Is there any identifiable attribute to truth other than EXPERIENCE of it appearing to be true ?

Is there any more ' truth ' to it ?

Things we've believed to be true for millennia have been provided with evidence to be false. Even mathematical truths. Many years later, somebody finds a flaw in a proof which everyone thought was perfectly done. And we haven't gotten any smarter. We're still just as capable of mistaking something to be true as a species. It's just that we as a species have compiled a far greater collective pool of knowledge than at any time in the past. It's still a few billion minds, at most, with differential abilities and willingness to arrive at what the certifying authorities of the time accept to be true. There are limitations.

But more importantly, even if there weren't any limitations to such abilities too, how do we know something to be true ? How do we ascertain if something we believe to be true is in fact, true ? Is there any definition of truth which doesn't rely on the definition of reality ? For it begs the question - What is reality then ? That covers synthetic truths Is there any proof for all accepted proofs being valid ? That covers analytic truths. We believe something to be true for the singular reason that we experience it to be true.

Truth is just an experience. Which means every concept we have of reality is just an experience.

Is there anything which exists which isn't present experience ? For even when past experiences are recollected or future experiences anticipated, the recollection or anticipation is an experience in the present moment.

Is there anything outside present experience to ever seek ?

  • Experience of something appearing to be true can just as well accompany a hallucination, so it is not an "identifiable attribute to truth". Even on most generous philosophical accounts truth requires a lot more work than mere "experiencing", see SEP article. – Conifold Aug 9 '17 at 20:48
  • I would second Conifold's comment. Truth is not an experience where an experience requires interpretation, Our body, for instance, is an interpretation of experience, as is space and time. Nothing exists outside of present experience, as you say, or if it does we'll never know it, but if we take out the theorising that accompanies our experiencing we find there is very little left of it that can be safely called 'true'. – PeterJ Sep 8 '17 at 12:55

Good question. The 'empirical' answer seems to be no, since there would be no way to know what lies outside of our experience. But there is a subtlety in the question, which is the meaning of 'our experience'.

Analysis shows that the only certain knowledge is knowledge by identity. We can know what we are, being identical with our knowledge. But those who seek to discover what they are regularly come back to say that our experiences are some sort of illusion. They say that when we discover who and what we are we realise that we transcend time and space and thus even experiences. Experience require an experiencer and an experience, and they say that these two must be reduced for an ultimate view. Thus the Upanishads ask 'Who is there to understand the understander?'. Likewise, who is there to know the knower, or experience the experiencer?

They also say that there is nothing to seek outside of the present moment, that everything we could ever need is available right here and now. But we humans like messing about in time and space and our potential to transcend this life and death lies buried underneath our monkey-minds.

You'd probably be wrong to say that every concept we have of reality is an experience although not entirely. For sensory experience our theory-laden system invents much of it. We judge it pleasurable, painful, etc., but these are not experiences in the present moment. In the present moment there is not enough time to have an experience. We think we experience time passing but this is just memories and anticipations. We do not actually experience it passing.

You ask, 'Is there any definition of truth which doesn't rely on the definition of reality?

If you say that truth is something you know to be true then no definition of reality is required. However, a knowledge of reality would definitely be required. As that knowledge could only be acquired by identity what we seek must be in the present moment and it must be identity with reality. Hence Yoga is the 'art of union with Reality', and lot of emphasis is placed on paying attention right here and now.



We know from babyhood that when things disappear behind other things they don't cease to exist. You can entertain a 6-month-old with this amazing fact, but by the time we are 1, 'peek' has become a comforting ritual social interaction and not a lesson in physics.

So we are meant to know some things well beyond present experience.

Memory is not present experience and expectations based on memory make up most of our existence. From the POV of many modern theorists of perception, present experience itself is even just a memory. According to models based on Libet's observations, we experience something not when we sense it, but when the memory of it has been put into a narrative, which is a measurable time after we are first able to react to it.

The extreme form of this is the idea of the Boltzmann Brain, the idea that reality has just come into existence around us at some point fairly recently, but we don't remember that, because it came into existence with a full stock of memories. (Kind of like the Creationist argument that God just made reality 8000 years ago, but baked a lot of evidence of longer periods of time into it for some reason we don't understand.)

I would argue that what truth really is is the feeling of consistent narratives, and that our current, ongoing experience is just one of these. (I am not sold on the notion that time is ultimately deeply important.) Then stories are what the world is made of, not experiences, and the experiences that deliver them to us are largely irrelevant.

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