I think it is safe to assume that most people go about their lives with an incomplete knowledge of the world. All humans have a short life full of questions without any absolute answer.

Question 1: Would it be accurate to use the word “truth” to refer to the absolute answer to a given question?

We get so caught up in going about our lives, that we don’t have a chance to find the answers to all of our questions.

Question 2: Is it really useful for us to know the truth? If yes, where do we focus our search? Do we focus on the practical, the spiritual, or something else? Should I be able to quantify truth?

Many people these days do not seem to have an interest in the truth.

Question 3: Is truth impractical to acquire? (I am not saying it is wrong, just that it is not like studying for a career, which is relatively more practical.)

What is the actual value of truth in the modern society?

  • SKLTFZ, I have proposed a substantial edit to your question, trying to make it more clear. Let me know if I have misinterpreted what you're trying to get at. Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 17:37
  • Worth considering would be skepticism, the belief that we can never know the truth.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 1:48
  • 1
    re: question #1: no. Truth is merely a condition of propositions. This condition is satisfied when what is said is corresponds with (matches, fits...) what is. For example, "Obama is President" is a true statement if and only if Obama is President. The statement was not true 10 years ago and will not be true after January 20, 2017.
    – MmmHmm
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 4:14
  • @Mr.Kennedy hi, according to you, i found that anything that logically correct, can be classified as truth then? can i say "Obama is President" is not possible to be truth for anytime, can i say truth is something that at least satisfied everyone(or no need to, just like axiom, it is what it is). for me truth is something that self explanatory and self contained at least, and shall be no auxiliary object such as logic and spacetime to support it (certain you will not find any contradiction when you really try to place truth in your logic game, just not visa versa)
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 4:44
  • for example, "is human living in a holograph" or "is this world interaction are all the reflection of our imagination" or " is freedom exist", such topic is more likely to contain truth.
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 4:47

4 Answers 4


To your 2nd question, Donald Hoffman of U.C Irvine thinks that objective perception of truth has been bred out of us by evolution. We don't see the world as it is, we only see things as they are useful to our reproduction:

" ... an organism tuned to fitness might see small and large quantities of some resource as, say, red, to indicate low fitness, whereas they might see intermediate quantities as green, to indicate high fitness. Its perceptions will be tuned to fitness, but not to truth. It won't see any distinction between small and large — it only sees red — even though such a distinction exists in reality."

  • 1
    This is a great and unexpected answer. Thanks
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 19:26
  • i'm agree that we can perceive the truth and it is one of our product in the evolution, it enhances our capacity of fitness. however, everyday who try to find out the truth (although it maybe not possible as you mentioned, we can only understand the reflection of truth), are we wasting our time to seek for truth then? (when we actually couldn't), if yes, then what are you doing now? my question is for living, it likes the kernel method of mathematics, there are shortcuts to find out useful answer, without suffering the complexity of actual procedures(truth?). is philosophy is just like art now
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 4:48
  • I greatly agree with Dr. Hoffman. I would rephrase it. As an animal, like any other animal, a human being behaves in ways that lend to conservation of its energy. In general, no animal wants to waste energy. If an animal seeks to waste energy there is an important motivation or the animal is mentally deficient and won't survive long enough to reproduce. For example, the most successful hunter might be the most energy efficient hunter or some optimum combination of efficiency and creativity. The successful hunter believes its methods are true and won't abandon them for other methods. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 17:16

Achieving a goal is by definition done with an end-point in mind. If 'truth' is one of our goals that presumes that there is a purpose of that goal, whether it be satisfying curiosity, living more effectively, or whatever subjective purpose we assign to the goal.

With that said, I'd argue that we don't need to know what's true and not true insofar as we can achieve other objectives in our lives that matter to us without the knowledge that we could have seeked out.

As for the value of knowing what's true: there's a lot of it. Understanding what's true means understanding how the world works, how people work, how systems work, and on and on. As people who need to navigate that world to survive, having knowledge about how it works is incredibly and universally beneficial.

Knowledge is power.

