On pure evolutionary vision, we are a specie coming after the monkey. It follows we have many monkey-manners, even those related to the way we learn.

From evolution it follows also the idea that thought is another tool, and a new one.

Science has been highly developed since thought appears, but is present on animals which refer facts to causes. Communication is also useful in the previous sense.

In this context I wonder why philosophy (and by extension humanity, as it starts on ancient times) revolves around truth, meaning of life, relation between language and world, and all that stuff? Isn't it nonsense?

There might be discussions on the issue, essays or short books are welcomed.

  • If inquiry, induction, search and many many more similar "behaviours" related to the interaction between lving organism and the external worls would not be "programemd" into the hardware and software of our organism, no form of life will survive. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 26 '18 at 11:44
  • Do you think animals have no idea of truth and self? If one punches an animal, it will get angry or will fear that one (if that animal even can do that), yet, maybe, not animals around. Also, many animals have cognition and therefore already have [unspoken] notion of truth. – rus9384 Jun 26 '18 at 13:59
  • Ironically, a sort of evolution of ideas continually takes your view off the table, as proponents of this idea tend to, for obvious reasons, not search for the truth on this ... – bukwyrm Jun 26 '18 at 15:29
  • 1
    Clearly truth isn't that important to survival and reproduction, since our brains evolved to constantly lie to us. – Lee Daniel Crocker Jun 26 '18 at 16:42
  • 1
    @santimirandarp it's not clear if you want an answer in philosophy the way the question is worded. Do you want an answer in biology? The answer in biology (not appropriate as an answer here) is that while these things are not clearly linked to survival, they must either help genes to survive or be sides effects of mental processes that do or else they would disappear. – virmaior Jun 27 '18 at 2:57

Otto Rank concluded that man is by nature religious. What is meant here by religion is not merely literal religions such as Christianity and Judaism.But There is the consumers religion, the communists religion or even the atheists religion. Therefore one's religion is his whole belief system.

The fact that man is naturally religious makes salvation a common desire.

The desire for salvation results in man's search for truth: Man wants to feel that his belief system is righteous and that he is part of the winning group.

This instinct for truth results from the universal urge for self-esteem which results from the instinct of self-preservation:

The human animal is the only animal that knows it is going to die. (Sartre)

As a result nobody is free from death anxiety, but:

If this fear [of death] were as constantly conscious, we should be unable to function normally. It must be properly repressed to keep us living with any modicum of comfort. (Fear of death, Zilboorg)

Repressing fear of death is part of self-preservation, because the constantly terrified individual can't function thus can't preserve his life.

Self-esteem is how we repress death anxiety:

Self-esteem is the feeling that one is a valuable participant in a meaningful universe. (The worm at the core: On the Role of Death in Life)

Self-esteem buffers death anxiety. (The worm at the core: On the Role of Death in Life)

Apart from being beneficial in terms of evolution, this instinct of truth might seem to be in favor of human beings and their development, but unfortunately it's not:

It's not a instinct that pushes us to find the truth , but rather encourages us to prove and thus maintain our adopted beliefs as the truth. If this instinct works as it seems, there would be a 50:50 chance (depending on the provided evidence) that we give up our beliefs when we are exposed to doubts and opposing views, but unfortunately we choose to justify and maintain our beliefs, without neutrally analyzing the given evidence.

  • 1
    "The fact that man is naturally religious makes salvation a common desire." WHY ??? You define "religion" in a very wdie sense, as a "whole belief system". Why e.g. a belief sytem like e.g. support to a political party or racism has something to do with "salvation" ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 26 '18 at 11:40
  • Comparing your examples of religion with Christianity, the result is the same: it's as if man were seeking salvation by being part of the righteous group (Religion) and being a genuine member of it (being Religious/Non sinner). I know that the religious in your two examples is not aware of his chase of salvation, but in reality it's the same desire for salvation. – Themobisback Jun 26 '18 at 12:01

First, we are not descended from monkeys, and second, you give a tell in saying "we're just another species" (paraphrased). We are animals, yes ... and? The fact is, all animals have a stake in getting things right.

For us, it's not only a matter of life and death as it is for other animals, but also, it's about quality of life.

