axiom 1.  These YEC's exist and are capable of thought.  (No! No! Please, no joke intended. ;) )

Axiom 2.  There exists a natural world that's external to them.

Axiom 3.  It's a brute fact that even if they deny that gravity exists, jumping off a cliff will still kill them.

 

So, if you assert P (something about science which they deny) they then ask for justification.

 

You begin with the first option of the trilemma.

 

They reject your justification.

 

At this point you check to see if their rejection is consistent with how they live.  'How they live' relates to Axiom 1.  The YEC's exist, are capable of thought and also use computers, contradicting their denial of science.  If their position is contradictory, then they have no justification for rejecting either your justification of P or your original assertion of it.

 

They cannot ask the question again because they have no consistent grounds for rejecting either your initial assertion or it's justification.

 

Thus infinite regress does not occur.

 

 

 

What say you?

 

Thanks.

 

Walter.

 

 

 

 

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22 minutes ago, WalterP said:

 

I've seen YEC Christians roundly deny science, because they believe that all truth comes from God.  However, these same deniers use the science of computers to denounce said science.  They can't seem to see the contradiction between what they say and what they do.  How does this relate to the trilemma and the axiomatic approach?  Perhaps, like this.  

 

Axiom 1.  These YEC's exist and are capable of thought.  (No! No! Please, no joke intended. ;) )

Axiom 2.  There exists a natural world that's external to them.

Axiom 3.  It's a brute fact that even if they deny that gravity exists, jumping off a cliff will still kill them.

 

So, if you assert P (something about science which they deny) they then ask for justification.

 

You begin with the first option of the trilemma.

 

They reject your justification.

 

At this point you check to see if their rejection is consistent with how they live.  'How they live' relates to Axiom 1.  The YEC's exist, are capable of thought and also use computers, contradicting their denial of science.  If their position is contradictory, then they have no justification for rejecting either your justification of P or your original assertion of it.

 

They cannot ask the question again because they have no consistent grounds for rejecting either your initial assertion or it's justification.

 

Thus infinite regress does not occur.

 

What say you?

 

Thanks.

 

Walter.

 

 

I'm tempted to say that this is too easy. The YECs in your example admittedly have no consistent grounds for their stance. Thus, they are not reasoning coherently, and we needn't take them seriously. 

 

On a more careful reading of what you wrote,  I think the best response is to say that the YECs in question are themselves taking the third option of the trilemma, and are attempting to reason axiomatically. In light of this, and in light of the fact that I also try to reason axiomatically, I wouldn't take the first option of the trilemma when they ask for justification. Rather, I'd take the axiomatic approach. Now, of course, my axioms aren't theirs, and so we would doubtless end up disagreeing. But  that isn't troubling, because as you pointed out,  they can't reason consistently. If our axioms don't leave us able to reason consistently, then we can never get off the ground. So once again,  we don't need to take these people seriously,  because they are not reasoning seriously.

 

The final point I'd like to make is that the axioms that I offered as a starting point for this discussion were intended to be pretty bullet-proof. If someone wants to contest them I'd be happy to entertain the objection, but I have very sincere doubts that anyone will be bold enough to do this. They are quite obviously acceptable. Whatever the YEC in your example might be using as axioms, I'd hazard that they are not as sound as mine. So I'd probably spend some time attacking their axioms. Given that they admittedly can't reason consistently, I'd imagine that either their axioms are inconsistent or that they are incoherent. Either way, they have a very serious problem.

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13 hours ago, disillusioned said:

Axiom 1: I exist, and am capable of thought.

 

Agree. Possibly the only absolute we can have is the self. I know that I exist. "I think therefore I am" (Rene Descartes) Even if I am in a vat, I still am.

 

13 hours ago, disillusioned said:

Axiom 2: There exists a natural world external to me, of which I exist as a part, and which contains many parts other than myself. Some of these other parts are capable of thought, just as I am.

 

Agree but not absolute. Here we rely on our senses to make sense of the external world. Even if we are brains in a vat there still appears to be an external world.

 

13 hours ago, disillusioned said:

Axiom 3: Things in the natural world have definite properties, and natural processes occur in definite ways. That is to say, there exist certain brute facts about the natural world.

 

Agree. 

 

No argument here - these axioms are pretty much what forms the core of my worldview.

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11 hours ago, disillusioned said:

 

I'm tempted to say that this is too easy. The YECs in your example admittedly have no consistent grounds for their stance. Thus, they are not reasoning coherently, and we needn't take them seriously. 

 

On a more careful reading of what you wrote,  I think the best response is to say that the YECs in question are themselves taking the third option of the trilemma, and are attempting to reason axiomatically. In light of this, and in light of the fact that I also try to reason axiomatically, I wouldn't take the first option of the trilemma when they ask for justification. Rather, I'd take the axiomatic approach. Now, of course, my axioms aren't theirs, and so we would doubtless end up disagreeing. But  that isn't troubling, because as you pointed out,  they can't reason consistently. If our axioms don't leave us able to reason consistently, then we can never get off the ground. So once again,  we don't need to take these people seriously,  because they are not reasoning seriously.

 

The final point I'd like to make is that the axioms that I offered as a starting point for this discussion were intended to be pretty bullet-proof. If someone wants to contest them I'd be happy to entertain the objection, but I have very sincere doubts that anyone will be bold enough to do this. They are quite obviously acceptable. Whatever the YEC in your example might be using as axioms, I'd hazard that they are not as sound as mine. So I'd probably spend some time attacking their axioms. Given that they admittedly can't reason consistently, I'd imagine that either their axioms are inconsistent or that they are incoherent. Either way, they have a very serious problem.

 

On the whole, Yes Disillusioned.  I did pick an easy example.

 

Maybe I didn't read your opening post properly, but I didn't see anything there that would qualify as a condition.  That is, people who cannot reason coherently need not be taken seriously and so are excluded as examples.  That's why I picked them.  By not being able to reason coherently they forfeit the right to ask for a justification of P.  I judged that to be a satisfactory response to the trilemma that wasn't skeptical.

 

However, in the light of your reply, I agree that they need not be taken seriously.

 

Thank you.

 

Walter.

