Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#41  Postby logical bob » Feb 24, 2012 12:10 am

John P. M. wrote:Yes, this does get very semantic, and I think we lose sight of what the point of it is. If someone says "The moon is made of cheese" and I say "That's not true, because...", then I might as well have said "That's not a fact, because...", but is it wrong to use the word 'true'?

No, it's not at all wrong to use the word true. The meaning of a word is dependent on the way it's used. I'm saying that if we look at how the words true or truth are used we'll find no support for this idea Nicko's peddling of an absolute truth that exists outside the possibility of human experience. What's the word for that....? Oh yes, theism.

Nicko wrote:A claim about what the truth is constitutes an ontological claim.

A claim about the extent to which we can know the truth constitutes an epistemological claim.

Neither Bill nor I have presented either of these. We are merely saying that the truth exists, regardless of whether anyone's conception of it is accurate, even regardless of whether anyone can possess an accurate conception of it.

My bold. And hence you are, pretty obviously, making an ontological claim. It's a pretty strong claim too, since you don't seem able even to say what this thing that exists is.

If reality is ultimately unknowable then the statement, "reality is ultimately unknowable" would constitute a truth. The frustrating thing - possibly what you are trying to discuss - is that if reality is ultimately unknowable, we could not know that it is ultimately unknowable. If we knew that the statement "reality is ultimately unknowable" was true, then the statement "reality is ultimately unknowable" would actually be false.

Relatavism could be correct. But we cannot know that. If we knew relatavism was correct, then relatavism would be incorrect.

You're just saying the same thing over again. You're not really trying to engage in discussion.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#42  Postby Nicko » Feb 24, 2012 12:39 am

stalidon wrote: My point is that there seems to be no such things as 'absolute truths', that is, propositions or models about how the world is or what the case is that are complete, closed, and in no need to be improved over time.


If you are saying that human beings do not possess such things, then of course you are correct.

If you are saying that human beings cannot possess such things, then it is entirely possible that you may be correct.

If this second opinion is correct, however, we could never know that it was.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#43  Postby Jeffersonian-marxist » Feb 24, 2012 12:51 am

Nicko wrote:If this second opinion is correct, however, we could never know that it was.

Of course we could never know such was the case, because all accounts of knowledge are in part contingent upon truth.

But this is to miss the point. "Relativists" aren't interested in making making knowledge claims, they reject the universality of the discourse that gave us "knowledge claims." Relativists (like Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Rorty, etc.) focus on the possibility that "truth" is little more than an inherited intuition of the Greeks (specifically Plato).
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#44  Postby Nicko » Feb 24, 2012 12:57 am

logical bob wrote:No, it's not at all wrong to use the word true. The meaning of a word is dependent on the way it's used. I'm saying that if we look at how the words true or truth are used we'll find no support for this idea Nicko's peddling of an absolute truth that exists outside the possibility of human experience. What's the word for that....? Oh yes, theism.


Bullshit. I am not "peddling" any truth. I am merely saying that the truth is true. Why is this so hard for you to grasp?

Nicko wrote:A claim about what the truth is constitutes an ontological claim.

A claim about the extent to which we can know the truth constitutes an epistemological claim.

Neither Bill nor I have presented either of these. We are merely saying that the truth exists, regardless of whether anyone's conception of it is accurate, even regardless of whether anyone can possess an accurate conception of it.

My bold. And hence you are, pretty obviously, making an ontological claim. It's a pretty strong claim too, since you don't seem able even to say what this thing that exists is.


Ah, that was unclear. The way I put it does imply that there is some objective"fact" about reality out there.

If reality is ultimately unknowable then the statement, "reality is ultimately unknowable" would constitute a truth. The frustrating thing - possibly what you are trying to discuss - is that if reality is ultimately unknowable, we could not know that it is ultimately unknowable. If we knew that the statement "reality is ultimately unknowable" was true, then the statement "reality is ultimately unknowable" would actually be false.

Relatavism could be correct. But we cannot know that. If we knew relatavism was correct, then relatavism would be incorrect.

You're just saying the same thing over again. You're not really trying to engage in discussion.


I could make the same observation about your continual misrepresentation of my position.

If truth were relative it would not be truth. "Relative Truth" is an oxymoron.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#45  Postby Nicko » Feb 24, 2012 1:05 am

Jeffersonian-marxist wrote:
Nicko wrote:If this second opinion is correct, however, we could never know that it was.

Of course we could never know such was the case, because all accounts of knowledge are in part contingent upon truth.

But this is to miss the point. "Relativists" aren't interested in making making knowledge claims, they reject the universality of the discourse that gave us "knowledge claims." Relativists (like Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Rorty, etc.) focus on the possibility that "truth" is little more than an inherited intuition of the Greeks (specifically Plato).


So they are not considering the oxymoronic non-possibility that "truth is relative", are they? They are considering the legitimate possibility that no ultimate truth exists.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#46  Postby Jeffersonian-marxist » Feb 24, 2012 1:12 am

Nicko wrote:So they are not considering the oxymoronic non-possibility that "truth is relative", are they? They are considering the legitimate possibility that no ultimate truth exists.

