Reflections on Truth

In a society wrought with crises and treachery, the importance of two concepts become more and more pronounced; truth and justice. Countless adages and proverbs were associated with the two ideas; the truth will set you free… the truth hurts… justice delayed is justice denied, and so much more. The sheer influence of the concept of truth and justice also served as mediums for rhetoricians of history to put their mystified advocacies forward, even boldly claiming that “truth is on their side.” But what does it mean to have truth “on your side”? Heck, what does truth even mean? What is the nature of truth? What makes something true “true”?

It would be important to first identify the context upon which the word “truth” is being used. Consider the usual mudsling of the irate supporters of our President, which they usually make use of when backed into a corner, which goes something like this; “the truth is on our side, and the truth will prevail.” It seems like a harmless tantrum at first, albeit irritating, but if viewed through philosophical lens, this haughty declaration has something more than meets the eye; the society’s skewed view of what truth is.

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Let’s discuss the most superficial interpretation of this statement. At face value, this statement could mean that you speak the truth, which will be defined as “stating whatever is in the observable reality as is.” However, to complete the idea of the statement, that truth is on your side, you must also assert that the truth cannot be possessed by your opponent; in essence, your opponent cannot speak the truth. If these conditions hold true, then you have a logical argument. Now, let’s put this to the test.

A: I believe PNoy is the best president.

B: I respectfully digress, for the following reasons…

A: Whatever; the truth is on my side, and there is nothing you can do about it.

B: My name is B.

To this extent of the argument, A’s assertion has been legitimately disproved.


This is because B demonstrated something that contradicts our previous assumptions. The assertion that only A can tell the truth (which is necessary to complete the essence of the statement in consideration) entails that B cannot tell the truth, yet B did. His name is indeed B. This kind of scenario, which is fairly mundane, flies in the face of A’s assertion that truth is on his side, since B is also capable of telling the truth. Well then, who has the truth to begin with?

Such absurdities stem from the fallacy of reification. The said fallacy involves the treatment of an abstract concept as a concrete one; something that can be touched, owned, and transferred. An abstract concept is of a clearly different nature from concretes, but the glaring contrast is usually overlooked by people, since reification comes with profound emotional appeal. One could say that “religion destroyed civilizations and claimed many lives” and commit a fallacy, but intellectuals who recognize the wrongdoings of religious zealots might be taken by the sheer rhetorical charms of such a statement.

So, going back to the original question, who has the truth? The answer is no one, because truth, being an abstract concept, cannot be owned, unlike a concrete concept. One could then begin to ask, “So what can we do about truth”? I shall attempt to answer this after we consider another interpretation of the “truth is on my side” mudsling.

Of course most people would then refuse to acknowledge the first interpretation and attempt to blur the exactness of their definition a bit. One might argue, “The truth I’m talking about is not ‘truth’ truth, but the truth of a specific issue we’re dealing with. In other words, the ‘truth’ I’m talking about is just a fraction of the whole domain of truth.”

To make things simpler, suppose that A and B are arguing on whether apples are better than oranges. A claims that apples are better, and resorts to the same mudsling, only this time, A specifies that the truth he is concerned with is just the fact that “apples are better.”

A: Apples are better.

B: I respectfully digress, for the following reasons…

A: Whatever; the truth is on my side, and there is nothing you can do about it. To be specific, the truth I’m talking about is that “apples are better.”

B: I would like some proof.

A: Okay, according to studies…

B: No. You said that truth is on your side. Prove your case within your statement alone.

To the extent of this argument, A’s assertion has been legitimately disproved. Again.


This is because B raised something that exposes the problem of A’s claim despite the clarification; something that can be explained by Gödel’s incompleteness theorem.

The incompleteness theorem, discovered by mathematician Kurt Gödel in 1931, demonstrates the impossibility of proving the truth of a consistent (non-contradictory) system (like mathematics, or the English language) using the elements from that very system. Simply put, you can’t prove the truth of something using that something. The mathematics of the theorem is too rigorous to be of use to the article, so allow me to simply demonstrate it in the above argument, and discuss its implications in the main topic at hand.

B has raised a valid point; A must prove that his assertion is true. However, by claiming that “truth is on his side,” it implies that he possesses the “truth” of that statement (for a moment, forget the fallacy of reification), which entails the fact that he can show this “truth,” without relying on other information. However, to prove “truth” is not like proving the existence of a concrete. When a friend tells you to prove that you have money in your pocket, you can just show the money in your pocket and watch the utter look of envy on your friend’s eyes. However, you can’t just show “truth” from within your pocket in front of your friend. The existence of an abstract concept requires a philosophical proof.

Now, can A prove that “apples are better” by simply using that statement? By Gödel’s theorem, he cannot, and even without the knowledge of the said theorem, common sense would tell us that such an endeavour is simply impossible. To force that you can prove this statement would be nothing short of begging the question.

“Apples are better because apples are better!”

To properly substantiate this claim, A would have to cite information beyond the idea of the statement he is asserting. He could cite scientific studies stating apples, say, have more nutritional value than oranges, or that survey results from a randomized population show that people generally prefer apples, among others. Only then will he stand a chance in this argument. But what does all of this imply?

In order to prove the truth of A’s statement, he has to consider something beyond his statement. This means the A’s original statement is insufficient to confirm itself; another statement is required to confirm it, something which neither side claimed to “own.” Needless to say, once again, the truth is owned by no one.

But what if A asserts that the truth he’s talking about includes those research data? Well, as long as the notion “the truth is on my side” remains, even if you could prove your initial statement with the research data, you would now have to prove the truth of the data itself without referring to any outside information. And then Gödel’s theorem applies once more. It goes indefinitely.

