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Thread: Covering Ourselves in the Name of Truth

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    Covering Ourselves in the Name of Truth



    Our vanity involves "truth" when we attempt to implicate that truth reinforces our own subjective desires. To affirm that "truth" or "God" is on my side are examples of justifying the righteousness of our postition by assuming that "truth" will have our support. It is this rationale that leads to much conflict and even war.

    Do I really know the "truth" in any given situation?
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    You Can Always Ask President Bush !!

    He seems quite strong on his "truths" being right.

    Frank

    TAKE WHAT I SAY WITH A GRAIN OF SUGAR !!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CreativeChaos
    Our vanity involves "truth" when we attempt to implicate that truth reinforces our own subjective desires. To affirm that "truth" or "God" is on my side are examples of justifying the righteousness of our postition by assuming that "truth" will have our support. It is this rationale that leads to much conflict and even war.

    Do I really know the "truth" in any given situation?
    It appears that you have formulated a general question of logic from an oft observed language behavior of assertion relying on claims to truth or God's will. Although it is not clear whether the question you posed is more interested in the concrete examples of "populist, war-waging-rationalizing rhetoric" or the abstract idea of the possibility of knowing the truth, I would, for the sake of brevity, stick to the second possibility. One minor point: I think you meant "justifying the righteousness of our postition by assuming that "truth" will give us support" in above passage.

    Mathematicians, British-American scholars of the analytical school of philosophy, and historians of science have done work on the topic of mathematical/scientific truth, and classified all statements in their respective fields to either

    1) definitions: indisputable tags put on objects tangible or not
    2) theorems: statements the truth value of which can be calulated by applying axioms or prior theorems proven by the axioms
    3) axioms: statements that cannot be proven, but that can only be chosen as the starting point of one systematic field or branch of mathematics/science.

    In 1931, Kurt Godel proposed his Incompleteness Theorem in a mathematical paper called On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems stating that certain theorems are not subject to proof or disproof as other theorems are. Axioms would be examples of such non-proveable theorems.

    In like manner, internal coherence is as close as we can get to a semblance of truth, but not truth itself. Furthermore, if one set of axioms and one body of raw data is involved as the starting point of a logical argument, then the resulting statements will generally differ from statements based on a different set of axioms or a heterogenous set of raw data.

    Unlike mathematics where all assumptions are defined, or science where most assumptions are defined, prior to much developing, the vast majority of language activities in real life do not deal with the basic assumptions assumed before engaging in stating a statement. Even if that were the case, the limitation of logic states that one cannot go beyond the axioms and data and thereby prove the axioms and data themselves on which knowledge is based.

    Often times we see circular logic, discrediting the person when all else fails, or ex machina or "God's unseen hand" at work when mortal toil proves nothing. The books of logic all forewarn us of the logical fallacies humans are known to commit, yet we see those committed almost on a daily basis as in the examples you alluded to. It is a great cultural advantage that the study of logic has established its own field of learning in Western cutures, whereas the seeds of logical studies had bourgeoned but died out without flourishing in the Warring States period in Asian cultures. That the beginning of Neo-Confucianism was based on an ill-defined set of axioms also set the limitations of the development of logic since the Song dynasty.

    It is genuinely sad to see, given the cultural-educational advantage, when one raised in the Western tradition fails to properly excercise coherent logic, and dwell on falacies that even Asians have learned to scorn. Is it that history proceeds in circles, or education is going down rather than up ? Let's see how long it takes for former Shintoists, Shamanists, Buddhists, or communists to catch up with the West-US in logic. Low logic naturally translates into low efficiency, and high logic into high efficiency; and let evolution play its little game of chance in the macroscopic, macrotemporal arena. Time will tell; the ultimate truth may be unknowable, but logical coherence is knowable beyond a shred of a doubt.
    Last edited by lexico; 20-07-05 at 09:34.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

