• frank
    3.4k
    "All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth." -- Somebody other than Nietzsche

    But shouldn't the truth, by virtue of being the truth, exert some power of its own? We can only reside in fiction for so long, right?

    Or not? Maybe we're always in a fictional world even when the shit hits the fan.

    To what extent does truth have power?
  • Shamshir
    856
    All illusions are truthful, though they are selectively true. Hence one technically always resides in truth, merely in a constrained form.
  • Isaac
    1.3k
    But shouldn't the truth, by virtue of being the truth, exert some power of its own? We can only reside in fiction for so long, right?frank

    Why would you imagine truth had power? By truth I presume you mean something like correspondence with reality, yes? Consider the possibility that reality is actually extremely complex and full of rare anomalies. Which is the more 'powerful' model, one which is easy to calculate and works 99.99% of the time, or the extremely complex one, which covers all situations but is virtually impossible for a human to understand?

    Same goes psychologically. Which is more 'powerful', a true assessment of your liklihood of jumping that gap (to get away from the chasing tiger, obviously), or an optimistic one?
  • frank
    3.4k
    illusions are truthful, though they are selectively true. Hence oneShamshir

    Selectively true?
  • frank
    3.4k
    By truth I presume you mean something like correspondence with reality, yes?Isaac

    No. I don't think truth is definable, yet we know what it is (or isn't). Note the way Nietzsche uses the word.

    Same goes psychologically. Which is more 'powerful', a true assessment of your liklihood of jumping that gap (to get away from the chasing tiger, obviously), or an optimistic one?Isaac

    Isn't this a case where optimism makes the truth?
  • Serving Zion
    82
    Why would you imagine truth had power?Isaac

    This is the best angle of investigation.

    There is something about the truth that makes people want to suppress it, oppose it, forge it, manipulate it, possess it etc. So it does appear to have some intrinsic power.

    I think that power is only revealed when a judge (the one deciding the value of facts) honours the truth, and as such, people who misuse their power when truthfully they shouldn't, are choosing to exercise their power against the truth. The only reason they do that, is because they don't fear consequences of justice (because justice must operate according to the truth).

    So there is also an element of morality that contributes to the power of truth, or where morality is insufficient, a moral authority is required in order to enforce moral rights according to the truth.
  • Isaac
    1.3k
    No. I don't think truth is definable, yet we know what it is (or isn't).frank

    I'm not sure how much progress can be made if you can't define it.

    Isn't this a case where optimism makes the truthfrank

    Yes, probably. I'm a pragmatist when it comes to truth values.

    There is something about the truth that makes people want to suppress it, oppose it, forge it, manipulate it, possess it etc. So it does appear to have some intrinsic power.Serving Zion

    I think you're mistaking 'the truth' with a claim to it. Many use those tactics despite knowing full well they're lying.
  • Judaka
    421

    Interpretation is not the difference between fact and fiction, it's a necessary step in understanding the truth. Meaning cannot be a byproduct of truth because meaning comes from interpretation. Interpretation is not a product of truth either because it comes from us.
  • frank
    3.4k
    I'm not sure how much progress can be made if you can't define it.Isaac

    I don't think it's definable. The concept is in use in the act of defining. Still, we all know what it is.
  • frank
    3.4k
    Interpretation is not the difference between fact and fiction, it's a necessary step in understanding the truth.Judaka

    Nietzsche's point is that where there are multiple interpretations, power determines the prevailing one. Do you agree with that?
  • Serving Zion
    82
    The way I understand truth, is that it is a solid, robust, real thing. Then, because there can be different views (interpretations) of it, those views should not be contradictory.

    Wherever there is contradicting views, therefore, there is some element of untruth - as, for example, one might desire to use his view of the truth that people are entitled to secure their nation by controlling who comes and goes, while another might use their view of the truth to say that people are entitled to go wherever in the world they may, while seeking a secure lifestyle. (To use a real, current event as an example). So they are both using the truth, but coming to have opposing views as to which view of the truth is ultimately more valuable.

    If the world was a perfect world where nobody was thieving or murdering, then we would all agree which view of the truth is more valuable. But, since the world does have problems that produce a need for security, then a nation has to decide whether it's values of freedom to come and go are greater than the values of security.
  • Echarmion
    855
    But shouldn't the truth, by virtue of being the truth, exert some power of its own? We can only reside in fiction for so long, right?frank

    An interesting question, I quite like this take on it.

    It seems like we reside in fiction at our own peril. Truth is that which reasserts itself regardless of our interests. Base your decision on fiction, and there's always the chance it's going to backfire. So in that sense, truth has power.
  • Isaac
    1.3k
    Base your decision on fiction, and there's always the chance it's going to backfire. So in that sense, truth has power.Echarmion

    Fiction can work better than truth as a decision-making tool if the fiction is more easily calculated and still right most of the time. Newton's theories on gravity are a fiction, they're not a true representation of how gravity works, but for making a quick judgement on thruster adjustment in a returning apollo capsule it's better than Einstein.

