What is Truth? Presentation

Report
WHAT IS TRUTH?
THE ANSWER AND ITS EFFECTS ON OUR THINKING
WHERE DO WE START?
• To answer the question, “What is truth?” means we
have to arrive at a definition of truth
• Is that even possible?
• This is a question with which philosophers have
wrestled for many long years; what hope do we
have of coming to an answer?
• The “truth” implies that there is “right” and “wrong,” which
to some degree points to the branch of philosophy called
“ethics”
• Ethics teaches us how to ask “moral” questions
• Let us come to some “ground rules” whereby we
can operate together as “truth seekers” in this class
THE ROLE OF PHILOSOPHY
GREEK PHILOSOPHERS
SOCRATES
ANTISTHENES
CHRYSIPPUS
EPICURUS
• Philosophy, or the “love
of wisdom,” is not usually
considered to be the
highest paying job on
the market
• But what can we learn
from a contemporary
philosopher whose work
at Google shapes
important questions, the
answers for which affect
our own lives?
HOW DO WE DETERMINE
RIGHT AND WRONG?
• http://www.ted.com/talks/damon_horowitz_philoso
phy_in_prison.html
• http://www.ted.com/talks/damon_horowitz.html
SHIFTING GEARS
WH A T S Y S T E M S T E A C H U S R I G H T F R O M WR O N G ?
THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS LIFE
• Religious systems exist to help mankind wrestle with
and solve questions of right and wrong
• They contain much human wisdom, but none perfectly
describes “the truth”
• These systems are often contradictory, which is why you find
the world struggling through “religious wars”
• Yet, the best of what religious systems has to offer has
brought meaning, stability, and a lot of human progress
over the centuries
• It is my opinion that science, as an enterprise, is a
religious system
• But that is a subject for another day
WESTERN VS EASTERN THINKING
SOME CONTRASTING PERSPECTIVES
ANOTHER VIEW
SOME CONTRASTING PERSPECTIVES
ANOTHER WAY TO SLICE THE PIE
Greek mind
• Time is linear
• Man can know the
truth through his
rational abilities
• Man is capable of
solving the world’s
problems
• All religious paths lead
to spiritual
enlightenment
Hebrew mind
• Time is cyclical
• Man is completely
dependent on God,
even if he does not
acknowledge this
dependence
• Only God can
determine what is
finally good and true
FASHION PERSPECTIVES
OUR PERSPECTIVE
• For the purpose of this course, you should
understand that it presents a perspective that is
essentially derived from Western culture, and that it
is not the whole picture
• When you get to college, you will encounter a
variety of perspectives from which people view the
world
• A common point of view is that “everyone creates their
own truth,” which is also called “moral relativism”
OUR PERSPECTIVE (CONT.)
• It is important to know “where people are coming
from,” so you can understand their point of view
and evaluate the quality of the “truth” they believe
as it relates to your own personal convictions and
conscience
• Understanding different perspectives helps you
understand audience (people), context (ideas),
and various rhetorical situations
• This is why I am asking you to examine your thinking,
and your own perspectives – so you can
understand where you “fit in” when you leave
IF EVERYONE CREATES THEIR OWN TRUTH…
… then there are no “right answers”
• What are the implications for such a position?
• Everyone is right, and no one is wrong (“My answers can’t
be wrong, professor. They’re my truth!”)
• Everyone’s perception and memory work flawlessly, with no
blunders, glitches, or gaffes
• No one adopts other people’s truths, because truth is
personal, individual, and unique
WHERE DOES IT ALL BEGIN?
• Early childhood experience,
in which we are told about
the world before we
actually experience it, fills us
with preconceptions about
how the world works
• Unless education makes us
acutely aware of these
preconceptions, our process of
perception is deeply
influenced by these early
teachings
WHERE DOES IT ALL BEGIN? (CONT.)
• “Seeing is believing” is as true as “Believing is
seeing” – we all look through “filters”
• What we regard as our unique perspective bears
the imprint of other people’s ideas and beliefs
SPEED BUMPS TO GETTING AT
THE TRUTH
• We all are capable of perceiving reality imperfectly
• We all are capable of demonstrating imperfect
memory
• We are all susceptible to making decisions with
deficient information
• Even the wisest among us makes mistakes
IMPERFECT PERCEPTION
• Perception is not flawless, and is influenced by our
desires, interests, and expectations
• We think we remember a “fact” from a textbook, make it
our exam answer, and later find out we had not correctly
recalled the fact, thus our answer is marked wrong
• Instant replay often shows us our initial cry of “bad call!” was
actually an erroneous perception
• Perception is often mingled with interpretation – the
expectation that an event will unfold in a certain way,
which can color our perception of the way the event
actually unfolds
• Distractions, powerful emotions, loyalty, and affection also
color our perception
IMPERFECT MEMORY
• We forget details
and often resort to
imagination to ‘fill in
the blanks’
• When we retell a
story, we embellish to
make ourselves look
better or say
something we
thought of later that
we wish we would
have said
Salvador Dali
The Persistence of Memory, 1931
IMPERFECT MEMORY
• Memory is vulnerable
to contamination from
outside the mind experiments
Salvador Dali
The Disintegration of the
Persistence of Memory, 1954
• Did you see a bear?
