The Unreality of Truth

Our mental apparatus is extremely handy, but not entirely logical and factual. Picasso himself, in a test, once authenticated an El Mir forgery of him, and also declared his own piece a forgery. Our memories slide along, a tiny bead of coordinates at the join of sliding short mid and long term layers, which themselves are altered at each recall. Stochastic processes and natural selection have built a fine machine, but it operates on schemas, heuristics, rules of thumb, vague impressions, stereotypic leaps (of all sorts, not just the big, consensus-named and -deplored one’s. Personal and describable only with deliberate attention). Also energy-saving; a CNS that was insistent on a closer fit to absolute accuracy would be a monstrous plague of inefficiency. If in fact we can establish absolutes all the way up into the human-linguistic realm.

We can all do well to recall that we function of necessity in a realm of shades and probabilities; fungible labels are never accurate labels (some are more helpful than others: the transpersonally portable essence of ‘table’ is not controversial in most cases; the transpersonally portable essence of ‘jew’, ‘racist’, ‘drug’, or ‘immoral’ just to name a few, can be monstrously fraught, and broad classes of persons with abstract labels might have no agreeable ‘essence’. Reform and ultraorthodox, may disagree who is a Jew. [disclaimer: I’m not Jewish]

As such, if, for the sake of argument, ‘Truth’ is an attribute used and understood by people and other consciousnesses, && ‘Reality’ is state of affairs objectively, by physics, (testable and tested or not; we speak of the whole universe here, not just a demarcated experiment), then Truth and Reality are not remotely the same object or function, the Venn chart overlapping only where and insofar as the truth-content of minds is also a wee section of the set of reality-phantasmagoria.

– props to all the science & etcetera I have read, logic at UAH, and Quantum Psychology, by Robert Anton Wilson


The map is not the territory. Universal concordance can rarely be true, and never possible. Multiple personal realities will persist eternally. No material construct (such as persons, computers, mathematics, or AIs) can contain a complete self-description (see, ‘the map is not the territory’).


8 thoughts on “The Unreality of Truth

  1. Houellbeq’s The Map & the Territory is a good book, though i don’t think it has anything to do with what you are getting at. So if the relationship of truth to reality is like that of the map to its territory, what does this suggest? Please consider my low intelligence & answer in a way i can understand, haha.

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  2. I think, at the time, I did not have a map/territory relation of truth/reality in mind. One could certainly say that there is such. I guess my hairsplitting of truth/reality is in the sense that ‘truth’ tends to be applied much more often within a linguistic frame, the $words$ of persons are assigned true/other-than-true by other persons. While $real/-ity$ is more often used to refer to concrete externals. Given the fluidity of definitions that applies to broad or abstract labels, and the omnipresence of cognitive illusions, misinterpretations, delusions, belief functions, the .maps. as words, will never be agreed upon. So to posit a map/territory relation of $truth$/$reality$, we must concede that the maps are riddled with sea-monsters, out-of-scale coastlines, and other decorative flair.

    In the final paragraph, I suppose, the mismatch of map/territory refers to (at least at the moment I wrote it) a different property of the axiom. In that a perfect map would have to be 1:1 as large and detailed as the terrain in question, and be imperfect the moment a grain of sand moved. As such, a computing/consciousness entity is not able to define itself (nor can rocks, but they are not in question here), a bit like a car chasing its tail or trying to look at the back of your head.

    So. Any attempt by use of language or thought to pin a down a $reality$ is doomed to fail. Because of the infinite regress of the language being a product of the soil of the $reality$. It is the untieable knot.

    The attempt generates reams and reams of interpretations exhibiting apparent $truths$. Meanwhile everything marches on.

    As you read I continue to try to pin the thought, and it escapes and escapes, like …

    The Incompletess Theorem of Fidel is like this I think. North and Whitehead attempted to create a complete system of logical reasoning. But Godel came along some time later and demolished it, by proving its impossibility with its own lexicon on rules. Some of the details escape me, it’s a bit like an impossible hocus-pocus even for experts i, the field I’ve heard. He constructed a statement that said and demonstrated “I cannot be proven” and established that there are limitless seas of true-unprovables and false-undisprovables in the very system that has been constructed specifically to vanish such things forever.

    And multivariate logics allow for various value other than the binary true/false , the implications of which in analytical philosophy I’m not sure of, but I do remember how “Quantum Psychology” presented the values in a way to clarify for the casual reader how absurd a lot of our assumptions and beliefs can become when slightly reframed.

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    1. Something like people who only follow the initial news of some huge incident but then grow disinterested a couple of days later, which allows for a distortion of truth. i mean Chilcot has taken nearly a decade to make his report on Blair’s War in Iraq, to tell us what many of us knew all to buy enough time to not make it matter, so the truth can be warped or cushioned. People forget things, something like recall of the truth or an effort to unearth it. i don’t think i am quite in your ball park but thereabouts.

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  3. One thing surely is so: the greater length to which one ‘travels’ in an attempt to descry or pin down or explain what the purpose and process of this divine vehicle is, the less concise and, consequently, precise he is and becomes about it all. The West is due for a long-needed vow of silence after extrapolation and expostulation of the million directions have proven the ‘rubbish, pretense and uproar’ that our boy posited of a West nearly half a millennium and a few billion vehicles back! How could it possibly be better now if we move away from the nature of the divine — which each of us quietly and without need of outside assurance is — instead of finding our centers there without this sloppy, hyper-intellectualized battle over a nothing grounds? A too keen focus on wealth can make only a ruin of man. A too-patent slavishness to the word decays all the books. Aye, marry?

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