This epiphany of Gödel shocked the intellectual community, who for ages were obsessed with proving anything and everything. To sum it all up, this was what Gödel wanted to say:

“Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove.”

(Source: Link)

This is Gödel’s explanation of why axioms remain axioms; we use them to prove things, but we can only assume them to be true and not be able prove them to be so. But one might ask, what becomes of tautologies, which are logical statements that are always seen as true?

Answering this is no problem, since tautologies, first and foremost, are different from axioms. Axioms are presumed to be true but cannot be proven true, while tautologies prove themselves; they’re always true. But there’s a catch-22 on these curiosities; they don’t mean anything. They have no valuable idea whatsoever.

Take the statement A is A. Okay, we know for a fact that it’s true no matter what, regardless of the universe of discourse. A rock is a rock. A bluck-a-heebee is a bluck-a-heebee. Such statement is a tautology. However, you can’t infer any new information from it. You can expand the “A is A” statement and say something like, “if a thing exists and it is A, then it is A,” but you’re still basically saying the same thing. Therefore, tautologies are not meant for inference, and are not considered in the scope of the incompleteness theorem. Gödel’s theorem still holds.

With the facts laid before us, we now consider the interesting conclusions that can be inferred:

1. A theory of everything might well be impossible. Gödel’s theorem says that you can’t prove something to be true without assuming something as your standard which you consider true, but cannot prove to be so. This means that no matter how far you go, coming up with standard after standard to prove a standard after standard, Gödel’s theorem predicts that you’ll always need to have an “un-provable” truth to substantiate your findings. Kind of a letdown for nigh-omniscient mathematicians and scientists out there.

2. An absolute or “complete” truth is un-own-able and unknowable. As I’ve repeatedly demonstrated back there, nobody can “own” the truth, and that is guaranteed by the incompleteness theorem. To “own” a truth would mean having to prove something which supposedly contains the “truth” using that statement alone. But then you would have to search for information outside your statement which can prove the “truth” of that statement; otherwise, you only have a tautology, which is meaningless. This, in effect, contradicts the central idea that you “own” the truth in the first place. Furthermore, the incompleteness theorem prevents the human mind from forming a theory of everything; hence, it follows that the theorem prevents the human mind from arriving at a “complete” truth.

But the second conclusion flies into the face of our dearly-held principles which withstood time; justice. If we’re not destined to know the “complete” truth, then what of the verdicts our judicial system has come up with over the years? Do you mean that they’re nothing but lies?

The short and straight answer is no. In fact, the foundation of our judicial system, which includes justice, is still truth. But then, shouldn’t we conduct an infinite series of proofs to arrive closer and closer to the “complete” truth?

Needless to say, it would be impractical. The truth the judicial system deals with, as with the rational debates intellectuals engaged in over the ages, is a part of the theoretical “complete” truth; a pragmatic truth.

Theorized by Charles Sanders Peirce, William James and John Dewey, a pragmatic truth is something that is of practical use to society; something that is useful for the discovery of things and “predicting the future with accuracy and precision,” as my philosophy professor would say.

Basically, the reason why it doesn’t take eternity for us to hand out verdicts and arrive at compromises in debates is because we don’t have to. We only need truths which are of practical use to us; things which can help us understand the world better. We only need the truth which is a part of the “complete” truth; pragmatic truths.

I guess this is why Alfred Tarski went so far as to say that truth (in an absolute sense), is in fact, trivial. So what becomes of truth? If we can’t own it, what do we do with it? How can we overcome the roller-coaster of contradictions and paradoxes that ensue in trying to own truth? Well, I have a suggestion. We don’t own it. We pursue it.

In a world full of falsehoods and deceit, when even the ones claiming to be holy and just lie to get into power, where politicians and even religious figures lie through their teeth at the expense of the people, where the truth cannot be owned but only pursued, perhaps it’s time for everyone to stop claiming monopoly of power over truth, adapt critical thinking, and start questioning the system. Pursue the truth. Only if we learn to let go of truth-based dogmas and prejudices, among other things, can we hope to salvage our dying culture.

81 Replies to “Reflections on Truth”

  1. A philosophical article we got here.

    I agree. As a Christian myself, I believe more in an absolute truth w/o any flaws and compromise. Captain America is my favorite superhero because he fights for what is right and… NO COMPROMISES.

    What is horrible to think is that most people (as seen in our society) are seeking more on the “truth of a lie” or looking more of a convenient ‘truth’ that will make someone feel better. And it shows, especially for trolls and Noytards claiming that they have their own version of a “truth” yet they have nothing to prove.

    1. The problem with Noytards is that they want people to believe in lies or half-truths and yet claim to promote democracy. How can any choice based on lies be a truly democratic choice? There can never be true democracy in a system based on lies or deception and ignorance. As long as media skews the truth, our society cannot be said to be truly free and democratic. Being fed with disinformation by those abNoy supporters is a way to keep people captive.

      1. I agree with you dude. Noytards like VBA keep insisting that their half truths are the real truth. They are too dumb and too stubborn to realize that they are being duped by this government in their so called “tuwid na daan”.
        As long as this country is under the yellow rule, we can’t attain our true potential.
        Someone must find a way to destroy this yellow rule or else we are soooooo SCREWED.

    2. Exactly. The intellectual bankruptcy that plagues this country is brought about by people claiming ownership over an abstract concept, and using it to push their personal goals and prejudices. And as I pointed out in my article, such fallacies have a profound emotional appeal, making people believe what these rhetoricians would say, turning them into sitting ducks for deception.

