Study note | What is truth?

Posted by Joy on October 15, 2017

Everyone creates his or her own truth, and what is true for you may note be true for me.
The claim means that whatever a person thinks is true because he or she thinks it is.

The implications of this notion are quite staggering [so surprisingly impressive as to stun or overwhelm].

  • Implication Ⅰ: everyone is right and no one can be wrong.
  • Implication II: everyone’s perception and memory work flawlessly.
  • Implication III: no one adopts other people’s truths.

Where does it all begin?

We adopted the perception of our parents when we were young and made them the foundation of our belief system, no matter how elaborate it would become in adulthood.

Seeing is believing. Believing is seeing.
What we regard as our unique perspective bears the imprint of other people’s idea and beliefs. [Like your parents and people around us]

Imperfect perception

Perception is influenced by our desires, interests, and expectations. Even within its limited focus, perception is often flawed.

It is well established that a number of factors can make us see and hear inaccurately. Darkness, cloudy conditions or distance from what we are witnessing may obscure our vision. [Many TV series plots show that witness could be wrong.]

Perception may be intermingled with interpretation - the expectation that an event will unfold in a certain way may color our perception of the way the event actually unfolds. [Like we misinterpret the fact because of personal affection]

Imperfect memory

We forget details, and when later attempting to recall what happened we resort to imagination to fill in the blanks.

Deficient information

The quality of a belief depends to a considerable extent on the quality of the information that backs it up. Because it’s a big world and reality has many faces, it’s easy for us to be misinformed.

Even the wisest can err

All too often, what is taken as truth one day by the most respected minds is proved erroneous the next. [Finding a truth can be a endless journey via countless fautls. ]

Summary

  1. Our ideas and beliefs are unavoidably influence by other people’s particularly in childhood.
  2. Perception and memory are imperfect.
  3. Our information can be inaccurate or incomplete.

    Truth is discovered, not created

    We do create something, all right, but it is not truth. It’s beliefs, ideas that we accept as true but that could easily be false.

Truth is apprehended by discovery, a process that favours the curious and the diligent.

A good way to having the right frame of mind is to keep the following thought in mind:

I know I have limitations and can easily be mistaken. And surely I’ll never find all the answers I’d like to. But I can observe a little more accurately, weigh things a little more thoroughly, and make up my mind a little more carefully. If I do so, I’ll be a little closer to the truth.

[Above is also a good way to avoid rush to conclusion and be humble. ]

Understanding cause and effect

To avoid confusion, following four facts must be understood:

  1. One event can precede another without causing it. The problem with believing that preceding events necessarily cause subsequent events is that such thinking overlooks the possibility of coincidence. This possibility is the basis of the principle that ”correlation does not prove causation”.

  2. Not all causation involves force or necessity. Causation can defined as the phenomenon of one thing influencing the occurrence of another. [In material events, the causation is commonly associated with a physical action; in nonmaterial events, the causation may occur through influence. ]

  3. There is a wild card in human affairs - free will. People possess free will and that makes the effects of human affairs unpredictable. In any investigation of causes and effects in human affairs, the factor of free will must be considered. Possessing free will is no guarantee that we will apply it, and habit makes such application difficult. Resisting the force of habit is always possible but never easy. The most difficult habits to break are those that accrue incrementally over time.

  4. Causation is often complex. Effects in human affairs can be complex. In order to find the real cause, we could examine a case in the way investigation usually proceeds - backwards in time from the latest effect to the earliest causative factor; that is, to the “root cause”. [Just like peeling an onion. ]

In searching for truth, when you encounter possible cause-and-effect relationships, keep these cautions in mind.

  • Remember that events seldom, if ever, “just happen.” They occur as the result of specific influences. [It means there will be always a causation.]
  • Remember that free will is a powerful causative factor in human affairs, and it is often interwinded with other causes.
  • Be aware that in a chain of events, an effect often becomes a cause.
  • Be aware that, in dealing with human affairs, outcomes can be unpredictable. In other words, you might conclude that something more likely than not or, when the probability is very high, substantially more likely to be the cause.