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3 hours ago, LogicalFallacy said:

Agree but not absolute. Here we rely on our senses to make sense of the external world. Even if we are brains in a vat there still appears to be an external world.

 

Yes, not absolute.

 

The point here is that these are things which specifically cannot be proven. We need to assume them. I think it's pretty hard to proceed without them, but they aren't absolute. Once we accept them, though,  then we're in business.

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45 minutes ago, WalterP said:

 

On the whole, Yes Disillusioned.  I did pick an easy example.

 

Maybe I didn't read your opening post properly, but I didn't see anything there that would qualify as a condition.  That is, people who cannot reason coherently need not be taken seriously and so are excluded as examples.  That's why I picked them.  By not being able to reason coherently they forfeit the right to ask for a justification of P.  I judged that to be a satisfactory response to the trilemma that wasn't skeptical.

 

However, in the light of your reply, I agree that they need not be taken seriously.

 

Thank you.

 

Walter.

 

You're right, I didn't say anything about the conditions for reason. The reason why I said that we don't need to take people who are being inconsistent seriously is that if contradiction is permitted (and contradictions arise from inconsistencies) then all statements turn out to be true. This is absurd.

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So far there have been no substantive objections to the axioms proposed in OP, or to the axiomatic approach in general. If anyone wants to raise objections, please feel free to do so, but in the meantime I’d like to move on, and begin to explore ontological truths in more detail.

 

Last time I concluded by saying that there is a kind of truth which corresponds to brute facts about the natural world, and I called these ontological truths. I want to be a bit more rigorous in my exposition of this kind of truth. To that end, I want to return to the axioms, and note that it follows from the axioms, under normal rules of inference, that humans exist and are capable of thought, communication, etcetera. If anyone wants to challenge this they may, but I’m going to take it for granted for now.

 

Once we have human thought and communication, we are able to consider statements and claims that humans may make. I don’t want to go too deeply into the philosophy of language here (it’s a very big subject, and I want to stay focussed on the task at hand), but it seems to me to be fairly straightforward that many human statements/thoughts have a definite propositional content. Let’s refer to these generally as propositions. Many propositions concern states of affairs (or processes, constants, whatever) in the natural world. For example, I may say “The earth is round”. There is a definite propositional content to this statement, and it concerns a particular state of affairs in the natural world. We want to say that this statement is true, and indeed, I propose that it is true. But now we need to ask what, precisely, this means.

 

We’ve already established axiomatically that the natural world exists, and that there are definite facts about it. I propose that the proposition “The earth is round” is true precisely because that the earth is round is a brute fact about the natural world. This is an example of an ontological truth. It doesn’t matter what you, I, or anyone else thinks about it. The earth is just round. For that matter, it doesn’t matter that I made the proposition that the earth is round. The earth would be round if everyone thought it was flat. Furthermore, it would be round if everyone was dead. This is one of the metrics by which we can tell whether a truth is ontological or not: ask yourself, “would it still be true if everyone died tomorrow?” If the answer is “yes”, then I want to say that we are discussing an ontological truth. Of course, we haven’t yet discussed other types of truth at all here, so perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself. I'll come back to this.

 

The point, thus far, is this: if a proposition presents a claim which corresponds to a fact about the natural world, then that proposition may be said to be ontologically true. The proposition “the earth revolves around the sun” is true if and only if the earth actually revolves around the sun (it does). The proposition “water boils at 65 degrees Celsius” is true if and only if water boils at 65 degrees Celsius (it doesn’t). (As an aside, this result is referred to as disquotation, and it’s a usual feature of most theories of truth. Philosophers of language have a lot to say about this. See the redundancy theory of truth, if this is of interest.)

 

So, as long as we are discussing ontological truths only, we are left with statements which correspond to facts in the natural world being labelled as “true”. An interesting question is, are all statements which are not ontologically true, ontologically false? My inclination is to say no, because some statements don’t have actual ontological propositional content. More on this in a future post. For now, though, I want to point out that statements are ontologically false if they claim something which violates a fact in the natural world. “The earth is flat” is ontologically false, because the earth isn’t flat, it’s round, and that's a brute fact.

 

These ideas, as I mentioned earlier, align fairly well with the classical correspondence theory of truth. As should be clear by now, I think that the correspondence theory has a lot of merit, I just don’t think it’s the end of the story.


I’ll stop there for now, and see if anyone has any questions or challenges. In future posts I will explore other types of truth, as well as questions about how we can know that ontological truths are actually true. For example, I’ve said that “The earth is round” is true if and only if the earth is actually round, and I’ve asserted that it is. We are perfectly entitled to ask “how do we know that the earth is round?” I recognize that this is a valid question, and I’m coming to it. But it’s a question about knowledge, not truth. All in due course.

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I'd like to interject a few things for fun please.  Remove if necessary. 

 

It seems truths are ultimately agreements that have been analyzed using our bodies.  I gather that we can discard intra-analytical analyses unless we suffer from schizophrenia.  So that leave inter-instrument and essentially inter-laboratory errors to account for.  Given we are each unique, even by a scientific explanation, this makes reproducibility a bit challenging. 

 

Would be interesting to use Facebook or Google data to discover where humans find high certainty and where they don't.  Thx.

 

Edit:  Just following up on my thoughts....seems like then we are relegated to external standards to evaluate or internal standards.  With external, we then have science to help us understand the reasons we agree on something external to ourselves.  But I think what we are looking for is an internal standard to agree upon....

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32 minutes ago, Edgarcito said:

I'd like to interject a few things for fun please.  Remove if necessary. 

 

It seems truths are ultimately agreements that have been analyzed using our bodies.  I gather that we can discard intra-analytical analyses unless we suffer from schizophrenia.  So that leave inter-instrument and essentially inter-laboratory errors to account for.  Given we are each unique, even by a scientific explanation, this makes reproducibility a bit challenging. 

 

Would be interesting to use Facebook or Google data to discover where humans find high certainty and where they don't.  Thx.

 

Edit:  Just following up on my thoughts....seems like then we are relegated to external standards to evaluate or internal standards.  With external, we then have science to help us understand the reasons we agree on something external to ourselves.  But I think what we are looking for is an internal standard to agree upon....

 

Edgarcito, please refrain from posting in  this thread unless you intend to stay on topic. 