      The Yellows claim that Cory “brought” democracy in the Philippines. Democracy isn’t “brought.” It is “practiced.” It is “pursued.”

  2. I remember philosophy class wherein “truth” is used in 3 distinct senses:

    1. Metaphysical (i.e. Ontological) truth whereby a thing is said to be true by virtue of simply being real. In other words, when we say something is true, what we mean is that it is real independent of whether we know (or believe) it or not.

    2. Logical truth or verity, whereby what we think corresponds to reality resulting in knowledge. Meaning what we think or believe is not mere opinion but genuine knowledge—truth as it resides in our mind or intellect.

    3. Moral truth or veracity (also called “truth of speech”) whereby our claims are really what we believe. If I say that I see this as white, but in my heart really believe that it’s black, then I am lying—i.e. “not telling the truth.” Even if it turns out that I may actually be correct in claiming it to be black, but if I believe it to be white, but say that it is black contrary to what I believe, then there is no “veracity” or “moral truth” in my making such claims.

    1. It could be said that metaphysical truths constitute the axioms of induction; the foundation of science, since they can be only known through our senses.

      Meanwhile, logical truths are what Kant would refer to as “a priori” knowledge, in a sense that we can know them without having to do field work or something. Being a fan of mathematics, I am more comfortable in dealing with this type of truth.

      Moral truth, I believe, is still a disputed topic. If moral truth exists, then we must conclude that our consciousness can somehow affect “truth,” which will directly go at odds with logical truths. One could say that a moral truth might be a misnomer for volition. I can choose to believe that a white wall is actually black, but that’s it.

      If you have the time, I recommend that you read Alfred Tarski’s “Semantic Conception of Truth.” Here he discusses how “truth” is used as a tool of language, and how he concludes that truth (in an absolute sense) is conventional and trivial.

      Have a nice day!

      1. You have to also take into account what Kant thought about metaphysical truths. For Kant, what is real are the things-in-themselves, or things that exist independent of the senses. Since this is unknowable to us, what constitutes our reality is how our senses construe the things-in-themselves. So what we term as sciences are actually truths based from cross-referencing variables that are available to us through sense-experience. These seemingly complex collection of variables are then reduced and simplified until they are within the basic premises of science.

        In effect, our science-based society builds its case from very simple premises. Should those premises be flawed, the entire system stumbles. Just like today’s physics. Even with the latest advances, physicists are still unsure about the reality of things.

        Maybe academics should look back into Kant’s distinction for answers. Just imagine the advances and new technologies that can be invented once a breakthrough is achieved. I hope I’m still alive when it happens.

  3. The truTh also hurt for TJ Corona. Corona lied in his eDucAtioNal atTainMent, saying that he graduAteD with hoNorS in his early eDucAtioN buT the truTh is he did nOt. TUtal holy weEk naman, dpat magresiGn n sya at aminin n nya ang mga kalokohan ni Gloria upang mptwad sya ng taumbAyan

    1. THAT is a fine example of a ‘truth of a lie’. The truth hurts so much because yours are full of compromises.

      Vindictive and malicious minds are indeed hypocrites. So what can you expect?

    2. Sus, kahit holy week hindi ka parin tumitigil sa kakasira kay corona ha vincenzo? Kristyano ka ba talaga vincenzo???

    3. I always remember my lola when truth about education is an issue. During her time, siya ang takbuhan at hinihingan ng payo in her neighborhood despite the fact na di siya nakatapos man lang ng elementarya. She spoke simple yet meaningful words like, “Hindi lahat ng nag-aral ay may pinag-aralan!”

      I don’t know its philosophical category, but to me her words will prevail until the end time. The whole world is suffering not because of politics, population, climate, etc. but because of selfishness. My lola’s “may pinag-aralan” is not the same as having doctorate or high educational attainment. It’s what she called, “modo” or goodness of one’s heart.

      I believe, CJ Corona possesses this “modo” who stands for the well-being of the LHI farmers despite, as you said, graduated w/out honors. On the contrary, these farmers will see darks days once the CJ is replaced by Pnoy’s man who may have brilliant records (over CJ Corona).

      1. Corona’s prophecy of doom can be a reality if he will be ousted or he will resign; it seems that the SC decision on Hacienda Luisita is a proof that he is doing his job.

        I bet PNoy and his supporters like VBA (and even most Youtube trolls) never cared for innocent people. I believe that the vilifying and defamation of GMA didn’t start on when she was alledged of cheating in the 2004 elections or the ZTE deal (she will be held accountable IF PROVEN) but when she tried to help innocent people. And the Aquinos didn’t like it.

        If all else fails, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE. It will be 2004 all over again.

    4. @Vincenzo B. Arellano

      Kayo lang naman ang nasasaktan sa TRUTH, kaya wala kayong magawa kundi nga tuluyang paulit-ulit magkalat nalang ng kasinungalingan. Napipilitan tuloy kayo na magsipag alang-alang sa amo ninyong panot. Pare-pareho naman natin alam yun.

      Kahit alisin ninyo pa sila Gloria o si Corona, hindi pa rin marangal ang ginagawa ninyo alang-alang sa Hacienda Luisita—hindi pa rin sa inyo yon—and that’s the TRUTH!

      Pakitang-tao lang yan si abNoy, tamad naman at wala talaga syang silbi sa ikabubuti ng bayan.

