It’s interesting, i’ve thought about this and i’d like to discuss it.

We argue for the existence of absolute truths.

Why are they so relevant?

I hear alot of people argue that we cannot be certain, for example, about the existence of God.

However, that’s like anything - we can never have an absolute truth on it.

So therefore, why ask for it when coming to this topic?

Just wondering.

I am writing a post on this subject. It is a difficult one. In short people put their pride in extremes they get attached to. I found that if we ‘look for direction and forget perfection’ we can do better.

Aristotle reminds us:

“It is the mark of an educated mind to rest satisfied with the degree of precision which the nature of the subject admits and not to seek exactness where only an approximation is possible.”

I get into battle all the time with atheists and philosophers that think in terms of ‘black and white’ only with no shades of gray. The problem with such though it is does not allow for relativism when it comes to human nature and only puts its pride in the realm of absolute perfection theory. People do not operate in this real of absolute perfection, so if you are looking for universal laws of absolute perfection concerning human nature you will fail every time.

Thoreau once said when people invited him to dinner they put their pride in how fancy and expensive a meal they could make. Whereas he put his pride in how simple and inexpensive a meal he could make.

Where do we put our pride? In absolute perfection?

Myself? I put my pride in the ‘best fit’ equation.

I hope to get this post done in a few weeks.

Good Luck,

V (Male)

Agnostic Freethinker

Nice post, Will,

Strictly speaking, talk of “absolute truth” is redundant. A true statement becomes no more true by insisting that it’s somehow absolutely, or perfectly true. Analogously, a mathematician wouldn’t dream of using the adjective “absolute” to modify the noun, “perpendicular,” in his or her proof.

Much of what are casually characterized as “truths” aren’t truths at all. Rather, they represent models or approximations of the world. Engineers, among others, have long understand this. For example, no sane mechanical engineer would request a machine shop to produce a part, say, of 50mm diameter. Doubtless, the shop foreman would reject such a drawing as unworkable. No, an engineer dimensions his drawing to call for a diamater of, say, 50mm +/- 0.01mm, etc. A mechanical engineer understands that while it’s fine to think in terms of Euclid’s geometry (an idealization), this thinking can only be transferred to the material world - the world of Austin’s so-called, “medium-sized dry goods” - in terms of models or approximations.

The concept of truth is a mental construct; a human creation. Truths exist to the extent that we think them and speak them into the world. Frege thought truth to be an exclusive property of propositions; for Tarski it was exclusively a property of sentences; for P.F. Strawson, it belonged to the domain of statements. In any case, there is no truth without a truthbearer - namely, us.

The vast majority of possible truths are as boring as snot. Suppose the statement, “There are 0.34 +/- 0.01 milligrams of dustbunnies currently underneath my bed,” were true. Would anyone place this truth upon their alter, dance around it or prostrate themselves before it?

Truth, for truth’s sake, interests me very little. Nor am I interested in merely cataloging facts in the way a philatelist collects stamps. What’s most important to me in my life, and in this world, has naught to do with truths or facts. The inanimate physical world matters to me inasmuch as it supports the fictions that are most dear to me; namely, my loves and the myths that together have become my life. Lacking that; universe, multiverse, any-verse would be a swindle at a dime-a-dozen.

Finally, I agree with the central position of your thesis, Will.

“A common defect of the human mind is that it craves either complete certainty or complete disbelief.” R.A. Lyttleton

“People search for certainty. But there is no certainty. People are terrified - how can you live and not know?..You only think you know…I’m not absolutely sure of anything…But I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a myseterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is so far as I can tell. It doesn’t frighten me.”
Richard Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

“To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.” Russell

Happy Solstice,

Well, I think a lot of it deals with how you are approaching the problem.

If what you want to do is to create a certain type of person, then you need some sort of measuring rod. From that, absolutes are created and to give that measuring rod validity, it becomes associated with the Truth, rather than simply being viewed as a metric for self-cultivation. In this way men are tempered like a metal, pounded again and again until they adopt the chosen shape.

