Best definition of truth

  • Thread starter Alexander
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  • #1
Best definition of truth I ever read came from Marx: "Truth is agreement with fact." In essense, this equates truth with observed fact. Therefore, there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s).

Is there any better definition of truth?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
drag
Science Advisor
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Greetings !
Originally posted by Alexander
Best definition of truth I ever read came
from Marx: "Truth is agreement with fact."
In essense, this equates truth with observed
fact. Therefore, there is no "absolute truth"
or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s).

Is there any better definition of truth?
My opinion is that since "observed fact" is not
absolute, and "truth" is a word that is
linguisticly meant to imply just that
it is purhaps better to keep this word
out of any discription of or connected
to reality and use it only for abstract
concepts. For reality, I think that
"compatible" is probably better than "true".

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #3
drag
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Hmm... I appologize, since I forgot what was
actualy asked.

A definition:
The noun truth is used to discribe a
concept as true. A true concept is a
concept that originated from absolute
axioms and other facts.
("Fact" = a true concept.)

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #4
Hold on, fact is not a concept. Fact is what we observed.
 
  • #5
drag
Science Advisor
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Originally posted by Alexander
Hold on, fact is not a concept. Fact is what
we observed.
Well yeah, we use it to mean that. However,
fact is a somewhat biased term because it
means to talk about the more general thing -
a concept, as though it is true. But, every
concept that I can see or think of isn't
necessarily true.

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #6
drag
Science Advisor
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Then again, I'm not sure I'm choosing the
terms correctly here. Is there a better
linguistic choice in terms of adequate meaning ?
 
  • #7
Iacchus32
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Truth is the vessel (form) and good is contained within (essence). So what's the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
 
  • #8
Originally posted by drag

However,
fact is a somewhat biased term because it
means to talk about the more general thing -
a concept, as though it is true. But, every
concept that I can see or think of isn't
necessarily true.

[/B]

Fact is not biased, because when scientists observe fact they don't use human senses, but objective tools.

And we are not calling various hallucinations (of Jesus, God, Satan, etc) by "fact".
 
  • #9
Iacchus32
2,313
1
Originally posted by Alexander
And we are not calling various hallucinations (of Jesus, God, Satan, etc) by "fact".
When we attain the truth in God, it's much like achieving "climax" in our ability to reason.
 
  • #10
Dissident Dan
237
2
Originally posted by Alexander
Best definition of truth I ever read came from Marx: "Truth is agreement with fact." In essense, this equates truth with observed fact. Therefore, there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s).

Is there any better definition of truth?

Well, then you're saying that facts aren't absolutely true.

I don't think that I could really define truth without some kind of recursive definition ("that which is true", "that which is not false", or "the quality of being true"). Truth is such a basic notion.

I belive that there is absolute truth, and I don't believe that truth means "agreement with fact". There could be two separate theories to explain a phenomenon, both of which don't contradict any known, observed facts, yet are mutually exclusive. Obviously, they cannot both be true. All I can say is that truth is what actually is.

I do not believe that truth can revealed throug some kind of spiritual revelation. I believe that logic and evidence are the keys to finding truth.
 
  • #11
Originally posted by Iacchus32
When we attain the truth in God, it's much like achieving "climax" in our ability to reason.

Small correction: When we attain the truth in God, it's much like achieving "climax" in our inability to reason.
 
  • #12


Originally posted by Dissident Dan
...All I can say is that truth is what actually is.


Define "actually" (vs more clear term "factually").

Feel free to define/explain other foggy terms (like "reality", "is", etc) in your definition(s).

Otherwise Marx's definition is still clearest and most useful one, thus best.
 
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  • #13
Dissident Dan
237
2
Marx's definition is more precise, but also, incorrect, I think, as I outlined in my previous post. A precisely incorrect definition is worse than a more vague, yet correct definition.

If I defined 'fox' as "a flowering plant that has an average lifespan of 2 years, normally lives in latitudes of 10 to 30 degrees, and has purple flowers", that would be more precise than "a certain type of animal". However, the first is incorrect, and the second is correct. That is why precision doesn't help when it's incorrect. That's why we use significant digits in scientific calculations.
 
  • #14
Kerrie
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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truth is accepted also by the subjective human being...
 
  • #15
drag
Science Advisor
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Greetings !
Originally posted by Alexander
Fact is not biased, because when scientists
observe fact they don't use human senses,
but objective tools.
O.K. and yet it is not absolute and the
limmit between the observed and it's
interpretation is not precisely known
(so far at least, because we have no
apparent TOE). This is not the absolute
certainty that you have in some abstract
systems.
Originally posted by Alexander
Small correction: When we attain the truth
in God, it's much like achieving "climax"
in our inability to reason.


