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NerdyKeith's avatar

Do you believe in absolute truth or subjective truth?

Asked by NerdyKeith (5479points) April 14th, 2016
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

NerdyKeith's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me What are the more prominent situations for accepting subjective and objective truth for you?

kritiper's avatar

Absolute truth. Subjective truth can be misleading and/or not complete. One of my favorite adages is “Honesty is always the best policy but some things should never be said.” A person might believe in both, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

ragingloli's avatar

Reality is.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Objective truth is where scientific study, proof and implementation are completely required and obtainable. Example would be: what is escape velocity?

Subjective truth is where we cannot find the answer to 100% certainty such as “humans are causing all of the warming trend the earth is experiencing or “9 out of 10 people prefer such and such over this and that” Subjective truth is often polluted by ideology, politics, junk science, misinterpretation or simple greed.

Jak's avatar

Truth is singular.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. Truth is subjective but that doesn’t mean that absolute truth is impossible. There are some things that are subjective but which we can still agree upon. From what viewpoint would a truth be ‘absolute’ anyway? God’s?

Pachy's avatar

I’m not at all sure there is such a thing as absolute truth. I suspect what we say is true may only as be truthful as we humans perceive it to be based on what we think we know. And we don’t know A LOT.

Zaku's avatar

The extent to which we believe something, is the extent to which we stop being curious, and where we can mistakenly abandon possibilities because we think we understand things more completely than we do.

So, to answer your question, it depends…

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Pachy Sure there is, 1+1=2 is an absolute truth when we are talking integers. The world and our minds are full of them.

Rarebear's avatar

To expand on what @ragingloli said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” Philip K. Dick.

Pachy's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me, in the first place, math is a man-made science to help us make order of a universe we imperfect humans can forever attempt to comprehend but can never be certain we do. In the second place, and more importantly, I said “I’m not at all sure.”

See, the older I get, the less I am sure about anything. Also, the less I trust those who say they are.

And guess what? I’m no longer afraid to voice my doubts. I just don’t care to debate them. See ya.

Rarebear's avatar

Math isn’t a man made science. Math exists already and man just discovers it.

Soubresaut's avatar

Absolute truth to me—like others have said—is just what reality happens to be. There is a reality, and it is a certain way. Doesn’t mean we know what that is, doesn’t mean we don’t.

Still, I agree with @Zaku in that I think it’s dangerous for us to assume we’ve “reached” absolute truth. One of the reasons science is such a powerful discipline is the process of verification and re-verification so integral to it—that we become increasingly certain of our theories the more we try to disprove them and fail to do, but always reserve space for them to change/shift/be debunked/etc. This seems necessary. The universe is huge. Our sensibilities are, by contrast, on a mere human scale.

Subjective truth… I’ve heard so many variations of it, I almost feel that its definition is subjective… I see its value as a way of reminding us there are multiple perspectives to a single issue, but I don’t like when it’s used as a way of evading contradictions in one’s opinions (the whole “well, truth is subjective” or “well it’s ‘my’ truth” dismissal of discussion.) I’ve also heard it used as a way of meaning “everyone’s biased,” which is true, although when it’s used to shut down opinions (rather than open up discussions about those opinions and their significance) it’s not terribly constructive. In a looser form, where “subjective” just means the reference point is a subject—someone perceiving and interpreting, rather than “reality-itself”—I think touches on the fact that we’re all subjects in this game of discovering-the-truth. So we pool our resources and maybe find something more universal in the blend.

gorillapaws's avatar

There is one reality. You can have beliefs that happen to be true or false with regards to that reality, but those beliefs have no actual bearing on that reality. For example, this bully’s subjective truth was that he could pick on this larger kid and get away with it. It’s a lesson about what happens when someone’s “subjective truth” meets actual truth.

JLeslie's avatar


It depends on the situation and what we are talking about. Just like sometimes in an argument both people can be right even though they disagree, both people can have their own subjective truth about something. However, some things are provable truths or facts that no matter how much someone wants to bend what it means it can’t be altered.

Perception is everything, and perception is also a factor in “truths” sometimes. Our memories and experiences affect what we know to be truths.

LostInParadise's avatar

The physics of the 20th century, particularly quantum mechanics, tells us that truth is not subjective. There is the well known quote that quantum is not only stranger than we imagine but stranger than we can imagine. However, I am not so sure about there being an absolute truth. Just as quantum mechanics and relativity were refinements of Newtonian physics, there is always the possibility for new refinements. In the end, the truth at any moment is what works best.

Quote from Richard Feynman. Note that he says that he is not absolutely certain of anything.

You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things. But I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and there are many things I don’t know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we’re here, and what the question might mean. I might think about it a little bit; if I can’t figure it out, then I go onto something else. But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell—possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie I think you’re confusing “subjective truth” with “belief.”

Either the big bang happened or it didn’t. I don’t have the ability to know for sure what occurred, I have beliefs about the big bang based on evidence. That said, what some primate on some random planet 13.8 billion years later thinks about what happened doesn’t have any effect on what ACTUALLY happened.

Likewise, if a color-blind person perceives a red cardinal as a green cardinal, the bird’s color didn’t magically change because it’s being observed by someone who is color-blind. The truth of the situation hasn’t changed simply because it’s being misperceived by someone.

Judi's avatar

This is my concept of truth.
For years I lived in California and drove often to visit my family in Oregon. Every trip we saw Mount Shasta. I saw it so often that I would recognize it in any picture. I KNEW what mount Shasta looked like!
My husband got his pilots license and we now have a small plane. We flew to Oregon and flew past Mount Shasta. My husband told me it was Mount Shasta but I didn’t believe him. It didn’t look anything like the Mount Shasta I KNEW! In reality, it WAS Mount Shasta, we were just on the East side of it. It looked completely different.
It made me think about truth. Truth is the mountain. The mountain doesn’t really change. What changes is our perspective. My truth can be completely different from your truth, not because the truth is different but because we are approaching it from opposite sides of the mountain.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws For my dad the red traffic light is a shade of grey. That’s how the cones in his eye work (or don’t work). He accepts most people see it as a different color and defers to us to interpret the color “correctly.” It really is grey for him. I can’t make him see it differently. @Judi gave a great example of the mountain from different sides.

Memory, perception, perspective, past experience, it all can affect what is the truth. Knowing this can really help in communicating and getting along with others in my opinion. For instance, at one time, my SIL and MIL decided I was after my husband’s money and their family money. This is a total and absolute joke. My family has much more money. I even had more money than my husband personally when we got married, but each of us only had a couple to few thousand dollars, I’m not talking about a lot of money. Also, I was making a little more money when we got married. I, more times than one, suggested to my husband paying for something to help his family financially. It’s total crazy talk. They decided I’m obsessed with money and their money, because I am more inclined to care about money being handled with legal documents.

For instance, his parents were going to give us their condo/villa (like a townhouse) when we got married. Mind you, we had been paying the mortgage for them, because for months they hadn’t been sending the money like they were supposed to. When I found out they weren’t going to change it into our name, my response was that then it isn’t ours. That makes me a horrible person for caring about the legal paperwork. Forget that my MIL eventually said she doesn’t think they can afford to gift it to us, and of course we just let them off the hook from the offer anyway, because I would never expect such an extravagant gift. I’m just a middle class American girl, the idea of being gifted a house is beyond my world.

Also, my husband wanted the money back for all the mortgage payments he made, and I was the one who told him don’t ask for it, because we were living there. But I’m the gold digger. ~ That’s their truth about me. It was until more recently where I think they have their eyes a little more open to the actual truth as I know it about myself and my family for that matter.

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