There are three absolute truths and they are all trivial: axioms, tautology, truism. These have nothing to do with explaining how reality is. All other things we call "true" and mean "is the case" are done so through deliberation.

We don't need theories of truth or ideas about whether or not "it" exists or if it's mind-independent or a property of kinds of sentences. For example, to say some proposition "corresponds to" or is "coherent with" or "adheres" or again, "is mind-independent" and so on, is to make a claim, a completely new proposition related to the one being asserted. Both are settled entirely by providing objective justification that should lead any generally rational person to such a conclusion. Any talk of truth then is simply a discussion about justification and our ability to assert. There's no need to think of this justificatory practice as needing any other set of propositions for it; such as "P corresponds", for instance.

Simply: P, because it's the most justifiable thing to think.

Hope that helps.

There is no property of truth intrinsic to the explanation, but only a vast array of explanatory stories of the identical form, none of which need use the predicate (Truth) and none of which, therefore, requires the identification of any mysterious property or relation to which the predicate might supposed to refer.

(Pederson & Wright, ‘Truth And Pluralism: Current Debates’, pg. 264)

Let us now return to our biconditional (T): the assertion that p is true if and only if (really) p. The intuition that this sentence expresses could also be reformulated as such: an assertion is true if and only if it is the case as was asserted. We can now think what 'place' such an explanation of the concept of truth can have in our practice of making assertions. This practice is of a 'normative' kind: assertions are moves in a language game that are "justified" or "unjustified". We are entitled to assertions if we have good reasons to assert that p, or if we have convinced ourselves through our perception that p -- or also if someone whom we have good reason to trust has said to us that p (i.e., reason for the assumption that this Someone could provide good reasons). What we learn when we learn a language is -- among other things -- to judge in a reasoned way and to distinguish between justified and unjustified assertions (convictions). This suggests a new interpretation of the biconditional (T), which no longer frames it as an attempt to interpret truth as an agreement between statements and states of affairs, but rather as an attempt to determine the place the word "true" has in our assertive and justificatory praxis. Accordingly, we could now read the biconditional as such: someone is justified in asserting that p is true precisely when he or she is justified in asserting that p. And this could now be further interpreted as saying: to say that an assertion is true is nothing other than to say that the assertion is legitimate (grounded, justified). Truth would then become no more than "warranted assertability" or "rational acceptability." The concept of truth would consequently be drawn back into justification.

(Albrecht Wellmer, ‘The Pragmatic Turn In Philosophy: Contemporary Engagements Between Analytic And Continental Thought’, State University Of New York, 2004, Page 96)

  • "First, we are not descended from monkeys" - wrong, great apes descended from currently non-existent monkey species. – rus9384 Jun 28 '18 at 19:20
  • rolls eyes .... – Steven Hoyt Jun 29 '18 at 19:56

The main theory of truth is the https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correspondence_theory_of_truth Structural isomorphism, correspondence, and picture theory are all refinements of this core and ancient idea.

There are challenges. Nietzsche viewed there being a choice in what to believe, related to strength of will. Propaganda can be argued to be a manifestation of this at a state level, where the level of organisation and coherence, a d strength of purpose of a state, can impact what is accepted to be true. For a wide variety of philosophical and practical reasons, the idea of propaganda having any legitimacy, if it was indeed ever truly considered to have it, is now dimsissed. However, power is involved in shaping what discussions and views are considered socially accepted, and what information is available.

Foucault viewed all truths as shaped by power relations. He did not dismiss correspondence qualities to truths, but the idea that they can be considered seperately to who holds them and why, and how they are used. This can be directly linked to evolution, where 'succesful' truths compete as memes, manifested as part of the extended phenotype. Truths don't exist in an abstract world, but can provide real leverage, social coherence, self justification, legitimise types of oppression beneficial to some, and so on. There is no neccessary triumph of the more consistent ideas or more rational ones, only the success in managing power relations of a group who in doing so most shape what becomes truth.