Live long and prosper.
 
  • #16
pelastration
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0
Originally posted by Alexander
Best definition of truth I ever read came from Marx: "Truth is agreement with fact." In essense, this equates truth with observed fact. Therefore, there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s).

Is there any better definition of truth?
Alexander, you have to make a choice. Now.

Or you agree that we can not express everything with mathematics or you stick on the mathematics as superior.

I ask you and Marx a very simple question: What do you mean by truth? Please give me the mathematical coordinates, or the weigth, the height, it's motion in an inertia frame, ... .

If you can't ... welcome in the Babylonistic world of semantics.

Next question: what makes an observation a fact?

Next question: What is the signification of your statement ' there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s) for mathematics?
 
  • #17
heusdens
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Originally posted by pelastration
Alexander, you have to make a choice. Now.

Or you agree that we can not express everything with mathematics or you stick on the mathematics as superior.

I ask you and Marx a very simple question: What do you mean by truth? Please give me the mathematical coordinates, or the weigth, the height, it's motion in an inertia frame, ... .

If you can't ... welcome in the Babylonistic world of semantics.

Next question: what makes an observation a fact?

Next question: What is the signification of your statement ' there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s) for mathematics?

The "truth" is for instance the knowledge about a wave function, before it has been observed. We simply have no means to know the characteristic of such a wave function. And every attempt to know it, is by means of observing, and that will alter the wave function.

One simple example of a "truth" we can never know.


And some other example. According to present calculations the big bang happened 13 billion years ago. If we observe a stellar system around 5 billion lightyears from here, all we can find out is the situation that existed 5 billion years ago. The 'present', that is the situation for that stellar system, also 13 billion years past the big bang, we can not know.
 
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  • #18
pelastration
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0


Originally posted by heusdens
The "truth" is for instance the knowledge about a wave function, before it has been observed. We simply have no means to know the characteristic of such a wave function. And every attempt to know it, is by means of observing, and that will alter the wave function.

One simple example of a "truth" we can never know.
No means? Correct ... Today Heusdens, today. I am an optimist. Maybe tomorrow the observer has new ways ... and even maybe it will be become clear that even the actual "idea" about that wave function was wrong. (Maybe it's a tiny membrane tube ? ;-)
So today's truth (ie. in 1500 = the world is flat) is maybe ...

In stead of "Thruth" we maybe should speak about 'indications of thruth".
Such indications of Truth are thus determinated by the observer's tools (which are not limited to Lifegrazers senses) and the observer's knowledge frame(s). If this knowledge is based on premises, postulates, etc. ... they are the intellectual limitations when the observer proclaims "Truth".
Originally posted by heusdens
If we observe a stellar system around 5 billion lightyears from here, all we can find out is the situation that existed 5 billion years ago.
Is even that true?
The situation that existed 5 billion years?
What we observe today (the received light from that stellar system) includes also the time that the light propagated to reach us (since we are in an expanding universe). So it's the situation of 4, ... billion years ago.
 
  • #19
heusdens
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Originally posted by pelastration
No means? Correct ... Today Heusdens, today. I am an optimist. Maybe tomorrow the observer has new ways ... and even maybe it will be become clear that even the actual "idea" about that wave function was wrong. (Maybe it's a tiny membrane tube ? ;-)
So today's truth (ie. in 1500 = the world is flat) is maybe ...

In stead of "Thruth" we maybe should speak about 'indications of thruth".
Such indications of Truth are thus determinated by the observer's tools (which are not limited to Lifegrazers senses) and the observer's knowledge frame(s). If this knowledge is based on premises, postulates, etc. ... they are the intellectual limitations when the observer proclaims "Truth".

Yes, ok. Our abilities to know things tend to increase, so today's limit might not be tomorrow's limit. But even tomorrow there are limits of knowledge. And never do we have "absolute" knowledge, about anything.


Is even that true?
The situation that existed 5 billion years?
What we observe today (the received light from that stellar system) includes also the time that the light propagated to reach us (since we are in an expanding universe). So it's the situation of 4, ... billion years ago.

Thanks for the corrections. I forgot to compensate for the effect of expansion.
 
  • #20


Originally posted by pelastration
Alexander, you have to make a choice. Now.

Or you agree that we can not express everything with mathematics or you stick on the mathematics as superior.


We do. When we measure things. And if something is not measurable, then it likely does not exist.

Say, you can measure love (hormone level, heartbeat rate, voice change, pulses in brain, etc), but you cant' measure say, a soul. Thus love is real and soul is not.
 
  • #21


Originally posted by heusdens
The "truth" is for instance the knowledge about a wave function, before it has been observed. We simply have no means to know the characteristic of such a wave function. And every attempt to know it, is by means of observing, and that will alter the wave function.