 

I've been at pains so far to clearly explain what exactly I mean by truth. I've barely begun,  and I've acknowledged that there are lot of issues that still need to be treated. I'm coming to questioms of knowledge, certainty, science, and so on, but we aren't there yet. So please don't try to derail this thread. Thanks.

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19 minutes ago, disillusioned said:

 

Edgarcito, please refrain from posting in  this thread unless you intend to stay on topic. 

 

I've been at pains so far to clearly explain what exactly I mean by truth. I've barely begun,  and I've acknowledged that there are lot of issues that still need to be treated. I'm coming to questioms of knowledge, certainty, science, and so on, but we aren't there yet. So please don't try to derail this thread. Thanks.

Roger roger...

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I think reading the first post of this thread by BAA may also contribute to our topic here? (Of course should one want to read the whole thread please do so)

 

In particular consider his info graphic and how it might impact the thread subject.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, LogicalFallacy said:

I think reading the first post of this thread by BAA may also contribute to our topic here? (Of course should one want to read the whole thread please do so)

 

In particular consider his info graphic and how it might impact the thread subject.

 

 

 

I remember that thread. It's a good one.

 

With respect to the opening post and the graphic, a few things come to mind. First, I think it's entirely possible to make an ontologically true statement which does not represent a complete picture of the ontological truth in question. This is illustrated very nicely by the graphic in BAA's OP. The question of the extent to which we can access and understand the actual nature of reality is one that is very important, and we'll get to it here if all goes well. There are a lot of questions about human knowledge and understanding, and by extension, about the nature, power, and limits of science that will need to be addressed. Some of these issues were touched on in that thread, and we may find it helpful to look back there as the conversation progresses.

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I mentioned a side-question earlier that I want to return to for a moment. The question was, are all statements which are not ontologically true, ontologically false? My answer is no, and in this post I want to justify this answer. This will leave us able to take our next step, and begin to examine epistemic truth.

 

Consider the sentence "the king of France is bald". This sentence has been analyzed ad nauseum by philosophers of language everywhere, but it's still a good starting place for the point I want to make. The problem with this sentence is that France does not have a king. So we want to say that the sentence is false. But if it is false, the by the law of excluded middle its negation should be true, which is to say that the sentence "the king of France is not bald" should be true. But this sentence has the same problem as the first. So what to make of this?

 

Bertrand Russell wanted to say that the sentence is basically incomplete. He thought it asserts more than the words actually say. His treatment boils down to saying that the sentence should be "There exists exactly one king of France, and he is bald". This sentence is clearly false,  because there does not exist a king of France. The problem with the law of excluded middle is, thus, avoided.

 

Gottlob Frege's earlier view was that this sentence presupposes that the king of France exists. All that it actually asserts is that this individual is bald. Because the king of France doesn't exist, the sentence fails to refer to anything,  and thus doesn't have any actual propositional content. So it's neither true or false.

 

I'm inclined to agree with Frege here. The reason for this is that Russell wants to treat the sentence as if it should be a formal sentence. The problem is, it isn't a formal sentence. It's an ordinary language sentence,  and it doesn't say "there exists exactly one king of France, and he is bald", it just says "the king of France is bald". Yes, Russell's sentence is false, but that's not the sentence we're talking about.

 

We may come back to the difference between formal and ordinary sentences if we ever get to formal truth. For now, though, the point is that I think the sentence "the king of France is bald" fails to express any actual propositional content, so it can't be true or false, at least not ontologically. But this leads to the next problem. Is it even possible for this sentence to be ontologically true?

 

Suppose Pierre is the king of France, and Pierre is bald. Is the sentence ontologically true in this imagined scenario? I want to say that it is. It corresponds to a brute fact in the natural world. "King of France" refers to Pierre, and "is bald" expresses the proposition that Pierre's hair is lacking in quantity. Fine. No problem there. But what about the related sentence "Pierre is the king of France?" Is that true? Well, obviously I want to say yes, because it's my example, and I asserted it to be true. So in my example, Pierre is actually the king of France. That's a fact. The statement "Pierre is the king of France" corresponds to this fact, and is therefore true. But hold on. That Pierre is the king of France is not a brute fact about the natural world. There might be a revolution, and Pierre might lose his throne. So now we have to ask "what is it that makes him the king of France?"

 

Clearly in the above example, the thing that makes Pierre king is my declaring that he is king for the purposes of the example. Fine. How about an example that is grounded in the real world?

 

Justin Trudeau is the Prime Minister of Canada. This is true. But I want to say that it isn't ontologically true. That he's Prime minister isn't a brute fact about the natural world. Nevertheless, it is a fact. But it doesn't have to be a fact. What is it that makes him Prime Minister? Well, leaving aside the particular legal details, the essence of the answer is that he's Prime Minister because the people of Canada think he is Prime Minister. If all Canadians decided tomorrow that he wasn't Prime Minister, then he wouldn't be. (Actually, in this case, it wouldn't even take all Canadians deciding, just a majority in the House of Commons, but that's beside the point). Nevertheless, it's true to say that he is Prime Minister, and the reason it is true is that people make it true by thinking and acting as if it is true. I call this kind of truth epistemic truth.

 

Notice the clear difference between epistemic truth and ontological truth. That money is valuable is another epistemic truth. If everyone decided that it wasn't valuable, then it wouldn't be valuable. Nevertheless, it really is valuable. By contrast, that the Earth is round is an ontological truth. It doesn't matter at all what we think about it, the Earth is just round.

 

Another thing I want to point out is that epistemic truths are quite often conditional on context. You can be married in one country, and not in another. Is it true, in this scenario, to say that you're married? That depends on the context.

 

I've been blathering on here for a while now, so I'm going to pause again before moving on. A brief summary seems appropriate:


We've seen that on a few basic axioms it follows that people can make statements about facts in the natural world. These statements are true if they adhere to the facts, and false if they violate the facts. We've also seen that humans have the capacity to create facts via thought and action. Statements which correspond to this second type of fact are being referred to here as epistemically true, while statements which correspond to brute natural facts are being referred to here as ontologically true. I think a great deal of confusion arises in ordinary conversation because people fail to make this distinction, and just refer to both types of statements as true. To my mind, they are very clearly different, and recognizing the difference is vital if we are going to move forward to form a robust theory of truth, knowledge, and belief.

