On Truths, Absolute Truths, and Reality


A. With our sensory perceptions we become aware of a dimension of reality which may be called Perceived Reality.
Through the limitations of our body and brain, this is as far as we can get.
Through these channels (when they are functioning normally) we become aware of what we call Facts.
Through the capacity of the mind (emerging from the brain) we do two things:
(a) Interpret the Facts.
Interpretation of Facts is what we call Truths.
These Truths (interpretations) are of two kinds.
(i) Interpretations with which we can manipulate the world, create gadgets, and even make predictions about phenomena. Such Truths are Exopotent Truths. Most scientific truths belong to this category.
(ii) Interpretations that are soothing, emotionally satisfying, spiritually uplifting. These are Endopotent Truths. We encounter such Truths in literature, (sometimes in) history, politics, and religion. They are no less important for human beings as cultural entities than Exopotent Truths. Endopotent Truths are invariably culture-dependent, religion-dependent, upbringing-dependent, taste-dependent, etc. It is impossible get cross-cultural, cross-religious, cross-national, cross-ethnic consensus of many Endopotent Truths.
(b) Create realities in the world of ideas.
These constitute the realm of imagination, art, literature, fantasy, etc. B. Absolute Truths are generally Endopotent Truths which are claimed to be Exopotent Truths.
Such claims are quite common among the devoutly and doctrinally religions people of all traditions.
People who claim to have Absolute Truths are more likely to engage in conflicts and wars and mutual recriminations than those who recognize the difference between Exopotent and Endopotent Truths.
C. Reality was DEFINED by some Hindu thinkers as that which does not change with time.
This is an insightful perspective in that things we regard or regarded as Real tend to vanish with time.
It must be realized that this is true of all phenomena which are ephemeral by nature.
A phenomenon essentially involves transformation of energy (or matter) from one kind to another.
D. It is important not to confuse Truths (which are interpretations of Facts) with Reality which presumably has an objective existence.
August 24, 2012


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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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