    5. @Vincenzo B. Arellano

      The truTh also hurt for TJ Corona. Corona lied in his eDucAtioNal atTainMent, saying that he graduAteD with hoNorS in his early eDucAtioN buT the truTh is he did nOt. TUtal holy weEk naman, dpat magresiGn n sya at aminin n nya ang mga kalokohan ni Gloria upang mptwad sya ng taumbAyan

      Number 1 ang Harvard sa buong mundo. Hindi mapagkakaila na naka-graduate si Corona duon, kaya nga kapanipaniwala na kayang-kaya ni Corona duon sa UST. Alam ng lahat na hamak na masmadali sa UST kaysa sa Harvard. Kumpara mo kay abNoy na sa Ateneo pero hindi pa sya honor student duon kasi nga meron syang [inililihim] na diperensya.

      Si Gloria ay meron PhD at naka-graduate sa Georgetown University. Naging classmate pa ni Bill Clinton na isang Rhodes scholar.

      Sila Corona at Gloria hindi sinayang ang kanilang scholarship, pera, at lalo na ang panahon. Ginamit nila eto sa pag-unlad ng kanilang edukasyon. Si abNoy naman, kahit na ubod ng yaman ang pamilya, ay hindi nakapag-aral sa ganun tanyag na unibersidad. Sayang ang panahon at pera. Si abNoy ay isa sa malaking gumagastos at pasweldo sa Senate ngunit walang ginawa kundi magsayang lang ng panahon at pagkakataon tumulong sa bayan. Kahit na nuon syang nasa Congress, sayang rin ang panahon at sinweldo sa kanya ng taumbayan. Wala talagang silbi si abNoy—Ginagamit lang ang pangalang “Aquino” at kasikatan ng kanyang kapatid na putaching para makalamang sa kapwa—pumorma sa chicks, bumili ng Porsche, at maghanap ng maliligawan—puro pang-sarili lamang.

      Motto ng Harvard ay “Veritas” (Latin for Truth)—Ipinaglaban ni Corona ang katotohanan at hustisya alang-alang sa mga magsasaka ng Hacienda Luisita.

      Lenten season na at si Benigno Simeon Aquino III ay isang pasang-krus ng taumbayan. Wala syang silbi kundi magpayaman ng kanyang mga KKKK at pahirap sa taumbayan. Nagluluksa ang buong bayan sa pahirap na ginagawa ni BS Aquino III sa Pilipinas.

      BS Aquino III—Repent!!!

    6. im sorry, i guess i missed previous comments about you vincenzo, but why do you tYpe liKe thAt? what is the truth behind how you type? and you dragging corona into this article, well, what is your basis of those allegations, as all yellow zombies do, they “allegedly think” that corona and the others are guilty of something. if you refer to media clippings as the truth, well then, that explains it all.

      1. Out of topic:

        we already pointed this out in older posts that if he wants to be taken seriously, he needs to converse properly (among other things). I guess his arrogance isn’t just on his “yellow” banner.

  4. Arche, I had a feeling that when you commented the way you did in one of the other articles, the gloves were taken off.

    Ideally, gone should be the era where someone can say “This is the truth because I say so!”. However, Filipinos have been raising demagogues and they’ve been surrendering themselves to that kind of people mind, body, and soul for almost 3 decades.

    I suddenly have a picture of the Philippines as an ouroboros, the creature who devours its tail in order to live.

    1. Hehe, so you saw that comment, huh?

      I am really irritated by such arrogance. Proclaiming that you “own” the truth flies in the face of the principles I hold dear as an enthusiast of philosophy (even though I study engineering). So I thought of giving folks like him a piece of my mind through this article.

      Indeed. And interestingly, it’s as if the conquerors never left. Filipinos still bow down to their invisible masters, as shown by our defective culture of subservience and mediocrity.

  5. It’s easy to find the truth. You just need to be in touch with reality. Example of reality: the daily power interruptions in Mindanao. You could say that some people from other regions in the Philippines who don’t experience this daily occurrence are still in denial of this truth. Another example of reality is the fact that PNoy hasn’t introduced new initiatives/policies to improve our economy or even just change the mindset of Filipinos.

    The problem with most Filipinos is that they are not in touch with reality. The reason why they are not in touch with reality is because they still expect heavenly bodies or people from the Adjustment Bureau to intervene and save the day. In short, they are delusional.

    1. Indeed. Most Filipinos stopped pursuing truth, and instead lived in the illusion that they “own” the truth, or that the truth “is on their side.”

    2. Could it be a curse downloaded upon us by the spanish missionaries who inspite of conquering and subjugating us by heavenly based punishment and earthly terror. Made us force to accept their beliefs and enforce a state religion of their choice. And now here we are always hoping for that divine intervention to rid us all of the misfits of this country.

  6. Gadzooks, concepts without concrete, opinions without facts. I use the “fallacy of reification” as my main argumentative technique. I rather see concepts, or constructs, as the building blocks around which the facts form meaning. Take the concept “Filipinos have big egos”. That can be considered an axiom, I guess. There is no proof, and therefore no proven truth to it.

    But If you ASSUME it is true, it leads to debate. Is this ego good or bad? It is good in the sense that confidence drives success; it is bad in the sense that blind confidence blocks knowledge. But in making the statement, and accepting it, one is inclined to be more aware of how one engages with others, building on the strengths of confidence and being wary of when ego is blocking knowledge. Thus opening up and becoming smarter.

    That is good.

    So expressing the fallacy has purpose, and good result.

    I was wondering how you were going to wrap up such a deep and frustrating article (frustrating because I still don’t know how to find truth around here when people challenge me for the “facts”), and you did it well. Indeed, we should question the system. It is a world of lies and deceits; it is good to be constructive by revealing them, and good to develop a set of personal principles that allows one to live a productive and kind and rich lifestyle, where “rich” is not always associated with money.

    1. Reading that one from this dud, unbelievable.

      “That is good.

      So expressing the fallacy has purpose, and good result.”


