Truth One Cannot Simply Define Essay

  • Length: 9 pages
  • Subject: Physics
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #44253527

Excerpt from Essay :

Two belief systems, then -- true believe, and justified true belief (Hauser, 1992).

Humans, however, according to Pierce, turn justified true beliefs into true beliefs by converting them into axioms. Once we have proven something there is no need to prove it again, and we use the part that was proven before to further extend our study and the inquisition of knowledge. And so it becomes necessary to accept things as the truth without proving them at every single moment. However, does not mean that the belief is an unjustified belief, for it again is the conflictual nature of justified against unjustified that, for scholars like Pierce, outpours a reality he can view as "true" (Ibid).

Rene' Descartes' purpose was to make humans analyze the introspective nature of being, and to postulate on the veracity of truth as a nature of thought -- if we think it, it is, and for the individual then, positing a thought removes it from the ethereal and into the realm of truth, or reality; thus providing a circular argument for not only human ability to think, but to find truth and knowledge as part of our being (Cottingham, 1992).

Cogito Ergo Sum (I think, therefore, I am), is Descartes' way of unlocking the doors of truth for humanity. He finds we may not trust our senses, for they often deceive us based on our own individual characteristics, and the complexity of nature, which constantly change. Humans cannot even be sure of the reality of their own bodies; perhaps we are dreaming that we have bodies. How can we know whether we are dreaming or awake? We may be entirely mistaken in believing what we see. Perhaps the world is only in the mind, in imagination. Everything may be doubtful. The only certainty seems to be that there is nothing certain. He then discovered that though all things may be doubtful, the fact that we doubt is not negotiable. The basis of doubt cannot be disputed. If thinking is the process of doubt, then thinking is a certainty (Ibid).

and to change his desires rather than the order of the world, and that the only power that we as

Islam's major struggle was with their expansion to other cultures and geographic areas, which were already occupied by Christianity and Judaism. During the first centuries of Islam its law and theology, the basic orthodox Islamic disciplines, were developed. The 700s and 800s saw the emergence of the first major Islamic theological school, called the Mutazilites, who stressed reason and rigorous logical rationalists, they maintained that human reason is competent to distinguish between good and evil. By the 900s a reaction had set in, led by philosophers who maintained that moral truths are established by God and can be known only through revelation. In the 11th century, attacks on philosophy by orthodox Islamic thinkers, notably the theologian al Ghazali, had much to do with the eventual decline of rationalist philosophical speculation in the Islamic community. For al-Ghazali, the idea of truth is constructed on a pattern of prophetic knowledge, since the intellect can, and will, often err. Behind every perception is the intellect of another -- an arbiter, if you will, who could immediately invalidate that particular position. Knowledge and truth, then, occur more through inspiration from outward (God) than any looking inward (Descartes and others), since the answers are all predestined and all knowledge transcendent (Ormsby, n.d.).

For David Hume, knowledge and truth is gained only through experience, and it is experience that exists only in the mind as individual units of comprised through. Skepticism is the belief that people can not know the nature of things because perception reveals things not as they are, but as we experience them. In other words, knowledge is never known in truth, and humans should always question it. David Hume advanced skepticism to what he called mitigated skepticism. Mitigated skepticism was his approach to try to rid skepticism of the thoughts of human origin, and only include questions that people may begin to understand. Hume's goal was to limit philosophical questioning to things that could be comprehended (Ayer, 2001).

Empiricism states that knowledge is based on experience, so everything that is known is learned through experience, but nothing is ever truly known. David Hume called lively and strong experiences, perceptions, and less lively events, beliefs or thoughts. Different words and concepts meant different things to different people due to the knowledge, or experiences they have. He believed, along with the fact that knowledge is only gained through experience, that a person's experiences are nothing more than the contents of his or her own consciousness. The knowledge of anything comes from the way it is perceived through the five senses. Hume began to distinguish between feelings and thoughts. Feelings are only impressions made upon the body, and thoughts arrive from impressions; for nothing can be thought that has not been experienced.

The meaning of ideas is more important than their truth. Belief results from ideas and assumptions, which are recollected from previous knowledge. Hume's analysis of causal relation is that everything that happens beyond what is available to memory rests on assumption (Ibid).

Michael Foucault identifies the creation of truth in contemporary western society with five traits: First, the centering of truth on scientific discourse - Foucault explains that, "Science... is, literally, a power that forces you to say certain things, if you are not to be disqualified not only as being wrong, but, more seriously than that, as being a charlatan"; second, the accountability of truth to economic and political forces - "Truth' is linked in a circular relation with systems of power which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power which it induces and which extend it... A 'regime' of truth"; third, the "diffusion and consumption" of truth via societal apparatuses; fourth, the control of the distribution of truth by "political and economic apparatuses"; and fifth, the fact that it is "the issue of a whole political debate and social confrontation," that it can never be reconciled (Owen, 1997).

Very much a follower of Friedrich Nietzsche, Foucault agreed when Nietzsche defined truth: "What is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, anthropomorphism's, in short, a sum of human relations that were poetically and rhetorically heightened, transferred, and adorned, and after long use seem solid, canonical, and binding to a nation. Truths are illusions about which it has been forgotten that they are illusions, worn-out metaphors without sensory impact, coins which have lost their image and now can be used only as metal, and no longer as coins." Nietzsche confronts the ideal in his abstract perfection and the ideal as he is inside a soul. The result is leads to disillusion. "Where you see only ideal things, I see human, unfortunately only human ones. The supreme values presented to mankind are called "goodness," "devotion," "generosity," "heroism," and "asceticism." Deep down, there is nothing more immoral than the moral, more irreligious than religion, more selfish than the goodness. Virtues are made from the same material like the sins they are claiming to fight: they differentiate only by the lie." For Nietzsche, the highest human values are lies. He throws his discovery like a bomb into the world. "My truth is terrible because up until now one has called with the name of the truth. .My destiny wants me to be the first honest man. I have been the first to discover the truth. because I was the first to sense that lie was lie." Nietzsche and Foucault consider truth to be a social construct that has somehow been deified and is now something valued above regular discourse, but is really worth no more than regular discourse (Ibid).

Another modernist, Harold Pinter, used prose and the theater to illustrate the struggle for truth in contemporary society. Reacting to events like McCarthyism, the Korean War, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, and the climate of the Cold War, Pinter became convinced that individuals have an obligation to subject each individual action (truth) to an equivalent critical and moral scrutiny. It is both this introspection and deconstructionist thought that drives the concept of what humans do to search for their own view of the truth (Billington, 2007). In his 2005 lecture to the Nobel committee, Pinter reevaluated his views on truth, finding that there are no hard distinctions between what is true, what is false, what is real and what is unreal:

Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But…

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