What is Truth?

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zavk
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by zavk » Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:28 am

Dan74 wrote:So in Mathematical Logic, truth is very much a relative thing - it is relative to the system of assumptions and the rules of deduction.
I think this is more or less acknowledged in most philosophical activities these days. Which is why I suppose the questions you raise, Craig, will only lead to more questions.

I am not trained in philosophy but as far as I am aware, many philosophers these days do not ask the grand question of 'What is truth?' but a somewhat more modest question of 'What is meant by truth?' or more precisely, 'What do you mean when you say--This is truth?'

There is a subtle but important shift in emphasis here. To echo what kannada has said about the role of conceptuality in shaping truth: When we ask 'What do you mean when you say--This is truth?' we are moving away from engaging with truth as something 'out there' waiting to be discovered (as one popular TV show of the 90s would have it), to engaging with truth as that which is shaped and 'coaxed to life', as it were, by how we think and speak of it.

In my view, this line of inquiry forces us to not take truth as self-evident but instead examine the forces that shape truth and our relationship to those forces. Buddhism gives us many tools to pursue this line of inquiry.

Anyway Craig, if you are interested in examining Buddhism with such categories as 'realism' and 'anti-realism' you may find David Burton's Buddhism, Knowledge, and Liberation: A philosophical Study interesting. There's a review of the book here: http://www.buddhistethics.org/13/hoogca ... eview.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Burton's book raises more questions than answers. When I first read it, I felt that he was making many gross generalisations about Buddhism. However, as I finished the book I began to see that this was perhaps his aim: to highlight the impossibility of fully explicating Buddhism with such Western epistemological categories. He points out that the question 'What is truth?'--which for Western philosophy is primarily a epistemological issue--is from a Buddhist perspective always partial and limited. This is because truth in Buddhism is not merely about how we can know it but how we can live it.

Anyway, I wish you all the best in your studies. It is very exciting and I hope you get into your university course of choice.
With metta,
zavk

kannada
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by kannada » Tue Sep 29, 2009 10:31 am

Dan wrote:In Mathematical Logic, there is a precise definition of "truth". You need a system of axioms (a priori assumptions) and logical rules for deriving new statements from these axioms (like "if A, then B" and "if B, then C" implies "if A then C"), then a statement is true if it can be derived from the axioms using the logical rules.
Hi Dan / folks...

Buddhism's ultimate premise, Anatta ('A' is not 'A'), is not based on logic, therefore cannot be accepted as 'truth' within the specific grounding of the assertion of 'things' (and 'truth' being a 'thing' as a product of assertion). Anatta is alogical or outside the bounds of logic. Any attempt to incorporate Buddhism's ultimate premise into the realm of logic would end up as illogical.

See discussion here... http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1806" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Regards
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Dan74
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by Dan74 » Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:22 am

Yes, I agree.

To expand on what you've said, I wouldn't try to force the Dharma into some formal logical structure, simply because I see it as much more of a practical guide than a statement of some ultimate truth.

Also annata is not quite "A is not A". I think what a lot of people do is confuse the conventional and ultimate categories. Annata (like shunyata in general) is simply a critique of believing abstract notions to be real, or reifying. So Dan74 is a convenient designation. There is nothing wrong in accepting and using this designation appropriately. What's wrong is going around believing it to be an actual entity, existing in its own right, in other words a self.

So I don't think Buddhism is illogical, in the sense of going against logic. It just operates on many other levels.

_/|\_
_/|\_

kannada
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by kannada » Tue Sep 29, 2009 11:46 am

Dan74 wrote:I wouldn't try to force the Dharma into some formal logical structure, simply because I see it as much more of a practical guide than a statement of some ultimate truth.

Also annata is not quite "A is not A". I think what a lot of people do is confuse the conventional and ultimate categories. Annata (like shunyata in general) is simply a critique of believing abstract notions to be real, or reifying. So Dan74 is a convenient designation. There is nothing wrong in accepting and using this designation appropriately. What's wrong is going around believing it to be an actual entity, existing in its own right, in other words a self.

So I don't think Buddhism is illogical, in the sense of going against logic. It just operates on many other levels.