      One can have his/her interpretation of truth but fact is fact.

      This Maher boy aka Joe America is dishonest. Period. He can’t just hide ift with his “eloquence”. This dud is dishonest.

      He can’t even refute my it.

    2. Assuming a statement to be true in order to initiate a debate or scientific inquiry isn’t reification, but axiomatizion. Any intellectual endeavor would always require something that will serve as an anchor for their findings; this is axiomatizing. Feel free to correct me if I misunderstood what you said, though.

      “I was wondering how you were going to wrap up such a deep and frustrating article (frustrating because I still don’t know how to find truth around here when people challenge me for the “facts”), and you did it well.”

      I thank you for the compliment. Anyway, I’m not sure what you meant by “frustrating because I still don’t know how to find truth around here when people challenge me for the ‘facts'” but allow me to note that facts have been referred to by philosophers as “contingent” truths, meaning we are certain that this truth is well, the truth, but only within this particular universe of discourse. So by looking for facts, you in the process get a decent picture of the truth.

      1. Ah, thanks for round two, clarifying my “issues” nicely. Axiomatizion is what I like to do then. And it is good to know that facts do not have to be the whole truth, but a process toward it. I tend to avoid contingent truths like the plague, in search of the emotive impact of off the wall opinions or a bit of word play. Nice article. Cerebral.

  7. If I recall/understand right, Godel also proved that mathematics itself is incomplete, because mathematics as a field is also incapable of presenting itself as a self-contained logical system domain where truth (or proof) can be represented fully by the set of artifacts defined within said system.

    It’s like if we consider the English language which is composed of artifacts (letters) and compound artificats built on those (e.g. words, phrases, sentences, etc.). We can actually construct an artifact within it — a sentence — that breaks the system:

    This statement is false.

    The above is a metastatement; i.e., its message says something about itself. If that statement is false, what it says about itself is therefore false too. But then the statement asserts that it is false, therefore what it says about itself cannot be true… etcetera etcetera.

    The truth about the above statement, in essence, cannot be resolved within the domain of the English language.

    1. This is actually closer to how I understand Gödel. His revelation was a response to an initiative led by Prof. David Hilbert during the early 1900s to systematize the whole of mathematics into a completely formalized system such that all mathematics can be built (i.e. deductively derived) from a foundation of just a set of a few axioms (the “Hilbert Project”, inspired by Euclid’s ancient work I suppose). Gödel showed the futility of such a dream by demonstrating that, no matter how one tries, there will always be some arithmetic or mathematics that would turn out to be outside the scope of this system—thus, rendering such formal system always “incomplete” (Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem)

    2. In the book I am a strange loop, Douglas Hofstadter argues that whenever such logical paradoxes arising from the incompleteness of a logical system (such as mathematics or a language) emerge, a new level of abstraction or “substrate” is created or takes shape in the system to make sense and/or establish order or coherence around said paradoxes. But because that new “substrate” then itself becomes a logical system in itself, the next layer of paradoxes inadvertently emerge (following Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem) and the next “substrate” of abstraction then takes form… and so on ad infinitum.

      Hofstadter uses that principle as a basis for coming up with his sublime theory on how the infinite complexity and boundlessness of a mind or “consciousness” emerges from the finite physical confines of the brain.

      Pretty neat.

      1. I told ya you’d like my recruit, Arche. I saw his potential just by reading his comments at the GRPcommunity. He’s like your mini-me. 😉

      2. @benign0

        I’ve been meaning to get myself a copy of this book when I first heard about it even before. Finally, I got to download the kindle version of “I am a strange loop” by Douglas Hofstadter. Just by flipping through a few pages and reading the table of contents, I can tell that this would be a great mind-expanding read. Surely worth one’s time and diligence.

        Thanks for making us aware of its (as well as the author’s) existence.

        1. Awesome! If I were an evangelist, that book would be the bible I’d be thumping. It’s a tough read in some parts though so I suggest you read it really slowly in bite-sized chunks (though I’m sure the size of bites varies from person to person).

    3. Yes. In fact, Gödel used mathematics as his primary example in demonstrating his theorem.

      Any consistent system can never be complete. Thus, mathematics, a consistent system, cannot truly explain its own truth. One would need another system that transcends mathematics in order to demonstrate truth of mathematics, but then we would need another system that would verify the initial transcendent system.

      The Liar Paradox discovered the limitations of the English language as a system, and was proven by Gödel. Truly, epistemology is an interesting field of study.

      Ah, Hilbert. I was thinking of taking up advanced mathematics just so I can stand a chance against his formidable 23 problems. Meh, it’s a long shot.

        1. Oh, sorry about that, man. 😀

          We were just repeating the points of my article. Sir Benign0’s remark about Hofstadter is another illustration of Gödel’s theorem.

          Whenever paradoxes (consider the “All Cretans are liars” paradox) appear in a system (usually language), there exists a new system which transcends the former one which can settle the paradoxes that ensued. However, that transcendent system will also have its paradoxes, and so another system will exist to fix it. It will go on indefinitely.

          This is the principle of the theorem; you cannot fully establish the truth of a system using the elements within that system. By extension, you can conclude that you will never truly arrive at the “complete” and unadulterated truth.

          As to Hilbert, you can just search the Internet for Hilbert’s famous 23 problems. He is a really problematic fellow. 😀

    4. “This statement is false.”

      ‘This’ is a pronoun in the English language. The phrase, “This statement” can be antecedent of an actual statement outside of the quoted clause above. A possibility, isn’t it?

      “There are no absolutes” is perhaps a closer illustration to Godel’s point.

      Happy Easter!

