True or false, probably a term most people are familiar with. Such a thing seems quite simple to comprehend, however determining whether something is true or not isn’t the easiest of tasks. In order to determine if something is false, we must first establish what the truth is. The knowledge issue this brings up is: How do we know if absolute truth exists, and if it doesn’t what type of truth does exist? This is dependent on our perception of the situation and our ability to reason out a conclusion. For this essay I will use science, mathematics, religion and ethics as my areas of knowledge. I will present both aspects of this statement and conclude with my own point of view.
Firstly, let’s examine why it can be deemed true but before we do that we must define what truth really is. Truth can be defined as conformity to reality or actuality and in order for something to be “true” it must be public, eternal, and independent. If the “truth” does not follow these guidelines then it cannot be “true.” Obviously in contrary anything that goes against the boundaries of “truth” is inevitably false. To say that there is no absolute distinction between true and false makes one agree with a relativist point of view. Relativism is the idea that any point of view has no absolute truth or validity; it is the belief that they have only relative, subjective values, according to differences in perception and reason. (Bartlett, Jack) If we look deeper into this saying we can concur that anything that we take to be true is reversible. We can never have a ‘god’s-eye’ view of the universe, all truths are a matter of opinion. Truth is relative to culture, historical epoch, language, and society etc. All the truths that we know are subjective truths (i.e. mind-dependent truths) and there is nothing more to truth than what we are willing to assert as true (Hammerton, Matthew). To reason these thoughts let us look at an area of knowledge-ethics. Ethical relativism represents the position that there are no moral absolutes, no moral right or wrong. In this position all points of view are equally valid and the individual determines what is true for them. That the truth is different for different people, not simply that different people believe different things to be true. This position would assert that our morals evolve and change with social norms over time. This philosophy allows people to mutate ethically as the culture, knowledge, and technology change in society. (Ethical Relativism) Another area of knowledge that we can look at is science. For centuries scientists have debated how this earth really came into existence. We theorize that this great occurrence was the result of a “Big Bang,” but really what defines this statement, and what “truth” does it really hold? In fact there are so many theories in science that can be looked upon this way. We consider some “truths” because people internationally recognize them and believe in them, but the true question is what evidence do we have to prove them to be absolutely true? Another area of knowledge we can look at is mathematics. As discussed in our IB Math class, there are a variety of different ways that math can be axiomatized (i.e. built up from basic axioms). Some approaches use sets as the most basic objects, Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory, while others use Category Theory to provide the basic building blocks, and still other theories attempt to axiomatize only small portions of math, such as Euclid’s Axioms of planar geometry, Hilbert’s axiomatization of Euclidean Geometry and the Peano axioms for arithmetic. (Clockbackward) What is even worse, (when it comes to deciding what is true), than having so many conflicting viewpoints for constructing math, is that the axioms of these viewpoints are themselves not probably true? If you are, let’s say, to assume that the many axioms of math are “absolutely true,” then all the resulting theorems that can be derived from those axioms are also...
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