Okay, I just realized that Deb's was just a thanks - not further questions.
So it's just Paola's questions to respond to. I'm editing out some parts
not pertinent to the questions.
We're getting into the interface between ontology and epistemology
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
I like this description of truth. So what you are saying is that
'absolute truth' does not exist,
only a relative value based on its
See my response to Waclaw (did I use the right part of the name?) regarding
science as a way of developing a body of statements approaching truth
(correspondence to reality). I suppose that for simple aspects of reality on
which virtually everyone would easily agree, we can consider that we have an
"absolute truth" insofar as our mental models clearly represent reality very
well for any purpose in an agreed way. And one could say that there is a
theoretical absolute truth about other things, but that a total absolute truth
(i.e. a model clearly accurately representing all aspects of
reality) is not determinable by us since we can never be sure that we have
been able to perceive or reveal to our instruments and perceptions all aspects
of reality. Relative values of truth are not based on assertion, but on
demonstrable (with which all observers would agree) correspondence with
are you saying that truth does not exist if it is not asserted as such,
ie not expressed with language or symbol?
Since, in this view, truth is correspondence between reality and a mental
model or the statement expressing it (or the meaning of the statement), then
yes, the idea of "truth" has no meaning (does not exist) without a mental model
and/or its corresponding _expression_ (a statement or assertion in language or
symbol) for it to refer to, in relationship to reality.
if so, can the same be said of reality? Ie, that reality is defined by
the point of view of its observer?
No. A perception or mental MODEL of reality is resident in the observer,
and therefore, in a sense, defined by the point of view of the observer. But
reality is the world as it actually IS (the ontology part), which we can never
completely be sure we know completely (the epistemology part).
Tat Sat in Sanskrit.(what is=absolute truth)
If you consider that to say WHAT IS we need to have a mental
model of what we mean by saying what is - a mental MODEL of what is - then
you could say that when we have a fully accurate mental model, then we have
absolute truth, which corresponds to what actually is. As I suggest above, I
think we can do this for simple things on which we all agree. But not for things
on the edge of or beyond our agreed models and perceptions. (One
implication - within a group with similar mental models, the people may
consider themselves to all have absolute truth on which they
all agree - but others with different mental models will not consider
the first group's models to be absolute truth - or truth at all. The question of
"real" absolute truth has to do with which models more accurately represent
reality - and, again, there are problems determining this, for which science is
a solution many accept.)
But we have to define reality for some practical
purpose, like writing a chapter , or giving a lecture or designing a system
etc. 'what is' must be defined a bit more
We DESCRIBE reality for practical purposes, based on agreed assumptions and
definitions giving meaning to our words, which correspond to mental
constructs/concepts. The descriptions are the statements that may or may not be
true, depending on whether or how well they correspond to reality. Chapters and
lectures get tested by each reader or listener for correspondence to his or her
perception of reality- mental model of reality - and will be considered true by
the reader or listener to the degree to which it corresponds to that person's
mental model - but the mental model might or might not be true (or might only be
partially true), regardless of whether it is thought to be.
Statements about it, and the
concepts associated with them, are true or false (or somewhere
between, if we allow for fuzzy logic).
I agree that in general terms, making statements about reality can
become highly speculative. However my statement 'reality is what is true' is
indeed related to the need to make a declaration about a system. within the
system what is true should be modeled
In an ontology, when something is
true is part of the reality and should not be
I would rather say "reality IS", or "reality is what EXISTS" (not "reality
is what is true") and that when we make a declaration about what reality is,
that declaration may or may not be true, depending on how well it corresponds
with the actual reality. See my answer to Woclaw for how and how well we can
determine whether something's true.
All mental models are generally considered to be true representations of
reality by their holders - unless they're specifically labeled as tentative
models or hypotheses, and only provisionally held, subject to proof or disproof.
I don't think there's a "should" to modeling what is - it's simply what we do
whenever we have a concept of reality - it's a model. An ontology itself must be
some kind of model - because it's a representation of reality - the question is
how one can make an ontology that is as "true" or accurate as a
representation as feasible. In this case, given some of the discussion I've seen
here of the types of things to be represented, the reality having to do with all
sorts of information and concepts itself is very complex - so we're partly
dealing with a model of models. I'm not sure what the implications of this are
beyond that it's a complex problem to deal with.
question of whether the representations must be consciously perceived or only
phenomenologically functional takes the question to another level. Animals
respond on the basis of representations of reality in their brains that could
be said to have a level of truth or falseness - in fact, representations that
have meaningful falseness would be selected against.
the next interesting point. Our ability to perceive determines what
we consider true or false,
We usually consider our perceptions true (accurate representations of
reality), except insofar as we have learned a superceding idea that allows us to
recognize that a perception is false (an inaccurate representation). Such
learning is still based on perceptions and understandings that become our mental
models built on more information beyond the initial perception.