Truth: The Great Non-Sequitur (Part 1)

Submitted by James on Thu, 04/03/2008 - 04:36
This is a first short essay in a series about truth, and whether it is relative or absolute. I have had some good friends over the years who have thought that, to one degree or another, truth is relative; that is, it all depends on one’s perspective. I appreciate their friendship, but their point of view, frankly, doesn’t make sense. It confuses me how such a way of thinking can possibly work in their minds. This series of essays will be my explanation of why the idea of relative truth isn’t, for lack of a better word, true.
The idea of relative truth rests on several pillars of logical fallacy, and the first that I will identify is the fallacy of Non-Sequitur. That's a Latin phrase meaning, “It doesn’t follow.” One of the main arguments for relative truth is a Non-Sequitur. It starts with this obvious observation:
Everyone has his own opinion. Everyone has his own set of beliefs, and his own way of understanding something. For example, some people think that there is no God. Some people think that there might be a God, but it’s not that important. Some people think there is definitely a God. Some think He is the Allah in the Koran. Some think He is the Yahweh in the Bible. Some think he’s just some impersonal “force” out there. The point being, there are so many opinions. Everyone has a different idea of what is true and what is false.
So, here is the great Non-Sequitur:
Not everyone agrees about what is absolutely true. Therefore, nothing is absolutely true.
Think about it. It may take you a while (I hope it doesn’t). But this really is, indeed, a Non-Sequitur. The conclusion simply doesn’t follow the fact! If you beg to differ, please explain how it does follow. Perhaps I am simply missing something.
Author's age when written


You nailed it, in true James fashion.

If "Absolute Truth(s)" were not dependent on human consciousnes for its/their existence, then human consciousness could only be aware of Absolute Truth(s) and not be able to negate them.  Since, indeed, it appears that different humans can not only have directly opposing ideas about any given Absolute Truth or collection of Truths, but can have an infinite number of variations upon them, this (to me) calls into question what the nature of "Truth" is to begin with. 

I don't pretend to have an answer to that question, but I raise it response to your conclusion that just because not everyone agrees what Truth is, this is insufficient to show that Truth is relative.  I presume you reach this conclusion based on the idea that human thought is fallible and Truth is something that exists independent of our thoughts about it.  I apologize if I am mischaracterizing your position and I trust for you to set me straight if I have.

Perhaps another way to look at it is to turn the situation around.  That is, imagine a scenario in which everyone agrees on Truth of a number of Truths.  While it could be argued that this would never be the case in reality, for the purposes of argument would this then mean that that particular Truth or Truths are true?



The unsurity that there is a God is in and of itself an acknowledgement that there is or is not. So the compromise doesn't fit here.