One simple example of a "truth" we can never know.



Incorrect. Wavefunction is defined as a probability TO FIND a particle. So wavefunction does not exist BEFORE you found a particle. Actually only after you find particle many and many times (because probability is defined for many outcomes only - it is statistical quantity).

(Your error was because you simply were unaware of definition of a wavefunction, thus you made a wrong conclusion. Definitions are very important, as you see).
 
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  • #22
drag
Science Advisor
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Greetings !

I agree (as you may've deduced from my
last post) with pelastration (but not with
the "LG reference"). The difficulty
lies in seperating what we observe from it's
interpretation. Suppose you see a car
moving. What is the observed truth Alexander ?
That it moves ? And yet, taking for example
LG's solution - it doesn't, it doesn't
even exist the way we think it does.
So, basicly, how can you define the absolute =
true nature if you don't know where to draw
the line between it and its interpretation ?

You could say that there is "an ellement of truth
to it" of course. But, would such truth make much
sense or be of much use with the absense of
any content as it is ?

Do understand me, I do not oppose the word
truth in general - I think it can be used in
abstract systems that are absolute (if there
are such systems) and in the real world when
it means - the most likely thing. But, I do
not think its strict meaning has a place
inside the Universe and hence the formal
definition should be "softer" and "wider" in
my opinion, than the one you say you "like".

Live long and prosper.
 
  • #23
Kerrie
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
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Originally posted by Alexander
And if something is not measurable, then it likely does not exist

children (who most of the time believe in santa) also see the world this way too...out of sight, out of mind...
 
  • #24
Mentat
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My definition of "truth" is that which can be considered fact, based on how readily demonstrable, and measurably verifiable, it is.

For example, we take "cause-and-effect" to be true, right? That's because it can be observed in all instances, so far. It may be coincidence every one of those times (it's mathematically possible), but we consider Causality to be "true" (or "fact") because of how readily demonstrable it is.
 
  • #25
drag
Science Advisor
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Originally posted by Mentat
My definition of "truth" is that which
can be considered fact, based on how
readily demonstrable, and measurably
verifiable, it is.

For example, we take "cause-and-effect"
to be true, right? That's because it can
be observed in all instances, so far. It
may be coincidence every one of those times
(it's mathematically possible), but we
consider Causality to be "true" (or "fact")
because of how readily demonstrable it is.
O.K. I suppose you could call that aspect
as the basic ellement of truth that's present
in observation, BUT Causalty is not uptodate
with modern physics, is it ? :wink:
 
  • #26
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by drag
O.K. I suppose you could call that aspect
as the basic ellement of truth that's present
in observation, BUT Causalty is not uptodate
with modern physics, is it ? :wink:

Sure it is. Take, for example, Schrodinger's Cat...doesn't the observer cause the change to a definite state?
 
  • #27
drag
Science Advisor
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Originally posted by Mentat
Sure it is. Take, for example, Schrodinger's
Cat...doesn't the observer cause the
change to a definite state?
O.K. How about WFs collapsing instantly ? :wink:
 
  • #28
wuliheron
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0
Originally posted by Alexander
Best definition of truth I ever read came from Marx: "Truth is agreement with fact." In essense, this equates truth with observed fact. Therefore, there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s).

Is there any better definition of truth?

Truth is also the complimentary opposite of falsehood and derived from experience as much as observation. In other words, without the concept of "false," truth has no meaning and taken together the two present a third concept we call "abstraction." Thus, truth is best defined as an abstraction derived from observation or experience.
 
  • #29
Mentat
3,918
3
Originally posted by drag
O.K. How about WFs collapsing instantly ? :wink:

That's also an effect, isn't it?
 
  • #30
drag
Science Advisor
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I meant instant cause and effect, Mentat.
Besides, and I believe we're also discussing
this in another thread at the moment, classical
causality implies a distinction of things that
doesn't really exist according to QM.

wuli, very interesting !
You get the best "truth definition" score from
me so far (though I still think mine was pretty
good too - more technical, but more limmited in
application which is kin'na shame 'cause you
can't just waste words like that ).

Live long and prosper.
 
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  • #31
Iacchus32
2,313
1
Originally posted by Alexander
Best definition of truth I ever read came from Marx: "Truth is agreement with fact." In essense, this equates truth with observed fact. Therefore, there is no "absolute truth" or "the truth" - all we have is just observed fact(s).

Is there any better definition of truth?
Truth is relative to the observer and has more to do with "timing" than anything else. Which is to say, there's a time and place for everything. Then and only then could the truth possibly exist (i.e., in its own time).
 

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