Kuhn's observations on The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions looks at scientific truth in the context of social practices. In this way we can move towards uniting a rationalist and a power-relation view of truth. A longer term set of benefits associated with committinv to scientific culture, is taken to overide the benefits of othersystems for evaluating truth, which are more subject to corruption, lieing, secrecy, or mistakes. Published publicly accessible information subject to specific standards becomes available, intenational sharing and cooperation becomes more possible, societies that adopt this flourish (and win wars), and build stronger links with similar countries drawing them into the community, trading and invention. The succesful culture makes choices that aspire to promote what we conventionally call truth, but in fact requires a power relation to back it up and assert it.

  • 1
    This does not answer the question. And there are some citations needed: "The main theory of truth is the [Correspondence theory of truth]". Is it? And why is this relevant to the question? And how do you mean that Nietzsche, Foucault and Kuhn's views on the subject relates to the question? – MichaelK Jun 26 '18 at 7:46
  • the comment: "the main theory of truth is the [correspondence theory]" is completely false. in fact, precious few (including scientists [see mlodinow/hawking model-dependent theory for example]) hold to correspondence theory and it has been that way in the west for at least 50 years. the prevailing theory is actually american pragmatism ushered in by peirce, made poetic by james, and pertinent by dewey. – Steven Hoyt Jun 26 '18 at 15:03

Questions: Why do we need anything unrelated to survival? Why do we give importance to notions as truth, the meaning of life, the self, and all that stuff?

Well, we do not need such thoughts; we can live fairly well without such thinking. It’s only that some, but not all, of us wonder about something unrelated to survival or give importance to notions as truth, the meaning of life, the self, etc. Only some of us. But why?

Evolutionarily considering, to cope with potentially unlimited problems of all kinds in the savannah millions of years ago, the human had developed the versatile brain that was capable of thinking and dealing with anything almost unlimitedly. He could not just develop a brain that was capable of dealing with only a tiger, or only a wildfire, or only his enemy tribe, or only how to find food, or only how to find a mate, etc.

This has resulted in the present human brain that is a versatile thinking organ, capable of forming (almost?) unlimited thoughts. Thus, it is inescapable that sometimes this versatile thinking organ forms ideas that are not essential to his immediate survival ... but, to be cautioned, those ideas may possibly be essential for his survival or for his race’s survival in the long term?.

That’s why sometimes the ideas of some of us (not every one of us) venture outside the immediate survival realm into the art, scientific, philosophical, etc. realms. Physically considering, the thinking of what the truth is or what the meaning of life is of a philosopher is not different from the thinking of how to compose a grand concerto of an artist, from what is the theory of everything should be like of a physicist, from how to achieve the goal in life of a present-day mean, and from how to escape a threatening tiger of an ancient man. They are all possible thoughts that the versatile human brain can form.

  • shouldnt philosophy forget truth to look for practical purposes? – santimirandarp Jun 27 '18 at 5:06
  • No, it does not mean that. It just means all thoughts that occur are just possible thought. Physically considering, they are the same. But philosophically considering, they are not. Some of them are philosophically more valuable than others. And there is nothing wrong to cherish great philosophical ideas, especially because we are human, who are the only beings that are capable of forming them. – user287279 Jun 27 '18 at 5:12
  • Hmm...yes I follow you, but it seems not what evolution suggest us... – santimirandarp Jun 27 '18 at 5:14
  • 1
    The ancient philosophical idea that the universe was composed of earth, water, air, and fire, has finally led to the current physical atomic theory. Other philosophical concepts have also led, helped, or contributed something in the formation of many physical theories. These physical theories are the bases of our current technology that enhance the chance of the survival of our species. Therefore, philosophical ideas do not have null effects on the survival of our species. – user287279 Jun 27 '18 at 5:38
  • I'm referring to the actual state of philosophy with questions like if truth exists, if there is a meaning of life, about the relation between language and world and so on...or are you saying that's aligned to knowledge? – santimirandarp Jun 27 '18 at 6:18

We value truth because it is outside the self

Why do we give importance to notions as truth and the self?

We give importance to truth because truth exists outside the self. We know that the self is unreliable: our senses are limited; our interpretations are plagued by biases and lack of information; our memory is flawed and prone to deceiving us.