The second type of approach is when someone is looking for a useful model. In this, more exploratory-type of truth-seeking there are vast areas that are poorly understood, and “I don’t know” becomes a valid answer and the explorer always has to keep in mind that they might just be wrong.

The problem comes when people confuse one sort of truth with the other. A scientist would be ill-advised to embrace the first sort of truth, while a religious person would be ill-advised to embrace the second sort. The goals of the two systems are very different and should not be confused. There is no morality in the chemical composition of oxaloacetate, benzene is not a more socially advanced structure than hexane. Such a position is clearly absurd! By the same token, there is no scientific validity to not eating meat on Friday, there is no reductionist view on the I Ching. While one can socially and anthropologically reverse-engineer such a meaning onto the first kind of truth, such models are rarely predictive because it is, again, confusing the kinds of truths and truth-seekers.

Because, as Madonna says, “We live in a material world”, and when you slap your hand on that material refrigerator handle, it is absolutely there, and when the refrigerator door opens all of that nice concrete material food is absolutely there to keep me absolutely alive – that’s why they’re so relevant.

Though relativists (those who look at obvious absolutes and say they’re subjectively relative) may say absolutism is extreme and relativism is normal, as Michelle Branch says, “Who wants to be normal in a crazy mixed up world?!”.

Indeed, though discoveries may sometimes start with assuming the obvious is false, there are times when denying what’s obviously absolutely true just gets old, and we need good, solid, absolutely real relationships with others to ground ourselves in a solid firm foundation of being, and that just feels really good … though that also means we have to face difficult absolute realities, like the reality of our mortality and tough stuff that truly did happen to us when we were children.

Yes, though being an absolute-denying relativist is a good way of running from tough stuff, eventually, all that running truly does get us lost … and we just want to come home, absolutely.

And just because something is spiritual in nature, abstractly detected, in no way makes it any less non-relatively real than something that is concretely material and sensually there.

The absence of “knowing” absolutely, simply does not make an absolute reality relative.

Without some sort of truth to base our frame work on mind upon, how would we make sense of this world? Our brains have things that they just know.

The truth I eat to survive (I would consider this evolutionary knowledge) is fairly prevalient through the world and I would call this an absolute truth for humans. Why is it important to me to know this? If, in case anyone ever comes to question my truth, I will be able to say with confidence that I am hungry and I must eat. I can use this truth to justify my other beliefs, like “I want this chocolate bar”. Perhaps it is not logical (I wouldn’t be able to come up with any sort of logical proof tying together desire and need) but it is quite human to want to justification and reason.


Joined: 09 Sep 2006
Posts: 54
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Posted: Mon Dec 25, 2006 2:56 am Post subject: The “NEED?” For ABSOLUTES???

It’s interesting, i’ve thought about this and i’d like to discuss it.

We argue for the existence of absolute truths.

Why are they so relevant?

I hear alot of people argue that we cannot be certain, for example, about the existence of God.

However, that’s like anything - we can never have an absolute truth on it.

So therefore, why ask for it when coming to this topic?

Just wondering.

I like yo style, phil-O-sophick-ally… Will
You know?
I can’t offer an “absolute” answer…but a stab at communication…

Seriously, I believe the value in “absolute” lies in the “Need”
as you put it
for bridging the gap between your subjective experience and “mines”…
In other words, the idea of a universally true reality would serve, well not the idea, but the actual reality, would serve as a comfort that you and I are not each alone in separate interpretations of the grand scale, but rather are observers of the same Entity.

It’s fair, truthful, and inspiring to admit that we, in fact, are…

vvery interesting and comforting, the preference for the best fit over the “absolute”…

the “absolute” is ever-elusive, where the “best-fit equation” speaks to the essence of personal choice in the faceof the absolute. Cheers!

it is quite human to want to […] justification and reason.— Viktri

At least somebody read my response.

I dig the hip-hop style, so gimme a bit before I rebuttal.