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Schroedes13's avatar

Why is truth so subjective?

Asked by Schroedes13 (3864 points ) July 11th, 2011

Often times, eye witness testimonies are the worst form of evidence in a trial because of the perception of the individuals. What is the root cause of the process of making truth so subjective? Why can two humans watch the exact same thing and have two very different responses? I’d love to hear any examples that Jellies have of this too!

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20 Answers

ucme's avatar

It basically comes down to perception doesn’t it? I mean, people perceive what they see as real according to their own view. Of course a lot of the time people see what they want to see in any given situation, which can be based on any number of factors.

Schroedes13's avatar

@ucme I believe it’s all perception, but it’s just funny how people’s perception can be so different in almost every form. Like two people can see the same thing, read the same passage, or hear the same melody, and feel totally different towards it!

I find it so interesting!

athenasgriffin's avatar

The problem comes in because our minds instantly categorizes and changes information to fit what our perceptions of things should be. A good example is our blind spot. Each of us has one, but we would never know it, because our mind takes the surroundings and places an image that makes sense where our blind spot is so we don’t go around with a big grey spot in our vision all of the time. So basically our brain processes things even before we realize it.
Google blind spot to learn more. It is really fascinating stuff.

lillycoyote's avatar

“Truth” isn’t subjective. The truth is the truth. Perception is a different thing altogether. There are many things that effect one’s perception of reality.

Schroedes13's avatar

@lillycoyote but what about when someone perceives something in a fashion and believes it to be true? Is that not the truth to them?

athenasgriffin's avatar

I agree, the truth is rather subjective. If only two people saw an event, and the two people are both being completely honest, yet their stories conflict, both are telling the truth (In the sense that they are being honest). And yet, two conflicting stories cannot be both true. Hence, truth being subjective.

Schroedes13's avatar

That’s the problem that everyone can have their own truth!

flutherother's avatar

Truth is subjective, and yet we agree on what the truth is.

dabbler's avatar

I agree with @lillycoyote “The truth is the truth.” It is unchanging.
We may be having a bit of semantical issue with the word and its usage though.

Perceptions in the moment can be imperfect and memories are often imperfect.
Everyone can have their own opinion but there is one set of facts for a given situation.
Just because someone is convinced about what they saw/remember does not make it the truth.

Schroedes13's avatar

but then the philosophical question would be: can anyone know the objective truth if what they perceive is flawed?

dabbler's avatar

@Schroedes13 You got it. Perception equal truth. And how to know truth, the unchanging kind, is very difficult.
That is at the core of some of the finest philosophical practice. Buddhism and Vedanta (Yoga philosophy, i.e. not Hindu religion) have the direct experience of truth as a core pursuit. While one pursues such a thing the variety of distractions and distortions (e.g. our attachments to our perceptions) that we experience become evident and eventually fall away.

That sort of practice is unfortunately often associated with religion since these practices are transcendental, beyond the capacity of the mind to fully grasp, and traditionally religions are where we lump stuff like that.

There are some examples of philosophical practice that go straight for the “enlightenment” experience without the entanglement of religion. E.g. Enlightenment Intensive

filmfann's avatar

“Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”
—Obi Wan Kenobi

thorninmud's avatar

it isn’t just a matter of “flaws” in perception or memory. As soon as you attempt to construct a narrative about something, you’ve entered the world of subjectivity. Narratives are the product of a mind. Reality, or “truth” if you prefer, has no intrinsic narrative. It simply is.

Even if your narrative agrees with that of several other people, that doesn’t make it objective. It just means that all of those people are constructing their narratives according to the same culturally accepted way of interpreting reality. A commonly agreed upon interpretation is, nonetheless, an interpretation.

kess's avatar

Truth cannot be subjective, for when ever it becomes subjective it ceases to be Truth but has become the false…

Perceptions give the appearance of subjectivity to Truth.

And perception is readily influences by the Fallacy rather than Truth.

CWOTUS's avatar

Your question is misleading. It’s not that “truth is subjective”, because it’s not, really. What is entirely subjective, though, is “perception”, including “point of view”. No one else is in my head interpreting what I see, and no one else has my particular point of view, which includes the literal “point” or physical angle of viewing, nor my collection of earlier-similar events and other perceptions to file and catalog against.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Validity may be subjective – if a statement is coherent with the sum of our individual knowledge and recollections, then it is valid.

You still have to check the real world to find out whether it’s true or not.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve recently read that people’s perception of facts vary based on their personal+moral beliefs and therefore their reactions to the same thing vary.

marinelife's avatar

Because our observations are filtered through our paradigm, which is made up of our beliefs, our experiences, and our past observations.

Schroedes13's avatar

I apologize to anyone who found my questions misleading. Looking back, I guess I used some improper words. Hindsight is 20/20!

kitszu's avatar

Because we are human. That’s the first thing I thought.

Our memories arn’t infallible, we would like to think they are though.

I love this question because I wanted to be a forensic psychologist.

My boss preaches the “big picture”, I don’t disagree but I think, like any picture, ‘the big picture’ is made of “smaller parts”...

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