      1. Actually, you CAN put it that way, although it isn’t really necessary.

        You can express the above statement as:
        The statement “this statement” is false.

        However, it doesn’t really show anything interesting. However, if you use “truth” in expanding a sentence:

        “Snow is white” is true.
        ‘”Snow is white” is true’ is true.

        Then we can demonstrate truth as a semantic tool. Truth, according to Alfred Tarski, allows us to enclose an object language sentence within a meta-language sentence, and in turn, enclose that meta-language sentence within another meta-language sentence ad infinitum.

        Tarski used this principle (truth as a semantic tool), to show that since language is developed by convention, then truth, which can be used as a semantic tool, must be also conventional. Feel free to search for the entirety of his argument.

        So yes, “there are no absolutes” can be a corollary to Gödel’s theorem. Since we can never arrive at an absolute truth, it doesn’t matter whether an absolute but unknowable truth exists. We can disregard it in the observable universe of discourse and still not lose anything important.

        It’s the same with disregarding what’s outside the universe, a question which arose when it was discovered that the universe is expanding. It doesn’t matter.

        Thank you for your input.

  8. Daily Kos Lays an Easter Egg: Religion Is Insanity, ‘Emotional Blackmail,’ and ‘Superimposed Guilt’

    By Tim Graham | April 04, 2012 | 23:03

    This is how the Daily Kos folks say Happy Easter: a diarist with the byline “maf1029” absolutely, positively refuses to grant any respect to anyone holding those foolish religious beliefs. The headline was “I will NOT respect your beliefs….” He’s a cradle Catholic who escaped the church with ‘the icky wood carvings of torture and a 25 foot tall hanging statue of a bleeded and brutalized person nailed to two planks of wood.”

    “I do not respect the beliefs of others WRT [with regard to] religion/spirituality. It is a conscious and willful choice not to. It is deliberate,” he wrote. “It is my choice, just as it was my choice to dump religion and to clear my mind and my life from the superimposed guilt, fear, more guilt, self-loathing, bigotry, and the silly forced eating of seafood on Fridays.”

    He doesn’t want religion imposed on him — even as he waves his flag of unbelief:

    Respect as a noun is defined as “high or special regard.” As a verb, it means “to consider worthy of high regard.”

    So, why would I, who have worked my intellectual ass off to get away from the constraints, confinement, and constrictions of religion, even want to consider any of it with high regard? And yet, that is what some theists demand — respect for their beliefs.

    Not gonna happen.

    Now, let’s imagine for a second that I could willingly and willfully respect a theistic belief system without vomiting. Of course, I would need to be lobotomized first and then would be able to hold that belief system in high regard. But why would I want to? I’ve worked hard on myself to escape all of that voodoo, including the ecclesiastical coercion and spiritual/emotional blackmail. And now I’m supposed to respect that? That’s an insane idea, and it’s not gonna happen.

    This is how Maf elaborated on his unhappy religious childhood:

    I was a cradle Catholic — born into it, forced baptized as an infant, coerced into First Communion, talked into Confirmation, and all the while shamed for being gay and not marrying. I’m not sure about First Confession, though. I was sick with chicken pox in the time leading up to the training/indoctrination for that stupid ritual, so I didn’t know what to do. On the day of 1st Confession, I went with the class after school to the main voodoo chamber chamber of the cult house (replete with icky wood carvings of torture and a 25 foot tall hanging statue of a bleeding and brutalized person nailed to two planks of wood) and waited my turn. Then I was escorted into a dark closet, where I stood in a corner. I heard a disembodied voice say, “Well, say something. I don’t have all day.” I was 7. I cried and said, “I don’t know what to do! I don’t know what to do!” I ran out of the dark closet and didn’t stop until I got home, where I locked myself in the bathroom and threw up. After that, I was grounded for a month for “misbehaving.” And I never set foot in a confessional ever again.

    Now, that’s all fascinating, I’m sure, but the point is — that event helped shaped my notion of organized religion and spirituality, for better or for worse. And that is how I view organized religion — a darkened closet into which people are thrown and forced/coerced into “confessing” how sh—y of a person one is and begging for forgiveness for being [a] sh—y person.

    If this story actually happened — an unsympathetic priest telling him time’s a wasting, parents who saw a traumatized kid and grounded him for a month — that’s no way to pass along your faith tradition. But the tone of this piece brings about the same measure of compassion to the table. It’s no way for someone to persuade another that atheism is the true path to happiness. Bitterness seems to be what’s being served on this plate.

  9. I bet Filipinos don’t like talking to you because your “pilosopo”, a derogatory term they use on people who points out fallacies in their arguments.

    1. Hahaha. While I do have close friends whom I can converse with about philosophy, most people indirectly change the topic whenever I get too technical with what they say.

      It is quite sad that the word “philosopher” was degraded in the Filipino language to mean nothing more than a “troll,” when philosophers helped shape humanity itself.

      1. You are so right about this…I’ve friends who sidetracked when I get too touchy or technical about societal observations or debates..they just simply change topics or just end it…

        I ask myself..what has happened to society? What happened to intellectual conversations?

        They’re now here at Get Real 🙂

  10. What is truth? asks Pilate, and then washes his hands. Being self-referential, it was a hopeless question, and inconvenient, and he was right to wash his hands off of the responsibility of “pursuing” the question any further. For if he had pursued it, it would have forced him to open the “circle”, admit an “environment” that would explain it ( “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle – something you have to assume but cannot prove”) –but that would be too much a burden on his conscience: to take responsibility for administering JUSTICE to a Man he preferred instead to consign to a mob. That is when Truth unpursued becomes injustice.

