Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Experiencing Truth

Read the prior message in this series: Reasonable Truth

Human beings exist within an objective reality where we think, perceive, will, emote, and act. Thinking is the "reason" of my first epistemological pillar. Perceiving leads to experience which is my second pillar.

Experience provides the data on which reason operates. Experience is our perception of the reality around us, and it becomes input for our logic processor, i.e. our minds. It is critical that we distinguish between experience as perception of external reality versus internal experiences or "mental states" which are not objective. If we do not make this distinction, our will and emotions muddy the clarity and certainty gained by objective experience which can be independently verified by third-party eye witnesses.

Like the first pillar of reason, I accept objective experience axiomatically as my second pillar of truth. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee our senses give reliable data, nor can we guarantee our reason will reliably override faulty perceptions. Still, I propose that reason and experience are "properly basic" tools for all objective truth seekers.

I'm open to criticisms of these two pillars of truth, but in order to critique them you would have to invoke reason and experience to deny them thereby establishing their axiomatic nature. I would also welcome any ideas about a third pillar that would be as axiomatic as the first two.

There is one more governing branch in my epistemology, but it is not a pillar. I hold more loosely to tradition than I do the pillars of reason and experience.

Read the next entry in this series: Traditional Truth

1 comment:

  1. In your struggles with the world, your quest to understand truth is the easy part; it is reality that is the difficult entity to grasp.

    Truth is a value that we apply to any statements that tells us something about the world; reality.
    You have truth/false values that you constantly apply to statements.

    Very often, much more than most can bear, one has to apply the "I don't know" standby value until one gathers enough information to properly apply any value option.

    With respect to reality, there can be deemed to be two manifestation of reality; the 'real' or objective reality and the 'imaginary' or subjective reality; which is better understood as perception.
    Our experiences with the world, reality, is captured and reproduced within our brain as perception.

    This is because we never directly experience reality, we perceive it via our senses, which receive signals that emanates from reality. We interpret these sensory elements within our brain which produces perceptions.

    Perceptions are really similar to carbon copies of reality.

    As you can well imagine, a carbon copy, or photograph, of an object is not the object. This means that it will be impossible to fully grasp the full nature of the object; which in this case is objective reality itself. So always be prepared to be corrected, and to improve your understanding of the world.

    This means that you (including mankind) will never know everything that exist, nor everything about anything! Yes, omnipotence is impossible! It is also possible to know a lot more inaccurate or false things about the world, than there are true things that actually exist.

    To explain our perceptions to ourselves and to others we make statements to replicate the perception, where perception is your carbon copy of reality. To the extent that any statement accurately reflects the nature of your perception, such statement is true with respect to your perception only; and conversely such statement is false to the extent that it does not accurately and or completely represent that perception.

    Now when you examine your perception (which is your first brush with objective reality), you will realize that it never fully captures the essence of objective reality. And also the statement that reflects upon the perception does not perfectly capture the perception. This is the essence of subjective reality. It can be said that subjective reality is the reality that we actually experience as consciousness; not objective reality.

    Therefore we have two stages and opportunities for uncertainty (errors, incompleteness, etc,) within our epistemological framework. They are our ‘perception’, and our ‘explanations’ (i.e. statements).

    The challenge then, is to get as perfect a photocopy that is your perceptions, and as perfect a statement that reflects your perceptions, such that your statement will perfectly reflect the objective reality being observed.

    It is here that most of our problems arise.

    There is more, however I hope that this has helped.

    Samuel Bernard

    You may contact me at