But truth do not care about that. As it has been expressed: truth is what it is, regardless of whether someone believes it or not. Truth is a constant, an external reference point on which we can rely.

Now granted, before truth can be made available to the self, truth must be perceived, interpreted and remembered.... whereupon we — again — introduce the flaws mentioned above. But at least we can be made aware of these flaws and attempt to compensate for them. Science is one such tool for compensate for humans' poor ability to glean truth. And so if we apply science correctly, we can more accurately find out what things are true.

Or at least that is the idea...

Pet peeve:

we are just a specie coming after the monkey

No, monkeys, apes and humans have a common ancestor.

Pet peeve 2:

we are just...

we could get the idea that thought is just...

Why this insistence on attaching a value/weight to these things?

  • I must say that falsity exists only in perception (and logic, but it is different). Does that contradict your premise? – rus9384 Jun 26 '18 at 11:41
  • truth doesn't exist outside of any self. truth is a word we use as a short-hand way of saying "warranted" or "justified", and there is no other thing we mean by the term. how would one, after all, argue that "it is true that truth is outside the self" except by "reasons to assert"; which is another way of saying ... you guessed it ... "warranted" or "justified" to be asserted? – Steven Hoyt Jun 26 '18 at 15:25

Truth is just the ability to predict the future in a more precise way than monkeys which also want to predict the future because the want to survive, so since we have a more powerful brain we can go beyond animals to find a deeper understanding and predicting the future in a more precise way

  • So we don't need notions like beauty, we don't need lot of things of society, why dont we do things only related to evolution being that it is all? – santimirandarp Jun 27 '18 at 0:55
  • Because we are algorithms and we are not perfect algorithms, you are on the rigth path you make great questions thats is good – Adou Jun 27 '18 at 0:58
  • 1
    If you had references to others who think similarly this would give readers a way get more information. Who else claims, for example, that "truth is just the ability to predict the future in a more precise way"? – Frank Hubeny Jun 27 '18 at 1:15
  • 1
    Its just the way i think i have a youtube channel i havent talk about this directly but i have shared my philosophy on how the universe works which has lead me to think in this way if someone is interested here is the link to one of my videos youtu.be/lzL8S6vVcSs – Adou Jun 27 '18 at 1:33

All creatures seek truth up to a certain extent according to their ability, development of brain etc. Animals that have developed brain seek higher level truth.

If you can think of the way creatures move, find their food etc, you will understand all creatures want truth (But that truth may be true for a short time only.). Even an amoeba needs truth for locomotion and capturing of prey. Knowing of truth is helpful to eachone's self protection also.

why philosophy (and by extension humanity, as it starts on ancient times) revolves around truth, meaning of life, relation between language and world, and all that stuff? Isn't it nonsense?

Why are you trying to get an answer to this question...? This means you also want to know the truth. If all that stuff are nonsense why are you trying to assure that it is nonsense...? The cause (not the root cause) is that your mind is not taking rest. You wouldn't try to ask any question if your mind is taking rest. YOU wish your mind to take rest (without knowing that it is trying to attain the eternal bliss) when several questions pop up (in your mind).

Almost all of our mind takes rest only when we are in deep sleep.

Our brain is more developed than that of monkeys. They (monkeys) want sensual pleasure only. They know nothing more than that. On the contrary, humans want to 'go to' (realize) their real nature. And that real nature is nothing but what we call 'the Truth'. But almost all of us believe that the Truth is something else...something that is away from us. This statement becomes false if these four mahavakyas are false:


You will understand sankalpa and vikalpa of the mind form the following link:


My answer to this question might be helpful:

Why are we so concerned with the source of creation? Knowing about the source of creation is actually the knowing about the base of everything and it must be truth. A thing that is true at present and in future may not necessarily be truth. When you try to know the meaning of life, relation between language and world etc you will be compelled to concern with the source of creation also.

  • 2
    "Why are you trying to get an answer to this question...? " Because is exactly here where lies the difference between humans and e.g mokeys: humans ask questions (and try to find answers). – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 26 '18 at 11:41
  • @Mauro ALLEGRANZA: I think I have already mentioned why we ask questions. – SonOfThought Jun 26 '18 at 14:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.