Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Is True for Me

It is a common modern opinion to believe that what is true for me may be different then what is true for you. This, of course, is based on the denial of any type of absolute truth. But does this make sense?

The problem with the idea of relative truth is that if truth is relative it is impossible to know anything. If truth is relative, then the statements A black spider crawled up the wall and It will rain tomorrow in New Jersey are saying the same thing or at least are indistinguishable. Nothing can mean anything, and therefore nothing can be known or even thought. But to say something is true for me implies that something has meaning, that it can in fact be distinguished from other somethings that are not true for me. But if truth is relative it cannot. It further implies that there is something about me that could make that statement true for me. But if truth is relative I have no basis for knowing I exist, let alone knowing that a particular statement is true for me. I can say something being true for me is purely subjective, but this does not solve the problem. If truth is relative, how do I distinguish one subjective state from another or even decide if I am having a subjective state or not? The problem with relative truth is it is always sneaking truth back in the back door. It has to in order to say anything coherent at all.

There is is a common assumption among those who hold to relative truth that relative truth is what everyone always used to hold until someone (the most common suspect is Aristotle) came along and corrupted things by introducing  the idea of absolute truth. I see no basis for this other than circular reasoning. The truth is that  absolute truth is what every sane person, other then a few sophistical philosophers, always held before modern times. Everything written (and the fact that they had bothered to write anything) supports this. Every act we make every second of the day requires this. If I get up in the morning, it means I see getting up as a definable action and as distinguishable from not getting up. If I turn the key in the ignition of my car, it is because I understand it to be true that this will start the car, and if the car does not start I take the car to be repaired. And all of this assumes that car, ignition, turn, and start have meanings. Let us call nonsense by its name and exclude it from any meaningful discussion.

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