Does truth have many versions?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    By “truth,” I don’t wish to beat a dead horse in terms of the whole “objective vs. subjective truth” line of discussion.

    Rather, I mean can there be different versions of objective truths? (Or facts)

    Let me provide an example to illustrate what I’m asking. So, you and a friend watch a movie together, at the same time. You both discuss it with one another after it finishes. Instead of agreement, you both get into a spirited debate over the plot and ending. But, the writers clearly have a certain, central message that they wish for their audience to understand.

    Is it possible for and your friend to be correct? Is it possible for both of your “truths” to be objective?

    Not subjective, but objective. If you were to tell your version of the movie’s plot to a friend, inspiring your friend to watch it, and that friend agrees with your version, is your initial friend...wrong?

    With math, things are less grey but with science, I’ve read a number of posts on this forum that seem convincing. But with scientific theories to be accepted as truths, they need to be peer reviewed and agreed upon by a majority. Right? That is probably not as grey as I’d prefer for this conversation.

    If I’m convinced of someone’s truth, is that enough? I ask because of my thread, A Christmas Carol and how members here who have viewed its different adaptations in their own free time, come away with their versions of the truth. Or are we more forgiving when it comes to literature, film and art?

    One final question - can objective truth have many versions? Is a fact not a fact if you and I see things differently?

    I look forward to our own spirited discussion on this topic.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
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  3. Quantum Quack Life's a tease... Valued Senior Member

    Truth by consensus which refers to just about all the truths we believe are true could do with a bit of research.

    Regarding your example of a movie plot and resulting message. Even if you were able to talk to the writer he may prove to be far from objective about his own message. Lost to the mysteries of the deeper subconscious mind etc...

    Great thread topic btw...
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  5. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

    the movie is a product which producers Directors and Artists enjoy and accept that people will all take different things from it.
    so the intent of the film is to fill a perceptional aspect where the observer may draw experience from.
    NOTE it is more writers who seek to elucidate the reader into a specificity of perceptional conceptualization, much like a philosopher or advanced Teacher(Doctor / Professor)
    that interpretation is subjective and the film creators intend many subjective correlations to a wide range of variance inside subjective absolute concepts.

    unless its some type of propaganda film

    note current sheople psychology trends

    entitlement (bayboomers & gen Y with very small amount of milenials)
    perpetual loss through self afflicted sense of undermined entitlement (early baby boomers middle to late gen x and small amount of fringe early milenials)
    right to ownership of facts by virtue of projected right to have an opinion (early to late gen Y, late gen X early millennials)
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Yes. Movies are about interpretation.

    The only "truth" would be "what the producers were intending" and that would only be available if we asked them.

    Those are not truths; those are interpretations.
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  8. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Interpretations of truth? We usually feel convinced of our interpretations thus these become a version or our version of a truth, no?
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    No. Interpretations of a film. Which is a message, necessarily limited by imperfect communication.
  10. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    How about a book, fictional or non-fiction? Can we both come away believing different versions as to what transpired in the plot?

    How can there be no truths, only opinions?
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member


    Well, technically, there's an exception. If you and I both wrote out the plot, exactly as written in the book, we would both have described - down to the word - identical stories. but that's trivially true.

    Any omission of any element, no matter how small, is an interpretation of what's important and what's not.

    There can be truths, just not in terms of interpreting a story told by a third person.
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  12. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Two people stand a few feet apart facing each other

    A third person runs between them

    Objective - RAN - BETWEEN

    Subjective 1 - Ran from Left to Right

    Subjective 2 - Ran from Right to Left

    All true, all facts

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  13. origin Heading towards oblivion Valued Senior Member

    On the most basic level, since this is a science site lets talk relativity.
    Different observers cannot even agree if 2 events occurred simultaneously. So yes, 2 different observers can disagree on the objective fact of somethings occurring simultaneously and both be right.
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  14. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Thank you, this is what I was wondering. But, curious how both could be ''right,'' in the example you present (if the law of physics is the same for all observers)? Although, for the sake of discussion, I'm happy to know this is possible.
  15. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    That's a simple, good example - thanks.
  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Interpreting a move is a subjective experience. Even if you asked the writer what he/she meant it's still a subjective interpretation. Many people interpret Beattle's songs. I've seen an interviewer ask Paul McCartney what the meaning of a certain song was and his answer (in one particular case) was "Who know?".

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    Objectivity only applies where there are actual facts. How one interprets a movie isn't dealing in facts.

    We could both go enjoy at day at the beach together. You might have thought it was a little hot today and I might have thought it wasn't quite hot enough. The only fact to be agreed to was that the temperature was 75 degrees today.

    Truth can have many versions only if you don't equate truth with objective fact. It's both true that you were hot today and I was a little cold.
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  17. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

    I disagree, in as much as in your example it would also be an objective fact that you felt it wasn’t quite hot enough, and that your friend thought it was a little hot.
    Subjective truths are also objective facts when limited to being about the person holding that view.

    In Michael’s example above, it is an objective fact that one person saw the third run from right to left, and the other saw them run from left to right.
    Those subjective viewpoints are objective facts about those people at that time.

