Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Finding the Truth?

Ok, so this topic has been stewing in my brain for a while, so I'm going to give it an attempt. What is Truth? (note the capital "T") . There are two different kinds of truth, truth and Truth. Little "t" truth is what is in accordance with reality. This is what most people are familiar with, since we attempt to determine if something is true or not on a regular basis. The other kind of truth, Truth, is much harder to define and understand. I define it as truth that exists independently of reality, but defines or affects reality. This implies that Truth isn't part of reality, but that reality at most can only point to Truth.

So why is Truth important? Truth would include any cosmic forces that act upon reality, such as God or karma. Truth includes the answers to questions like what happens at death. Truth includes anything that exists outside the realm of reality and in the realm of speculation.

So if Truth isn't inside reality, then where does that leave us? There have been countless attempts to find, or even just assert Truth throughout time. I'm going to say that many may contain elements of Truth, but none contain a complete picture of it. I use the approach of trying to understand as many different perspectives and beliefs as possible. This has led me to a conclusion, that Truth is incredibly elusive. Understanding Truth comes less from what others have said about it and more from one's own pursuit. One person's understanding of Truth may be radically different than someone else's, and both can be correct.

There is one major trap in the pursuit of Truth: Believing that you know Truth in its entirety. Understanding Truth is a journey, not a destination. When you believe that journey is complete, there is no where else to go. Just by the nature of Truth, it is impossible to complete this journey in a lifetime. But it doesn't mean you shouldn't try.

If this is incoherent, it means I need to blog less after a sleep deprived night and a long day, late that night.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Free Will

After a long hiatus, I am back. I will be making periodic updates whenever I am inspired to. The reason I was gone was college, in its various aspects, had consumed my life. Now that I have graduated, it should not be a problem until I (hopefully) go off to grad school. But enough of my rambling.

One question people have wrestled with is the topic of whether free will exists or not. I have come up with several ways of approaching this problem. The first is determinism, the idea that people do not have free will, and their minds, bodies, behaviors, etc follow a strict cause and effect pattern. This means that human behavior is in theory completely predictable given enough information, and that there is no unpredictable factors such as free will or other random variations that affect people.

The second way this problem can be approached is that free will does exist. First, free will is defined as a conscious, non-physical self that makes decisions about behavior, that has some level of independence from the physical mind. Free will can be divided up into two categories, unlimited and limited. Unlimited free will is the idea that people can do whatever they want whenever they want, without limitations. This is the only approach that I can reject outright, since I cannot right now start speaking in Chinese or Sanskrit because I lack the knowledge to. Thus, my own knowledge limits my free will (if I have free will). Limited free will is the idea that free will does exist, but there are limitations to it in one manner or another.

The third approach is probabilism, which is the idea that human thoughts and behavior do have variation, but it can be described using probability models. This can also be divided into two categories, free will and random. In free will probabilism free will exists, but is limited and affected by probabilities of which behaviors are more likely than others, and which ones are not likely to happen. The other possibility is that a random factor determines which behavior happens, with likelihoods affected by probabilities of certain behaviors either happening or not happening.

In conclusion, there are many ways the problem of free will can be approached, but only one can be dismissed.

I hope this little discussion adds to your knowledge of the topic.