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This is an interesting question and I see a lot of detailed answers and comments. I havent really gone through all of these comments; so forgive me if I repeat what has already been said. But my simple two cents on this question -

 

The sequence, as I seem to think, would be Knowledge --> Belief --> Truth. But it won't be that simple. I will add a few more terms to this sequence:

Information --> Knowledge --> Belief --> Work/Practice --> Experience --> Repeatability --> Truth.

 

To elaborate this: We first need some kind of Information (be it basic or detailed). Understanding this information would lead one to knowing about the existence of such a concept. Repeated exposure to this knowledge (or being convinced by a little exposure) would lead to formation of Belief. But this Belief is not of much help. Most people would stop here and would claim to know the Truth. But without the next steps, it is just a concept in one's mind. 

 

Lets assume for the sake of argument that there is a space shuttle in outer space. And a baby is born in that shuttle. Since there is zero gravity in the shuttle, everyone in the shuttle will be floating around with that baby. If the baby is given Information about the gravity on earth it will kind of have Knowledge of it. And it will form a Belief about the concept of gravity. But it will still need to put in work and practice (in this case the work of getting off the shuttle and going near the earth's surface to actually Experience gravity.

Now, no matter how many times it does this exercise of going from outer space to earth, this experience of gravity will always be happening for it. In other words, this experience will be repeatable. Only then the baby can claim that it knows the Truth about gravity. 

If there was another baby on board who did not do the same things like the first baby did, this baby will only have a Belief of gravity without actual repeatable experience. The Truth of the concept will be real for the first baby while it will be imaginary for the second baby.

 

The second baby actually should use the Knowledge to transcend the Belief and not stop at Belief.

 

I think the Repeatability part of the sequence will weed out the many emotional/hallucinatory parts of concepts that we on this forum and our friends (who need to be on this forum) lack. Just having a vision (which may be hallucination) cannot be termed as Truth. Can you repeat that experience for yourself (in spite of having a sane mind)?

If one can repeat this experience with a set of steps/procedure then one can say they have got the Truth.

 

Let me know what you think.

 

 

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Hi @Karna, and thanks for joining the thread :)

 

Quote

The sequence, as I seem to think, would be Knowledge --> Belief --> Truth. But it won't be that simple. I will add a few more terms to this sequence:

Information --> Knowledge --> Belief --> Work/Practice --> Experience --> Repeatability --> Truth.

 

To elaborate this: We first need some kind of Information (be it basic or detailed). Understanding this information would lead one to knowing about the existence of such a concept. Repeated exposure to this knowledge (or being convinced by a little exposure) would lead to formation of Belief. But this Belief is not of much help. Most people would stop here and would claim to know the Truth. But without the next steps, it is just a concept in one's mind. 

 

I want to make sure I understand what you're saying here. It seems that you are saying that knowledge underlies belief, and that both underlie truth. That is, in order to believe something we must first know it,  and in order to get at the truth, we must believe something. Is that a correct reading of what you've said?

 

Quote

Lets assume for the sake of argument that there is a space shuttle in outer space. And a baby is born in that shuttle. Since there is zero gravity in the shuttle, everyone in the shuttle will be floating around with that baby. If the baby is given Information about the gravity on earth it will kind of have Knowledge of it. And it will form a Belief about the concept of gravity. But it will still need to put in work and practice (in this case the work of getting off the shuttle and going near the earth's surface to actually Experience gravity.

 

I would want to put this the other way around. Being taught about gravity without experiencing it,  in my view, would lead to a belief about how gravity works. I think knowledge is a type of belief,  but that it is stronger than mere belief. More on this is another post,  but for now,  let me just give brief example:

 

I believe I will be at work for most of the day today. I wouldn't say that I know I'll be at work. I could have an accident on the way to work. This is just to illustrate why I think that belief preceeds, and is weaker than, knowledge.

 

Quote

Now, no matter how many times it does this exercise of going from outer space to earth, this experience of gravity will always be happening for it. In other words, this experience will be repeatable. Only then the baby can claim that it knows the Truth about gravity. 

If there was another baby on board who did not do the same things like the first baby did, this baby will only have a Belief of gravity without actual repeatable experience. The Truth of the concept will be real for the first baby while it will be imaginary for the second baby.

 

I've bolded your use of the word know here, because it illistrates what I was saying above. Knowledge is stronger that belief. This seems to be a reversal of what you said earlier.

 

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The second baby actually should use the Knowledge to transcend the Belief and not stop at Belief.

 

I'm confused by what you mean here. Can you elaborate?

 

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I think the Repeatability part of the sequence will weed out the many emotional/hallucinatory parts of concepts that we on this forum and our friends (who need to be on this forum) lack. Just having a vision (which may be hallucination) cannot be termed as Truth. Can you repeat that experience for yourself (in spite of having a sane mind)?

If one can repeat this experience with a set of steps/procedure then one can say they have got the Truth.

 

I agree that repeatability is important, and I'll be talking about repeatability a fair amount when we get to science.

 

An issue I'm having in gereal with what you wrote is that it relies on their being truth, and doesn't attempt to define it. My view is that to believe something is just to think that it is true. This is not a meaningful statement unless we know what truth is. As I've already said, I think knowledge is stronger that mere belief, but I do think it is a type of belief. So on my description as well, the definitions of belief and knowledge depend on our having a clear notion of what "true" means. That's why I began by trying to establish what "true" means. Incidentally, I was planning on turning to belief and knowledge next, so your post is quite helpful. If you would, please have a look at what I've said about truth so far, and give me your thoughts or objections. Nothing is carved in stone, but I want to secure the foundation as much as possible before I really move into knowledge and belief.

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On 11/2/2019 at 8:12 PM, disillusioned said:

The final point I'd like to make is that the axioms that I offered as a starting point for this discussion were intended to be pretty bullet-proof. If someone wants to contest them I'd be happy to entertain the objection, but I have very sincere doubts that anyone will be bold enough to do this. They are quite obviously acceptable. Whatever the YEC in your example might be using as axioms, I'd hazard that they are not as sound as mine. So I'd probably spend some time attacking their axioms. Given that they admittedly can't reason consistently, I'd imagine that either their axioms are inconsistent or that they are incoherent. Either way, they have a very serious problem.