    The agreement of fact also isn’t sufficient to consider something to be objective.
    A shared subjective view is not necessarily an objective one.
    After all, when you say that the temperature today was 75 degrees, that likely wouldn’t apply to people at the North Pole.
    The objective fact would be along the lines of “at time/date X and place Y it was 75 degrees”.
    It would also be objective fact that person A felt too cold, person B felt too hot etc.

    The issue, as you allude to, is when one tries to claim that their subjective view is the objective truth applicable to everyone.
    The objective truth related to your subjective view is that you held your subjective view.

    Reading this back, I’m sure I’ve confused people.

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  18. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Lol I know what you’re saying. I definitively didn’t want the discussion to go down the usual trail of “subjective vs. objective” talking points, although it can be said that we can interpret something to be objective truth, to us. Religion is like this and to a lesser extent, politics.

    But I like origin’s point. He brings up objective information whereby two people’s interpretations, can be equally correct. When thinking of films or literature, the same can apply. Two totally different reads (no pun) on a particular novel for example, but both could be objectively correct. (This could mean that the author had a few ideas in mind, but we should bear in mind, that authors usually have a certain message they wish to have resonate with their audiences)
  19. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's going to be hard to avoid.

    We might need to have a better idea about what 'truth' is, before we can answer that. One version, the most familiar one and the one that I typically favor, is correspondence. A proposition is true if it corresponds to objective reality. The hackneyed example is 'Snow is white' is true iff snow is white.

    But there are other definitions of 'truth' out there, such as coherence. In this one, something is true if it logically coheres with other things that we believe are true. This one is the bread and butter of mathematics.

    And there are pragmatic criteria. In these, a belief is taken to be true if it works. Scientific confirmation seems to be an example of this.

    There is perspective, where if you look at one side of something you see the side facing you, while if somebody simultaneously is looking at the other side of the same thing, they see something else. So arguments have been made that objective objects are ideal constructs that somehow pull together and embody all the perspectives.

    As we know, there's a huge philosophical literature about how these (and more) ideas of 'truth' are related to each other.

    No, I don't want to go there. I think that there's one objective reality that we all share. Can't 'prove' it though, it's just my belief. Science depends on it.

    That looks like a question of interpretation to me. The objective parts of the movie were the scenes on the screen, the camera angles and such, along with the behavior of the characters and their dialogue. If we are supposed to imagine what the characters were thinking (had they been real) and what might have been motivating them, and what we imagine the filmmakers wanted audiences to take away from watching the film, then I think that we are adding lots of more subjective stuff.

    If you were telling the friend what the movie meant, what those who made it were trying to communicate, and if that account has nothing to do with what the writers or directors intended, then you can probably be said to be wrong about that. But you might be totally correct about what you took away from it and about what it meant to you. (But that's subjective.)

    This "Death of the Author" idea is currently very big and almost orthodoxy in academic literary theory. Professors love it because if a work of literature means whatever a reader thinks it means, then they are free to give works of literature any interpretation and spin they want. (In our day and age, those are almost always left-political spins as works of art are read as expressions of prevailing race-class-gender ideology.) Even if the author wasn't thinking of those things at all! So literature ceases to be communication and turns into kind of a Rorschach test revealing little more than the critic's own interpretive agenda. But why should any of the rest of us pay any attention to literature professors and to critics, if they aren't communicating any more than the original author was and all that matters is what I think? The 'death of the author' implies the 'death of the critic' since literary critics are authors themselves, albeit of a secondary sort. It's the reductio-ad-absurdem of literary scholarship.

    I think that it's very much an open question how large an interpretive component there is in science.

    Certainly science takes place in a historical context of concepts drawn from the past and methods that previous scientists have used. That's what university science classes exist to impart.

    Part of our problem is that really only one form of natural science exists today, the one derived from the European scientific revolution of the 17th century and its sequels. There never really was an Indian or a Chinese science, even though both of these civilizations had very sophisticated craft traditions. So today, if you encounter Indian or Chinese physicists, they will be practicing science in the Western manner using concepts originally derived from the ancient Greeks.

    Which makes us naturally think that only one sort of natural science is possible, only one way of conceptualizing the physical world and only one set of methodological procedures that lead to knowledge about it.

    But does that have to be true? Could the physical universe we all share be conceptualized in a different conceptual vocabulary? Could truths about it be arrived at in different ways?

    Nobody knows.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
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  20. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I understand what you’re saying and think that you’re following along the lines of everything is subjective unless it can be factually proven? Which is fine. But what do you make of origin’s post?
  21. river

    ( there are billions of facts all around us )

    There is one objective reality , true and that we all share ; we all fundamentally see , feel , taste , touch and smell , the same things . From the observations of the Universe , to food . To intelligence of us , to other animals .

    Science depends , ( truthful science ) on knowledge . Whether it is objective in its theories upon this knowledge is very different . Why ? Because the people who think of these theories become more important ; than the truth of their theories . At times . Not always but most of the time .
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2020
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Are we talking about relativity? That doesn't really have anything to do with what you were talking about but sure, in relativity, two people in difference reference frames could see the same thing differently.

    The facts are the same, it's just how you see them from your frame of reference.

    Time is relative. In your scenario, we aren't moving at speeds approaching the speed of light so relativity isn't really applicable.
  23. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Yes, it does.

    In terms of how two people can see facts differently, and how those different ''versions'' of facts can be equal in measure. Just because facts can be ''interpreted,'' doesn't mean they're subjective, in my opinion.

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