Looking over a book on Becoming a Critical Thinker, it mentions a key principle of thinking:
Truth is discovered, not created.
“You have probably heard it said that truth is subjective and personal, or that each person creates truth to his or her own specifications. This belief is common today, and it means that believing something is so actually makes it so. In other words, reality is whatever we wish it to be. This idea directly contradicts the view that has been generally accepted since ancient times- the view that truth is the accurate representation of objective reality. In this view reality is unaffected by our wishes, preferences, and assumptions.”
They then ask which view if more reasonable, and follow with examples to consider.
“If truth is created by each person, then…”
Galileo’s assertion that the sun is the center of the solar system, is only true for those who want to believe it.
As is the belief that the earth is flat, or the belief that the Holocaust never happened, or a drunk falling into an empty swimming pool thinking it full of water, will have water suddenly appear to save him from a hard landing. Swear to tell the truth? what would truth mean anymore? dismiss the court cases. Forget archeologists, history, medical research…new reporting..How would one combat prejudice? bigotry? what would be the need?
Do we have anyone here who thinks the first proposition is true? truth is subjective?
This made me think about morals and the big argument over whether they are subjective or objective as well.
We tend to use subjective to mean whatever we feel or want. And objective to mean absolute.
But both fall short when used in such a way.
With truth, we can at least set objective parameters as to what we can agree to see, observe, and learn as rational humans. (*those unable to be rational will of course disagree).
However, we must also admit that our knowledge is not perfect OR absolute. We continue to learn. Knowledge, TRUTH, evolve with understanding. So though we can be objective, we must know that it remains relative to where we are, with the knowledge we have.
Considering such possibilities of brain in a vat, and or/ hologram universe, we cannot claim to have absolute knowledge in TRUTH.
When we do not know, oftentimes beliefs are formed, or have developed to attempt to explain that which we do not know. (after life etc)
Beliefs are subjective.
Where do morals fit in?
Are morals actions based on beliefs? or on truths? or…a combination of both?
I think we can agree that moral values have changed and evolved with new understanding. (our ideas of owning other people, all people being equal, thoughts on women, different colored skin, etc)
I think a moral principal can be objective. It can be something everyone (with rational minds, empathy, and awareness) can agree upon.
Like “treat others as you want to be treated” . Not a specific list of “rights” and “wrongs” , but rather a principal that can be set as a standard to guide individual actions. Such standards can remain objective while the individual “rights” and “wrongs” may be subjective (not to whims and feelings) but rather to intent, circumstances, etc.
Sam Harris suggests that we can develop morality objectively, and scientifically.