_/|\_
Hi Dan,

I did not say that "Buddhism is illogical". I said that "Buddhism's ultimate premise is alogical" or outside the bounds of logic. Illogic is contradiction, or A=B. There is much within Buddhism that conforms to logic - definition and description. Ultimately Buddhism does indeed points outside the bounds of any 'truth' asserted for all truths are conditions, nibbana is outside the bounds of all conditions, assertions, logic and 'truths'...

Best wishes...
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mindfullmom
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by mindfullmom » Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:36 pm

To me the raft is pragmatism in the sense that its true since it works and anti-realist since its to be abandoned and so not ultimate truth, yet doesnt this go against kamma which is realist since the statement "infanticide is ok" is ultimately wrong according to traditional buddhist ethical teaching. There seems to be a paradox
In my humble, untrained opinion, recognizing the paradox is the point. And then resting there with equinimity. It's both and neither at the same time. It's exactly same and yet totally different. Instead of trying to pin things down into neat little categories and concepts, its the backing away from that, the opening up from that that moves me forward. Otherwise, I can get all tangled up. As Ajhan Cha would say, "Not always so". That phrase always challanges me to let go. Whose truth are we talking about? I think it depends on your conditioning and where you are in your development. :shrug:
For a realist the truth or falsity of the statement "the earth is flat" is ulitmately true or false even if we dont know. Now we have maths and the visual of the earth being round which gives weight to Realism in this case. Of course one could argue for scepticism since, for scepticism, certainty is impossible. How do I know that im not a brain in a vat and that im not dreaming this whole conversation. Or how do I know the universe didnt start only 11 minutes ago and all my memories before were implanted? Answer is I dont, although that knowledge of not knowing is in itself knowing and so a refutation of the sceptic position not to be able to know anything :jawdrop: :cookoo: :lol:
That was great, I really had a good laugh with those smilies!

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:23 am

I think people are confusing the Buddha with Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta who was a skeptic, relativist agnostic existentialist, amoral pluralist in the Buddha's time. His theories of moral relativity, existential relativity, and agnosticism were called "Eel wriggling" by the Buddha and were refuted. Why then do people take the Buddha to be an agnostic, relativist, moral pluralist?

The Buddha did not say that truth did not exist, while he pointed out the failures of the conventions of language. Ideas like 'actions have consequences'; 'behavior founded in greed, hatred and delusion produces misery'; 'becoming less attached we become more creative'; are simply descriptions of the way the world actually works. They give us a basis for a system of values which are not arbitrary. They are truths.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Cloud
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by Cloud » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:02 am

Truth is that which one can verify through direct experience. Truths can be put into words, but must be verified to hold any meaning. This is our path. :)

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m0rl0ck
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by m0rl0ck » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:47 pm

Looking for ultimate truth using conditional concepts is like looking for darkness using a flashlight. Its a game philosophers play and is nothing but a distraction from the real matter at hand.
“The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I'm looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.” ― Robert M. Pirsig

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Wizard in the Forest
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by Wizard in the Forest » Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:49 pm

Read the Canki Sutta

Truth is obtainable.
"One is not born a woman, but becomes one."- Simone de Beauvoir

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Donuts Dad
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by Donuts Dad » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:09 am

Vladimir Nabokov said something like, "Reality is a word that has no meaning without quotation marks." Real for me might be subtly or drastically different from what real is to someone else. Sure, mathematics can describe an objective truth, but describing is not proving.

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andre9999
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by andre9999 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 12:29 am

Cloud wrote:Truth is that which one can verify through direct experience. Truths can be put into words, but must be verified to hold any meaning. This is our path. :)
But if experience is at all subjective, what does that say about truth?

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kirk5a
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Re: What is Truth?

Post by kirk5a » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:08 am

andrer9999 wrote: But if experience is at all subjective, what does that say about truth?
It says the truth is within.

"Yet it is just within this fathom-long body, with its perception & intellect, that I declare that there is the cosmos, the origination of the cosmos, the cessation of the cosmos, and the path of practice leading to the cessation of the cosmos."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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