Re: The Meaning of Truth

Gregory Houston (
Sun, 16 Feb 1997 16:05:05 -0600

John K Clark wrote:

> I have 4 questions for you:

Most people imagine the following as self-evident: "I exist". We imagine
it will be true until we die. But to me its not a true or false
statement but one of degree. To say I we must refer to the ego, that
which is sayin "I", but my ego comes and goes. When fully focused on an
activity, I do not exist to the degree as when I am focused on me. When
sleeping yet not dreaming, I exist to very very little degree, my ego is
not existing at all. There is no one to say, "I exist". My ego, that
which says "I", is created on the fly. It comes and goes, and eventually
[if I do not attain immortality] it will go forever.

The statement, "I think therefor I am", is more useful than the
statement, "I am". Where "I am" or "I exist" are absolute statements, "I
think therefor I am" is conditional. It functions as saying "If I think,
then I am".

When we have developed over time so that we can deal with more variables
in any given moment, I believe we will begin to make a shift from
absolute statements to more conditional statements. I believe our
language and thus our perception will in turn reflect this. As we
develop we will have the capacity to deal with a greater level of
relativity. Einstein came up with a theory of relativity. This theory is
still very difficult, even in simplistic terms, for the general populace
to understand. This is due to our current perception of the world,
structured by our language, our language being saturated in concepts of
absolutes, because we do not have the current capacity of consciousness
to deal with enough variables at any one time. Not only are we limited
to the number of variables that we can deal with in any given moment,
but we are limited to the number of perspectives we can entertain in any
given moment. Rarely do we try to compare two perspectives
simultaneously, and it might be considered *currently* impossible for us
to entertain three or more. We definitely cannot entertain ten
perspectives simultaneously.

Our language is inundated with words and phrases which have or imply
absolute meaning, condition, or equality. These words and phrases have
gotten us this far, but in order to rise another level, in order to get
a more useful sense of reality, one which accords more closely to
reality, we are going to have to further develop our language. This
includes the language of mathematics.

I believe this shift will begin to further attentuate all authoritarian
concepts and instituitions until such are no longer found useful to any
degree. There will certainly be a myriad of other contributing factors,
but many of these other factors will also be enabled by the same
increased ability to entertain more variables and more perspectives

Until we have developed more in this fashion, I do not believe that my
theory of functionality over truth can be applied in every instance. But
seeing the value in it, we can begin by attentuating our use of absolute
terminology and enhancing our use of conditional terminology. We might
imagine this as a mental workout, attempting to deal with more

Part of our problem with dealing with a great number of variables in any
given moment is our capacity for memory. In attempting and then failing
to employ more variables at any given time we will be driven to
understand and thus enhance our memory further. It has been shown
scientifically that subliminals can be used to enhance our memory quite
drastically ... yet few people employ them.

It has also been demonstrated how our emotions have a great deal to do
with how well we store information in our memory, thus again further
reason to broaden our focus to inclued emotive modalitities of
consciousness. Greater control of our emotions will allow us to more
effectively employ our memory.

Conditional statements taken to the extreme continue in infinite
regress. The idea here is just to incrementally strive for more, to go a
little further along the causal path.

Deconstruction of the absolute via percieving its conditionality:

Absolute : Z = Z

. : if Y then Z

. : if V then X, then Y, then Z

More : If (If A then B, then C) and If (V then X, then Y,) then Z

As we develop it will become easier for us to think more conditionally,
less absolutely, and thus more accurately.

The 4 questions you have posed for me John attempt to rhetorically
revert me to the absolute. "Is your statement true or false?" I do not
wish to answer true or false, I want to answer conditionally,
functionally. I want to go beyond the use of absolute terminology. I
admit this will be difficult and not *fully* possible right here and
now, but neither is immortality, but we still strive for it. We are
dynamically optimistic we can attain to it. In many ways my proposed
shift can still prove useful today, with our limited capacity, even if
it must be for the time considered "parasitic on the concept of truth"
as George has called it.

> On Sat, 15 Feb 1997 Gregory Houston <> Wrote:
> >There is no reason to use the term truth when speaking of
> >functionality.
> I have 4 questions for you:
> 1) Is the sentence of yours I quote TRUE?