They are exploring the possibility that the 'meaning' of "absolute truth" isn't determined by some referent out there, but is determined by history, context and culture.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#47  Postby Teuton » Feb 24, 2012 1:31 am

If a truth is relative, then what is that to which it is relative?
I, you, we?
A "truth-for-me" is simply a belief of mine; and if all truths are believer-relative, then the distinction between true and untrue beliefs disappears, since then "believed to be true" is synonymous with "is true".
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#48  Postby logical bob » Feb 24, 2012 1:44 am

Teuton wrote:If a truth is relative, then what is that to which it is relative?

Statements need to be understood within the context/discourse/language game in which they occur. If true, they are true relative to that frame of reference.

I, you, we?

No.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#49  Postby logical bob » Feb 24, 2012 1:47 am

Nicko wrote:Bullshit. I am not "peddling" any truth. I am merely saying that the truth is true. Why is this so hard for you to grasp?

Because there's nothing to grasp if you can't indicate what you think truth is or say anything about it. Undefined thing = undefined thing. It's not stunning.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#50  Postby james1v » Feb 24, 2012 1:48 am

Why do we criticize religion? Because we can. And, as far as i know, no god of that religion has ever disagreed. Only humans do. Who lets face it, have a vested interest in not criticising their own religion.

Don't you find it strange, that no christian, Hindu or other religionista is prepared to blow themselves up in some marketplace, in support of some other religion? I do.

Is inaction a criticism? I think so.

:think:
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#51  Postby Teuton » Feb 24, 2012 1:59 am

logical bob wrote:
Statements need to be understood within the context/discourse/language game in which they occur. If true, they are true relative to that frame of reference.


Okay, so you're talking about conceptual relativism. But it's a mistake to suppose that if conceptual relativism is true, truth itself becomes relative. The meaning of a statement (and of the words occurring therein) depends on us, but the truth or falsity of a statement with a given and fixed meaning does not.

"The idea of conceptual relativity is an old and, I believe, a correct one. Any system of classification or individuation of objects, any set of categories for describing the world, indeed, any system of representation at all is conventional, and to that extent arbitrary. The world divides up the way we divide it, and if we are ever inclined to think that our present way of dividing it is the right one, or is somehow inevitable, we can always imagine alternative systems of classification."

So far, so good—but:

"From the fact that a description can only be made relative to a set of linguistic categories, it does not follow that the facts/objects/states of affairs, /etc., described can only exist relative to a set of categories. Conceptual relativism, properly understood, is an account of how we fix the application of our terms: What counts as a correct application of the term 'cat' or 'kilogram' or 'canyon' is up to us to decide and is to that extent arbitrary. But once we have fixed the meaning of such terms in our vocabulary by arbitrary definitions, it is no longer a matter of any kind of relativism or arbitrariness whether representation-independent features of the world satisfy those definitions, because the features of the world that satisfy or fail to satisfy the definitions exist independently of those or any other definitions. We arbitrarily define the word 'cat' in such and such a way; and only relative to such and such definitions can we say, 'That's a cat.' But once we have made the definitions and once we have applied the concepts relative to the system of definitions, whether or not something satisfies our definition is no longer arbitrary or relative. That we use the word 'cat' the way we do is up to us; that there is an object that exists independently of that use, and satisfies that use, is a plain matter of (absolute, intrinsic, mind-independent) fact. Contrary to Goodman, we do not make 'worlds'; we make descriptions that the actual world may fit or fail to fit."

(Searle, John R. The Construction of Social Reality. New York: Free Press, 1995. pp. 160 + 166)
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#52  Postby logical bob » Feb 24, 2012 2:11 am

I'm not sure why you/Searle equate relativism with arbitrariness. We don't define the word cat arbitrarily but for a specific purpose - to make it easier to talk about those creatures that haz cheezeburger. And yes, the existence of cats is a fact. As I've said repeatedly in this thread, relativism is not the denial that there are facts and facts are not absolute truths.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#53  Postby Teuton » Feb 24, 2012 2:32 am

logical bob wrote:I'm not sure why you/Searle equate relativism with arbitrariness. We don't define the word cat arbitrarily but for a specific purpose - to make it easier to talk about those creatures that haz cheezeburger.


By "arbitrary/-ily" Searle doesn't mean "at random" or "for no reason or purpose" but "subject to our free will".

logical bob wrote:
And yes, the existence of cats is a fact. As I've said repeatedly in this thread, relativism is not the denial that there are facts and facts are not absolute truths.


"There are cats" is a true statement given the actual meaning of "cat"; and if "cat" meant "unicorn", then it would be a false statement. But, strictly speaking, "cat" = "felis catus" and "cat" = "unicorn" are actually two different concepts: "cat1" = "felis catus" and "cat2" = "unicorn". "There are cats1" is true and "There are cats2" is false, and there is no point in calling this truth/falsity nonabsolute.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#54  Postby Teuton » Feb 24, 2012 3:07 am

Relativism: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/

Relativism > Dependent Variables > What is Relative? > Truth: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relat ... x.html#2.8

"Relativism about truth boils down to relativism about belief[.]"