 

I agree completely. Even this business about fundamental consciousness can not change your approach from what I understand about it.

 

Axiom 1 stands regardless. We can doubt just about anything except for the brute fact that we exist as experiencing entities of some type. We may be a brain in a vat, or some program in a computer simulation, but by gollies that still makes us some type of existing thing, engaged in the experience and awareness of existing. If consciousness is absolute or some similar claim, Axiom 1 still remains. 

 

Axiom 2 stands as well. Just because human perception happens within the brain, doesn't mean that the external world doesn't exist. Modern philosopher Peter Russell goes into this while address the hard problem of consciousness. Whether or not we're perceiving an external reality as it actually is, is questionable. But that we're still perceiving something out there and interpreting that perception within our brains seems very straight forward. This can be explored further, but that's the general idea. 

 

Axiom 3 stands in the same way. Whether a simulation, fundamental consciousness, or whatever, the brute facts of existence such as gravity remain. It would just go back to meaning that these brute facts are part of the simulation, part of a fundamental consciousness, etc., etc. The facts are not deniable via these popular alternative ways of trying to view reality. New Age views and religious views would have a hard time trying to counter these axioms with eternal consciousness claims or anything similar. 

 

The three axiom's look bullet-proof as far as I can tell. 

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Hello Disillusioned,

Thanks for engaging me. Let me try to elaborate and answer your questions.

 

I gave it some thought and that is why I came up with the sequence that I mentioned in my previous answer.

14 hours ago, disillusioned said:

 

I want to make sure I understand what you're saying here. It seems that you are saying that knowledge underlies belief, and that both underlie truth. That is, in order to believe something we must first know it,  and in order to get at the truth, we must believe something. Is that a correct reading of what you've said?

 

Maybe we are talking about 'knowledge' in different contexts. When I started thinking about the question, I kind of agreed about the sequence: Belief --> Knowledge --> Truth.

The problem with this approach was that it implies one forms a Belief first, then works towards gaining Knowledge on it, and then attaining the Truth about it. 

In a way, that is correct. But thinking about it in subjective terms, I realized it could help changing the sequence like I proposed earlier.

 

Let us take another example from chemistry. I have read that a water molecule is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. When I started chemistry in high school, I was introduced to this. So this was my knowledge then. I 'knew' that H2+O = H2O. After repeated reading about it and writing exams, I feel I have knowledge about this. And scientists affirm this too. But from my perspective, this Knowledge is still a Belief for me. Wouldn't you agree? I have never taken 2 atoms of Hydrogen and attached them to one atom of Oxygen; or have not broken a water molecule into its constituent atoms. So I haven't really done the Work/Practice to Experience this phenomenon. So I have been blindly accepting my Knowledge, then Belief, as the Truth.

 

The other problem with Belief-->Knowledge-->Truth is that once someone Believes something to be True, they will never make an attempt to 'Know' about it. Why would someone try to learn something they think they already know?

 

14 hours ago, disillusioned said:

I would want to put this the other way around. Being taught about gravity without experiencing it,  in my view, would lead to a belief about how gravity works. I think knowledge is a type of belief,  but that it is stronger than mere belief.

 

This is exactly what I am saying. Knowledge can be transformed into Belief. And sometimes Knowledge is better than Belief like you say. But again, I am trusting somebody's work in Chemistry and taking hearsay as the Truth. What if the scientists were wrong about this? And there was some unhiterto unidentified element that also went into forming those atomic bonds? (This is just a silly example...but I want to explain my line of thought). Then it would mean, that after reading all chemistry books, I have strong Knowledge (that trumps Belief) but I am still in the Falsehood.

 

14 hours ago, disillusioned said:

I'm confused by what you mean here. Can you elaborate?

 

So now I have knowledge of chemistry and atoms and bonds. Given the resources and time (and provided the study of water molecules is extremely important in my life), I can use all this Knowledge to test if my so-far held Belief is correct. If I find that there is this new element that goes into it, I will change my Belief (meaning I will transcend my Belief) and arrive at the Truth after hundreds of repeated experiments that prove the existence and utility of this new element in the water molecule.

 

14 hours ago, disillusioned said:

I agree that repeatability is important, and I'll be talking about repeatability a fair amount when we get to science.

If some of my experiments say otherwise, then it means I haven't been consistent enough. And Truth cannot be inconsistent. So I would know that my Belief is false; and my knowledge is incomplete and that I don't know the Truth (or if my experiments conclude that water molecule is indeed made of only 2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen atoms) then I will accept the scientist's and book's proclamations as the Truth.

 

The confusion about Knowledge and Belief is legitimate. From a subjective perspective, people have a 'Belief about something; something they 'think' they 'know'. What you think you 'Know' may not be True in the first place.

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Karna said:

Hello Disillusioned,

Thanks for engaging me. Let me try to elaborate and answer your questions.

 

I gave it some thought and that is why I came up with the sequence that I mentioned in my previous answer.

 

Maybe we are talking about 'knowledge' in different contexts. When I started thinking about the question, I kind of agreed about the sequence: Belief --> Knowledge --> Truth.

The problem with this approach was that it implies one forms a Belief first, then works towards gaining Knowledge on it, and then attaining the Truth about it. 

In a way, that is correct. But thinking about it in subjective terms, I realized it could help changing the sequence like I proposed earlier.

 

Let us take another example from chemistry. I have read that a water molecule is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. When I started chemistry in high school, I was introduced to this. So this was my knowledge then. I 'knew' that H2+O = H2O. After repeated reading about it and writing exams, I feel I have knowledge about this. And scientists affirm this too. But from my perspective, this Knowledge is still a Belief for me. Wouldn't you agree? I have never taken 2 atoms of Hydrogen and attached them to one atom of Oxygen; or have not broken a water molecule into its constituent atoms. So I haven't really done the Work/Practice to Experience this phenomenon. So I have been blindly accepting my Knowledge, then Belief, as the Truth.

 

The other problem with Belief-->Knowledge-->Truth is that once someone Believes something to be True, they will never make an attempt to 'Know' about it. Why would someone try to learn something they think they already know?

