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phoenyx's avatar

What is truth?

Asked by phoenyx (7377points) June 29th, 2008

How would you define it? How do you pursue truth in your own life? Is it worth pursuing? How do you determine if something is true? Is there something you know absolutely to be true?

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15 Answers

trudacia's avatar

I never assume anything is truth except what comes from me. I am true to me. I take everything else with a grain of salt. It’s in our nature to lie. To assume anything else is insane.

You can hope people are telling the truth.. But to rely on it is ignorant.

beast's avatar

The meaning of the word truth extends from honesty, good faith, and sincerity in general, to agreement with fact or reality in particular.

pnutbutterngabby's avatar

“There is no truth, there is only you and what you make the truth.”

Harp's avatar

This moment, and this moment alone, is pure, naked truth.
If I say a single word about it, I transform it into a lie.
To pursue it is to miss it.
I don’t determine if something is true; Truth is always right in front of my nose. No… closer.

aaronou's avatar

The fact that we cannot have conclusive evidence of any absolute truth does not exclude the fact that there might still exist absolute truths. In other words, one should not be so quick to dismiss truth as a reality just because there is not sufficient proof. A number of court cases could mirror this example as some may be found innocent when they are guilty and vice versa.

marinelife's avatar

I am not sure why we have thrown truth out the window altogether in recent years, acting as if absolutely everything is a matter of debate. It sort of wastes a lot of time that could be focused on real questions and issues.

There are some truths. The Earth rotates on its axis. The Earth revolves around the sun. Human beings breathe an oxygen mixture atmosphere. We could go on from there pretty darn far.

One thing that I have learned about personal truth is that I have nothing to gain by trying to convince others of it. I used to fling myself fruitlessly at my family trying to get them to see and acknowledge various truths. Talk about a no-win situation. Now I am very comfortable if I know my truth. I speak my truth once, and then I don’t really care whether other people accept it or not.

Knotmyday's avatar

Truth is an ideal. I try to strive for it every day.

actually, I lied. Almost every day.

Standswithacane's avatar

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius.” – Emerson

And that’s the truth.

phoenyx's avatar

trudacia, pnutbutterngabby, Standswithacane: that seems problematic. Aren’t you imperfect and fallible? Isn’t that akin to a flawed pentium trying to evaluate it’s own floating point errors? Are you implying that truth is entirely relative to an individual?

beast: so you would define truth by copying from a dictionary? No additional insights of your own?

Harp: interesting statement, but how would you apply it? Are you implying that truth is a useless pursuit?

aaronou: you’re saying there is absolute truth? How would you recognize it?

Marina: it seems like there are logical truths: the whole is greater than the part, mathematical truths: 1 + 1 = 2, scientific truths: the sun is hot, etc., but what about concepts outside of those spheres? Are there truths there as well? What is an example of “your truth”?

Harp's avatar

@pheonyx
Let me see if I can clarify with a metaphor (brace yourself).

Suppose I set out to know the truth of a mountain, its essence, its “mountain-ness”. Where will I go looking for that essence? I could operate on the assumption that the essence is some particular element of the mountain; that somewhere in all of that stuff must be something that encapsulates mountain-ness. I could then tear the mountain apart looking for that essence.

Having done that to no avail, I might decide that by coming to a complete knowledge of all of the constituent parts of the mountain, the sum of that knowledge would capture the essence of the mountain. I could then subject every type of rock I find to spectroscopic analysis, every plant and insect to microscopic examination, and on and on. In the end, I will have vast piles of documentation which might be able to evoke some pale conceptual representation of the mountain in someone’s mind, but that could hardly be called the essence of the mountain.

What I’m proposing is that the very moment that I laid eyes on the mountain, the very moment that I felt the strain of climbing its flanks, or heard the screech of its peregrines, its essence is right there. To go looking for its truth elsewhere is to miss its truth. A 2-year-old child can grasp the mountain-ness as easily as can a geologist, or maybe even easier, because the geologist will see basalt and quartzite where the child sees mountain-ness.

Enough metaphor. Handing over the task of looking for Truth to the intellect is like giving the mountain to the geologist. The intellect functions by dividing, partitioning, analyzing and labeling. That leads to information, but the essence doesn’t lie in the information, no matter how accurate and complete the information is.

And neither is there any one part of the whole that is more “true” than any other part. There isn’t some repository of truth hidden somewhere in there that we can go looking for.

Even before we go looking, there it is. As soon as we take one step on our quest for truth, we’ve missed it. But, being as we are, we have to make that step many, many times before we realize that it isn’t necessary. We have to rediscover our child’s eye.

marinelife's avatar

@Harp What a beautiful encapsulation.

@phoenyx In my family, truth was an elusive commodity. One was expected to support the system even when the system was sick and relied on a web of lies and omissions to be held up. Candid, forthright (some would say to the point of rudeness) creature that I am, I hated that.

I spent a lot of time in my youth butting heads with the family system. If, for example, I said that cruel things one or both of my parents said to me were hurtful, I was told, “No, you are too sensitive.”

If someone in my family said that my sister was a good mother, I would point out that abandoning your husband and child when the child was an infant to ride around the country having sex with a bunch of truckers and doing drugs was hardly the stuff of good motherhood (not to mention drinking and doing drugs throughout one’s pregnancy) even if you did come back into the kid’s life when she was 10. This got me attacked from all sides and told that since I had no children, I had no idea what being a good mother was.

In the early years, I spent a lot of time uselessly trying to get them to see that they were wrong, and I was right. Eventually, I grew to realize that me knowing I was right was enough, and I could simply disengage from the system.

Standswithacane's avatar

Beautiful, Harp.

pathfinder's avatar

the truth depande on that. how did you created.

seVen's avatar

Word of God ( The Holy Bible ) says that Jesus Christ is the Truth, The Way, and Life.

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