Anyway, the relativist about truth seems to regard the statement that truth is relative as nonrelatively true, thereby contradicting himself.
"Perception does not exhaust our contact with reality; we can think too." – Timothy Williamson
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#55  Postby Jeffersonian-marxist » Feb 24, 2012 4:24 am

Teuton wrote:Anyway, the relativist about truth seems to regard the statement that truth is relative as nonrelatively true, thereby contradicting himself.

I am skeptical of "truth" so for all intents and purposes I am a "relativist." I am not interested in making positive claims about truth, and I am not interested in making a case for the relativity of truth. What interests me is providing a genealogical account of truth, understanding from when and where the concept comes from and how it has been used historically over time. The most strident goal I have is "shaking" the concept truth, not destroying it.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#56  Postby Teuton » Feb 24, 2012 5:00 am

@Jeffersonian-marxist:
There is a simple, straightforward answer:

"Not all the ways the world can be represented are ways the world is, so a particular species of creature found it necessary to employ the following convention to distinguish representations from misrepresentations. Representations that indicate the way the world actually is they called 'true', and representations that failed to do so they called 'false'.
Truth is a relation between two things—a representation (the truth bearer) and the world or some part of it (the truthmaker)."


(Martin, C. B. The Mind in Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. p. 24)
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#57  Postby logical bob » Feb 24, 2012 11:31 am

Teuton, before we get sucked into debating whether or not it's absolutely true that cats exists let's back up and put this into some kind of context.

Nobody here will have much time for the kind of politically correct cultural relativism that says the healing practices of a tribe in the Amazon are, in their way, as valid as western medicine, nor for the kind of nonsense that leads to Luce Irigaray's claim that e=mc2 is a sexed equation. These are perhaps benignly intended, but also clearly silly. Yet it's this kind of thinking that makes people wary of relativism in any form and interpret it as a denial that there are any facts at all.

It's interesting that whenever you and the library full of philosophers you love to quote want to give an example of absolute truth you go for facts involving concrete nouns. If you're just arguing against a caricature of relativism for which either nothing is true in any way or everything is equally true then I suppose this might help, but let's look at the absolutist position a reasonable relativist might want to distance themselves from.

The existence of God, good and evil, intrinsic meaning to life or things held to be true through logical necessity are nothing at all like the existence of cats. If we can agree that the closest things to absolute truths are facts about physical objects then that's fine with me. The OP in this thread seems to suggest that we could only criticise religion if we had an alternative absolute truth. My view is that we'll only really escape religion when we escape absolute truth.

As ever, posting the SEP article on the subject under discussion is no form of argument and I wish you'd stop doing it. I think by now we're all aware that the SEP exists if we want it. It even has a search function.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#58  Postby chairman bill » Feb 24, 2012 11:54 am

logical bob wrote:Bill offered the speed of light and its status as an universal speed limit as a candidate for absolute truth. That's not an absolute truth, that's a piece of scientific theory - provisionally accepted in so far as it corresponds to the data ...


If you'd read on a bit, you'd have noted that I actually suggested that if the speed of light was the fastest speed possible, it would be absolutely true that the speed of light was the fastest speed possible, and so would be an absolute truth. But, if it wasn't, and indeed, if there was no absolute limit, that in turn would be true absolutely, and so an absolute truth.

To go back to Skolomowski, he's saying that whilst the cosmos offers 'an ontological datum', the 'world' (as opposed to say, the earth or planet) is a human epistemological construct, and in that situation, 'truth' may take on a somewhat relative meaning, limited by our understanding. Truth becomes what we believe it to be, and what we term as truth, may in actual fact not be so. As Skolomowski also said, "Things become what our consciousness makes of them through the active participation of our mind", which can maybe be seen as a take on the principle of observer effects, but also about interpretation. I think that an awful amount of what some bandy about as 'truth', is simply their interpretation of things. Truth isn't relative, but we make it so in our minds.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#59  Postby rainbow » Feb 24, 2012 1:12 pm

The_Metatron wrote:
rainbow wrote:
chairman bill wrote:I'm with Skolomowski -
The cosmos or the universe is a primordial ontological datum, while the 'world' is an epistemological construct, a form of our understanding.

There are absolute truths, we just don't necessarily know what they are

How do you know this?

Here's one.

You are unable to eat your own head.

I didn't ask for an example, I asked how one could know.
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Re: Truth is relative: why do we criticize religion?

#60  Postby DrWho » Feb 24, 2012 4:09 pm

logical bob wrote:
The existence of God, good and evil, intrinsic meaning to life or things held to be true through logical necessity are nothing at all like the existence of cats. If we can agree that the closest things to absolute truths are facts about physical objects then that's fine with me. The OP in this thread seems to suggest that we could only criticise religion if we had an alternative absolute truth. My view is that we'll only really escape religion when we escape absolute truth.



I disagree. We will escape religion only when we accept that it is absolutely true that God does not exist. Any other formulation is just a hesitation to accept reality.
The skeptical writers are a set whose business it is to prick holes in the fabric of knowledge wherever it is weak and faulty; and when these places are properly repaired, the whole building becomes more firm and solid than it was before. - Thomas Reid
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