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Defining truth

  1. Jan 4, 2004 #1
    Defining "truth"

    What is the actual definition of "truth"?

    The obvious answer would be "something that can be proved". But all proofs are built upon axioms, which are unprovable. By our definition, then, axioms are untrue (false), and the results of our proofs are void.

    Hmmm... What do you guys think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 4, 2004 #2
    truth is perception.....define truth!!!!!
  4. Jan 4, 2004 #3
    I find that there are three types of truth.

    • Truth truth
    • semi-truth
    • pseudo-truth

    How you define these gives truth a whole new meaning. The interpretation of truth can exist inside your subconscious. One person's perspective of truth can be a whole different ballpark to another person's truth. So as wahoo q said, please give your definition of "truth" first, then we can start playing around with the "meaning" of it.
  5. Jan 4, 2004 #4
    Re: Defining "truth"

    Just because an axiom is unprovable doesn't make it untrue or false. So I strongly disagree with your premise.

    There's proof in the perfect, absolute sense, which must be based on axioms that are assummed to be valid and true. That's one kind of proof.

    Then there's a somewhat less pure truth, which corrosponds with experience to an overwhelming degree (like, getting bitten by my cat is going to hurt, and that's the truth). That's a bit more complicated than can be formally laid out in a mathematical proof. But in another sense it's far more real and just as certainly true.

    Take your pick.
  6. Jan 4, 2004 #5
    You are correct, it doesn't- but under the definition of "That which can be proved", an axiom would indeed be unprovable, which is why I concluded that that particular definition is incorrect.

    And I can't give you my definition of truth, as I don't know it. I posted this thread wondering what it was, because I realized I didn't seem to have a good, working definition.
  7. Jan 4, 2004 #6
    Well, that was my two cents. There are two possible definitions of truth: 1) the pure, absolute truth based on what can be derived from assumed axioms, and 2) the impure, relative truth based on correlations with individual observations of personal experiences.

    The first may very well not apply to anything (almost certainly won't, since the axioms are likely to be very elementary and abstract). The second is subjective and, no matter how stronly believed to be true by the individual, is unlikely to be agreed on by another.

    Anything more than that isn't available for sale in this universe. Fortunately, a little bargaining often yields some very workable compromises between the two.
  8. Jan 4, 2004 #7
    Hmmm... What about "What you believe"? Seems incorrect, but is there actually any logical reason why it can't be the actuality?
  9. Jan 4, 2004 #8
    What on Earth makes you assert such a thing?
  10. Jan 4, 2004 #9
    Axioms can't be proven, all theorums are built on axioms, all proofs are built on these things. Right???

    And the dictionary.com definition isn't a working definition, it just lists synonyms of "truth" (EG actuality, fact, reality).
  11. Jan 4, 2004 #10

    This is the odd bit. Why say this? Give a reason for saying this.
  12. Jan 5, 2004 #11
    truth is whatever your memory says it is, and whatever you believe it is. For instance, you may believe in God, you may not, whichever one you believe is "your" truth, but it may not be the actual truth.
    Plus you can't be sure of anything anyhow because the whole universe could have been created 2 seconds ago along with all our memories and such. And no one would be wise to it. So it is impossible to even prove to others that you exist, because as soon as you do, your proof becomes a memory and there is no way to prove a memory to be true. Its all faith.
  13. Jan 5, 2004 #12
    I need a little clarification before I can say anything. What is an axiom?
  14. Jan 5, 2004 #13
  15. Jan 5, 2004 #14

    i've said many times, 'the only truth is that there ain't no truth'.

    all is relative to what we believe or want to accomplish. societies establish truths so that there is the opportunity to interact and communicate and/or excommunicate.

    science sets up truths to explore the external/physical universe. as we progress these truths are revised and disgarded as new truths are revealed.

    the best definition of truth that i have heard is what the lawyers say, 'truth is whatever the jury says it is!'.

    i got mine and i am ready to throw any or all of them away as each days presents new information.

    then again??????? who really knows?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2004
  16. Jan 5, 2004 #15
    1) Not all truth relies on axioms. This is a very silly thing which I have seen people type a lot, but it simply isn't true. Ohm's Law is not built on any axioms.

    2) Not all "truth" is relative. Ohm's Law is not relative. It just is.
  17. Jan 5, 2004 #16
    But Ohm's Law isn't "truth" as I think the original poster intended, which seemed to be looking for absolutes. And it's not actually a law. It's a modeled explanation for an observation, and it's only an approximation. Ohm's law applies more or less and in a limited domain; it doesn't account for relativistic effects, or quantum effects; it doesn't apply in superconductivity or in extremely high magnetic fields. As a simplified, common sense interpretation of normally experienced reality, it works very well, and that's good enough.

    In a physics forum, I'd say nitpicking like this is just annoying. But what is Philosophy if not a lot of nits?
  18. Jan 5, 2004 #17
    I have no idea what an axiom is, but this is how I veiw truth.

    1- Relative truth. What we percive to be true. What we "know". But just maybe we live in a giant marble like at the end of MiB.

    2- Eternal truth. But for this to work there has to be a belife in an unchangeable unaterable God. A supreme being that lives by the truths that all eternity is bound by. This is what would make Him a God.

    All this science that we do, all the experiments that we procede with. There all measured from perseption. And until we have a perfect math that we may derive equations from, science is only relative truth.
  19. Jan 5, 2004 #18
    1 + 1 = 2

    Perfect math.
  20. Jan 5, 2004 #19

    But have you ever heard of the 1+1=3 therum. Two people working together create the same amount of work as three indaviduals.

    And we also need a math that can properly define infinity. Last I read the big bang started from an infinitly small point. Then couln't it expand forever and never reach a real number size. I believe that figuring infinity is the last big step we need in math.
  21. Jan 5, 2004 #20
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