 

 

This is exactly what I am saying. Knowledge can be transformed into Belief. And sometimes Knowledge is better than Belief like you say. But again, I am trusting somebody's work in Chemistry and taking hearsay as the Truth. What if the scientists were wrong about this? And there was some unhiterto unidentified element that also went into forming those atomic bonds? (This is just a silly example...but I want to explain my line of thought). Then it would mean, that after reading all chemistry books, I have strong Knowledge (that trumps Belief) but I am still in the Falsehood.

 

 

So now I have knowledge of chemistry and atoms and bonds. Given the resources and time (and provided the study of water molecules is extremely important in my life), I can use all this Knowledge to test if my so-far held Belief is correct. If I find that there is this new element that goes into it, I will change my Belief (meaning I will transcend my Belief) and arrive at the Truth after hundreds of repeated experiments that prove the existence and utility of this new element in the water molecule.

 

If some of my experiments say otherwise, then it means I haven't been consistent enough. And Truth cannot be inconsistent. So I would know that my Belief is false; and my knowledge is incomplete and that I don't know the Truth (or if my experiments conclude that water molecule is indeed made of only 2 Hydrogen and 1 Oxygen atoms) then I will accept the scientist's and book's proclamations as the Truth.

 

The confusion about Knowledge and Belief is legitimate. From a subjective perspective, people have a 'Belief about something; something they 'think' they 'know'. What you think you 'Know' may not be True in the first place.

 

What do you think?

 

@Karna, thanks for this. I think I understand what you are saying a bit better now. Please read my next post on how I view knowledge and belief, and let me know if we have a substantive disagreement. I don't think we are that far apart, really. We can come back to the examples you raise here, or the to ones I give there at that point.

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At this point we have a sketch of a theory of truth. There are lots of questions that remain to be addressed, and lots of special cases that need to be treated, but hope the idea at least is clear. Truth is a property that statements that humans make may or may not have. Human statements are true if they express a propositional content that corresponds to an actual fact. The type of fact that the proposition in question refers to determines the nature of the truth in question (ontological or epistemic). There is much more to be said about truth, and I’ll come back to it. But first I want to spend some time considering belief and knowledge.

 

I think the notion of belief is much more intuitive than the notion of truth, so long as we have a notion of truth firmly in mind already. A person believes a proposition if they think that it is true. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Notice, though, that if this definition of belief is to work, we do need to understand what it means for a proposition to be true. This is why I started this thread by looking at truth, and am only now moving on to belief. Not taking this approach leads to all kinds of problems, such as, for example, people saying things like “it’s my personal truth, because I believe it”. In general, this kind of statement is nonsense, but one does hear these kinds of things expressed from time to time. Notice as well that it is perfectly possible, on this definition, to believe things which are false. It just means that we think something is true incorrectly. I might believe that the earth is flat. I’d just be wrong.

 

A question that has been raised previously on these forums is whether or not we are able to choose our beliefs. I think the answer to this is “yes” in some cases and “no” in others. Suppose you tell me that you can deadlift lift 600 pounds. I’m relatively unlikely to believe this on its face, because it seems pretty unlikely. Nevertheless, if I know you quite well, and have good reason to trust you, and you offer me your most sincere assurances, I might say “you know what, I’m going to choose to believe you”. Or I might choose to remain skeptical. Either way, I do have some choice in the matter. Now of course, if you tell me that you can deadlift 3000 pounds, I’m going to have a much harder time believing you. The point is this: if the claim being made is reasonable, we have a fair amount of leeway in choosing to believe it or not. If the claim is fantastical, we tend to lose this leeway. Another example: if I get home from work and my wife tells me she walked around the block, I’m probably going to believe her. I could choose to be skeptical, and indeed, she could be lying, but it seems probable that I’d just take her word, and choose to believe her. On the other hand, if she said that flew around the block under her own power, I’d have a pretty hard time choosing to believe her. The degree of choice we have in our beliefs seems to be in direct proportion to the reasonableness of the claim.

 

Now let’s turn to knowledge. I’ve written before on these boards that I think knowledge reduces to firmly held belief. I differ in this view from the traditional justified true belief account of knowledge. Part of the reason for my difference has to do with the Gettier problems, but also I think it is fundamentally incorrect to require that knowledge be true. I think there are many cases where our level of certainty in some beliefs leads us to claim knowledge, and later we discover that we were incorrect. This happens all the time in science, which is an idea that I’ll explore more in a future post.

 

One of the key distinctions between belief and knowledge, in my view, is the degree of choice we have. As I said before, where claims seem reasonable, we may have a fair amount of leeway in choosing our beliefs in some cases. This is particularly true in cases where no actual substantive justification is being offered. Again, if my wife says “I walked around the block”, I may choose to believe her or not. But if she says “I flew around the block under my own power” I don’t just fail to believe her; I know that she did not do this. The claim is absurd, and I have very good reasons to think that it isn’t possible for her to fly under her own power. Consider, though, that there was a time in history when airplanes were inconceivable. At this time, on my definition, it would have been correct for people to claim knowledge that human flight is impossible, full stop. Clearly such a claim is not true, though. This is an example of why I think that it isn’t necessary that knowledge be true.

 

So belief, on my account, is thinking that something is true, and knowledge is really really thinking that it’s true, usually with significant reasons for doing so. We can choose our beliefs, at least in some cases, but we can’t choose our knowledge. This is not to say that we can’t choose to learn new things. Obviously there are many things I don’t know, and some of them I don’t know because I’ve chosen not to learn them. Moreover, many of the things that I do know, I know because I have chosen to learn them. So in this sense, we can choose our knowledge, but I think it is fairly clear that this is a different kind of choice than the type that I’ve been referring to up until now.

 

An interesting thing to note at this point is that on the account that I’ve given so far, belief and knowledge have the capacity to create truth. When I was discussing epistemic truths earlier, I made mention of the fact that Justin Trudeau is Prime Minister of Canada. And the fact that he is Prime Minister arises from people’s belief that he is Prime Minister. So people’s belief that he is Prime Minister literally makes it true that he is Prime Minister. This is an incredible result. It seems, on the account given so far, that human beliefs are not just about what is true, they can actually determine what is true.