    So it's not its lack of truth that's making fiction more likely to backfire, it's its lack of utility.
  • alcontali
    702
    But shouldn't the truth, by virtue of being the truth, exert some power of its own? We can only reside in fiction for so long, right?frank

    I think that the real power is in consistency. There is of course the assumption that the truth is consistent, but you can simplify the matter by just looking at the requirement of non-contradiction.

    Someone who is lying will eventually end up claiming the thing and its very opposite. From there on, you can often exploit that to take the liar to the cleaners. Lies tend to be costly.
  • Shamshir
    856
    Selective truths are essentially aspects of truth, in that they are derived from it.

    In the allegory of the cave, both worlds are equally albeit selectively true. Selective truth is subjective truth though by itself is objective; it only appears subjective when layered against a background of other truth/s.
  • frank
    3.4k
    If the world was a perfect world where nobody was thieving or murdering, then we would all agree which view of the truth is more valuable.Serving Zion

    Yes. Morality was N's preoccupation. The predator has one interpretation of events, the prey has another. Lacking a God's eye view, all we have are interpretations. Truth is only found in that divine perspectuve unavailable to us.

    Yes?
    seems like we reside in fiction at our own peril. Truth is that which reasserts itself regardless of our interests.Echarmion

    Truth appears amidst catastrophic failure? Otherwise we might be completely deluded? :razz:
  • frank
    3.4k
    Selective truths are essentially aspects of truth, in that they are derived from it.

    In the allegory of the cave, both worlds are equally albeit selectively true. Selective truth is subjective truth though by itself is objective; it only appears subjective when layered against a background of other truth/s.
    Shamshir

    Why not: all is interpretations (save a few useless philosophical insights).
  • frank
    3.4k
    Someone who is lying will eventually end up claiming the thing and its very opposite. From there on, you can often exploit that to take the liar to the cleaners. Lies tend to be costly.alcontali

    This a description of how power plays out, right?
  • alcontali
    702
    This a description of how power plays out, right?frank

    Yes. In my impression, there is a price tag to telling lies. It is not cheap.
  • NOS4A2
    1.1k


    But shouldn't the truth, by virtue of being the truth, exert some power of its own? We can only reside in fiction for so long, right?

    It seems like it should. It is only a matter of time before cognitive dissonance creeps in.
  • Shamshir
    856
    Because it's not. Only because and when layered.
  • tim wood
    3.2k
    And "truth" is defined for the purposes of this thread - or for any purpose - how? (Looking, but I don't see it.)
  • Echarmion
    855
    Fiction can work better than truth as a decision-making tool if the fiction is more easily calculated and still right most of the time.Isaac

    Sure. You can also selectively employ fiction to achieve a goal, and this may be more efficient than using the truth. But it's an exercise in risk management. By deviating from the truth, you risk being blindsided by it.

    Newton's theories on gravity are a fiction, they're not a true representation of how gravity works, but for making a quick judgement on thruster adjustment in a returning apollo capsule it's better than Einstein.Isaac

    Arguably, Newton's theories were truth at the time, since they were arrived at using proper methodology and not yet falsified. I think there is a distinction between fiction and simulation. You can tell the truth without going into every conceivable detail.

    So it's not its lack of truth that's making fiction more likely to backfire, it's its lack of utility.Isaac

    But the thing about truth is that it limits the utility of fiction. There are things we can afford to be wrong about, but we can never outright ignore truth.
  • frank
    3.4k
    Because it's not.Shamshir

    Now that's what I call a persuasive argument. I think a case could be made that a lot of what we take for truths are interpretations which succeeded because of a power structure behind them. It's just easiest to see it in the realm of morality.

    For an example of how failing to see this creates problems, see the recent thread on morality as it relates to care of common property.

    And "truth" is defined for the purposes of this thread - or for any purpose - how? (Looking, but I don't see it.)tim wood

    It's unanalyzable.
  • Isaac
    1.3k
    But it's an exercise in risk management. By deviating from the truth, you risk being blindsided by it.Echarmion

    Absolutely, but if it's an exercise in risk management, then the measure of the 'power' of any belief is no longer truth is it? Its the valuation resulting from your risk assessment. The most 'powerful' belief is the one with the greatest payoff for the least risk, which may or may not turn out to be true (where 'true' is corresponding with reality). That's the point I was making.

    Arguably, Newton's theories were truth at the time, since they were arrived at using proper methodology and not yet falsified. I think there is a distinction between fiction and simulation. You can tell the truth without going into every conceivable detail.Echarmion

    I agree with the first part, I'm a pragmatist, but not the second. Newton's theories (to my limited knowledge) were not just less detailed. They were completely wrong, totally not the way things actually are, a fiction. Just a very useful one.