(there was no bear)
• The difference in
perception of an
accident when the words
“hit” and “smash” are
used
• Adding “fake” events to
a description of an event
can cause people to
“remember” the fake
events as true
DEFICIENT INFORMATION
• The quality of our beliefs rests heavily on the quality
of information that backs them up
• The problem of misinformation – wrong directions, bad
advice – is all the worse when it occurs in complex matters
like interpreting the law, making medical decisions,
governing citizens, and religious life
• Not everything on the Internet is true!
• Even “experts” who devote their whole lives to a
subject cannot know everything about their
subject, because of the age in which we live and its
associated knowledge “explosion”
EVEN THE WISEST CAN ERR
• So far we’ve established that people can be
mistaken in what they perceive and remember and
that the information they receive can be faulty or
incomplete
• These matters concern individuals; what happens
when group judgment goes awry?
• All too often, what is taken as truth one day by the
most respected minds proves erroneous the next
• Galileo, Copernicus, and other paradigm shifts
• A whole host of others in your textbook
TRUTH IS DISCOVERED, NOT CREATED
• Review
• Ideas and beliefs are unavoidably influenced by other
people’s ideas and beliefs, particularly in childhood
• Perception and memory are imperfect (Dali’s paintings)
• Information can be inaccurate or incomplete
• Some people’s thinking skills are ineffectively used or
“woefully meager”
• What then is the most reasonable view of truth?
• The truth about something is what is so about it, the facts in
their exact arrangement and proportions
• Our beliefs and assertions are true when they correspond to
that reality, and false when they do not
TRUTH IS DISCOVERED, NOT CREATED
(CONT.)
• Did time run out before the basketball player got
the shot off?
• How does gravity work?
• Who stole your hubcaps?
• Are there time/space limits to the universe?
• Who started the argument between you and your
neighbor last weekend?
• Have you been working up to your potential in this
course?
• To look for the truth in such matters is to look for the answer
that fits the facts, the correct answer
TRUTH IS DISCOVERED, NOT CREATED
(CONT.)
• Truth is apprehended by discovery, a process which
favors the curious and the diligent
• Truth does not depend on our acknowledgement
of it, nor is it in any way altered by our ignorance or
transformed by our wishful thinking
• King Tut’s tomb did not spring into existence when
archaeologists dug it up; it was waiting there to be
discovered
• Art forgeries are not genuine when people are fooled, and
then fake when the deception is revealed
• Cigarette smoking is not rendered harmless to our health
because we would prefer it to be so
WHY THE CONFUSION?
• Much of the confusion about truth arises from
complex situations in which truth is difficult to
ascertain or express
• Are there really UFOs piloted by extraterrestrial beings? The
answer is hotly debated in some circles, and assertions are
made that purport to express the truth.
• But the fact is, there is not yet sufficient evidence to say we
know the truth about UFOs
• However, that does not mean that there is no truth about
them, or that people who affirm their existence or deny it
are equally correct
• It means that whatever the truth is, we do not yet possess it
WHY THE CONFUSION? (CONT.)
• Difficulty also arises when we ask psychological or
philosophical questions (abstract vs concrete)
• Is the cause of criminality genetic or environmental (nature
vs nurture) or some combination of the two?
• Is there an afterlife?
• What constitutes success?
• All of these questions have answers, but the are
incomplete or tentative
• That fact should not shake your conviction that
there are truths to be discovered
THE PROPER APPROACH
FOR A GOOD CRITICAL THINKER
• Determine that you are going to have the right frame of
mind as you pursue the truth
• Give it a sense of adventure that great thinkers in history
have experienced
• Keep the following thoughts in mind
• I know I have limitations and can be easily mistaken
• Surely I’ll never find all the answers I’d like to
• But I can observe a little more accurately, weigh things a little
more thoroughly, and make up my mind a little more carefully
• If I do so, I’ll be a little closer to the truth
• And that is far more reasonable than saying “Everyone
makes their own truth” or “It all depends on how you
look at it”
YOUR ASSIGNMENT
• Check the website
• Review this presentation again, along with the Ruggiero
textbook, chapter 3, “What is Truth?”
• On page 38 in Ruggiero, respond to Applications 4 and 5,
plus answer the following question, typed, 1” margins, 12
point font, 500 word minimum:
“What makes something ‘wrong’?”

similar documents