 

Now, of course, that Justin Trudeau is Prime Minister is an epistemic truth, not an ontological truth. So maybe it is the case that human beliefs can create epistemic truth, but surely it’s not the case that they can create ontological truth! That would be really strange.

 

Well, consider the statement “George Washington was President of the United States in 1792”. At the time, that he was President was an epistemic truth. It was true because people thought it was true. But now, in 2019, that he was President in 1792 is a matter of historical fact. It’s true irrespective of what anyone thinks about it. If everyone died tomorrow, it would still be true. This is the mark of an ontological truth. So now we really have an interesting result. It seems, on this account, that human beliefs have the capacity to create not just epistemic truth, but ontological truth as well.

 

This may well seem absurd to some people, so I’m going to stop there for now and see if anyone objects or raises questions.

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Hello again Disillusioned.  :)

 

I've been giving some thought to one aspect of this thread, which you've outlined for us over several posts.  Specifically, the differences between ontological and epistemic truths.  To be honest, while I've only taken a brief look at the links you supplied and haven't gone into their content deeply.  So, the thinking I've been doing is really only related to what's been said here, rather than stemming from the material contained in those links.  Ok, confession over.

 

If I were to sum up the extent of my thinking, I reckon it would come to this.  Given what I know about cosmology and science in general, it seems to me that almost everything we think we know about physical reality must fall within the realm of epistemic truth.  And conversely, the entire body of ontological truth that is available to us must therefore be really rather small.  I say this because almost everything to do with astronomy and cosmology is based upon inference and assumption and not not direct observation or measurement.  In a similar way, a great deal of geology must follow the same pattern.  We have penetrated only a few miles into the Earth with our drilling and our mines.  All of the other information we've gleaned about the interior of the Earth is either gained forensically or by seismological probing.  

 

This suggests to me that ontological truths must occupy a realm that is very closely linked to our place of existence - currently, the land, the sea, the air, low earth orbit and (arguably) the Moon.  However, would I be right in thinking that these ontological truths cannot be directly linked to our sense experience?  I ask this because, if were unaware that a grand piano was falling on to me, the existence of it would still constitute a brutal ontological truth, regardless of my lack of sense experience of it.  So, when it comes to ontological truths, what do you think about my two ideas, Disillusioned?

 

Photo of a businessman looking at his watch as a falling piano is about to land on him crash down from above when its rope breaks.

 

 Thank you.

 

Walter.

 

 

 

 

p.s.

Ooops!  Just re-thought my argument! 

A black hole destroying the Earth would be a VERY brutal ontological truth. So, please factor that into the mix.  

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@WalterP you've raised some excellent questions,  which relate directly to the next topic I was hoping to explore. We definitely need to look at how science relates to all of this. Please bear with me. I'll get back to you over the next couple of days.

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Walter,

 

I think the overarching question of how science fits in with the account that I've given so far is extremely important. I'm going to try to sketch an answer to this question briefly before I address the specific questions you raised in your post.

 

I hope that it is fairly clear that science is a human endeavour. It's a process which aims to generate knowledge about the natural world. That is, it aims to generate knowledge of (primarily) ontological truths. Notice, immediately, that I do not say that science generates ontological truth. What it generates is knowledge. Because of science, we know that the Earth revolves around the sun, that water boils at 100 degrees Celsius at standard atmospheric pressure, and that light bends away from the normal when it passes from a dense medium into one that is less dense. Now, the crucial point is this: it is very tempting to say that science has established the truth of these statements, but I think that this is incorrect. What science has done is establish our knowledge of these things. We know these things, which is to say that we are quite sure that they are true. But we are not certain. We can never be certain.

 

Recall that on my account, knowledge reduces to firmly held belief. I have no qualms about saying that I know that the Earth revolves around the sun. There's all kinds of good, scientific evidence to support this belief. So it is very well justified. But it's still just a firmly held belief. I think it has to be this way. Suppose for the moment that it actually is ontologically true that the Earth revolves around the sun. What this means is that it needs to be true regardless of our knowledge of it's truth. Moreover, it would also need to have been true in previous eras, when basically everyone who knew anything knew that the sun revolved around the Earth. Tycho Brahe was a pretty serious scientist, but he managed to produce what we now know to be a more or less entirely incorrect model of the solar system. This seems to entail exactly what I've been arguing so far: that science produces knowledge, but not necessarily truth, and also, that today's knowledge is quite often tomorrow's misapprehension.

 

So where does this leave us? Well, we've seen that science generates knowledge of ontological truth, but we haven't looked in detail at how it does this. And this is where I think things get really interesting. Previously on these boards I've written that I think science offers epistemically objective descriptions of an ontologically objective reality. What I mean by this is that science builds models of the universe. The models make all kinds of ontological truth claims, because they are attempts to describe the natural world. But the models themselves are constructed by humans. They operate according to assumptions we make, and lead to conclusions which are based on both observation and inference. I think it is correct to say that the models can establish formal truth, which I view as a kind of epistemic truth (there's quite a bit more that I want to say about formal truth as a type of epistemic truth, but I think it's tangential for now, so I'll come back to it later if it is of interest), but they do not establish ontological truth. Take, for example, the Hawking-Penrose Theorems. On their assumptions, it follows logically that the universe began in a singularity. So on their model, it is formally true that the universe began in a singularity. It's mathematically provable. The problem is, their model doesn't fit the observational data, so something is wrong with their assumptions. It doesn't seem to be ontologically true that the universe began in a singularity. Nevertheless, whether it did or not is a matter of ontological truth. Hawking and Penrose offered a particular model, and on that model it was true. And for a while, everyone knew that the universe began to exist. Nowadays, we can't really claim to know this anymore, because the model that Hawking and Penrose offered is outdated. This is what science does all the time. It builds models of the universe which establish formal (read: epistemic) truths. It's very easy to confuse these with ontological truths, but that is a disastrous mistake, on my view.

 

Neils Bohr said that "It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature." I think this is basically the same thing that I'm trying to say: physics, and science in general, concerns our knowledge, not truth per se. Where science does concern truth directly, the truth in question is formal, or epistemic, rather than ontological in nature.

 

There's a lot more that can be said about this, but for now I want to move to the questions you actually asked.

