True and False

True and False seem to be such clear and simple terms, opposites and mutually exclusive. In reality, however we may inhabit, in much or even most of our knowledge the fuzzy area in between the two. Discuss the difficulties of attempts to draw a clear line between the two categories in at least two areas of knowledge. The question of the definition of true and false has for centuries of western civilization baffled the greatest of philosophers. The question being not just simply the definition of True and false, but rather where one can draw the line which delineates/segregates the two.

In order to extrapolate an answer for this question an investigation into at least two areas of knowledge must be conducted for contrasting purposes. For this particular essay these areas are Mathematics and Psychology. The difference in relation to the above question between the two areas of knowledge is that they are nearly exact opposites. There exists an intrinsic truth to proper mathematics (proper mathematics example 7+5=12) because it is based upon and interconnected with Kants synthetic judgments and a priori knowledge, whilst Psychology claims its base with a posteriori knowledge and analytic judgments.

In addition Plato contends in direct contrast to Protagoras that truth isnt relative and is objective and absolute. Hence proper mathematics with its basis in a priori knowledge (universally and necessarily True) is the essence of “unfuzziness,” whilst Psychology is because of its basis/support of a posteriori/experience knowledge is the opposite, the epitome of “fuzziness. ” Immanuel Kant contends that inside of our mind exists what he calls a priori, or before experience knowledge, which is universally and necessarily True.

Kant states that this a priori knowledge, of which time and space is an integral part, is the basis for our edifice of knowledge which we strive to build higher and higher, larger and larger metaphorically. In order to justify the existence of a priori take for example the human form. If one was to make void the human form of all perceptual characteristics (a posteriori) the only thing left is the space which it occupies, therefore the space must exist else the object does not exist. This is also true of time, causality, and other a priori, which lie outside the realm phenomena or experience.

So these a priori are universally and necessarily True, and all knowledge adheres to these the inborn constructs of the mind. Plato made a statement about the nature of truth, a rational view that truth is not relative, but rather objective and absolute. This view upon the nature of truth is displayed through the following composed dialogue created by Dr. Sahakian between Plato and Protagoras. Protagoras: Plato, what is true for you, is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Plato: Do you mean to say that my personal opinion is true? Protagoras: Indeed, that is precisely what I mean.

Plato: But my dear Protagoras, my opinion is that truth is not relative; truth is not a matter of opinion, but objective and absolute. Furthermore, my opinion is that you belief in the relativity of true is absolutely false and should be abandoned. Do you still hold that my opinion is true? Protagoras: Yes, you are quite right. By stating that truth is not relative, Plato is essentially alluding to its objective and absolute characteristics. These characteristics in turn lend that there exists within the frame work of the human mind all truth which is solely objective, limited, and unchanging.

How then are these perspectives applicable to the areas of Mathematics and Psychology? Let us take for example mathematics, which is part of the “exact sciences,” coupled with geometry and logic. Take for example the proper Mathematics statement “7+5=12”, called a synthetic judgment by Kant. This statement/synthetic judgment although symbols are used to identify the number is universally true because its basis/support lies in a priori knowledge. If someone was however to state that “7+5=12”, then we would declare the statement to be false, because it contradicts the proper Mathematics statement of “7+5=12. According to Plato truth is absolute and unchanging as is the statement “7+5=12. ”

Also as a general rule proper Mathematics works in perfect harmony with nature, and can accurately describe it in many ways (Physics), once again hinting to its inherent truth. Therefore in the case of proper mathematics(proper being defined as correct like in the case of “7+5=12”), it follows that (in its lack of contradiction to the a priori knowledge under which its basis/support lies) all proper Mathematics statement are always true.

In order to draw the delineating/segregating line in this area of knowledge one must solely take a proper Mathematics statement “7+5=12” and place on the true side, and take a non-proper (incorrect) Mathematics and consequently declare it false on the basis of contradiction to the true statement. Hence upon the acceptance that proper Mathematics is inherently universally true and the ease with which segregating/delineating lines can be drawn under the guise of the question, there truly exists no “fuzzy” area

In contrast Psychology as a social science is defined as the science of behavior and mental processes, and holds is basis/support as a pure empirical or experience related science. Unlike the area of knowledge called Mathematics, Psychology provides assertions about human behavior by using not an edifice of knowledge both with the edifice itself and a strong a priori foundation, but rather with solely the edifice of experience related knowledge. Kant calls these assertions analytical judgments.

These analytic judgments are empirical, or a posteriori/experience related in form, and unlike synthetic judgments mentioned before do not use universally true knowledge as their basis or support. Let us revisit the example of the proper Mathematics statement of “7+5=12,” and conduct the same test on a Psychological assertion as performed earlier. A Psychologist could assert for example that humans create art based on repressed sexual desire (as Freud did).

He would then support this assertion, not with limited a priori universally true knowledge as in Mathematics, but rather with an infinite expanse of empirical or experience related knowledge/observation. So in affect all Psychologists are using knowledge which is not universally and neccesarily true to produce what are held to be “true” perspectives on human behavior. These empiricists, as scientists have an infinite amount of empirical data (subjective in Psychologys case) to express in order to support their assertions, and perspectives on the behavior.

Hence they can “pick and choose” (subjective) so to speak data which supports their claim, in direct contradiction to Platos statement of the objective and absolute Truth. In Contrast the mathematician uses limited universally true a priori knowledge to make an assertion/synthetic judgment, like “7+5=12. ” This subjectivity explains the plurality of perspectives on human behavior which include but are in no way limited to the humanist, existentialist, behaviorist, cognition, psychoanalytic, and operant conditioning perspectives.

All of these perspectives lend for confusion as to which one is true. However none of them are “true” in the sense of the discussion because they are all supported by empirical knowledge existing only in the sphere of experience(a posteriori knowledge), and the truth which they profess contradicts Platos Concept of a objective and absolute Truth. Its opposite proper Mathematics statements/synthetic judgments are supported as discussed above by a priori knowledge which is universally and necessarily true, and forms the foundation of the edifice of knowledge as inherent constructs of the mind.

Given that in order to determine that something is false one must compare it to something true and visa versa, one can see that this comparison cannot occur in Psychology, because nothing can be proven to be True as stated above. Hence a line of delineation/segregation cannot be drawn, as their is no true or false in this area of knowledge, but rather a sea of “fuzziness” and confusion fostered by a plurality of perspectives all professed to be true. The lines of segregation/delineation between true and false are inherently difficult to draw.

The selection of the two areas of knowledge Mathematics and Psychology yielded their bases in a priori and a posteriori knowledge respectively. The assertion can then be made that Mathematics being absolutely true in its proper form has with in it the ability to delineate between true and false, thereby typifying “unfuzziness. ” In contrast Psychology a science whose basis lies in a posteriori knowledge lacks the ability to delineate between true and false.

This a subjective area of knowledge cannot produce true or false statements, thus exhibiting its “fuzziness. ” In addition Psychology like the majority of empirical sciences has an infinite array of knowledge to select from for support, which further discounts its “reliability. ” Psychology interestingly exemplifies the characteristics of the majority of our knowledge. Therefore by association that which we call “knowledge” is in reality a “fuzzy” mess, and a majority of what is held to be “true” is in reality not.

This a product of Post-Modern Western Civilization can be used to attribute to the mass of humanity in our society which seems to aimlessly wander “dazed and confused. ” As such the sources of our knowledge, television for example, should be viewed with great caution, and statements such as “United Nations officials fear that.. ,” should be more closely investigated so as not to accept it as an absolute truth.


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