Monday, October 26, 2009

Truth

Some people, like Tarski, say that a statement is true if what it says corresponds with reality. But how do we know what reality is so that we can compare this statement with it? For we do not have an objective criterion for determining what is real. How do we know that a statement is true if what we see as real depends in the end on the subjective viewpoints of the observer and on his or her place in the world, so on his or her interpretation of the world? For this reason we can reach an intersubjective idea of what is real at most. Already Plato explained in his Legend of the Cave that what we see is not reality as such but a representation of reality. It is only with this representation that we can compare our statement.

2 comments:

oldyrek said...

...veritas es adecvatio rei et intelectus...
maybe we see representation only, maybe it's is true that we shouldn't send our eyes to the sun because we mght blind them but we need some base, some assumption data. we see the same or simmilar things it is not enough? if 100 people see the same thing it must be real.
"For we do not have an objective criterion for determining what is real." it's almos solipsism.
In my opnion it is not representaton of reality but representation of ideas, and then this representatons are our reality.But if is not... If our world is only a dream of madman...
Do you thng that we should tell the true other people n the cave?

HbdW said...

Thank you for your thoughtful reaction. Yes, “veritas est adequatio rei et intellectus”, they say. When I met this first in Tarski’s version, I did not understand it: how can we know that a statement concords with reality if we have only our interpretations of this reality. It took me a long time to understand what was meant by this adequatio, but this did not make that I agreed with it. And I still think even more that my opinion is correct, since I know more about how the body and the mind function. However, our subjective viewpoints and interpretations are good enough for making life possible, although sometimes we make fatal mistakes.
I do not think that if hundred people see the same thing, it must be real. Take a sunset. Everybody sees that the sun goes down, not that the earth turns. Probably it has been so as long as humans exist. Now we know that the earth turns, but still we cannot see it that way, if we see a sunset. And why should we have scientific theories and test them, if we could see reality in a direct way, without interpretation? We just had to look and make descriptions, and we knew how the world was like. What science actually tries to do is making our interpretations (theories) less false, hoping that they’ll be true. This shows that I also think that solipsism is the wrong way. We have our private view of the world, that’s right. But we can share and do share by means of our language our private views with other people. What we get then is an intersubjective interpretation of the world around us. This avoids (for most people) that our world is a dream of a madman.
We can try to tell the people in the cave that they are in a cave, but you must realize that this doesn’t mean that we can leave this cave. The only thing we can try to do is to make the shadows on the wall sharper so that we better know what they represent.