    But the thing about truth is that it limits the utility of fiction. There are things we can afford to be wrong about, but we can never outright ignore truth.Echarmion

    Yes, that's a good way of putting it.
  • Fooloso4
    1.1k
    All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.frank

    The first thing I look for when interpreting a statement is to read it in context. Although this is attributed to Nietzsche, it appears he did not say this. In the collection of notes Will to Power) we find:

    Against positivism, which halts at phenomena-"There are only facts"-I would say: No, facts is precisely what there is not, only interpretations. We cannot establish any fact "in itself": perhaps it is folly to want to do such a thing.
    "Everything is subjective," you say; but even this is interpretation. The "subject" is not something given, it is something added and invented and projected behind what there is.- Finally, is it necessary to posit an interpreter behind the interpretation? Even this is invention, hypothesis.
    In so far as the word "knowledge" has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.- "Perspectivism."
    It is our needs that interpret the world; our drives and their For and Against. Every drive is a kind of lust to rule; each one has its perspective that it would like to compel all the other drives to accept as a norm.
    — WtP 481

    As I interpret this, Nietzsche is not setting interpretation over and against truth. It is not simply that those in power say what truth is. It is that the desire for truth, our needs, our drives, is itself is will to power. It is not simply what those in power impose on others but it is also internal, one drive against another.

    But shouldn't the truth, by virtue of being the truth, exert some power of its own?frank

    This is an age old question. It is the heart of Socrates battle with Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic. Plato plays off of the different senses of strength between Thrasymachus' sense of the advantage of the stronger in both its political and rhetorical aspects and Socrates' appeal to the stronger argument. The stronger argument is the argument that persuades, but persuasion and coercion are not clearly distinct as we can see with such expressions as the force of the argument. A skillful speaker can may win an argument, but winning an argument does not mean that one has established the truth. We can see this in political, legal, and philosophical arguments. It should not be overlooked that Socrates was not above using sophistical arguments himself.

    In the Rhetoric Aristotle says:

    Rhetoric is useful (1) because things that are true and things that are just have a natural tendency to prevail over their opposites ...

    but then goes on to say:

    Moreover, (2) before some audiences not even the possession of the exactest knowledge will make it easy for what we say to produce conviction. For argument based on knowledge implies instruction, and there are people whom one cannot instruct.

    Further, (3) we must be able to employ persuasion, just as strict reasoning can be employed, on opposite sides of a question, not in order that we may in practice employ it in both ways
    (for we must not make people believe what is wrong), but in order that we may see clearly what the facts are, and that, if another man argues unfairly, we on our part may be able to confute him.

    Again, (4) it is absurd to hold that a man ought to be ashamed of being unable to defend
    himself with his limbs, but not of being unable to defend himself with speech and reason, when the use of rational speech is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs.

    He concludes:

    A man can confer the greatest of benefits by a right use of these, and inflict the greatest of injuries by using them wrongly.

    Rhetoric is important not only to learn to persuade others of the truth but to counteract those who are skillful in using argument against the truth.
  • Judaka
    421

    We would need to define 1) Power and 2) Prevailing but I don't think that interpretations can be "true" in that they're objectively correct. So within a business, the business owner will make the rules according to his views and hence power defined the prevailing interpretations. It's more complicated within a culture or society, there are many prevailing interpretations and each of them determined by more than just power but the basic idea, I agree with.
  • Serving Zion
    82
    Yes. Morality was N's preoccupation. The predator has one interpretation of events, the prey has another. Lacking a God's eye view, all we have are interpretations. Truth is only found in that divine perspectuve unavailable to us.

    Yes?
    frank

    I don't think I can agree entirely with that, but I agree that essentially the objective view is least prone to bias. It doesn't mean to say that a predator is unable to recognise the views of the prey, and to do morality accordingly.. just that it's personal interests are more likely to pervert the justice that the prey is morally entitled to. (Eg, cats like to catch birds but they will respect the birds' moral rights if he knows his owner will condemn his immorality).

    I also considered the example of a fly and a spider when somebody said "what is bliss to the spider is chaos to the fly".

    So, it is true that the spider's web is bliss to the spider and chaos to the fly, but so far as objective truth goes, we ask "is the web bliss or chaos?" .. to which, the answer depends upon one's personal experience with it. If I am a spider, the web is bliss. If I am a fly, the web is chaos. That's the extent that truth can behave as evidence, so when we judge whether the web is to be condemned, we consider other factors - "is the web ultimately more valuable when it exists, or when it doesn't?".

    Of course, the OP question is about the power of truth, so the fact is that a web exists, and if I am a fly, I will not like to be caught in it. So, whether truth is power, probably is a question more relevant wherever justice is being perverted through someone's misrepresenting of truth, as a claim to truth, for example.

    Is there an example of the question existing when there is no disagreement about the truth?
  • Serving Zion
    82
    I like the definition that says "truth is the quality or state of being true", and from the definition given here:

    https://www.yourdictionary.com/truth

    I would specify constraint 1(c) for the purpose of this thread: "the quality of being in accordance with experience, facts, or reality; conformity with fact".
  • tim wood
    3.2k
    I like the definition that saysServing Zion
    Seems good to me; it's good to have a definition "1(c) for the purpose of this thread." (And likely you know better than I the problems with this definition - but maybe here they'll be irrelevant.)
  • Shamshir
    856
    What powerstructure?
    All interpretations are based in selective truths.

    Here's the chain of events in two fold:
    Truth > Aspect > Interpretation
    Produce > Ingredients > Dish

    Read his phrasing carefully - subject to interpretation. Meaning interpretation is just an aesthetic, Rorschach.
    Truth is always in power as it's the base.
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