towards a new philosophy of radical kindness
Derek Van Gorder
theory of truth
• actual universe
• unknowable complexity
• useful heuristic
human beings are animals
who are a part of the universe
their animal desires & needs drive them
to build imperfect models of this universe
presumably, to better satisfy their animal desires & needs
the animal desires & needs are TRUE-- that is, they are a part of the universe
the models are imperfect simulations of pieces of the universe
which the animals seem quite motivated to build and compare
THEORETICAL MEASURE OF TRUTH:
how well the model corresponds to the universe
MEASURE OF TRUTH IN PRACTICE:
how well the model improves the ability of the animals to satisfy their desires & needs
observation: we see that there is not a red squirrel, but a blue pigeon sitting on the windowsill.
question: was the original statement TRUE or FALSE?
we may be tempted to dismiss the statement as FALSE, but upon doing so, we would discard all of the following:
this does not even begin to take into account the full bandwidth of information exchange, such as the emotional state of the human who originally made the proposition, which can suggest the purpose or intent of the proposition:
• interesting observation?
• helpful suggestion?
• possible threat!
• action necessary!
it is not difficult to see how a statement many would discard as FALSE still contains a rich field of useful information, all of which requires analysis (incorporation into a model).
the FALSENESS of the statement can only be said to reside within a small, bounded condition which draws our attention.
to summarize the statement as FALSE would be not only inaccurate, but a gross error.
it is only fair to say that the statement is TRUE-- merely, less true than a corrective statement we are tempted to respond with, that of there being a blue pigeon sitting on the windowsill.
I would venture to guess that such relevant, contextual factors to consider in exchanges between model-building animals are never really escaped, no matter how complex or detailed the models may become over time.
accordingly, I feel comfortable stating that
TRUTH cannot be objective or subjective; it is comparative.
TRUE and FALSE are best thought of as rough identifiers of directions of trend, for use in a collaborative, rank-ordering process.
I have yet to find any model that can be accepted as entirely true or discarded as entirely false; it is only through comparison, that relative truth emerges.
whether we orient any proposition we encounter towards TRUE or towards FALSE
is entirely up to us and the conditions we set.
in other words: there is no epistemology... only heuristics.
some heuristics are more useful than others.