Tag: Truth

Is True Objectivity Attainable?

This is in response to tit’s question on kiwi.qa, “Is true objectivity attainable?”

I don’t know. I don’t know why I don’t know. It seems like something I should know. Maybe because like much of philosophy the concept of objectivity is a language game? What does objectivity mean? Is it being right about something? is it being right about something with absolute certainty? Is it being right about everything? Is it having knowledge about something that’s exactly, precisely correct/reflective of the thing in question? Is it being able to know things for no reason other than that they’re true, as in Kant’s “direct apprehension of the noumenon”?

I think we can be right about things all the time, but probably no one has the ability to be right about everything they ever believe. Though you can be a lot better at it by understanding what things you actually have enough of a reason to be sure about vs. which things you don’t, rather than just leaping to conclusions that are really fueled by your personality and what it suits you to believe.

What is it to be right about something? Surely reality exists in a state that’s totally unlike our ideations of it, and therefore whether a concept “rightly” reflects that state is an arbitrary judgment call? I don’t know, but I know in my heart that there’s such a thing wrong or right and having truth (even if sometimes it’s not all that clear which is which or at least a belief can be somewhere in between). I also know things with absolute certainty all the time. Doubt isn’t the absence of certainty; certainty is the absence of doubt, and doubt is a behavior. I wrote more about that here: https://philosophy.inhahe.com/2017/01/22/knowledge-belief-doubt/

I tend to think that reality isn’t actually made of non-living information but is 100% made of life and mind, so that makes thinking about something in a way that exactly reflects that something more tenable. I have a feeling saying that our thinking may “reflect” the thing we think about in that context is a little naive, as if the thing and our idea about it are separated by some wall or chasm, since some degree and in some sense, there is no separation between the self and other in a universe that is all life.

Can we know possibly know things that are true just because they’re true, without having to go through the processes of indirect sensation, reasoning, vetting of assumptions, etc.? I think we have intuition, and intuition is not only subconscious pattern matching or whatever—it’s that combined with genuine psychic divination. But it’s not really 100% reliable because it’s hard to differentiate the divination from the unconscious pattern matching, biases, etc. And intuition is a vague sort of knowing anyway and it doesn’t always come.

Also, even psychically attained knowledge isn’t necessarily 100% objective. The universe is made of many minds and those minds have various opinions and interpretations on what’s true, some minds having more refined or sophisticated opinions than others. Your spiritual self will be more aligned with some minds than with others; which ones you resonate with depends on your path/personality. Of course, some kinds of knowledge are less open to interpretation than others. How to characterize or understand someone, for example, is highly open to interpretation. What someone deserves or what’s likely to happen in the future are thing that are highly open to interpretation. The fact that the Eiffel tower is in France isn’t.

When I say that things are “open to interpretation” I don’t necessarily mean it in the human sense in which even things that are clearly, objectively true and provable are open to interpretation by people who just don’t have all the information yet. I mean that with some kinds of truths, interpretation is all there is. That’s why we, or some people, can actually *make things true* with their minds. You can do this either through the sheer power of your perspective or, even more effectively, through a proof (i.e. a line of reasoning seems infallible). The thing is that such proofs aren’t really infallible to the degree that a mathematical proof is; the thing wasn’t necessarily true before it was “proven,” and perhaps someone else could have proven an opposite case, but nonetheless the ethereal collective takes the proof to be the truth anyway, and that makes it true, because there’s no deeper substrate for a truth of that kind to exist in.

When we die, our bodies and minds become less dense and we become open in all sorts of ways. We can hear each other’s thoughts, for example. Divination is probably much easier in this state, and perhaps we can go so far as to do what one would call “have objectivity,” at least if we choose to and/or really want to and/or are lucky and/or it’s given to because it’s in our path or whatever.

There are many painful limitations to being human; we’re practically trapped and dead here compared to on the other side. This pining for something we call objectivity might be one symptom of that.

We’re dim and somewhat trapped while in this world, not only because of the intrinsic nature of physical bodies but because of deadly thought patterns that pervade our culture. These thought patterns could be largely as old as language itself, but the modern scientific/analytical revolution didn’t help. Yes, it’s not as if everyone was enlightened before science; they were previously equally poisoned by religion, but scientific/mechanistic/physicalist and analytical thinking are the current color of our benightedness—or at least of that portion of the population that is scientistic rather than religionistic. And it’s partially this scientific or analytical outlook that engenders the whole notion of or focus on “objectivity” and whether we have it or how we can get it.

