Nerdfighters

Let me throw a little Socrates y'all's way (yeah, y'all's. It's a word down here, okay?)

One of Socrates' big questions was "What is truth?" I love that question, especially when discussing it with my students - especially after reading the chapter "How to Tell a True War Story" from Tim O'Brien's fabulous novel The Things They Carried. My kids get so frustrated with that chapter, because the story changes each time Tim tells it, then he says by the end that it never happened but that it is a true story

So, what is truth?

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Truth is whatever you perceive it to be. If you perceive it to be factual, it is. If you perceive it to be what you think is fact, then it is that.

that sounded pretty zen.
So if truth is whatever you perceive, then what is insanity? A person suffering a psychological break perceives himself and others and the world entirely differently than the sane folk... is that perception wrong or is that a different truth?

People who commit violent crime perceive that their victims deserved to be injured or killed. People who rob others perceive that they are entitled to whatever they are stealing. Children perceive that Santa is a real person. Are those things all true?

And if you make the argument that it is true to that person, then how do we punish their actions (not the kids, obviously, but the criminals) if they're acting on what they believe is true? How do societies function if we all accept that there is relative truth? Where do we draw the line between relative truth and concrete truth?
That was my point to Kevin - how do we define what truth is? If punishment is decided by a government system, then that system has to agree on a truth of right and wrong, right? Then that system has to agree on a truth of process; and the community has to agree on a truth relating to the fairness of the punishments meted out through that process.

In that sense, is there an absolute truth, or is truth an idea that a majority agrees upon at a point in time? If it's the latter, then truth is constantly changing, evolving, and reversing itself. And if THAT'S true, then it isn't really a concrete thing, is it?
If law systems were only based on the ten commandments, then yeah, it would be a dead argument, but consider laws that aren't based on those ten... like prohibition. At one time,a majority of lawmakers agreed on the "truth" that alcohol in any form in any quantity should be illegal. Then, later, a bunch of lawmakers agreed on the "truth" that it shouldn't be. Nothing about drinking in the 10.

At one time in our history, churches preached in favor of slave ownership as being right, just, and holy, and that was a "truth."

So if truth is concrete, then how is it that it changes?

And you keep saying that I said it was relative, which I haven't, I'm saying if you choose to define it that way, then how do you justify having laws? I'm being Socratic here - I have no definition of it. I'm just asking questions.

And while I'm asking questions, then let's talk about the 10. One of them is "thou shalt not kill." Yet we do... constantly... and often in the name of the very entity who told us not to. If it's a truth that killing is a definite wrong, like you mentioned, then shouldn't it always be wrong? And if a "truth" is conditional, then who decides on the conditions?
I agree about the Greek philosophy thing. But I have to ask, why to you choose not to exclude religion? Just for argument's sake (since it's so fun) Socrates asked this question "what is truth" long before the Bible as we know and love it was compiled. .. so in a sense, if we want to really argue this philosophically, we kinda HAVE to exclude the Bible.

And no, with the wars thing, I wasn't just talking about extremists - I'm asking why, if we're going to use the 10 as a go-to list of truth -of ABSOLUTE truth - then how, as a reputedly Christian nation (let's limit this to America) do we condone things like capital punishment or acts of war? How, if the truth we're operating on is "killing is a sin," do we rationalize or justify it? Because it didn't say "killing is a sin...UNLESS..."

(Mind you, these questions are just questions - for philosophy's sake - I'm actually not a pacifist or anti-war advocate)
*jumps in randomly* So is religion truth? I mean, the Christians claim they're right, the Muslims think they have the answers...someone has to be wrong here. I don't think truth should be as complicated as religons make it. Perhaps religions are our interpreptations of truth, but I don't think truth should be something that has to be interpreted-because when that happens we start making it more conditional.

We're mostly Christian, but I want to point out that ideas about good/evil are nothing new. Many of the things in the Bible (thou shalt not kill) are echoed in other religions, or by anyone who has a consciousness. Doing the right thing isn't just a Christian idea.
We should exclude the bible, because religious people are ignorant and horribly misguided. Why the hell would the truth need to be based on the ten commandments? That is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. Also, to whoever said that truth must be relative because of different societies saying different things at different times ("At one time,a majority of lawmakers agreed on the "truth" that alcohol in any form in any quantity should be illegal. Then, later, a bunch of lawmakers agreed on the "truth" that it shouldn't be. Nothing about drinking in the 10.
At one time in our history, churches preached in favor of slave ownership as being right, just, and holy, and that was a "truth."
So if truth is concrete, then how is it that it changes?"): you are an idiot. The truth did not change; those people were simply wrong. They did not know what the truth was, and neither do we now. They may have called something a truth, but that doesn't mean it was.
Einstein said that truth is what stands the test of experience. I tend to agree with that.

In reference to the comments about truth being concrete vs. relative...the way I see it, a truth that has no exceptions to it whatsoever (THOU SHALT NOT KILL. EVER.) can't be true, and normally the biggest lies will contain the word "never."

Just my two cents.
Just to clarify, are you saying that a statement with exceptions is more true than a statement without?
Yeah, because in my experience nothing that is perfect is ever true.
Truth is not what you perceive as fact, it's what IS fact. If in my truth, water is not needed to sustain life, then it's not true. It's what is true. Some things we will never know, some things we have yet to learn. But never stop the quest for knowledge. (had to throw in the last sentence to sound more profound.

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