Re: virus: accurate statements vs The Absolute Truth (was KMO

David McFadzean (
Mon, 04 Nov 1996 18:17:08 -0700

At 05:38 PM 04/11/96 MST, Jason McVean wrote:

>Well, not if Absolute Truth defines what is true.

Objective reality defines what is true not any description of It.

>I'm not sure why that statement is true by definition but I'm a
>physicist, not a mathematician so I'm willing to be convinced.

I guess it depends on whether you think pi has an objective
existence or not. I'm told not even professional mathematicians
agree on this point, so I'm going to back off from my assertion.

>I don't know that that really affects the arguemnet though. What
>if I said that Jason McVean is less than 8 feet tall?
>That certainly isn't true by definition but it is true
>nonetheless. And nobody would reasonably dispute it either. But I
>have a hard time being able to justify it if there is no such
>thing as absolute truth. I suppose I'm equating absolute truth
>with objective truth.

I think that is the crux of the whole argument. A few months ago
I would have agreed with you. But now I believe that the property
called "truth" doesn't apply to objective reality. Atoms aren't
true or false, neither are stereos, rocks, dogs, quasars or
Jason McVean. Only statements *about* reality can be true or
false. The veracity lies in the relation between a proposition
and the referent. Therefore the Absolute Truth cannot be identical
to Objective Reality, the former is an infinitely long conjunction
of true propositions about reality.

>It should be written in a fully consistent language that is
>derived in Appendix A from first principles in such a way that
>the meaning of any bit of the book is unambiguous. Because of
>this, it is really tedious to read. Note that the book doesn't
>contain information on whether cubism is better than realism.
>Can such a language exist? I don't know. But I'm also not sure
>that the lack of such a language prevents us from communicating
>things such as "the helium atom is more massive than the
>hydrogen atom" and an endless collection of similar statements
>unambiguously. In the end, that's what I'm getting at.

So you agree that even if the language this book is written in
can't exist, and ipso facto the book can't possibly exists, we
can still communicate true statements? I agree.

>Perhaps I was being over zealous but my intended meaning was
>quite clear from the example that followed my statement. It
>doesn't matter how true, (accurate, precise) my map of Calgary is,
>it is not useful when I'm trying to find the bathroom in the
>White House. It also is not useful when I want to know the
>average mass of an apple.

OK, I understand now.

>I'm not sure how to reconcile the assertion that absolute truth
>doesn't exist with the one that truth does exist. When is
>something true when it isn't absolutely true?

When it is true within a specific context.

1. Jason is 10 feet tall.
2. If X is over 9 feet tall X must play basketball.
3. Jason must play basketball.

Statement 3 is true within the context of this argument but I
wouldn't claim it is absolutely true, would you?

>The perfect portrait would have to be indistiguishable from the
>subject of the portrait, right down to occupying the same space
>and time. The perfect portrait is the subject. Absolute truth is
>the perfect portrait of objective reality. Hmmm...

But it is impossible for portraits to occupy the same space and
time as the portrayed so perfect portraits are impossible. Hmmmm....

>If I work from that definition then the AT must be true since it
>is composed only of true statements. So the contention must be
>either that such a conjunction is not possible, or that there are
>no true statements. I don't think many here would concede the
>latter. So is the sticking point the former?

The sticking point might be that there are no absolutely true
statements (except maybe within formal systems like math) or that
the conjunction is impossible because there are an infinite number
of true statements.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus