Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Is All Truth Subjective?

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Let me take this article as a point of departure to discuss the concept of truth. The first and most important thing to understand is that 'truth' is a property of sentences (or propositions), not of the world. The world just is. Only what we say about the world can be true or false. The second thing is that the world consists of much more than simple 'facts of the matter'. Historically, efforts to ground truths in facts have failed, not so much because they're wrong, but because they're woefully incomplete. As Joe Fassler (cited in this post) puts it, there "are the emotional, moral, narrative and philosophical truths that might be considered more true than factual truth." So in what lies truth? Here Steven Mintz tells us it's the story. "Whatever else we are, storytelling, story-consuming, story-enacting animals." Educators, for some reason, love the story. But stories are so limiting - so linear, so text-based, so dependent on narrative and sequence. No, truth lies in something broader - technically, we would say that truth is defined in a model or world view. The proposition 'P' is 'true in W'. If we want non-relative truth, can we commit to one (and only one) world view. But in a broader (set of) universe(s) we see truth inhabiting worlds of possibilities, of relations between one possible world and another (of symmetry or transitivity, for example). Truth - far from being necessary or subjective, far from being absolute or relative - is in our understanding transformed into the much more complex concept it is. And for all that, more beautiful. Image: Wikipedia.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 13, 2024 9:53 p.m.

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