Saturday, October 26, 2013

Not as True as You May Think

Western Rationalism in a nutshell:  "seeing is believing"

In the culture of Western Rational Realism, under which we find ourselves, the definition of objective truth is a hypothesis which can be shown to be true repeatedly under identical conditions enough times to make it statistically improbable that it’s not true. What this means is, basically, you have to do something the same way at least a hundred times under identical conditions and get identical or nearly identical results most of the time. The greater number of times and the greater the percentage of identical results, the more substantial is the claim of this kind of event establishing “truth.” 

As you can see, we already have problems because experiments rarely achieve identical results 100% of the time. Most of the facts that we hold as undeniably true have never been subjected to such rigorous experimentation, but even those that have have only been shown to be true beyond the shadow of doubt, meaning that they may be shown at some point not to be true. If you know anything about science, you know that what is held to be true in one generation is often exploded by the next. Giving the example of the progression of our understanding of the mechanics of the universe from Copernicus to Newton to Einstein to Heisenberg and beyond is something of a sardonic gesture by now.

If science has revealed anything, it's that "objective truth" is a slippery concept indeed.

Furthermore, the only fields where these conditions can even pretend to establish truth is in the so-called “hard” sciences—Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, and Physics. Note these are all fields where measurements and observations can be made with the eyes—including apparatuses and meters that measure sound, temperature, texture, chemical reactions, functions, operations, and sensations that can be observed with the eyes

This is critical because those fields that are not so-called "hard", namely the Social Sciences--including Psychology, Anthropology, Linguistics, and Sociology--lack this ability to reproduce measurable, observable (with the eyes) data in closed, repeatable experiments.

Missourians aren't the only ones who base objective truth on the eyes.

Out from under the umbrella of Science are the Humanities (which are not held to be Science in any degree), including Literature, Language Studies, Philosophy, Theology, Art, Law, and History. While academics in these fields may attempt it, they have a much more difficult time establishing objective truth in the same sense as it is established in the so-called "hard" sciences. 

What this means is that postulating the existence of an authentic self is no more outlandish than claiming, as Plato did, that all items in this world have an ideal representation in an ideal world. It’s an idea that, if thought about and considered, might be taken to reveal some aspect of the truth, yet cannot be proven in any objective sense to be any truer or falser than anything else someone might claim. It’s just an idea that resonates with some people while not resonating with others. 

"She said she wanted a 'platonic' relationship. Does that mean 'an ideal male/female relationship'? Well, an 'ideal' relationship would mean lots of sex. I think I could live with that."

You can’t prove Plato’s proposal or disprove it. You merely consider it as a reasonable or unreasonable possibility. Nevertheless, so much of the Philosophy, Law, History, and understanding of Language under Western Rationalism is based on these nonobjective proposals by such thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche to name but a very small few. If we are looking for something to believe that has proof, we are indeed in deep trouble because ultimately all truth is founded in what we choose to believe.