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Absolute Truth - How We KNOW it Exists
In today's philosophical climate, there seems to be an increasing belief in Relativism. Many people believe that truth exists differently for each individual. The hidden supposition is that the truth is based on the beliefs or the perceptions of a given individual. Perhaps this is even fueled by many of the current theories circulating in modern physics. Of course, supporters of Absolute Truth will immediately bring up the idea that defining Relativism is actually stating a truth - It is absolutely true that truth is relative. While this might seem trite at first glance, a matter of semantics even, there is much more to it.
Many people will point out that, in fact, there is a difference between belief and truth. Further, it is perpetuated that even if there exists absolute truth, it is impossible to prove. Since it cannot be proven, it cannot be known. However, the idea that what cannot be proven cannot be known is unsound. There exist in everyone's life several examples of this. A man may know who his parents are, but as he was not aware of his surroundings at the time of his birth, he would be hard pressed to prove beyond any possible doubt who his parents actually were. It is indeed possible to know something without being able to prove it.
Further, with regards to proof. Proof comes in varying degrees. There is proof beyond any possible doubt, which is extremely hard to do in any case. The more commonly used degree is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. However, as the degree of proof moves in this direction, the degree of error increases. That is to say, the more easily the proof is accepted, the more chance there is for error.
With all that being said, there actually are a very few truths that can be proven beyond any possible doubt. The one being outlined here is known as the Principle of Non-contradiction. It is one of the three traditional laws. This law has earned it's place in history because of it's unique ability to prove itself. In fact, arguing against it only proves it further.
The law has been stated many ways, but the simplest one seems to be, "Something cannot both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect." To see this law in action, look at the world around you. Do you believe what you see is really there, or is it merely a construct of your perception? Some would say that the world is concrete and actual. That what is seen and heard and felt is real. Others would argue the opposite. They would say that there is no real world and it's all a matter of perception. The law of non-contradiction will not solve this argument. It can, however, be seen in action.
In this debate, either proposition could be true, but neither point of view is easy (if even possible) to prove. What is important to note is that one being true means the other is necessarily not true. In other words, if what you see is actually there, then it is actually there. If what you see is not actually there, then it is not actually there. What you see could not possibly actually be there and not actually be there at any given moment in time, in respect to a given place.
So what this law proves in it's most basic form is that if two sides of an argument are in opposition to one another, then one or both must be incorrect. The law will never prove anything else. This is, however, an incredibly important idea. It destroys Relativism completely. If one individual's "truth" is in opposition to another individual's "truth" then one or both points of view must be untrue.
It would seem that truth exists outside of any individual's perception. For, if truth were developed by rational and perception alone, then the idea of opposing truths would be a valid one. It has been sufficiently proven that it is not. Therefore truth is absolute in it's integrity. Truth would seem to be a white light, while human perception seems to be a prism. Though many colors come out of a prism, the white light going into the prism is not compromised the slightest bit. So it is with truth and belief. Many people believe many things, most of which contain a degree of truth, but regardless of their understanding, or lack thereof... the truth remains compromised.
Beyond Any Possible Doubt
It was stated earlier that this Law could be proven beyond any possible doubt. The reason for this lies in it's unique ability to prove itself. If one were to say to another, "The Law of Non-Contradiction is true!" and the second person was to say in return, "No it isn't." Then the second person has actually done the proving. As you can see, the Law has been brought into full effect. Which of these two people is correct? Some would say the first person, others, the second. It is obvious, however, that they both cannot be right.
Many thinkers from the past have agreed up to this point and have then turned tail and said that it does not matter. There is one absolute truth and the one absolute truth is that there is no truth. This argument holds no sway either. A single truth spawns an infinite number of truths. Let's suppose for a moment that the statement is true. It is absolutely true that there is no truth. Would it not be fair to say that it would then also be true that if someone knew they truth, they would know that there was no truth? Or that if someone knew someone who knew the truth, that that person would know someone who knew that there was no truth?
So, why does any of this matter? It matters because if truth is absolute, then one can act in accordance with it, or not. One can be right or wrong. Relativism is a form of modern propaganda aimed at doing two things. One, it is aimed at diverting people away from the truth. Secondly, it tries to undermine the value of people's actions. If there is no truth, no right or wrong, then it's true, nothing one does has any real consequence or value. Of course, if there were no truth, then that wouldn't be true either.
Thank you for reading this short piece. The intention of this essay was to provide a more approachable look at the concept of absolute truth. So, if you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Truth is a topic that the author feels very strongly about. The duty of the philosopher is to elevate the level of conversation within society, so do not hold back with your comments!