Context is all’ (Margaret Atwood). Does this mean that there is no such thing as truth? What is truth and what is true? Is there such a thing as a truth or just what we perceive to be true at any given time? There are some circumstances where truth is certain. I am sitting in my study and I am writing my essay. This statement is true and hardly refutable unless we try and argue that all we see and feel is what our senses perceive. What the question is asking is whether there is such a thing as universal truth, a statement which cannot be refuted regardless of the situation, and which holds trueOrder now
across time and place. The definition of truth is that something is true always, everywhere and is independent of belief. There are three tests for truth, the first of which is proof by inductive logic, the second by actually testing a truth and the third being pragmatic. In George Orwell’s dystopian novel ‘1984’ a character states 2+2=5. We know this not true and can say immediately that two and two make four because this is what is mathematically accepted when we add up the definitions of two and two. Therefore this is a-priori truth and a deductive syllogism.
No matter what context we put this statement in, it will 15 always be true, be it in the addition of two items (such as a sock and a piece of gum) or in a mathematical formulae as shown above. In other words, this statement is always true. However this kind of truth is only relevant in certain – mathematical – contexts. In other contexts, there is no such thing as absolute truth. 10 1 ________________ GodeFs1 Incompleteness theory shows us that even in a mathematical context, absolute 20 truth is not possible. He claims that in any rational formulaic sentence there is point of improvability.
‘This statement is improvable’2 if one was to prove this statement then it would reiterate its meaning whereas not proving it simply proves that it is improvable. What we can deduce from Godel’s findings is that even in a mathematical context, a formula of rational a-priori numbers can be formulated in such a way that they are 25 untrue. Perception is important when deciding a truth, particularly in the arts, including literature, poetry, music and visual arts. Perceptions have changed over time, and what was once thought beautiful may no longer be considered so.
Similarly, some kinds of truth can be contextual depending on time, point of view and place. For example, 30 Indonesia is famous for its Gamalan musicians. The instruments are tuned to different scales from western instruments which makes the sounds unappealing to western ears who are accustomed to western scales. The same would be true for Indonesian musicians listening to western music. A historian prides himself on the ability to state the truth about certain historical events 35 or situations by giving an unbiased account of an event. However, lack of bias is nearly impossible, as a historian will always be affected by his environment and social surroundings.
There are certain historical events about which we are certain because we have proof. For example, we know that the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hit by nuclear bombs during World War H, and no matter what context we look at, 40 this is true. However, there are other situations that we cannot be so sure about. A prime example is the Armenian genocide. In May 1915 the Ottoman empire (now Turkey) is 1 Kurt Godel, Austrian mathematician. 2 This is a method of demonstrating Godel’s theorems in word form. 2 ________________ believed to have carried out genocide upon the people of bordering Armenia.
The official position of the Turkish government until this day is complete denial that a massacre occurred. However, in Armenia historians tell us that thousands of innocent 45 Armenians were slaughtered by Ottoman soldiers. This demonstrates how the context changes our understanding of the truth of historical events. ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is a tenet that a religion with billions of followers states in its first teachings and is generally accepted not just as a piece of guidance on how to behave but as a moral absolute, and as a statement of true fact.