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Re: [ontolog-forum] {Disarmed} Reality and Truth

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: KCliffer@xxxxxxx
Date: Fri, 18 May 2007 15:57:34 EDT
Message-id: <c25.1673f509.337f5f2e@xxxxxxx>
 I'll respond to this comment first, since it was simpler that the other responses to my note, and then I'll try to give quick responses to the others, if I can, possibly related to some of what I say here.
Waclaw.Marcin.Kusnierczyk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
KCliffer@xxxxxxx wrote:
> Truth (like falseness) is a quality of a statement or assertion about
> reality - based on a mental construct or model of reality, which is the
> only possible basis for an assertion (using language or symbols, which
> is based on concepts, which are mental representations).

I guess you mean that it is assertions, not truth, that are based on
mental models of reality.  (Unless we consider assertions about mental
models of reality.)  Or?

I think I agree. Assertions or statements are based on mental models of reality. They themselves express those mental models. The interpreter of the assertion or statement then gleans from the statement a meaning - a mental model that will or should correspond with the model from which the statement comes, IF the statement is clear enough in meaning. If not, the intended meaning and the interpreted meaning may have different values of truth, since they will be different representations (or they might both have the same value of truth, even if they are different meanings) - two different interpretations (generating and interpreted) of the same statement could both be true.
The generating and interpreted meanings (representations of reality) have a truth or falsity to the degree to which they correspond "correctly" to, or represent accurately, the reality they represent. Our ability to DETERMINE the truth value of a meaning - its correspondence with reality - may vary, and, for more than simple assertions, may require extensive testing for consistency of associated features of reality. Science is, in a way, a method of building assertions with a degree of confident agreement that they have a high truth value - correspondence with or accurate representation of reality, as revealed by tests we do and our perceptions of the results.
This gets a bit dicey when one gets into areas of science in which a fully accurate categorical truth value is theoretically not even attainable given the current set of mental models available. For example in some cases truth values have to do with probabilities, such as locations of electrons. Even the value of the fundamental concepts of the model may begin to break down as we learn more about reality - i.e. does an electron really HAVE a location at a given time if we cannot determine it unequivocally except as a probability it is somewhere? There may be an answer to this one, but the point is beyond the specific example. The point is that mental models of what reality is shift with our increasing understanding of reality - because shifted models work better in terms of explaining and predicting the phenomena we observe as reflections of the underlying reality. The whole mental model of reality may NEED to shift for us to maintain our confidence that we have a "truth" (a statement that corresponds with reality) in light of new information.
In science we always have to be open to the possibility that new information will emerge that reveals a deficiency in the level of truth of our model of reality, requiring a new perspective from which to view a phenomenon - a broader and "truer" mental model. There may be times in which we know that our model is false to one degree or another, but we don't have a model that's a truer one to explain something.
All WE can have to understand and view things is our mental models - because understanding and viewing are mental activities. We test those models for truth in relationship to how we perceive reality responding to our tests - but we can never know absolutely the truth of our models - at least the ones on the frontier of our understanding, or dealing with all aspects of phenomena - since we can never be entirely sure that some aspect of reality hasn't been hidden from our senses and methods and tests as we interpret them - with our mental models - like ultraviolet and infrared light once were hidden, in a way (and even the nature of any light or electromagnetic radiation).
Kenneth Cliffer, Ph.D.

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