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Truth without redundancy?

  1. Jan 3, 2004 #1
    It was mentioned in a previous thread that there are three absolutely true statements:

    1) I exist.
    2) I am conscious.
    3) Whatever exists has the characteristics that it has.

    My problem with them is that the first and third ones appear redundant (which makes them, somewhat, logically useless, IMHO), while the second seems perfectly non-redundant and yet remains flawed.

    The first statement is redundant, since the subject "I" has made reference to him/herself and has thus already validated her/his own existence before using the term "exist". The statement is basically (when broken down) "There is an I, and it exists", which is clearly redundant.

    The third statement is more obviously redundant since it can be restated as "If something has certain characteristics, it has those characteristics".

    However, the second one never made any reference to consciousness, and is thus non-redundant, but still flawed. If I were to program my PC to say "I am conscious", then it would say it, but it would not be true. Since, the subject of consciousness is rather delicate, perhaps the illustration of a tape recorder is better...but the result is the same: This statement can be false.

    Any corrections, comments, and (I hope) more examples of absolutely true statements, are appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2004 #2
    Aren't all of those statements rather overblown? I thought the point behind Descarte's Cogito Ergo Sum was "The only thing that I personally can be sure about is my own existence." That point of divergence works for the individual, but doesn't apply to anyone else. For example, you might be sure of your own existence, but don't expect me to buy it, especially on the Internet. :smile: So I hardly think it can qualify as an absolute as it seems intended to be.

    The second doesn't even seem like a well formed proposition. What's the definition of "consciousness?" It's damnably hard to come up with one that is sufficiently inclusive but not excessively so, and even harder to convey that definition without distortions (since, almost certainly, the concepts needed to expressit will be highly ideosyncratic). Plus, the statement as it is is actually wrong. I could be in a coma and not actually be conscious, yet still exist (again, depending on subtlties of the definition of both "conscious" and "exists").

    The third sounds much like a tautology, unless it's intent is to disabuse the notion that existence in the abstract can be separated from all characteristics.

    So I'd agree with you that those three statements don't really provide much to go on.
  4. Jan 4, 2004 #3
    If those three are absolutely true, couldn't you also say:

    4) I know I exist.
    5) Knowledge exists.
    6) I have the ability to hold knowledge.
    X) The mathematical numbers 1-X exist.

    Probably an infinite number of things like that, from which you could expand... Eh?
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