  • I think this answer is incoherent. The first two paragraphs are talking about not necessarily needing to know truth, but the latter two imply that for achieving goals or empowering us to do so, understanding of how the world works (=discovering the truth about the world) is essential. This is closely related to Dewey's definitions of knowledge, truth and value: Only something that is valuable for achieving goals or empowering us to at least potentially achieve further goals is meaningful.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 20:02
  • I don't understand how it's incoherent. My intention was for it to be pragmatic. The point is that 'truth' is something we can strive toward if we want to, but is not a necessary attribute of living one's life. Despite that, if we do seek out truth we will likely find great benefits in doing so.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 1:31
  • can you specify "having knowledge about how it works is incredibly and universally beneficial", how exactly it creates benefit for you? by the way, you looks like you already knew truth, or you are just projecting your expectation or imaging it will benefit you when you "knew the truth". thanks
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 4:23
  • Knowing 'truth' implies knowing concrete, verifiable facts about the material world. Typically, the better you understand how things work in the real world, the more able you are to navigate that world and shape your own reality. That is the primary value of knowledge.
    – Cdn_Dev
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 10:51
  • but the main issue is that sometimes we will have bigger wander after we knew more. we will argue to ourselves if we are really closing to answer, or we are proceeding the wrong path. for example the human science, or human thinking, we cannot prove if the distance between our knowledge and truth are shorter proportional to the knowledge we gained. and i think we cannot ignore the possibility that we actually at the absolute wrong path after we ran a long way. i think your argument can be correct if changing to [the operation of knowledge gaining is "closing to the truth", but not the result].
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 10:25

I would start by defining truth. I'm sure the definitions vary from person to person. Here's mine:

Truth is the full body of claims/assertions about everything that can be experimentally and/or logically confirmed repeatedly and frequently without variation in the result.

The Riemann Hypothesis hasn't been logically confirmed (proven mathematically), however, it has been experimentally confirmed innumerable times. We can feel safe that the hypothesis expresses truth about that situation.

We have logically and experimentally shown, in innumerable ways, that Earth is generally spherical. We can safely feel this is truth.

Question 1: Would it be accurate to use the word “truth” to refer to the absolute answer to a given question?

Yes. By my definition of "truth" above.

Question 2: Is it really useful for us to know the truth? If yes, where do we focus our search? Do we focus on the practical, the spiritual, or something else? Should I be able to quantify truth?

Yes. It is useful. We know the truth about electricity and that truth helps us. We should focus our search where existing truths point to as-yet-unknown truths. Truths may or may not be quantifiable. It is not possible to know all truths as proven by Gödel.

Question 3: Is truth impractical to acquire? (I am not saying it is wrong, just that it is not like studying for a career, which is relatively more practical.)

Some truth is impractical to acquire at a given moment in time. For example, some truths of particle physics can't be obtained because we don't have enough money to build the very expensive devices that are required to obtain them.


My answers to your questions:

Question 1: Would it be accurate to use the word “truth” to refer to the absolute answer to a given question?

1. Sometimes we use the term 'absolute answer'. But I don't agree with the usage 'absolute answer' because in most cases we can analyze that answer further and find out another cause/answer. Then the first answer won't be the absolute answer. But for convenience we should consider it as accurate; even though it is not the absolute.

Just for an example, take these two questions--1.Who invented TV? 2.What caused the First World War?

After you got the answers to these questions ask these questions--1."Did he make all the parts and the materials for the parts by himself?" 2."Was that the only cause?"

Would they be the absolute answers even though you didn't ask these questions?

If the question is from the earth and the answer is from another distant galaxy some present events will be taken as past events. In this case also the absolute answer changes. But we should ignore such possibilities and should consider them as accurate.

Question 2: Is it really useful for us to know the truth? If yes, where do we focus our search? Do we focus on the practical, the spiritual, or something else? Should I be able to quantify truth?

2. If this question is about conventional truth, it is not always useful. But it depends on your character, aim of life etc.

How would you feel if you could see people in their 'real form' -- as an embodiment of organisms, blood, feces, urine etc.?

Truth realization will change your character and will feel as if a new person were born again (without physical death). If you are not ready to change your character even a little and if you don't wish to 'know' your real nature, it won't be useful. But if you ask "Really useful?" I would say, "Yes".

[If I am asked again--"Really?", I would keep mum because the Ultimate Reality is beyond usefulness and uselessness. Since this answer (the last one) is useful to a few people only, a truth-seeker must ignore this. Refer this quote (given in the following link)--“There is neither creation nor destruction, neither destiny nor free will, neither path nor achievement.This is the final truth.”]

If you are not 'mature' (used in another sense) to face the truth, that will create problems. That was why I said so--'not always'.