  11. Hi,

    I am actually quite impressed by the quality of the articles here. Frankly, I ought to express my thanks to both the authors and commentators for the enlightenment. Many things are taken for granted in life but kudos to all of you reminding me that we cannot stop learning.

    As for the truth of all things,(my take); it all depends on your preception of reality.

    For example: – as a refresher…

    (Lifted from

    Sorry…I couldn’t find the author name to give him due credit for such an entertaining experience. I really had a a good laugh)

    “You can have the proverbial “why did the chicken cross the road” Here’s some inspiration:

    Plato: For the greater good.

    Captain James T Kirk: To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.

    Richard Nixon: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did NOT cross the road.

    Jerry Seinfeld: Why does anyone cross a road? I mean, why doesn’t anyone ever think to ask, What the heck was this chicken doing walking around all over the place, anyway?

    Sigmund Freud: The fact that you are at all concerned that the chicken crossed the road reveals your underlying insecurity.

    Bill Gates: I have just released the new Chicken Office 2000, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, balance your checkbook and eat your neighbour.

    Charles Darwin: Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically disposed to cross roads.

    Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road moved beneath the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

    Hillary Clinton: That’s what I’d like to know. Why DID the chicken cross the road?! But this administration is operating in secrecy, witholding important information from the American people, about how many chickens crossed the road and why they crossed it.

    Martin Luther King, Jr: I have a dream! I have a dream of a day, when ALL chickens can cross ALL roads without having their motives called into question!

    Ernest Hemingway: To die. Alone. In the rain.

    Official Chicken Representative: Because he wanted to. Do you not think that maybe chickens have rights too? If you crossed the road no one would question you.

    To see her flat mate. No, hang on – that was the toad.

    Colonel Sanders: I missed one?

  12. Prof. Albert Einstein tried to formulate the: Theory of Everything. Unfortunately, he was not able to do it…so he formulated the : Theory of Relativity. Explained to us the : Concept of Time and Space. Truth is Relative…this is the Truth. If a Suicide Bomber, packs his/her body with explosives, to kill the infidels. This is truth to him or her. But, absurd and insanity to most of us. Adolf Hitler of Nazi Germany, believed the Truth of the Superiority of the German Aryan Race. So, he invaded countries, and killed six million Jews and political opponents. Noynoy Aquino and his Cojuangco family, believed they really own the Hacienda Luisita, they swindled from the Philippine government. This is truth to them…not for us. So, they try to impeach Justice Corona, to protect their claim and ownership.

  13. The awesome thing about BEING ON THE SIDE OF TRUTH is that there is no more need for lengthy argumentations to get your point across. All you have to do is just state the TRUTH.

    And, here I state the TRUTH — Corona is a thief and pathological liar!

    1. cge brad jeremy, patulan kita. ano proof mo? let us hear what you have to say. prove to me ur statement “And, here I state the TRUTH — Corona is a thief and pathological liar!”

      let’s have a logical debate. 🙂

        1. @Jeremy M

          So no need to debate on the TRUTH. What for? TRUTH is TRUTH

          And falsehood is falsehood, that’s why when it’s false, there is no logical debate, since there is no proof to back it up while TRUTH tends to have proofs to back it up.

        2. there is a need, because i’m not convinced by your truth. im asking you to prove your truth. if your reasoning is sound, i might be even inclined to believe your truth. as it was said in this article, your reasoning is similar to “apples are better because apples are better”. you could do better than that. cmon, let’s discuss your truth.

        3. @Jose Maria Espiritu

          there is a need, because i’m not convinced by your truth. im asking you to prove your truth. if your reasoning is sound, i might be even inclined to believe your truth. as it was said in this article, your reasoning is similar to “apples are better because apples are better”. you could do better than that. cmon, let’s discuss your truth.

          Why be such an unbelieving infidel?–You doubting Thomas!

          Jeremy M doesn’t believe he has to prove it, since whatever comes out of the mouth of Malacañang is tantamount to divine revelation—it’s gospel TRUTH—i.e. the gospel according to PNoy the messiah, son of martyr Ninoy Aquino and the Blessed Cory Cojuangco-Aquino. Questioning the holy orders of the church of Malacañang is blasphemous! You are supposed to just accept the Yellow doctrine on blind faith. Otherwise, you will be subject to punishment under the Yellow most holy inquisition—even CJs are not spared from this!

          Not only can they exercise their democratic right to freedom of religion, they can even impose their yellow beliefs on others without need for proof, evidence, or explanation. The words of Malacañang are gospel TRUTH!—They are absolute and final! Heck even the very word “TRUTH” can be redefined by the church of Malacañang and its apologist-writers and ‘blog evangelists spreading the word’ just to suit their ends.

          Remember, PNoy got his divine anointment during his “discernment” and his divine appointment from the voice of the people. The voice of the people (no matter how ignorant or misinformed) is the voice of God!—“Vox Populi, Vox Dei”—PNoy, in other words, is simply infallible!

      1. People who shove tautologies down people’s throats are exhibiting a very fundamental intellectual dishonesty and lack of respect for the intelligence of the people they seek to influence. They see no obligation to articulate the logical basis of what they assert. Perhaps it would be ok if such people clarify that they merely assert an opinion. But what is truly an outrage is when they assert that what they say is the “truth” yet balk at responding to challenges to clarify or defend their asssertion.

        1. @felipe though we believe that jeremy doesn’t speak the truth, calling me an infidel is, well, uncalled for. i haven’t done anything to you, and you could have said much simpler than that. i might be wrong in what you actually meant, but i take it as an offensive comment.

          i was simply making jeremy’s mind work, by explaining his truth. i never said i believed or not. i just said i might. im open to arguments on their truth, and i’ll give mine if he has presented his. but i am still responsible for what i believe or not, and you can’t judge me on that.

