Monday, July 16, 2007

Truth and perspective

[T]ruth can be established only by repelling other claimants to that prestigious title; it's only 'truth within one of many possible alternative contexts. So it is achieved by excluding whatever fails to fit. Just as we say that some faces don't fit(don't suite a certain social context), so some historical data can't be made to fit the rule of evidence, or the linguistic usage, or the interpretative models that the prevailing discipline demands. What, for example, is actually allowed to count s 'evidence'? .....There's no room for everyone at the centre;so some viewpoints, some --interpretations, some versions of the past, must be marginalized. page 84 "What is history for? " Beverley Southgate
*1


One of the credits we should give to feminism is it has revealed the fact that what appeared to be the neutral view point turns out to be gender biased.*2
Of course truth should not be confused with the concept of truth nor with the manner in which it is valorized. (page 25 "What's the use of Truth?" Rorty/Engels,)
And truth is more than the matter of subjective and even intersubjective in a sense that the reality independent of an observer is conceivable. And sure there is objective knowledge in a sense that
a view or form of thought is more objective than another if it relies less on the specifics of the individual’s makeup and position in the world, or on the character of the particular type of creature he is. The wider the range of subjective types to which a form of understanding is accessible—the less it depends on specific subjective capacities—the more objective it is. A standpoint that is objective by comparison with the personal view of one individual may be subjective by comparison with a theoretical standpoint still farther out.The View from Nowhere

But it is less than objective in a sense the description*3 of such reality is inevitably associated with a speaker's perspective, and a specific frame of reference,(masculines view point, modern scientific view point, religious view point etc,.)
In this regard, it is interesting to note that even Heart Sutra,which claims to be
the perfect wisdom, is being seen from
a specific view point.
He looked down from on high, He beheld but five heaps, and He saw that in their own-being they were empty.....

But is the heart sutra true? I am inclined to to agree with Nāgārjuna that it is neither truth nor false. Though it gives the insight into the way we see ourselves and the world. It is not always the case that truth matters for life and there are something more important than the truth that influences our perception; the kind of vision that gives the one insight into life does not have to have truth value.

....................................................................................

*1
I hesitate to call some propositions to be partially true, because that presuppose the grand narrative by which you can put everything under your dominance in the form of knowledge.But truth makes sense only against a specific context and background. "(page 117 "The eye of spirit" Ken Wilber. )

*2 Related to this is the assertion that experience is always my experience.

Descartes said "I think, therefore I am, Kant said "The -I think- must be able to accompany all my representations" But their observation and analysis on the thought and representation merely shows It thinks, therefore, it exists.. In case of Depersonalization "disorder", the "patient" lose the sense of "I".
The sensation of "I" and "my" is so fundamental to our mode of our speech, institution, etc( Allan Watts "The book" page 12)
But isn't it that their experience reveals some important phase of our experience rather than "disorder"?
Isn't it the case that "I" and "my" are derivative from such primordial experience?
Isn't it just one aspect, one specific perspective of IT?
When somebody experiences the world filled with glory, isn't it the case there is no experiencer and experienced but just IT springs itself primordially as glory and then reflectively divide itself into experience and experienced?
Thouth this does not affect the discussion on the truth above, it is consistent with the view above.

*3
Truth
Rorty on truth
It is not the case I agree with Rorty on truth on every point. but I sympathise with him in that I feel the truth qua truth is a boring subject to delve into.

5 comments:

Matt Dioguardi said...

Zero,

You seem to be trying to determine how we can find truth if we're always predisposed towards one version of the truth.

Have you ever read anything by Karl Popper?

He's a good antidote to Roty's relativism.

Popper advocate critical rationalism, I have set up a study page for critical rationalism here:
http://www.geocities.com/criticalrationalist/

Please check it out and let me know what you think.

Also the Friesian site is very good:
http://www.friesian.com

I wish I had time to elaborate more, but can't at this time.

I have a dialog on truth here:
http://www.geocities.com/criticalrationalist/truth.htm

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

thanks Matt Dioguardi
i don't particularly like Rorty. But when I was a student, He was "in" with Derrida, Foucault. I think his argument against grand narrative of "nature""reality" still holds;though, I think postmodernism is over now.
I share with his sentiment the truth is not interesting subject.
When i was studying phioosophy of scieince, I echored more with Kuhn and Feyranband than Popper;though, I don't go so much as to say "anything goes."
If I remember correctly, the problem with Popper's theory of truth is that he see the truth as something we are forever approaching. Or did he suppose the scentific propostioni as a matter of probability? The effort to appoach to the ultimate reality is okay, and modern science has its own way of dermining the truth whatever philosophers say.
I am not so much interested in it than alternative stories and practice that is more amusing, wondering, revealing, liberating.

