The motivation behind this post is to write down my view of the world. It has recently come to my attention that I assumed that people has a common view of certain things but that is not the case. So here is my take, in text. I will be writing this post over a long time in a series or randomly motivated chunks and there will likely be very little editing. This is a thought garden post - currently a seedling.
A few definitions
Out of apparent necessity, I will be defining a few words here:
- Truth - a universal fact that is accurate for everyone. This is something that does not change based on any belief of any person. For example: the earth being round.
- Personal truth - something that is true for you and does not conflict with the truth in #1. Such things usually do not rely on outward forces to be true. For example: feeling lonely or depressed. You are lonely if you feel lonely, but saying that it's a universal fact is a slight stretch.
- Belief - something you think is the truth which may or may not be the actual truth. For example: the existence of God, or the eventual outcome of some event.
- Opinion - something you see as a personal truth that can be refuted and still be true for you, while also being untrue for someone else. For example: a favorite food or color.
Point 1: Truth is universal
The truth exists regardless of your beliefs. Believing in God does not make him exist, and believing you will be wealthy will not make it happen. I remember the horrified realization of this fact when I was young. I don't remember the exact event, but something unexpected happened in my life - something that went against what I believed would happen. My young brain couldn't fathom that the event had happened and as I tried to reason through why my mental projection of events didn't line up with what my senses were telling me I came to the realization that the world does not change based off of your beliefs.
I would love to live in a world where believing something would make it true. In this way, we could dream away all strife and suffering. All problems could vanish overnight if we simply believed they did. But there is clearly a conflict in this: what happens when two people believe opposing things? And I don't mean having two opinions that can coexist, I mean two beliefs that contradict each other. For example, what would happen if one man believed a ball would fall down when released, and another believed it would fall upwards under the same circumstances? If both men watched a ball released, which event would happen? If both events happened, then the ball would have to somehow split into two, which violates the most fundamental laws of nature. If both events happen but are somehow "split", perhaps by timelines splitting, then in each reality one man will be wrong. Thus, by making both outcomes the truth, neither are true.
Or suppose each person has their own version of events that occur, regardless of what "actually" happens in the world. In this case, perception would be the truth and the event would essentially be unimportant in defining what happened. The brain would be in control of all events - and this is where the issue lies: a child's brain left to its own devices will produce happy thoughts. No child would dream up world hunger or unimaginable horrors that have happened in the past. In fact, no unimaginable thing could ever happen and the world would be completely predictable. Since the world is not completely predictable, this contradicts reality.
There is also no reason for the truth to be influenced by a human. No evidence points to this, it is simply a leap in thought. The world would be kinder if the truth could be altered by us, and it would make life easier for everyone to somehow be right on what the care deeply about. But the world is harsh and does not yield to us.
Point 2: Perception is everything
It's worth mentioning at this point that a perfect verification of the truth is impossible. We experience the world through the lens of our senses, and we have no way to verify that our senses are accurate. In fact, we could even go so far as to apply a Matrix-inspired scenario and say that the world does not exist at all but is rather a complete fabrication of electrical signals being applied to our brains, which are actually stored in vats. There is no way to disprove this, but there is also no way to prove it. The overwhelming lack of evidence for theories such as these makes them easily dismissable. It is unproductive to entertain such ideas so I will simply apply Occam's razor: the simpler solution here is the one that has evidence. Leaps in thought (without reason) are no basis on which to form a worldview, though they may be entertaining to, well, entertain.
Ramble aside, my point here is that while the truth does exist, no person has the authority to claim to know what it is. Through various methods we can construct closer and closer approximations of what the truth is, but never can we say with 100% certainty that something is true. This inspires two realizations: (1) that we should tend to approach ideas with a certain degree of humility, since we likely do not have all the information, and (2) that we must accept the most probable explanation to be the truth, since it is our best (and hopefully most accurate) conjecture of what the truth actually is. Not to mention we must move on at some point, and so it behooves us to accept a belief as true even if that belief is not 100% accurate.
Point 3: This worldview seems to be default
This is more of an aside. There certainly are opposing worldviews out there, but I see evidence that this worldview is largely supported by most people. The court of law is based around the idea that the truth exists, and court processes focus on finding that truth and deciding the punishment after making that decision. No court battle could be won if both sides of the event were held to be true.
Schools are set up to teach children how the world works - certain facts that are our best-studied and hopefully most accurate beliefs. If truth was not universal there would be no need for such a system.
Everyone expects certain truths to simply be accepted: agreeing to a meeting time assumes that time passes and attempts are made to correct an insane person from their delusions if their beliefs are too far from the commonly-accepted truth.
These are all good things and should be kept. They all make the assumption truth exists, and they all operate on such a massive scale and so universally across the world that the existence of truth must be widely accepted.
Keep in mind this is a work in progress post. I will update as I see fit. Current state:
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