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Re: If You Don't Know What Truth Is...

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Posted by Richard D. Stafford, Ph.D. on April 23, 2002 18:11:54 UTC

Hi Aurino,

I posted this response at the top because the thread is getting to be quite a ways away.

***** Aurino:
First, I think "we have to agree" is simply impossible to achieve.
*****

If it is indeed impossible to achieve, then so is communication itself!

***** Aurino:
No matter how much communication goes on between two people, it's simply impossible to know if a word that is supposedly "agreed upon" will not raise eyebrows in the future.
*****

What you are saying is that communication has not taken place! You could change the sentence to "No matter how much communication [appears to go on] between two people, ..."

***** Aurino:
I'd say that instead of agreement, we can only hope to achieve the illusion of agreement.
*****

I agree 100%

***** Aurino:
Even that is hard enough.
*****

Unless we happen to be discussing something which is actually 100% isomorphic; in which case it doesn't matter as logic is logic and it applies to either position perfectly!

***** Aurino:
But that is one view. From another perspective, the issue above is not absolute, that is, not all words are the same. Some words are quite obvious and, from my experience, almost impossible to misunderstand.
*****

"Almost impossible" is not "impossible"! I think you would be surprised as to what is possible.

***** Aurino:
Now here's a puzzle for you: how is it that kids can learn the meaning of one word without knowing the meaning of any other word?
That's hard to explain from your perspective, isn't it?
*****

Not at all! What you are referring to (your concept of that word being used) is no more than just another experience out of many which the child has. That experience happens enough times and the child will associate it with other phenomena. In their developing model of reality the expression of that set of sounds will have consequences. It all begins as just a guess and a little positive feed back supports that guess.

***** Aurino:
What is the difference between "no" and "NO!"?
*****

Well, right here the difference is the fact that one is in small letters and the other is in capital letters! They are certainly different. And I further presume that you are trying to symbolize a difference in volume of the sound you make. You have just expressed that difference with numbers (ASCII code!!). You might get more definitive and sent me a better numerical representation in a wav file; perhaps a long one with many variations.

***** Aurino:
You can't possibly question the meaning of every single word, either you take it for granted that some things are beyond reasonable doubt or you might as well pack your stuff and live in the mountains away from everyone else, Ted Kaczynski-style.
*****

But that is exactly what I am doing! I am indeed questioning the meaning of every single word! And I haven't found it necessary to "pack [my] stuff and live in the mountains away from everyone else, Ted Kaczynki-style".

***** Aurino:
I think what you're missing here is that if you don't know what "truth" is, then you can't possibly know anything else.
*****

Now here I would disagree with you very strongly! That squirrel outside the window probably does not know what "pravda" means, but I think he knows some things.

***** Aurino:
Now here we disagree. Our memories are not reliable at all. The truth of our memories must be verified against things we know for sure to be true.
*****

"Must be verified..." now doesn't that seem to indicate some prediction of the future? It seems to me that you are speaking of the requirement that your mental model of the Universe must be consistent. Didn't I say that our memories can only be counted as "true" if our model of the Universe is 100% self consistent?

***** Aurino:
My point is that there are things we know for sure to be true, and they are not physics.
*****

I wouldn't argue with that! But I would ask: "exactly what are they?" At least the physics yields a start point!

***** Aurino:
For instance, I know for sure that I'm sitting on a computer writing this message.
*****

I don't think you understand that the sentence only constitutes communication if the concepts I attach to the words are isomorphic to the concepts you attach!

***** Aurino:
Tomorrow I may not know it for sure anymore, ten years from now I will have completely forgotten it. Yet, ten years from now I'll still have truths upon which to judge the likelihood of specific memories being true or false.
*****

Everything you have said is dependent on the validity of your mental model of the Universe.

***** Aurino:
The trouble with your analysis, when it concerns these particular kinds of discussion, is that your picture of reality doesn't support the concept of the present moment. The present is part of your original dilemma and is therefore left aside, or so it seems to me.
*****

Now I would deny that picture but, unless you can comprehend my perspective, what I might say is beside the point.

***** Aurino:
Look around you, truth is everywhere. But pay attention, because it keeps changing.
*****

If it changes, than the concept you have of the meaning of the word "truth" is certainly different from mine! Or perhaps the meaning of the word "changing" is different -- or perhaps both! All I really know is "we are not communicating".

***** Aurino:
I have to stop here. Don't take any of this seriously.
*****

Seriously? No, I wouldn't worry about it; but it does provide material to probe our understandings.

Have fun -- Dick

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