What is it? No, seriously, think about it for a minute: what is truth? As with so many words and concepts we use on a daily basis, the answer might not be as obvious as we think. The answer to this question define our thoughts on the follow-up question: is there such a thing as "objective" or "universal" truth? Let's play around with these ideas for a minute...
For me, and everything that follows is expressly what my views are on this long debated philosophical subject, "truth" is that which corresponds with reality. That's quite straightforward, isn't it? Well, not really, for what, then, is "reality"? Here's where we get into the weeds, because we're mere humans and we have no direct access to reality. All we have is a perception of reality, and that perception is, as far as we (can or hope to) know, geared towards one specific goal; the survival of our species, which demands maximizing the chances for the survival of each individual member of the species. In general men are attracted to women and vice versa, because the propagation of the species demands it. In general, we like sweet tasting things and hate bitter our sour tasting things, because in nature edible fruits taste sweet, and poisonous fruits taste bitter or sour. When we hear a rustle in the bushes in the dark, we assume there's a predator, because it's just safer to assume the worst. In 99 out of 100 times we're wrong, because it's just the wind, but we've evolved to assume the worst for the benefit of our chances to survive.
We don't see or experience reality as it is; what we experience is a model of that reality inside our minds. So to believe that truth is that which corresponds to reality, as I do, immediately runs into problems, right? Maybe not. Maybe it's enough to believe that reality exists, even knowing that we will never be able to directly experience it. So maybe there are absolute truths, but we will never really know these absolute truths. Also, we've proven that knowledge of absolute truths isn't necessary for our survival, not even necessary for increasing the knowledge we've gained and applied to the betterment of our collective and individual lifes. All this knowledge we've gained under the assumption that there is indeed an objective and universal reality, and apparently our perception of that reality is good enough to derive truths about that reality that are true enough for us to survive and thrive. We've managed to develop a set of ideas and beliefs that map onto reality good enough for our survival and technological advancements. Even if we 99 out of 100 times misinterpret the cause of the rustle in the bush in the dark.
What is Truth? | Episode 1405 | Closer To Truth
There's no such thing as "truth" in nature. The cosmos couldn't care less about our notions of truth or falsehoods, for "truth" is a human concept. But so is everything else, even the cosmos itself as it appears in our mind's eye. We're social creatures however, and for our survival it's necessary for us to agree upon the belief that there is such a thing as objective reality, or else we're not able to cooperate in and with that reality, and cooperation is necessary for our survival. "Truth" is therefore that which corresponds on the reality we agree upon, the shared reality we all agree exists. And "reason" is the process by which we test our ability to formulate ideas that are true, concepts that correspond to the reality we all share.
There are instances though where the ideas in one's head are simply too far removed from what I deem to be objective or shared reality. Flat Earthers for example. If you and I can not agree on Earth's shape, there's no use discussing what's at the Earth's core. Debating him or her would be like debating someone who believes that 2 plus 2 equals 5; it's not that I can't give valid and sound arguments to defend my belief that 2 plus 2 equals 4, it's just that I'll never convince them because we literally live in different worlds, on different planets. So, what is truth? It's something you'll have to decide for yourself. Don't worry if you don't have an immediate answer; the world's greatest thinkers are still wrestling with this question, but it is a question worthy of everyone's attention, or at least I believe so. I've given some of my thoughts, and there's a whole lot more to say about it, but ultimately everyone has to decide for themselves; we can only hope we collectively manage to hang on to enough of a shared reality to ensure our continued survival...
Philosophy - What is Truth?
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