Sometimes I feel like the monkey who chased the weasel ’round and ’round the mulberry bush in trying to understand how one can know he has discovered truth. In an attempt to stop the circle and moved forward, I asked the following question:

What are the foundational (and therefore unassailable) principles and criteria
by which an individual may set forth to distinguish Truth from Error? How are
these principles and criteria truly and justifiably known?

In response to this question a number of other questions were raised. This is a continuation of my response to those questions. Links to the rest of the conversation are at the bottom of this post.

3. What is the relationship between being limited to (stuck “in”) one’s own perspective and having (or not having) access to objective truth? If having a perspective which is different from the perspecitves of others is the problem [i.e., the thing that keeps individuals from accessing objective truth], then is the God’s-eye perspective really any better? Is God stuck with the God’s-eye perspective? Or can he choose another one?

An individual (which includes having and being limited to a particular perspective) may have access to objective truth if truth is the sort of thing that can be had through operation of human faculties such as sense and reason. For the purpose of this discussion, let us assume that truth is this sort of thing. So, in principle, those humans that rightly exercise their minds and senses will come to know objectively true things about themselves and the world. “This is cold,” “That is hot,” “This is love,” “That is God,”–all statements which are coherent and possibly true–are arrived at through a particular perspective, through a particular interpretation of an individual’s experiences and application of one’s cognitive faculties. It is necessary for individuals to come to interact with the world in this way and to come to know the world through the exercise of their bodies and minds as there seems to be no other way for information (including knowledge) to enter the soul.

However, the necessity of the individual perspective in approaching the world seems to be the greatest obstacle from knowing that one indeed does know objectively true things. The obstacle arises from being limited by one’s perspective to see and understand things as “such-and-such”–seeing and understanding things to be as they appear to me. Given our assumption above about the nature of truth, it is possible that an indivdual may correctly see and understand something as “such-and-such” (i.e. the thing really is the way it appears to the individual to be); however, the individual has no way of knowing that his perspective or perception has yielded true knowledge since he is limited by that perspective to see it in a particular way. No way of knowing, that is, unless there are some principles of interpretation that can guarantee a correct interpretation of the object being viewed or studied.

The God’s-eye perspective is, in this sense, simply one more perspective among perspectives. The superiority of the God’s-eye perspective comes not in it being a non-perspective, but rather in being the perpsective that has all the relevant information and principles of interpretation, allowing one to know things as they really are.

Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush: Foundational Principles of Knowledge
1. Mulberry Pickin’s: The Relationship Between Being Foundational and Being Unassailable
2. Mulling on Mulberries: The Significance of Differences in Belief Among Intelligent People

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Posted by Tex

3 Comments

  1. I’m not sure if this question was asked and/or answered elsewhere:
    Why does it matter whether we can justify our beliefs?

    Reply

  2. In my opinion, the most compelling reason to justify one’s beliefs is because it is a step towards knowing that one does indeed know truth.

    Reply

  3. What would you say to someone that doesn’t care about knowing truth, except insofar as it makes him feel good?

    The reason I’m asking these questions is that from what I can tell, the quest for justification is never ending. I can doubt anything that comes into my mind, making it impossible to reach any kind of conclusion by purely thinking about things.

    For example, in order for your quest to even make sense, you must assume that there is such a thing as truth and falseity, and that the law of non-contradiction applies. However, how can you justify either of these assumptions without recourse to circularity? Thus, the whole quest is built on unjustifiable assumptions.

    Reply

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