We began our chosen topic, “Is ultimate truth subjective?”, with a short presentation of Kierkegaard’s thoughts, which I received as – all decisions are subjective because objective reality is too vast and too complex to make totally rational decisions. Thus our actions are always dependent upon our limited point of view. Although this was an abstract-sounding topic it quickly devolved into how to apply our thoughts to action.
I have been approaching abstract subjects from a personal application point of view, and brought up those factors that promoted and inhibited my various thoughts and behaviors. My actions are thus greatly influenced by my most immediate associates, and how they will respond to my statements and actions. For me truth is dependent upon my whole social reality, and not just my analysis of some particular potential event.
There was an acknowledged idea that we believe what we see, but we see what we believe. That was St. Augustine’s assertion, but personally I don’t like it, and choose to base my personal reality on testable reality as much as possible, and let extravagant hopes for what reality might be contorted into be taken as a more distant influence. Some saw little problem with the whole concept of ultimate truth, and just related to their personal reality as sufficiently interesting for a life experience.
It was asserted that truth is that which is constant throughout the universe – that is ultimate reality and therefore ultimate truth. But that idea isn’t generally accepted because humans fear truth, and seek pat answers to unanswerable questions. Ultimately, there can be no “ultimately” because every person’s reality is different, and even that reality changes every moment as circumstances change. Who decides what is truth, and even when someone asserts a truth isn’t that just a personal judgment or a personal reality, and nearly meaningless for everyone else? The whole subject is so complex it degenerates into chaos and any action soon comes back to a personal judgment.
We searched for a while for ultimate truths, and it was stated that mathematics are ultimately true everywhere in the Universe. It was asserted that 1 + 1 = 2 everywhere, but that was contradicted with 1 + 1 doesn’t even equal 1 + 1 right here because each of those four 1’s are unique and different. We all quibbled over that for a couple of minutes.
It was asserted that reality itself isn’t truth, it is a fact, and truth exists only between the minds of people. We have little truths in the form of agreement between two people in conversation, and larger truths in larger community-wide agreements, and big truths in humanity-wide agreements, but at the root of all truths was some form of agreement between people, and there isn’t a universal truth.
Some would go the other way and say that truth only exists within a person, that truth is a relationship of the conscious self with a deeper core being. It is a unification and verification of mind, matter, and spirit of the body.
The math argument reasserted itself in the universal quality of Pi equaling 3.14159. It was said that there could be no agreement on even that simple number because even after calculating it to millions of decimal places it was still filled with random numbers. That was countered with the total agreement of the truth that Pi is between 3.13 and 3.15, and that could be made more accurate and still agreed upon as true. Someone ended with all truth is founded upon love, but it was too late to carry on.
Truth in all of its guises is always an agreed upon approximation.