Fundamentals (A word to the wise)

I do not always want to share my secrets with you, my friends. I fear that what I use here cannot be used elsewhere, and what I use here is not much in demand. But if you and I are to see eye-to-eye, eventually I will have to give you a few hints about how the world works.

I. Intellectual consistency is a powerful tool, but a foolish obsession.

The brain is a coalition of forces.

In society it is foolish to question fools for being unable to have complicated conceptions, and to question the wise for having efficient conceptions.  When judging ourselves, we see the same thing.  Brilliant scientists have their superstitious rituals, and urbane intellectuals form rigid judgments from misleading first impressions.  Our brains are coalitions of forces, and some of these forces are wise, some foolish; trying to police them all is pointless.  Consistency is a technique for getting better results in particular circumstances.

II. Falsity is simple, truth complex. 

False is false, but there are two different ways of thinking about the truth of something.  What is true must not be merely an object or a state of affairs, but something that is capable of being communicated (for example, an insight, an observation, or a theory).  Communication requires both the production of a message and its reception.  A theory of truth cannot be a theory that attributes a truth-value to statements, propositions, or sentences.  It must instead be a theory of the production and reception of truth.  A lone individual doesn’t have truths and falsehoods without a community on which he can rely.

In this respect falsehood can be compared to mispronunciation and truth, to proper pronunciation. Both pairs of concepts are most often used in a pale, parasitic sense which does not require any awareness of the nature of communication, and which creates the illusion that there can be standards of correctness without any communication to apply the standards to.

III. Truth is alive.

Information can be understood based on the kind of evaluations we subject it to. a. Is it true, is it correct; is it an error or not? (The lowest level of truth/information.) b. Is it good, is it useful, is it worth learning? c. Is it better than some alternative body of information? d. Is it theoretically best, does the information provide knowledge that is unsurpassed when certain ideal conditions are met? e. Is it actually best, all things considered; is the information more useful than any alternative?

Information is to be understood in the broadest possible sense. If you imagined that truth was merely a matter of accurate sentences and erroneous sentences, you will be terribly confused when thousands of apparently innocuous statements add up to a view of the world which is clearly false, and which cannot be fixed by adding a list of supplementary premises/inferences pointing out glaring errors and correcting them.


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