Comment from Walter Stark PhD,
There is a most interesting essay by Rebeca Goldstein on Godel and the ‘Nature of Mathematical Truth’ at The Edge website.
It deals with the fundamental philosophical divide between those on the one side who accept that an objective reality does exist, that truth is defined by its consistency with objective reality and that beauty arises from the recognition of such truth, and those on the other who believe that reality,truth and beauty are ultimately our own constructions.
While the former pursue the discovery of truth, the latter aim to construct it in accord with whatever hopes, ideologies or ethics they deem desirable.
This same division seems to underlie much of my own dissention from various mainstream environmental concerns. What to the constructionists is a righteous crusade for the betterment of humankind appears to the realist an ugly disregard for truth and reality.
As for reality itself the SF writer Philip K. Dick said it well, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Goldstein’s essay is at http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge162.html.
Louis Hissink says
We are hairless simians that think, and it is our thoughts which have created the existing problems.
If we wander into the world of our imagination, then all sorts of devils are encountered, global warming one isolated case.
But if we don’t, and if we also not think, then global warming does not exist either.
Graham Finlayson says
How often does todays’reality become tomorrows absurdity.
I believe there is a precise matemathical cohesion in nature that is ‘real’, but we keep trying to measure it against what we think is our own ‘real’ perspective now.
Not all problems are in our imagination. But it is our ‘imaginations’ or ‘attitudes’ that will dictate how we face and react to them.
Neil Hewett says
Interesting that in post-WWI Vienna, political fervour drove people of particularly left-leaning politics to claim things they couldn’t possibly know.
Over the past three decades in Australia, the political fervour of particularly left-leaning environmentalism has fought to save a hurting, dying planet. Do-or-die politics peddling loss of biodiversity, pollution, global warming, water shortages and famine, frightens children, angers youth and persuades governments to impose rigid behavioural constraints on an unwitting public.
Not that the concept of ecological sustainability is necessarily nefarious, but that emotive untruth underpins an agenda of unnecessarily stringent constraint, including the prevention of settlement on privately-owned land for reasons as spurious as lack of representativeness within protected area estate.
If we learn anything from Dr. Stark’s valuable reference and indeed from the most bitter lessons of history, avoiding some of the tragedy that our species is prone to will require more than mere modesty in constructionists ‘claims to knowledge’: it will require rigorous defense of truth on the battleground of environmentalism.
Perhaps this defense rationalizes the launching of the AEF: the realists environmental organisation.
people think symbolically, they tend to do this regardless of truth, because its easy, even if it is not the most efficient way between A & B, its easy
we think symbolically, as its easy, because we have bodies, we are biased because of that fact, a body can only do so much, humans are the only bodies to occupiy more than one niche, in fact we create niche for ourselves by moving over the niches we have already made (its called the market)
Truth is beyond all of this movement of the substrate of reality, all we have are technologies, constructed (socially, personally) with a particular refence beam to iron out what does not work
to confuse the just-so tales of Tech with Truth is to worship idols of our own making, but then we always to that with our symbols… its easy.
All we have each and together is a little truth, we hold dear to our sense of self, we symbolise our selves with these particles of Truth, like totems, me wolf, you lamb….
and with which we construct our view of the world, and our bodies. The body and the landscape are created from the substrate of the terrain, they are a composition, created in a style of movement. A style is a bias. The sheep and the dog do not share the same landscape, just as they do not inhabit the same body, the landscape is constructed from the body’s wants/fears/desires.
But without a bias we are dead, or at least not alive.
To try and construct a world which ignores this is the world of the religious and the ideologue. Not any particular sect, but all of them. But then they are a fact of the social world, to ignore them will mean you will be ignored.
Twenty years ago I read about gödel theorems, I dropped out of the system that was university (i ignore many social symbols about me) and have remained on the dole/welfare ever since.
I did so as a personal effort to reduce economic growth. I felt it was damaging the future. But my sacrifice, as yet is meaningless as I was ignored by those who ignored truth in favour of tech and symbols.
i should have invested in franchising franchises and invested the moolah in buying up real estate above 100m above sealevel…
That was my bias. My body is a forty year old male. Unemployable because i am unemployed. I am stuck on a strange attractor. typing into the internet for some reason still trying to communicate with a community of symbols….
The only bonus i can see in the landscape I have composed, a niche in the margins, is the insight that everyone is institutionalised in the exactly the same way, just a different levels and different awarenesses about their situation. Some even thing they are succeeded.
Admittedly I was always a depressive.
But then, the economy made me and then took no responsibility, Mr Economy said, cobber, life is what you make it, and ran away as fast as possibel and I was left stranded, saying, “i didnt like you anyway.”
Graham Finlayson says
Thanks Meika, I just forgot all my problems.
Here is an essay that explains how Godel’s work on language and truth should not be used to promote relativism, irrationalism and despair of the truth.
“One immediate result of Tarski’s work on truth is the following theorem of logic there can be no general criterion of truth (except with respect to certain artificial language systems of a somewhat impoverished kind).
This result can be exactly established; and its establishment makes use of the notion of truth as correspondence with the facts.
Incidentally, the result that there can be no general criterion of truth is a direct consequence of the still more important result (which Tarski obtained by combining Godel’s undecidability theorem with his own theory of
truth) that there can be no general criterion of truth even for the comparatively narrow field of number theory, or for any science which makes
full use of arithmetic. It applies a fortiori to truth in any extra-mathematical field in which unrestricted use is made of arithmetic.
All this shows not only that some still fashionable forms of skepticism and
relativism are mistaken, but also that they are obsolete that they are based on a logical confusion — between the meaning of a term and the criterion of its proper application — although the means for clearing up this confusion
have been readily available for some thirty years.” [written in 1960].
Thanks Rafe, still grappling with the whole of the link.
Any chance Popper was the misplaced twin of Warren Buffett?
“It is extraordinary to me that the idea of buying dollar bills for 40 cents takes immediately with people or it doesn’t take at all. ”
Louis Hissink says
Now what are your thoughts on the matter.