Social Question

livingchoice's avatar

What is truth?

Asked by livingchoice (553points) September 17th, 2010

Some people say that truth is relative but I think it’s absolute. What do you think?

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31 Answers

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

There can only be one truth. It is not relative. “The sky is blue” is truth. That’s absolute. How can it be relative? If another person goes to say it’s green, that would be a lie. Truth and lie is like black and white. There is no grey area that’s relative

Scooby's avatar

Truth can change, with greater knowledge & understanding are accepted.. Of previously known or supposed fact.. I may get shot down for this Lol… :-/

Austinlad's avatar

Some truths are relative in that they may be only what we believe to be true; others would seem to be absolute such as it’s true that I’m writing these words. One sure truth is that it’s one of the central and largest subjects in philosophy. It has been a topic of discussion for thousands of years. A huge variety of issues in philosophy relate to truth, either by relying on theses about truth, or implying theses about truth. Check out this page

marinelife's avatar

Some truths, like experiences, are subjective. One person’s truth of an experience may not be true for others who lived through the same experience.

valdasta's avatar

Pilate asked Jesus the same question…and walked away from it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

livingchoice's avatar

@Scooby – can you give me an example of what you mean please?

Coloma's avatar

Worldly truths are subjective, perception based, outside of the basic laws of societal conduct.
Universal truths are law, and somewhere in between lies wisdom and philosophy that point to truths, but are not truth.

JustmeAman's avatar

Truth to any individual is their reality. Try as one might you will not change what they believe until they change the reality of what they believe. I know what some have said that Truth is absolute but that doesn’t make it Truth. As @Scooby says our truth changes with knowledge which changes our reality. People used to believe the Earth was flat and until it was discovered it wasn’t that was their truth or reality even thought their Truth was not so. We think our reality is Truth because it is how and what we can measure “Like the Sky is blue”. Is the Sky Blue? That is our perception and our Reality but what if some are color blind and for them the Sky is Green? For them their reality is that the Sky is Green.

Scooby's avatar


Years ago people thought it was true that smoking was good for you. Now we know it isn’t, that’s the truth of it now, greater knowledge & understanding. :-/

Thanks @JustmeAman, GA from me….

JilltheTooth's avatar

BTW, @livingchoice ; Welcome to Fluther.

livingchoice's avatar

hmm. I see your point now.

@ ANYONE – Given the example of smoking. Smoking is bad for you no matter who says it is good because we have scientific evidence to prove that can lead to death. So as a truth smoking is bad regardless of who think it is good. Right?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

There’s probably no way of knowing, really.

That is, any truth you may encounter has to be perceived (seen, felt, smelled, tasted), and the filtration of that perception through your senses and interpretation by your mind will be different for you than it is for anyone else. Then if you try to describe what you perceive as truth, then your words and others’ ability to hear, comprehend and interpret what you say makes it even less likely that others will understand more than a fraction of what you say.

So, let’s say that there’s a God, and that It is an Absolute Truth.

Who can experience that, comprehend it, make sense of it and understand it… and then tell anyone in a way that makes any sense?

Maybe there is Absolute Truth in the world; the best we can do is hopeful approximations, estimates, models, allegories and stories to try to understand it… if it’s even there.

“The sky is blue” is not an Absolute Truth. What’s blue? What’s the sky? Go high enough, and the sky is black.

JustmeAman's avatar

And then the Sky is no longer sky it is space. With our limited knowledge of this Universe we can only go by what we can measure with science and our own experience (which are our senses and our surroundings). Does that make our knowledge absolute? I think not.

JustmeAman's avatar

I would put to you all that Helen Keller’s truth was very different than most.

livingchoice's avatar

I would have to disagree slightly. Should truth then be based on one’s ability to experience it? Something is truth weather one can see it, taste it, feel it, hear it or touch it or not.

wundayatta's avatar

Truth is a myth designed to comfort people about what they do and how they do it. Truth provides the illusion that it is possible to know something and to know it absolutely.

Truth, in other words, is good enough for government.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@livingchoice the way I led off my argument was by saying that there’s probably no way for us to know “absolute truth”. How could we, using our imperfect senses and brains and ability to communicate and understand each other? It doesn’t mean that absolute truth doesn’t exist, only that we’d never be able to perceive, understand or communicate it.

