Sunday, June 24, 2007

Truth and Verification

There may be many positions on truth in this installment I will focus on two the Hegelian and the existentialist. The Hegelian view holds that there exists a God-like point of view from which it is possible to reason about the world, in other words, absolute truth is possible. The existentialist holds that we are finite beings as such a God-like point of view is not possible. Both are right but, the reason why is contained in neither.

I think Karl Popper gave us an answer. Karl Popper believed that humans are capable of attaining absolute truth but, the problem is verifying that a statement is true. This statement shows that both the Hegelian and the existentialist view are correct and both incorrect.

I suppose a Hegelian could argue that a God-like point of a view presupposes a God-like method of verification, in which case the Hegelian must show that such a method of verification is accessible to finite beings (like us). Until such time we must accept some tenets of the existentialist view, our methods of verification are finite as we are finite beings.

Let us apply the above to physics. The above statements imply that though we may have the ideas and theories that will turn out to be true or close to true, we will not be able to verify that they are true or close to true, ahead of time.


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