The distinction between truth and false is often perceived as an easy distinction to make, like a yes or no question. If you lie about something for example, then what you are saying is false, if you tell the truth then it is true. This is one of many misconceptions in life; the complexity behind the absolute distinction between truths and falsities is immense. How can an idea be judged to be true or false? One might say that a correct fact is true and an incorrect statement is false though the answer varies depending on the area of knowledge from which the statement is perceived. However, in order for there to be an absolute distinction there must be an absolute truth. In this essay I will question the existence of an absolute truth in order to determine whether or not there is an absolute distinction between what is true and what is false.
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In order to answer the topic question one must first seek to define certain terms/parts of the question the first of which is “true.” What is truth? Different sources attempt to answer this question in different ways. The big dictionary in Ms. Thornton’s room defines it as anything that is public and independent of anyone’s belief; Merriam Webster’s English dictionary as something eternal that is in accordance with fact or reality; Dicitonary.com believes it is a judgment or proposition; Michael Woolman, in his book “Ways of Knowing,” believes it is something that is logically necessary. The struggle to accurately define truth is partially due to the fact that we are unable to determine whether or not truth is relative. The second term we must define is “false.” Merriam Webster believes that something that is false is nor genuine, nor faithful, nor loyal and is also lacking in naturalness and sincerity. Dictionary.com defines a falsity as a declaration of what is untrue and perhaps treacherous. Lastly, we must define “absolute” which is perhaps a more concrete word than the preceding two; however it is significant to this paper to define it. Absolute refers to having no exception, restriction or qualification.
In order for there to be an absolute truth, there must be proof. In order to prove an absolute truth, one must have a system of proof with which one can deduce the truth’s validity in every single situation and under every singly condition in eternity. An absolute truth must be true for all eternity. It must also remain unchanged forever and since we cannot determine whether this is true, and therefore any claim of absolute truth is ridiculous. Some might argue however that by making this statement, I am making an absolute claim. This is however false because there is a possible circumstance under which this claim could not have existed before people could reason. According to hubpages.com “The propositional statement: “There are no absolutes”, is definitely not syntactically absolute, and not absolute in any real cognitive sense. It is a fact, that truth is not an object and does not exist without a mind, and hence impossible to be eternal. It is a fact, that truth is bound within the domain of concepts, and hence impossible to be eternal. It is a fact, that anything claimed as “eternal”, cannot be proven to be the case, because eternity does not exist in order to be used in the construction of any logically deductive proof. It is a fact, that no claim of truth for anything absolute, can be proven to be true by any stretch of the imagination.”
In math however we have a set of rules that can define an absolute truth. According to Adam Richards, who holds a degree in philosophy from Oxford, “in mathematics we can define an absolute truth or falsity because we precisely define the rules of mathematics. In reality, we need to measure what we want to know, and since these measurements can never be exact enough, an absolute truth cannot exist. How true or false something is depends on how accurate our measurements were but in the purely deductive world of mathematics, we can define exactly true/false statements.” I do not fully agree with Richards’ because I don’t believe that everything in life is a mere calculation however I second his reason for the presence of absolute truths in mathematics.
Outside of math any claim of an absolute truth is one that is either based on religious beliefs or is related to religion in one way or another. This is because they are claimed to be given by god. It is safe to say that everyone will agree with the fact that an absolute truth mandates a god due to the fact that it must be eternally true. Without a god there would be no absolute truth because there would be no eternity in the claim. To discredit theses claims, even though most of the words of god we know today have not been changed, we cannot prove that they will remain unchanged eternally. “All bibles and scriptures have undergone changes and revisions by humans who have tailored them to suit their tastes. Humans are not absolute, and have no system for preventing change to anything that is supposedly absolute” (hubpages.com).
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In conclusion, there is no absolute truth due to our inability to prove a claim eternally, and therefore no absolute distinction between what is true and what is false. Something that is not true is automatically false because there is no third option. If it is partially true or partially false than one can say that it has a true claim and a false claim however it is still classified as either true or false.
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