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The Purpose And Types Of Absolute Truth

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Posted by Paul R. Martin on April 14, 2001 23:41:29 UTC

Hi Dick,

On the purposes of absolute truth:

You said, "the concept "absolute truth" serves no purpose unless we can establish a relationship which can be accepted by the "communicators" as absolute truth".

In my view, there is almost no chance of establishing very many generally acceptable absolute truths that tell us much about the universe. The sinister thing is that the concept of absolute truth finds its greatest purpose in giving gullible people some reason to adhere to the ideas 'purveyed' by charlatans and the like. The fact that Jim Jones was able to convince his followers that he was in posession of absolute truth was what allowed him to hold such power over them. As a result, I think that the concept of absolute truth has done more harm than good.

On the types of absolute truth:

I think there are two types: One is the type I challenged people to provide an example of. That is, some statement in a human language that unambiguously and accurately describes something about reality. (I call that a profound absolute truth). So far, we have identified only one of these.

The second type (which I call a trivial absolute truth) is what you mentioned as "a truth which is true by definition". There are many examples of these undeniable truths: My car is a Mercury. George W. Bush is President of the US. 1+1=2. A bishop may only move along a diagonal. Etc.

These are truths simply because a group of people have agreed to call them true. These truths are very useful, however, because without them we would have a much harder time communicating and playing chess, among other things. None of these truths, however, tell us anything about reality.

Those are my thoughts.

Warm regards,

Paul

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