I wrote more about whether we can have objective knowledge here: https://philosophy.inhahe.com/2020/10/28/is-there-objective-truth/

In answer to the question, “How can people believe truths without evidence?”

There are many ways of knowing; evidence is just the most base way, perhaps the crudest–or at least it’s crude to staunchly rely exclusively on evidence–although it’s of course the most effective and incontrovertible (except to the degree that evidence can be misinterpreted, of course). This is why so many people feel that they should base their beliefs solely on evidence and nothing more; it’s based in fear, it’s a retraction. There are various causes for this fear and retraction, depending on the individual.

Some are deathly afraid of the possibility of being wrong about something, on a social level. Believing in something without stark evidence could make them vulnerable, because they can’t support their belief in the face of someone who believes something else, probably strictly on the basis of evidence.

Some have seen the way others are often misled and wrong in their beliefs, such as those influenced by religion, popular misconceptions, sources of intentional deception, wishful thinking and other cognitive biases, etc. etc. They conclude that we just can’t know anything for sure except on the basis of evidence.

Some have recognized being wrong in their own thinking, for some of the reasons listed above, and hence fall back to (retract to) believing only what can be proven.

In actuality we believe many many things in daily life that aren’t and can’t be proven, but some people don’t really reflect on it much in their moment-to-moment activities and believe that they believe things only on the base of evidence. And they do, when it comes to the big truths, just not to the more trivial truths. And the characteristic that it takes on when it comes to the big truths is one of denial / rejection by default of anything mysterious, amazing, extraordinary, or potentially paradigm-changing, or that could get them ridiculed for believing in. It’s not simply a state of non-belief or open-mindedness about a given subject prior to the evidence; it’s still biased, just in favor of the status quo and the mundane.

And of course they’re not actually considering all the evidence available. Just like regular people are afraid of getting laughed at, scientists aren’t free to report positive results in parapsychology and the like because those who do get promptly ostracized from the community and thought of as nut-jobs, regardless of the solidity of their data. So those people who believe they’re basing their beliefs on evidence are actually basing their beliefs on the biases of the scientific community, in some areas of belief. The belief that the practice of science is infallible, vis a vis the fact that scientists are merely human in practice, serves only to reinforce some of the prejudices that already exist in society.

But back to the main point..

Some believe that evidence is the only way of knowing things because anything other way of knowing must be psychic, and psychism is axiomatically impossible because it defies the laws of physics. Of course it doesn’t—it just defies some precepts that the type of people who like science (and the scientific community at large) are typically enveloped in. You can’t actually get from the known laws of physics to a proof that something psychic/parapsychological/paranormal can’t happen or that there can’t be some kind of synchronistic, mystical or spiritual correspondance between two things, etc.

Granted, it is hard to know what’s really true that isn’t proven by evidence. People are notoriously bad at surmising such truths, which is why so many people believe so many crazy things and nobody really agrees with each other on anything they can’t touch. But it’s not fair to leap from the inability of most people to correctly surmise truth to a condemnation or just a dismissal of anybody, categorically, who says they know something that isn’t necessarily or wholly based on evidence. Some people are just more astute than others.

We are not isolated collections of neurons exchanging impulses around in our heads, with our only links to the outside world and truth being via our physical senses. On a spiritual and mental level, we are simply connected, like everything is somewhat “embedded” in everything else. And you don’t have to be a bona fide psychic to utilize this facet of the universe, everyone does through inspiration/imagination/”random” thoughts and intuition to some degree, and on a regular basis.

But I make it sound as if the only way of knowing other than via evidence is via psychism. This isn’t strictly the case. You can surmise things, perhaps intuively, based on experience and patterns, connecting the dots in the tapestry, in a way that you could say is ultimately based on evidence (being that it’s based on experience), but that isn’t directly based on evidence in the sense that the conclusion is provable from experience or in the sense that there’s a more-or-less one-to-one correspondence between a piece of evidence, or a formally identified collection of pieces of evidence, and a given fact interpreted from it. It’s modeling, it’s heuristics, it’s induction, it’s varying degrees of liberty in what one might call “jumping to conclusions,” all of which imply degrees of freedom in what’s concluded.

Of course, in reality an intuitive impression is neither all pattern matching nor all psychic, it’s an interplay of the two.

An article which may or may not be relevant to the question, or at least to some of my answer, is “Doubting Doubt,” which was written by a person with an IQ in the top 99.9999 percentile, and can be found in this PDF: http://megasociety.org/noesis/197.pdf