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    Logical Coherence

    Originally posted by lexico:
    It is genuinely sad to see, given the cultural-educational advantage, when one raised in the Western tradition fails to properly excercise coherent logic, and dwell on falacies that even Asians have learned to scorn. Is it that history proceeds in circles, or education is going down rather than up ? Let's see how long it takes for former Shintoists, Shamanists, Buddhists, or communists to catch up with the West-US in logic. Low logic naturally translates into low efficiency, and high logic into high efficiency; and let evolution play its little game of chance in the macroscopic, macrotemporal arena. Time will tell; the ultimate truth may be unknowable, but logical coherence is knowable beyond a shred of a doubt.
    I love your last statement. "Time will tell; the ultimate truth may be unknowable, but logical coherence is knowable beyond a shred of doubt". That is definitley worth quoting.

    I think that many people are very lazy mentally. In other words they do not really question or look closely at their beliefs and try to analyze them. They simply accept what was handed down to them by their parents as truth and go through life without examination. This is what leads them to quote things as comming from God or being "truth" without really examining whether it is logically coherent.

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    Truth sometimes can not be understood by any logic. What we think and take as logical may not be so in the reality. The truth is unshakable and stays as it is. Just because we can't comprehend something, we can not label that as untruth.

    People used to believe the earth was flat. They thought that was a truth, and it logically made sense to them.

    No logic is required to understand a truth. In a way there is no way to underestand any truth except when a truth reveals itself so that we can understand it. Time will tell? I guess that's not a bad answer.

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    there is no truth or right or wrong because there is no absolute good, therefore in the absence of the latter everything is mutable to the social ethics of today ;)
    confusing, innit ?

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    There's no spoon!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CreativeChaos
    I think that many people are very lazy mentally. In other words they do not really question or look closely at their beliefs and try to analyze them. They simply accept what was handed down to them by their parents as truth and go through life without examination. This is what leads them to quote things as comming from God or being "truth" without really examining whether it is logically coherent.
    I think it is partly this and partly fear. Sometimes people are afraid to question what they have been told is the 'truth'.

    Quote Originally Posted by studyonline
    Truth sometimes can not be understood by any logic. What we think and take as logical may not be so in the reality. The truth is unshakable and stays as it is. Just because we can't comprehend something, we can not label that as untruth.
    I think you have misunderstood what Lexico meant by logic. You mean logic as in "reasoned and reasonable judgment". If every dog I have seen is black it will seem logical to me that all dogs are black. By the "reasoned and reasonable judgment" type of logic my inference is valid, although with our superior knowledge we know it to be false. As you say, this kind of logic doesn't reveal truth.

    I think Lexico meant logic as in "what is true and how we can know whether something is true." As you can see, the very definition of logic in this sense is that it reveals truth.

    (Definitions taken from www.dictionary.com)

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    However he meant that logic, as long as a logical approach to know something is by "our thinking process with the brains", then there is limitation.

    Or is there any logic without such intellectual struggle?

    My point is that you don't even need a brain to know a truth :)

    I guess if only our brains are perfect and absolute beings, logic is a tool to know any truth then.

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    [QUOTE=studyonline]My point is that you don't even need a brain to know a truth :)[QUOTE]

    Do you really mean this? Please explain, because you have lost me!

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    [QUOTE][QUOTE=studyonline]My point is that you don't even need a brain to know a truth

    Do you really mean this? Please explain, because you have lost me!
    Buddhism believes truth is emptiness, 空, 'Sunyata'.
    The realization of emptiness equates to the experience of nibbana (nirvana)

    Crucial to the sunyata doctrine is the notion that the world is made up of a stream of ever changing elements, dharmas. Rather than seeing these dharmas, we create concepts which approximate what is really there. The world as we see it, therefore, is ultimately illusory - a fabrication of mind. Mahayana philosophy sees truth as of being two kinds, conventional and ultimate. Conventional truth is the world as we normally see it; ultimate truth is the world as it really is. The two don't exactly adhere - the world of conventional truth is a world of appearances; the world of ultimate truth is sunyata.