Within my system it is neither true nor false. It is more or less
functional. We apply the sentence in order to determine its degree of
functionality in relation to other sentences. It does not matter if it
is true or false. Those are not terms within the system. Reverting to
truth in this case would be like taking Einsteins theory of relativity
which is created in terms of pure geometry and trying to revert to
Newton's terms of forces.

> 2) Is it TRUE that your sentence expresses a useful idea?

Within my system it is neither true nor false. By degree, the sentence
is more or less functional in expressing a functional idea.

> 3) If the answer to either question #1 or question #2 is "yes" then is your
> sentence self contradictory?

The answer was neither yes nor no. It cannot be reduced to something so
black and white and absolute.

> 4) If the answer to either question #1 or question #2 is "no" then why did you write your
> sentence?

The answer was neither yes or no. I wrote my sentence for functionality.

Part of the confusion here lies in the word "is". In your system "is"
means equals, or more accurately conjectures to be equal, and either a=b
is true or a=b is false.

In my system, "is" expresses a functional relationship, not an absolute
relationship of equality. As well "=" expresses a functinal
relationship, not an abosulte relationship of equality.

if we are counting objects: 1+1=2
if two people are copulating to create a child: 1+1=3
if we are expressing mystical union: 1+1=1

It is not functional to say that these are contradictory, they are
merely being applied in different contexts. We have just broadened the
application of mathematics, allowing it to deal with metaphorical
isomorphisms, without hurting its orignal limited use.

Our language itself is saturated in terms of equality. Though it is a
stepping stone, functional for the initial development of science,
logic, and mathematics, I believe that a gradual shift towards
conditional terms and terms of degree rather than terms of absolute
relationship would be to our benefit [would be useful].

Our language determines our perception of reality. Words such as the
following engender a black and white percption of the world instead of a
greyscale perception:

Is, are, was, equal, equate, exactly, proven, intrinsic.

(3+4)=(4+3) We can say that these absolutely equal each other, but
really, there is a slight difference. The difference is in the order of
the addition of the numbers. Now, in most cases this difference would
not matter, but perhaps we could imagine a situation where it might,
particularly if we are using mathematics in a more metaphorical sense.
Instead of saying 3+4 equals 4+3, we might say 3+4 functions as 4+3, but
4+3 might in some circumstances function more as 4+3.

seconds: 0 --> 1.5
statement: Gregory equals Gregory

In the time it took me to make this statement, which most people would
consider self-evident, Gregory changed. The quantity of
neuro-transmitters in his central nervous system changed, his pulse and
temperature probably changed, his position in relation to celestial
bodies changed. Our current level of abstraction lacks subtlety. It is
not an exact science.

Abstraction is necessary. I just think we have taken it too far towards
absolute terms.

I am going to attempt a sort of discipline which entails that whenever I
become aware of myself making an absolute statement, I am going to
attempt to make it more of a conditional statement, and more of a
statement of degree, than I would have if I were not concerned about

Many might argue that this will needlessly complexify my thought, speech
and writing. But I would argue, that if employed regularly, this
discipline will likely engender my ability to employ a greater number of
variables, while likely reducing the potential that someone will
misunderstand me due to an over-abstraction, and thus
over-simplification of that which I am communicating. We all probably do
this to a degree, but how about a few more degrees? ... and then a few
more. Perhaps in this fashion we might be able to reach the hypothetical
singularity with less reliance on computers.

I had a philosophy teacher get pissed off at me once for saying "I
believe, or I feel such and such." He said, "Be assertive, state what
you think as if it were a fact!" I then noticed, that yes, this is how
most philosophers write, stating beliefs as if they were absolute facts
or truths. I *believe* this sort of authoritarian thinking is one of the
things limiting our ability to move onward towards higher levels of
emotive, intuitive, and cognitive conditionality.

Many people complain about making things to relative, but we haven't
even hardly begun to move towards relativity, not to mention to find a
balance between it and absolutism.

F=Our focus
A=Absolute Absolutism
R=Absolute Relativity

A <--- F -------------------------------------- [...] -----> R

We are in part limited in our range of position along this spectrum by
our capacity of consciousness, the number of variables we can
simultaneously deal with, and the number of distinct perspectives we can
simultaneously deal with. We are held in place by the limitations of our
language which entail the limitations of our perception.

I am seeking subtle precision, precision in the subtleties of our
thought, speech, and writing. This precision will move us closer in
accord with our dynamic reality and further from authoritarian and
overly abstracted absolutes such as truth.


Gregory Houston