 

17 hours ago, WalterP said:

 

If I were to sum up the extent of my thinking, I reckon it would come to this.  Given what I know about cosmology and science in general, it seems to me that almost everything we think we know about physical reality must fall within the realm of epistemic truth.  And conversely, the entire body of ontological truth that is available to us must therefore be really rather small.  I say this because almost everything to do with astronomy and cosmology is based upon inference and assumption and not not direct observation or measurement.  In a similar way, a great deal of geology must follow the same pattern.  We have penetrated only a few miles into the Earth with our drilling and our mines.  All of the other information we've gleaned about the interior of the Earth is either gained forensically or by seismological probing.  

 

I hope that what I wrote above clarifies this somewhat. I think that science in general can generate ontological knowledge, but it's important to note that knowledge is not certain. For fields of science like astronomy and cosmology which rely more heavily on assumption and inference than do some other fields, our level of certainty in the ontological knowledge we obtain must be lessened. This is why I tend to take novel cosmological theories with rather large grains of salt.

 

17 hours ago, WalterP said:

This suggests to me that ontological truths must occupy a realm that is very closely linked to our place of existence - currently, the land, the sea, the air, low earth orbit and (arguably) the Moon.  However, would I be right in thinking that these ontological truths cannot be directly linked to our sense experience?  I ask this because, if were unaware that a grand piano was falling on to me, the existence of it would still constitute a brutal ontological truth, regardless of my lack of sense experience of it.  So, when it comes to ontological truths, what do you think about my two ideas, Disillusioned?

...

p.s.

Ooops!  Just re-thought my argument! 

A black hole destroying the Earth would be a VERY brutal ontological truth. So, please factor that into the mix.  

 

What I would say is that there is clearly a realm which is directly accessible to our senses, and this allows us to claim ontological knowledge about this realm with much more surety than we can claim such knowledge about cosmology, for example. I can claim with quite a lot of certainty that granite is hard. For all intents and purposes, I know this for sure. I can directly verify it. The only thing keeping me from claiming direct access to ontological truth in this case is the possibility that I might not be able to trust my senses. But on the assumption that I can (which seems reasonable), it follows that granite is hard. So I know this with much more certainty than I know even that the Earth revolves around the sun, which I'm pretty damn sure about.

 

With respect to the piano and the black hole, I want to say that the existence of these things and the ontological truths associated with them are entirely independent of our sense experiences. This is the mark of ontological truth, after all: it's true irrespective of what we think about it, or even whether we think about it, or whether we can think about it. So yes, ontological truths cannot be directly linked to our senses. Using our senses to gain knowledge is a primitive way of doing science. And science, as we've seen, doesn't establish ontological truth, just knowledge.

 

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True or false, does Genesis 1 describe the origin of the planet earth and the correct order in which life came to existence on the planet? 

 

This is going to require epistemic truth knowledge from the sciences in order to try and answer. 

 

1 hour ago, disillusioned said:

Neils Bohr said that "It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature." I think this is basically the same thing that I'm trying to say: physics, and science in general, concerns our knowledge, not truth per se. Where science does concern truth directly, the truth in question is formal, or epistemic, rather than ontological in nature.

 

But that seems clear enough. The question is a knowledge based question. How would you work it out?

 

Trying to be fair to everyone, and diplomatic,  some might try to say true and false, true in some sense which is obscure and stretches what we mean by the term truth, and false in straight forward ways that are self evidently false by what we generally mean by the term false. An example is where Campbell says that myths are true in certain senses, truth as metaphorical of the human and cosmic mystery. That's not entirely wrong, but it's also not what we mean when asking if a creation myth is true or false. Not what non-believers mean by the question and not what believers mean by the question. 

 

Believers are pretty well claiming that their beliefs are ontological truths, period. Even when I've encountered believers who are making subjective arguments, they are usually trying to argue that their subjective experiences or subjective religious content equals ontological, objective truth. LuthAMF said as much in our debate. 

 

In any case, I'm interested in seeing how this theory of truth relates to some practical application examples like the above. 

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5 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

True or false, does Genesis 1 describe the origin of the planet earth and the correct order in which life came to existence on the planet? 

 

This is going to require epistemic truth knowledge from the sciences in order to try and answer. 

 

My answer to this is "false".

 

From science, we have knowledge which contadicts this claim. That is to say, science leads us to strongly believe, on the basis of a lot of evidence, that this statement is ontologically false.

 

Remember, science attempts to get at ontological truth. It does this via epistemic models, so it doesn't lead to ontological truth directly, but that is not to say that it can't give us knowledge of ontological truth; it's just that our knowledge is never 100% certain. But that's true of basically all knowledge on my account, so it isn't particularly troubling.

 

5 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Trying to be fair to everyone, and diplomatic,  some might try to say true and false, true in some sense which is obscure and stretches what we mean by the term truth, and false in straight forward ways that are self evidently false by what we generally mean by the term false. An example is where Campbell says that myths are true in certain senses, truth as metaphorical of the human and cosmic mystery. That's not entirely wrong, but it's also not what we mean when asking if a creation myth is true or false. Not what non-believers mean by the question and not what believers mean by the question. 

 

I agree with this. Some people might even say that something like this could be taken to be your personal truth. I generally find such statements to be silly. Certainly it is possible to believe the claim, but belief doesn't entail truth. Even knowledge doesn't necessarily entail truth on my account.

 

With this particular claim, I have a hard time seeing how it could be said to be epistemically true at all, because it is fundamentally an ontological claim. As such, what we think about it is not supposed to matter. And our best scientific evidence contradicts the claim, which is why I say I know it is false.

 

5 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

Believers are pretty well claiming that their beliefs are ontological truths, period. Even when I've encountered believers who are making subjective arguments, they are usually trying to argue that their subjective experiences or subjective religious content equals ontological, objective truth. LuthAMF said as much in our debate. 

 

Yes, I agree with this. I think it's just bad reasoning, to be honest. 

 

5 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

In any case, I'm interested in seeing how this theory of truth relates to some practical application examples like the above. 

 

This is good, and it's one of the reasons why I made this thread. A theory of truth is no good if we can't apply it to actual examples. I'm hoping to be able to look at how this applies to lots of things as we go forward.

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