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Posted by Aurino Souza on April 25, 2003 18:28:31 UTC

Harv,

" You sound a little testy, I hope I didn't catch you on a bad day? "

You have no idea! But rest assured it's nothing personal.

" I think the concept of absolute truth is important to anyone. The open question is how do we treat statements that pretend to be fully undeniable in every possible situation imaginable? "

Simple: build your personal philosophy around them.

" Do we treat fully undeniable statements as undeniable because they make our lives meaningful or do we treat them fully undeniable because they cannot be otherwise? I believe the former. "

Meaning has nothing to do with it. The statement "my name is Aurino" is fully undeniable but it doesn't necessarily mean anything by itself.

" (are you four?). "

Well, I once was and it's not clear whether I ceased to be...

" The purpose of doing that step is to remove the mystique that surrounds the common assumptions about truth talk. "

OK, but you don't have to worry about that with me. I'm not Alan.

" Sometimes when you label something by a different name, you must deal with the contents instead of being sidetracked by the label. "

Point taken.

" The question is does a concept of absolute truth approach any absolute truth of the universe that may regulate the fundamental structures of the universe. Truth is a fundamental attribute (or byproduct) of any sentence in English, but this reference to 'truth' may not equate to an absolute truth of the universe. "

It does not and it cannot. As I said, the universe doesn't speak English or any other language; the concept 'truth' has nothing to do with what happens in reality. But the fact that there exists a high degree of isomorphism between our linguistic descriptions of reality and reality itself is, to me, nothing short of a miracle.

But of course some people think otherwise and may even claim to have proof that they know what's going on.

" You don't strike me as a positivist unless your position has changed. "

My position has never changed. I'm not as anti-science as you think I am. What I strongly oppose is the rampant misunderstanding of science I see everywhere. I study physics, chemistry, biology, and I see nothing of the nonsense that physicists, chemists, biologists so often talk about. All I see are very simple ideas without much consequence beyond their fields of applicability.

" Positivists generally have what is called a verificationist approach to truth. Something is only true if you can verify it (usually by science), and they had a complete distain for anything that science could not in principle verify. "

That is not the idea. The point is that if you claim you know something, then you have to explain how exactly you came to know it, and do so in a way that doesn't require me to believe you. That is not just science, it's common sense.

The only possible objection to that stance is a simple one: it doesn't apply to itself. The logical positivists have a concept of truth that fails their own criteria for truth. Yes, I acknowledge it's a problem, but nobody has come up with anything better and more solid so far.

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