Anyway it is interesting that you see Popper as your model. Open society is okay and desirable as far as it is concerned.(His personal history is telling as regard to why he wants the open society)

Kuhn and Feyranband tend to see modern science as just an instance of plausible practice, and
hence, they , in my opinoin, tend to be more torelant of what is hard to understand for their frame of reference. (It is not logical consequence, though) On the other hand,in my view, mainstream western tradition tends to impose their God, their version of rationality on another culture, practice.(Again, this is not logical consequence of anything, and there are a lot of exceptions, but it is just my impression.)
Popper belongs to this tradition , according to my bias, my intuition.

zero said...

http://www.friesian.com/
by the way, this guy is not well known in Japan. I've heard him for the first time.Thanks it seems interesting.
Shaupenhauer, and German idealists are relatively studied among Japanese
scholars, but not this guy as far as I know.
If you are interested in modern Japanese philosopers, and I have to choose two, I recommend Nishida Kitarou, and Hiromatsu Wataru.
There are a bunch of Japanese philosopers who imported from analytic tradition and continental tradition, but Nishida and hiromatsu are more than copies of western philosopers.

Matt Dioguardi said...

You said:
If I remember correctly, the problem with Popper's theory of truth is that he see the truth as something we are forever approaching. Or did he suppose the scentific propostioni as a matter of probability? The effort to appoach to the ultimate reality is okay, and modern science has its own way of dermining the truth whatever philosophers say.

Popper felt we could get nearer to the truth.

I am not so much interested in it than alternative stories and practice that is more amusing, wondering, revealing, liberating.


You may not be interested in the topic of truth, but if the truth is to be had you want it, right? You want to know if the sun is going to come up tomorrow, or if you car has enough gas to get to the market, or what time the next train is coming, right? So it seems to me you might be more interested in the truth than you profess.

Anyway it is interesting that you see Popper as your model. Open society is okay and desirable as far as it is concerned.(His personal history is telling as regard to why he wants the open society)

I'm not the only one who is interested in Popper:
http://wwwsoc.nii.ac.jp/popper/

Kuhn and Feyranband tend to see modern science as just an instance of plausible practice, and
hence, they , in my opinoin, tend to be more torelant of what is hard to understand for their frame of reference. (It is not logical consequence, though) On the other hand,in my view, mainstream western tradition tends to impose their God, their version of rationality on another culture, practice.(Again, this is not logical consequence of anything, and there are a lot of exceptions, but it is just my impression.)


This is a very complicated subject, and I have a lot of ideas. I've lived in Japan thirteen years, my wife is a Japanese national, and I have two children here. I conduct most my daily life in Japanese. I was desperate for a philosophy that seemed to apply in both worlds and not just one. This is one issue that led me to Popper.

I think people tend to focus on differences and then make too large a generalization. I don't think there is such a thing as a Japanese frame of reference or an American one. Instead there are many, many small frames of reference. I would guess some frames of references are more common in Japan and some are more common in America, but they don't create some kind of barrier creating incommensurability. (Well, people who insist they must be right or that there is no truth would tend to create incommensurability. But I don't think that's necessary and I see both these problems in Japan just as much as America.)

I like Popper because he argues against incommensurability, yet also points out how flawed all of us are. We really do need to pay attention to one another and learn from each other. We do that by brining our prejudices into (peaceful) conflict with one another.

Popper belongs to this tradition , according to my bias, my intuition.

In my opinion, Popper is very radical compared to most traditional philosophy. He's started his own tradition. I will check out the philosophers you mentioned when I have a chance. Thank you.

I am not well read, but so far the wisest philosopher I've come across in Japan is Yoshida Kenkō.

zero said...

Interesting discussion. Thanks.
It was a long time ago I took the course for philosophy of sceience. I need to brush up my memory.

"Popper felt we could get nearer to the truth."

Right, and that is the how his concept of the truth does not fit with reality. When the cat is on the mat, it is either ture or not:the propostion, or your belief that the cat is on the mat is not getting nearing to the truth.

"So it seems to me you might be more interested in the truth than you profess"

As i wrote on the post, I am not interested in theory of truth qua truth.

It is true that the sun is comin up tomorrow. and I know the way to check if my car has enough gas, to check what time is the next train.
What is the use of the truth more than that?


"I think people tend to focus on differences and then make too large a generalization."

This might be difference between me
and you. I think people tend to focus on the similarity and then make too large genelization.

"This is a very complicated subject"
Right. I wrote two posts about the moral relativety, and I haven't got clear idea yet.



"I would guess some frames of references are more common in Japan and some are more common in America, but they don't create some kind of barrier creating incommensurability"
I agree. I think Davison's arguemt stands.


"I like Popper because he argues against incommensurability, yet also points out how flawed all of us are."
That's good point about him, and open-mind intellectuals are like that whether Poppernian rationalists or not.

I would clasify Yoshida Kenkō as a good critic.

Thank you I enjoy the discussion with you. I am sure you are a open-mind intellectual.