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    I went to a Buddhist middle school and had one hour of Buddhism every week.
    Acc. to the Reverend, Syakamuni Buddha had four questions motivating his quest for truth.

    1) Why is there the pain of birth ?
    2) Why is there the pain of old age ?
    3) Why is there the pain of sickness ?
    4) Why is there the pain of death ?

    He left the royal palace to join the hermits to find answers to his questions. After months of fasting; he found it meaningless to continue, took a bath at the river, ate a bowl of yoghurt, and attained to nirvana.

    What did he acually discover; or rather what was revealed to him at the end of his search ? Although a purely speculative observation; this is what I discovered after some thinking on my own.

    What makes people say, "Yes, I've got it !" ? When people have an unresolved tension or unanwered question, there is something expected to be "there" that isn't. In order for there to be a tension or question, presupposes at least two thought-elements (more if necessary, but two is the minumum requirement) that are in conflict. For example, an analogical pattern matching question in a standarised test might ask;

    A fish to man is a rabbit to (______). What best fills the blank ?
    (a) a carrot
    (b) a potatoe
    (c) a hawk
    (d) a bunny

    The answer would be (c) a hawk because the relationship given as model fish-to-man is a pray-to-predator relationship. Once the relationship is induced, and the four options scanned, (c) a hawk comes out as the only fitting choice as predator of rabbit. Let me put SYakamuni's question into similar format though of a higher complexity.

    As for the statements that birth is painful, that old age is painful, that sickness is painful, and that death is painful, what is the main problem ?
    (a) bad karma
    (b) reincarnation
    (c) caste
    (d) what's wrong with having pain ?
    (e) who said birth, old age, sickness, and death were painful ?
    (f) all of the above

    There may be more than one answer; some might be historically more accurate, while some might reflect modern, scientific understanding, while some might have insights regardless of the fact that they might not be either historical or scientific.

    Imo Syakamuni's answer was (d) what's wrong with having pain ? While the physical reality of pain does exist (although those of birth and death may be disputed, those of old age and sickness are well known to involve physical discomfort of varying degrees), it must be understood that Syakamuni's personal pain involved the pain of the idea of having to suffer those pains. Those would be unnecessary baggage that could be avoided by discarding the wishful, unrealistic expectations of enjoying a painless life by having either good karma, reincarnating into a good life, or being in a good hereditary caste.

    To a degree anyone can reduce the undue loads by removing notions that falsely take seats in our minds. By realizing that reincarnation is only a notion invented by man, the fear of rebirth as an insect or an animal can be removed. Good karma does not accumulate into the next life, but has value in the good works itself. In fact the four cardinal pains are not so extreme as they seem to be if one only opens oneslef to the senses of reality, and not to notions that picture such gruesome pictures in our minds.

    The later versions of philosophising Sykamumi's ideas can be seen as extensions of his findings; yet they can also be seen as hasty generalisations of Syakamuni's examples to other objects that were not in the original scope of Syakamuni's research. In that regard it could be argued that Buddhist ideas of truth is more about breaking away from fixed ideas about painful events in life than reducing every entity, whether physical or ideal, to emptiness, at least from the viewpoint of primitive Buddhism reflecting Syakamuni's thinking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    Quote Originally Posted by studyonline
    My point is that you don't even need a brain to know a truth :)
    Do you really mean this? Please explain, because you have lost me!
    I think Studyonline means to say that one of the distinguishing characteristics of truths is that their truthfulness is self-evident; not requiring elaboration or proof. Although this may not always be true, it appears to me that;

    1) Many times people use this criterion for truths and non-truths; "If someone is trying too hard to prove something, then that is something suspicious or imperfectly understood. Therefore that must be a non-truth."

    2) Many historians of science have observed that scientists often choose the simpler theory; if a complex theory requires a great number of adjustments constants, and calculation, and is in conflict with a simple theory that explains the same phenomenon with a relatively fewer number of logical steps or calculations, then the simpler one is preferred.

    However, there is no basis to the simplicity criterion. Any ideas ?

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    Occam's razor

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    best part of my life in this thread

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