EppsNet Archive: Truth

Notes on Existential Well-Being

I’m taking an online class on existential well-being . . . posting some notes and thoughts: Well-being implies physical health, comfort, pleasure. It is also essential for human beings to have relationships with other people and to have a place in society. We speak of personal well-being when a person is able to develop their talents and feel at peace with him or herself. Beauty, compassion, truth, love — these are experiences of the “life force” or the “spirit.” In these spiritual experiences we transcend our limited self. We become part of something bigger and participate in universal qualities that nourish and enhance life. We are conscious of the physical, the social, the personal and the spiritual dimensions of human experience. We make no hierarchy between these dimensions. We recognize that human life is also characterized by suffering, pain and many limitations. We acknowledge that because of limitations, we are… Read more →

Aside

Confess, ye miscreants, sight unseen, the truth of what I have proclaimed, or meet my vengeance in the field of battle!

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The notion that we have limited access to the workings of our minds is difficult to accept because, naturally, it is alien to our experience but it is true: You know far less about yourself than you feel you do.   A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.   It is the consistency of information that matters for a good story, not its completeness. Indeed, you will often find that knowing little makes it easier to fit everything you know into a coherent pattern.   The exaggerated faith in small samples is only one example of a more general illusion — we pay more attention to the content of messages than to information about their reliability, and as a result end up with a view of the world around us that is simpler and more coherent than… Read more →

Whatever the Party Holds to Be the Truth

“I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes: only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be the truth, is truth. It is impossible to see reality except by looking through the eyes of the Party. That is the fact that you have got to relearn, Winston. It needs an act of self-destruction, an effort of the will. You must humble yourself before you can become sane.” — George Orwell, 1984 Read more →

I Was Never More Hated Than When I Tried to Be Honest

I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I’ve tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied — not even I. On the other hand, I’ve never been more loved and appreciated than when I tried to “justify” and affirm someone’s mistaken beliefs; or when I’ve tried to give my friends the incorrect, absurd answers they wished to hear. In my presence they could talk and agree with themselves, the world was nailed down, and they loved it. — Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man Read more →

The Gettier Problem

What does it mean to say that you “know” something is true? According to traditional philosophical thinking, you can be said to know that some proposition P is true if and only if: P is true. You believe that P is true. You are justified in believing that P is true. These three conditions jointly form the concept of justified true belief (JTB). As an example, let’s examine my claim that I know Paris is the capital of France. Unless an edict to the contrary has come down in the last few minutes, Paris is the capital of France, I believe that Paris is the capital of France, and I’m justified in believing that based on available evidence. So according to the concept of justified true belief, I know that Paris is the capital of France. Gettier Problems Here’s a thought experiment: Let’s say I wake up in the morning,… Read more →

Watch Out for the Gospel of the Times

everything is permitted absolute freedom of movement that is, without leaving the cage 2+2 doesn’t make 4: once it made 4 but today nothing is known in this regard — Nicanor Parra, “Watch Out for the Gospel of the Times” Read more →

LinkedIn Recommendation

Even though sin and injustice and temptation are all around us, we know that there is on this earth a holy man, a saint who is just and knows the truth, and this means that truth and justice have not vanished from the earth and so will come to us too and rule over all the world as has been promised. Read more →

The (Limited) Importance of Success

I don’t have a problem with someone using their talents to become successful, I just don’t think the highest calling is success. Things like freedom and the expansion of knowledge are beyond success, beyond the personal. Personal success is not wrong, but it is limited in importance, and once you have enough of it it is a shame to keep striving for that, instead of for truth, beauty, or justice. — Richard Stallman Read more →

We have to live today by what truth we can get today and be ready tomorrow to call it falsehood. — William James

Do Not Withhold the Truth

Did Laius obey Apollo? Did he not go away in his drunken stupor and dismiss the oracle from his mind? What then? Did Apollo withhold the truth from him for that reason? Indeed I do not know whether you will obey me or not, but Apollo knew most certainly that Laius would not obey, and yet he spoke. Why did he speak? Nay, why is he Apollo, why does he give oracles, why has he set himself in this position, to be a Prophet and a Fountain of truth, so that men from all the world come to him? Why is “Know thyself” written up over his shrine, though no one understands it? — Epictetus, Discourses, Book III, Ch. 1 Read more →

The Best Measure of Truth

If you act as if something is true, you will shortly find out whether it is or isn’t. Any reduction of effort or increase of abundance you enjoy as a consequence of your new belief is the best measure of its truth. — Jim and Michele McCarthy, Software for Your Head Read more →

A Labyrinth of Illusion and Doubt

Indeed, you will see that the whole history of the spirit of religion is only the history of the errors of the human mind, which, placed in a world that it does not comprehend, endeavors nevertheless to solve the enigma; and which, beholding with astonishment this mysterious and visible prodigy, imagines causes, supposes reasons, builds systems; then, finding one defective, destroys it for another not less so; hates the error that it abandons, misconceives the one that it embraces, rejects the truth that it is seeking, composes chimeras of discordant beings; and thus, while always dreaming of wisdom and happiness, wanders blindly in a labyrinth of illusion and doubt. — C.F. Volney, The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires and the Law of Nature Read more →

The Law of Conservation of Ignorance

A false conclusion once arrived at and widely accepted is not easily dislodged, and the less it is understood the more tenaciously it is held. Read more →

Huxley Was Right

In Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. . . . Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. — Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death Read more →

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

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