        2. @Jose Maria Espiritu

          @felipe though we believe that jeremy doesn’t speak the truth, calling me an infidel is, well, uncalled for. i haven’t done anything to you, and you could have said much simpler than that. i might be wrong in what you actually meant, but i take it as an offensive comment.

          i was simply making jeremy’s mind work, by explaining his truth. i never said i believed or not. i just said i might. im open to arguments on their truth, and i’ll give mine if he has presented his. but i am still responsible for what i believe or not, and you can’t judge me on that.

          lol..’not at all intended to offend you. I was rather counting on your intelligence, fairly (but perhaps mistakenly) confident that you would read between the lines and be able to detect the well-deserved doze of sarcasm meant against Jeremy M and other yellow supporters who have earned it for themselves.


      2. @felipe & benigno, good to know that you, felipe, wasn’t saying to me what i thought you were. anyway, now the cloud is clear. i’ll continue to “hope” for jeremy to say something about his truth. thanks also for explaining.

        *high five* 🙂

    2. Ew. What a disgusting manner of reasoning. I’m very saddened.

      “Truth is truth” is a tautology. You can’t infer anything from it. And you certainly can’t infer any statement about Corona from that, either.

      Oh, but of course arguing with you under rational grounds would be a total waste of time. Feel free to prove me wrong, or confirm my judgment.

      1. Two things about his truth –

        > Version of truth that is convenient for his feeling good moment.

        > He is basing his truth to its truthiness and not from the available evidence or given facts.

        Jeremy M is a morally confused person.

    3. “You are a sad, strange little man. And you have my pity.” -Buzz Lightyear.

      TROLL. As Arche said, yours is a tautology. Here’s the TRUTH: you are a pathological liar because you have a very flawed logic and worse, you depend on questionable sources to support your arguement. Isn’t that right?

      You said ‘Truth is truth’. But in reality, what you said is NOT the truth; it’s just your own so -called ‘truth’ in order to make yourself feel better. There is no way you can win with your kind of flawed reasoning so you are resorting to trolling, which is insane. It’s totally TRUE that you are INSANE. And I’m very disappointed.

    4. Sorry to disappoint you but that’s a troll logic you got there. And from the words of GW from Metal Gear Solid 2 with that “truth” of yours:

      “Oh, what happened? Do you feel lost? Why not try a bit of soul-searching? Don’t think you’ll find anything, though. Every time something goes wrong, you turn around and place the blame on someone else. It’s not our fault. It’s not your fault. In denial, you simply resort to looking for another more convenient “truth” in order to make yourself feel better. Leaving behind in an instant the so-called “truth” you once embraced. Should someone like that be able to decide what is “truth”? Should someone like you even have the right to decide? You’ve done nothing but abuse your freedom. You don’t deserve to be free! We’re not the ones smothering our country. You are.”

    5. Next comment of this guy (Jeremy M) is going into the Spam queue unless he/she is able to provide any new insight/argument of substance to his assertions.

      Refer to this site’s Terms of Service for further info on criteria surrounding this action.


    6. @Jeremy M

      The awesome thing about BEING ON THE SIDE OF TRUTH is that there is no more need for lengthy argumentations to get your point across. All you have to do is just state the TRUTH.

      This is why abNoy is simply abNoy—dishonest and destructive—This is just stating the TRUTH.

      And, here I state the TRUTH — Corona is a thief and pathological liar!

      You just contradicted yourself here.

  14. benign0, it’s your call thrashing Jeremy’s comment in the spam queue but it’s unfair to Maher boy aka Joe America. This morally confused dude is his like-minded minion.

  15. Goodness, pardon me but now I really believe academics are part of the problem and not the solution! All that intellectual exercise – impressive but for what? Real people in real life situations, not in ivory towers, seek FACTS. They may call it “truth,” but what they are after are facts. What we are asking are factual questions: did the CJ reveal all his assets in his SALN? Is the SALN fill-up form, as it is designed, broad enough to cover bank accounts – whether peso or dollar – as “assets?” Are the supposed dollar accounts attributed to the CJ in FACT his? When he entered government service, did he divest himself of all business interests as is required by law (e.g., the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Code of Ethical Standards)? How does one go after grafters in public service despite the Bank Secrecy Law and the FCDA (a bill made into law by Ferdinand Marcos during martial law)? All these are FACTUAL questions: questions worth asking; questions we should be asking. To debate philosophically about the essence of “truth” is, with due respect, a futile and fruitless enterprise. Think in terms of facts. It’s not only simpler but far more productive. I think even the most nihilistic believes there is corruption in government and that corruption is not desirable, for both moral/ethical reasons as well as purely practical ones. The practical reason is that corruption is waste of money. With scarce resources, these should really go to the truly in need, not in the personal pockets of those who already have so much. The question we should really be asking is: how does one contribute effectively to curbing corruption in the public sector?

    1. Hello, erm, Mr. Richlegal.

      Uh, yeah. Actually, I’ve discussed the fact that we are usually not after the absolute truth, but pragmatic truths; facts.

      The purpose of this article is to expel the self-righteous, vindictive people from their pedestals by disproving their claim that they are “on the side of the truth,” as it is logically and philosophically incorrect.

      Is there something wrong with practicing philosophy? Is it pointless and stupid to view things from a different perspective?

      Besides, we’ve got lots of articles dealing with the intricacies of the impeachment trial. Check them if you’re not interested in philosophy. No one’s forcing you.

      Oh and you can also check the links Ilda provided. They will help a lot. 🙂

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