RE: virus: maxims and ground rules and suppositions

TheHermit (
Thu, 13 May 1999 00:43:54 -0500

Hermit, is fine:-) Mr, or even "The" is unnecessary.

I think I asked you for your definition of truth a while ago, but you are welcome to mine.

In my opinion, "truth" relates to the goodness of fit that a model (description) has to reality for whatever purpose the model is constructed. This would imply that when a model is indistinguishable from reality (in the context for which the model was constructed) that it is a "true" model. Naturally the author of the model should be the last person to do the judging as we all know how easily fooled we are. A truth differs from an hypothesis in that it need not be useful, nor does it have to be predictive. It should be noted that a model which is designed to be a lying (deceiving) model cannot be true. This is because its intention is to cloak reality or the perception of the recipient. Also, even if a "true" result is obtain from invalid premise, this does not validate the result (although it may be very hard to tell when this situation occurs). In this sense a truth is more like an "AND" function.

Maps Reality	Good Model	Is True
Yes			Yes		True
Yes			No		No
No			Yes		No
No			No		No

So no, I do not think that "truth" is an attribute of the universe, although the universe is ultimately the truest reality in the sense that only "Universe=Universe" with a one to one correspondence. Is it a quality of the descriptions of the qualities of the universe? As you see above I believe that it is, but that this description is too simplistic. I suspect that I may be seeing too many shades of grey here, but I do know that the wannabe-maxim, pithy though it may be, goes hopelessly to far in the opposite direction.

I started this thread with only a minor problem, I felt that "supposition" was incorrect - and that what happened was that "truth" had a greater chance of becoming non-truth, meaningless or possibly acquiring some other meaning. I could not see a way for a true statement to become a supposition. I think I have still not seen an example of this - and I love examples. But the more I talked this over with you, the more certain I became that there was a problem which was much more difficult to address. A problem buried in the unstated assumptions about the natures of both statements and truths.

It is possible that I am wrong about this - which is why despite the fact that I felt as you obviously do, that we are generating more heat than light on the initial topic, that we are doing something helpful - which is clarifying my position on these topics.

I think my questions at this stage really boil down to:

  1. Is there such a thing as a statement of truth outside of a frame of reference? My current very tentative hypothesis is "yes", that is why we still expect to discover a general theory. That for example, the numbers I was playing with and which unfortunately seem to annoy you, really do create a multipurpose model which represents many aspects of the universe quite exceptionally well. At this time I am assuming that these truths are universal, possibly some of them are even even panuniversal in that they relate directly to the nature of curves and counting. The reason for this assumption is three fold. One is that we have recently (Since the Hubbel) been able to see very close to the fringes of the universe (and obviously to the beginnings of time). The effects of the laws at work there allow us to conclude that the laws there are substantially the same as the ones we have here and now. Two is that we have no evidence that any other laws are or have been in operation anywhere. Three is that any alternate laws would assume a far higher degree of complexity in the universe than we currently have any evidence for needing.
  2. What is the easiest way of defining/determining a "truth"?
  3. Related to this is the question, does a "truth" have to be falsifiable to be true?
  4. How does one validate a truth?
  5. Can a truth that is non-trivial have a formal proof in an established discipline?
  6. If not, Is there a formal discipline possible where a formal proof can be establish? See my thinking above and in the previous letters. I am hoping we explore these aspects of truth some more.
  7. If a statement of truth as defined in 1 and qualified as above, has been made, if the the reference changes, what exactly happens?
  8. Is anything left of the "truth" after 7?
  9. If a non-frame dependent class of truth is possible (as it begins to seem to me might be the case), and if it is then placed in an "untrue context" (as you did), does it loose its value (it seems to me that it does)?
  10. How about the reverse?

Well, here is my attempt on a maxim capturing as close to the "spirit" of the original as I am able to go - sorry it sounds so wimpish. I suspect it will require much more qualification before it will be ready for prime time. I have tried to capture my current feeling on the subject and it would of course be different - maybe even contradictory tomorrow :-)

"Many classes of "statements of truth" are dependent on a particular frame of reference to validate their meaning. If their reference is lost or damaged, any remaining meaning is a crap shoot."

Ok? This is not argument for the sake of it, but argument because it might be useful. Certainly if the use of an argument is change, this has already served its purpose. Apropos of this, How about "The age of the Universe is close to 15 Billion years". And yes, I know that the use of a year is arguable. But if I put it in terms of the Hubble Constant at 81+/-8km.s^-1.Mpc^-1 I think I will confuse more people than I help. As I have noted before, it is the thing which is symbolized and how we agree on the meaning and goodness of the symbols which matter, not the actual symbols chosen.

I now understand the last sentence. I'm sorry you feel that way. I wouldn't know. Post Michelson-Morely it never has appeared difficult to me... life was so much simpler before the EM dichotomy... Never mind the Cambridge experiment.

TheHermit <Preparing to believe a double dose of impossible things before breakfast tomorrow just to keep himself in practice for Prof. Tim :-) >

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf
> Of Tim Rhodes
> Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 1999 9:33 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: virus: maxims and ground rules and suppositions
> Mr. Hermit, tell me please, do you think that "truths" are
> qualities of the
> universe or _descriptions_ of the qualities of the universe?
> And can you
> see the difference? Because other than that, I don't think we're
> disagreeing about anything whatsoever and as a result I don't
> really see a
> need to agrue with you any further.
> You seem to be saying that when truths aren't true anymore
> they stop being
> truths. Which I agree with. You see, I asked you once how
> you'd change the
> maxim to relect that and now I'll ask excatly the same thing
> over again one
> more time and see what happens:
> >But since it seems your real problem with the statement:
> >
> >>> All statements of truth are embedded a particular frame of
> >>> reference from which they cannot be separated without becoming
> >>> suppositions.
> >
> >was with the word "supposition", can I ask, why are we even
> having this
> >conversation at all?
> >
> >More to the point: Would you care to offer another word (or
> words) that
> >could take the place of "supposition" while retaining the
> intent of the
> >statement above? A word that might make this bandersnatch
> acceptable to
> you
> >and yours?
> And I'd really like to hear your answer! (If for no other
> reason than to
> dispell my impression that you're just being agrumentative
> for it's own sake
> here.)
> -Tim
> PS: The last sentence in my previous post left out the word
> "difficult",
> hence its obscure translation.
> --------------------------------------------------------------
> ---------
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