BoBo1946's avatar

is what it is.

zophu's avatar

It’s absolutely relative, you’re right.

Rarebear's avatar

Truth is absolute. Something is either true or it is not.

ipso's avatar

– “Man can embody truth but he cannot know it. – William Butler Yeats
– “The definition of truth is if you would stake your life on it.” – Bishop Berkeley (via David Mamet’s book Bambi vs. Godzilla)
– “All things are subject to interpretation; whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
– “There are trivial truths & there are great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.” – Neils Bohr
– Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die. – William Butler Yeats

BoBo1946's avatar


A man turned to the woman seated next to him on an airplane and said, “What’s that book you’re reading?”

“The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin.”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s about how the Bush Administration orchestrated the 9/11 attacks so they could invade the Middle East.”

The man’s jaw dropped, his face slowly turned red, and he said “That’s so ridiculous it’s not even worth discussing.” Silence.

The woman said, “Okay, then. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat grass. The same stuff. Yet a deer excretes little pellets while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?”

“Jeez,” said the man. “I have no idea.”

“Well, then,” the woman said, “How is it that you think you know what happened on 9/11 when you don’t know shit?”

kess's avatar

Truth is that which is come out of and separated from a lie.

Thus it is absolute.

When ever truth is not absolute , then it becomes relative and thus remains a lie for it changes.

A lie is a thing that is NOT.

Truth simply IS.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t believe there is absolute truth and I think the closest I have heard it defined was in this quotation. “The heart is the measure of all things”

fundevogel's avatar

I’m afraid the word truth has been hijacked by mystics and such that aren’t really concerned with the whether or not truth be factual but want to lend a sense of finality to what they believe. Because of this I avoid referencing “the truth”, especially “The Truth” whenever possible and refer to facts, evidence, history and such not instead.

fundevogel's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess “The sky is blue” is truth. That’s absolute. How can it be relative? If another person goes to say it’s green, that would be a lie. Truth and lie is like black and white. There is no grey area that’s relative”

The truth that the sky is blue hinges entirely on how eyes interpret light. So if you are a human with normal vision it is true that you percieve the sky to be blue. But not every creature percieves things the same way. Insects like bees perceive a much broader perception of color, for bees the sky may be ultraviolet. So it would be a falsehood for them to say that the sky was blue. Color perception is an interpretation of light rays, it is not an absolute truth. If you really want to describe the sky’s color without ocular bias you must refer to the wavelength (or is it frequency?) of the light itself.

flutherother's avatar

Here is another quote that illustrates what I mean by truth…......

Chuangtse and Hueitse had strolled on to the bridge over the Hao, when the former observed, “See how the small fish are darting about! That is the happiness of the fish.”

“You not being a fish yourself,” said Huei, “how can you know the happiness of the fish?”

“And you not being I,” retorted Chuangtse, “how can you know that I do not know?”

“If I, not being you, cannot know what you know,” urged Huei, “it follows that you, not being a fish, cannot know the happiness of the fish.”

“Let us go back to your original question,” said Chuangtse. “You asked me how I knew the happiness of the fish. Your very question shows that you knew that I knew. I knew it from my own feelings on this bridge.”

YARNLADY's avatar

@Aesthetic_Mess as @fundevogel has pointed out, your statement that the sky is blue is not by any means true. The sky is not any color, but what most of us perceive as the color we have agreed to call blue is nothing more than the light waves reflected back from the molecules of air. I have no idea what your sight receptors recognize as blue as you have no idea what my sight receptors/brain interpretation is. My truth may be completely different from yours.

zophu's avatar

Practical truths are absolute, but only for as long as they remain practical. When certainty becomes unquestionable, truths remain absolute in the mind even when there is no practicality. It’s heartbreaking to see people twisting their perceptions around a few stuck truths that were solidified before in fear. It’s heartbreaking because their perceptions are of other people, of themselves, their friends and family, of their children. It’s the most pervasive coping mechanism, certainty. Even those that preach skepticism usually depend on it, justifying it with pretentious scientific arguments against the greatly misinformed. If you try to own yourself, you’re only going to be owned, and you’re going to try to own other people; be humble before absolute truth, even with your own knowledge. You can’t own truth, you can only let it become a part of you, you a part of it.

nebule's avatar

@Austinlad yes, the stanford has my vote too!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@zophu to the extent that I understand that response, I love it.

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