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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: Truths
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1257  Tuesday, 7 May 2002

[1]     From:   Robin Hamilton <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 May 2002 19:01:27 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1241 Re: Truths

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 May 2002 21:36:06 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 13.1229 Truths

[3]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 May 2002 15:57:57 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.1241 Re: Truths

[4]     From:   Annalisa Castaldo <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 May 2002 20:14:19 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 13.1241 Re: Truths


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robin Hamilton <
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Date:           Monday, 6 May 2002 19:01:27 +0100
Subject: 13.1241 Re: Truths
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1241 Re: Truths

From:           Sean Lawrence <
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>An earlier version of a similar paradox (from Plato, I believe) went
>something like this:  "I am Cretan.  All Cretans are liars".

Probably originating with Eubulides of Miletus (4thC BC).  It sometimes
gets attributed to Zeno (and linked to the Achilles and the tortoise
paradox).

But really, very unPlatonic.  Its earliest formulations post-date Plato,
who I imagine would have considered it typical Sophistry.

Robin Hamilton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Monday, 6 May 2002 21:36:06 +0100
Subject: Truths
Comment:        SHK 13.1229 Truths

Gabriel Egan responds, "my assertion invoked place unnecessarily.  There
is still a paradox, though. "There are no universal truths" includes
itself so it's not universally true. If it's not universally true that
there are no universal truths, there must be universal truths".

I am unclear as to how one can dismiss the idea of "Place" (even as
merely an Idea) when thinking about things that might or might not be
"universal", a term which comprehends the concept of space and time.

Sean Lawrence offers: "One can have an idea of a horse with no horses
existing physically in our world.  A universal truth is itself an idea,
however, so it can't be checked against something extant 'out there'.
To have [this?] idea is to have it".

That was indeed the point I was trying to make, I think, although Sean
will notice that he has made me modify my position on horses. Because
"universal truth" can never be anything more than an Idea, it can never
be universal like the Idea of "horse", which is universal insofar as it
exists in all places where horses exist (still not quite universal, as
we can see: pre-Columbian America presumably had no Idea of "horse"). I
believe that this goes some way to answering Gabriel's problem, too. But
it only reiterates the point that "universal truth" is merely an Idea
that calls itself universal, creating a universal space for itself
within the true universe, so we will just have to disagree. Cf. the
universal truth that "the number of prime numbers is infinite"; which
looks like a nonsense when placed beside the equally universal truth
that "the number of integers is infinite". This is not a paradox, as it
appears, because the two Ideas exist within quite separate spaces within
the universe that contains all forms of mathematical expression. I guess
it's set theory, or something (my memory of school maths is sketchy, to
say the least).

Pilatically yours (jesting, but still prepared to stay for an answer, as
long as judicious Hardy forbears telling us to shove off to
EpistemologyOnline*),

m

* as far as I am aware, I made this up.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 6 May 2002 15:57:57 -0500
Subject: 13.1241 Re: Truths
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1241 Re: Truths

Far be it from me to cause trouble (actually I love it) but when Sean
Lawrence  writes --

"An earlier version of a similar paradox (from Plato, I believe) went
something like this:  "I am Cretan.  All Cretans are liars".  The word
'all' is what makes the claim into a paradox.  If the speaker simply
said "Many Cretans are liars" or "My neighbours are all liars", then he
wouldn't be including himself in the statement, which is what produces
the paradox."

-- I have to protest

The statement is not self-contradictory and thus not paradoxical unless
you say, "Cretans always lie." The term "liar" is an insulting term for
someone who frequently lies (or even, in other cases, for someone who
tells a lie once). It doesn't mean someone who never tells the truth.

Isn't this (as revised: "I am a Cretan and Cretans always lie") just
version of the legendary, "This statement is false"?

(While we're on the subject: my favorite is Blake's "To generalize is to
be an idiot.")

Cheers,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Annalisa Castaldo <
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Date:           Monday, 6 May 2002 20:14:19 -0400
Subject: 13.1241 Re: Truths
Comment:        RE: SHK 13.1241 Re: Truths

"Well, the sun does come up, and goes down, every single day of the
year, doesn't it?"

I wasn't actually referring to physical reality, but no, the sun doesn't
actually come up or go down. That is our perception, based on our
specific location on the planet Earth. It came as quite a shock when it
was proved (I use the passive because I'm not sure if it was Coperinicus
or not) that the earth went around the sun, rather than vice versa. My
point remains. What we perceive or believe or absolutely know to be true
is based, at least in part, on subjective aspects that are subject to
change. Sometimes the possible changes are quite obvious and sometimes
they are very, very difficult to even imagine.

I want to add, as well, that I understand and even support that some
subjectivities are worth continuing to believe, even if they are not
really 'true.' Just because I believe in the theories of modern physics
doesn't mean I play in traffic!

"And didn't Shakespeare speak of the "Soul"?"

Absolutely! And if you and I could not only agree on what Shakespeare
meant by a soul, but also whether or not that idea was "true reality"
I'd be quite willing to stop being a relativist!

Annalisa Castaldo

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