You will get an idea about where to focus from these words of Ramana Maharshi.

Truth cannot be quantified. But we can 'view' truth from different levels; with reference to another (relatively).[i.e.,considering another one is true.]

Many people these days do not seem to have an interest in the truth.

Even thieves show interest in truth; but in very low-level truths (or facts) only. Can't we treat the browsing on the Internet as another aspect of people's interest in the Truth. These low-level truths are only 'twigs of truth'. Some people try to find its 'branches'. Scientists try to find its 'trunk' and philosophers its 'roots'. If your statement is about the interest in living an honest life, one can find so many low-level reasons for it. (Eg: Science puts forward many alternatives to overcome the problems they face in their life. So, the development of science and the people's faith in its findings lost many people's interest in the truth.)

The vasanas and milieus compel them to stay away from the truth. (It is easy to live in a dishonest way than in an honest way.) Most people don't know that this human life is precious. If they have a great vision or a great goal in their life, they will certainly pursue it. Though people have different beliefs about posthumous life, even some people who strongly believe in it are interested in some activities only. But what they think as good activities as a part of their beliefs may not be so when viewing from another point. I mean, this beliefs are not enough for making interest in the Truth. Even heaven and hell are also bound by time, space, and causality. But when they try to know themselves and are aware of the cycle of birth and death they will never lose interest in the Truth.

Conventional truths sometimes create bondages, but the Ultimate Truth doesn't.

You may get good examples from your life-experience (for the first part).

Actually the reverse statement is more correct--'He who realized the Ultimate Truth is liberated from all bondages including the endless cycle of birth and death.'

Question 3: Is truth impractical to acquire?

3. To acquire something means that what you are trying to acquire is not with you now. If you say 'I am acquiring truth', implies that the truth is something that excludes you. What would be the case when each and every person considers others in the same way...? This implies that 'that truth' is incomplete and so what you are trying to acquire is not the Truth. Only because of this reason, my answer to this question is 'Yes'. But it can be realized.

If you are not stern, many things will take you away from your aim while you are trying to make it practical. Actually, this is something more than practical. Refer these quotes--1.“Realization is not acquisition of anything new nor is it a new faculty. It is only removal of all camouflage.” 2.“All that is required to realize the Self is to “Be Still.”

What is the actual value of truth in the modern society?

Like love, patience, solidarity, peace etc, truth is essential in modern society. If we ignore truth we will have to face more problems. Like chain reaction, these problems will multiply and will create a great disparity in the society.

[The decay of Dharma causes problems in the world ... shows the Mahabharata. The Gita says (18.47): "It is better to do one’s own dharma, even though imperfectly. than to do another’s dharma, even though perfectly." So, when dealing dharma, even some lies become a part of dharma.]

"what is the application of knowing the truth [in your living, nothing very mythical] in your life"

If you know the Truth you won't run after anything. Everything comes to you as the fragrance of the flower attracts many creatures. If you are going behind anything after you realized the Truth, it would be for the welfare of the society and so for the whole world. Refer this quote--“Your own Self-Realization is the greatest service you can render the world.”

  • hi, for the answer of question 1, you said that there is no absolute answer, i think it is about the direction of your thought of absolute answer. for me actual answer is not trying to find the next stage of your proposition, but the initial state of it, thus it will not be affected by change of affairs and time independent (sure giving it time, it rolls to different state, but initially, it is static)
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:36
  • for the answer of question 2, can you try to elaborate a little more about "what is mature", and what exactly i can benefit from the truth assuming i am matured. you depicted truth is something quite mythical for me somehow about to liberate from cycle of birth and death, how?
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:40
  • for the ansewr of question 3, do you have any prove that the cause of your example (Disparity between rich and poor) is because we ignored truth?
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:47
  • also, what is the meaning of realized the truth? in fact i am just asking to ask whether or not truth is "practical to know", it is normal to assume that truth is completed, i am not trying to argue that, but about quantifying truth means a single human normally cannot understand the entire set of "truth", in case truth is not fully bonded together as 1 big object, i think it is possible to know a little piece of it for the explanation of a particular thing, if the above premise is true, is it practical to acquire it? (or you think a part of truth doesn't exist?)
    – SKLTFZ
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:49
  • 1.I didn't say that there is no absolute answer. What I said was about most cases; not about all cases. If the question is not very accurate the answer won't be absolute. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 10:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .