Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Best definition of truth

  1. May 10, 2003 #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?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2003 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !
    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.
  4. May 10, 2003 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Re: Re: Truth.

    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.
  5. May 10, 2003 #4
    Hold on, fact is not a concept. Fact is what we observed.
  6. May 10, 2003 #5


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
  7. May 10, 2003 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Then again, I'm not sure I'm choosing the
    terms correctly here. Is there a better
    linguistic choice in terms of adequate meaning ?
  8. May 10, 2003 #7
    Truth is the vessel (form) and good is contained within (essence). So what's the difference between knowledge and wisdom?
  9. May 10, 2003 #8
    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".
  10. May 10, 2003 #9
    When we attain the truth in God, it's much like achieving "climax" in our ability to reason.
  11. May 10, 2003 #10
    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.
  12. May 10, 2003 #11
    Small correction: When we attain the truth in God, it's much like achieving "climax" in our inability to reason.
  13. May 10, 2003 #12
    Re: Re: Truth.

    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.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 10, 2003
  14. May 10, 2003 #13
    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.
  15. May 10, 2003 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    truth is accepted also by the subjective human being...
  16. May 10, 2003 #15


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !
    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

    Live long and prosper.
  17. May 10, 2003 #16
    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?
  18. May 11, 2003 #17
    Re: Re: Truth.

    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.
    Last edited: May 11, 2003
  19. May 11, 2003 #18
    Re: Re: Re: Truth.

    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".
    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.
  20. May 11, 2003 #19
    Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

    Thanks for the corrections. I forgot to compensate for the effect of expansion.
  21. May 11, 2003 #20
    Re: Re: Truth.

    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.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Best definition of truth
  1. The truth about truth (Replies: 19)

  2. Mathematical Truths (Replies: 54)