Absolutes and the Domain of Reality

What is the nature of Reality? Simple enough question. But not a simple answer. I think I’ve finally gained an insight into what many non-absolutists contend. Well, obviously, they contend that Reality is not Absolute. And from this claim come many errors concerning the nature of truth (truth not Truth). I’ll probably butcher the bulk of this as I haven’t studied philosophy in almost 25 years.

A rock is not Absolute. I get that. Still, let’s look at it a number of different ways. Platonically, there is a rock as an object and a collection of properties that it possesses. The rock is termed a rock because it participates in the Form of Rockness. It is an instance of that transcendental Form which is shared by all rocks (see modern Object Oriented Programming which, in its explanation of Objects is strikingly similar to Plato—in a very general way). Likewise, the properties of the rock are instances of the Forms of those properties. And so on. This makes a simple rock a very complicated object. Perhaps, too complicated. It might be wise to discard Plato and use Occam’s Razor (or is it Ockam’s) to shave all the Forms as someone famous once suggested (I forget who … sorry).

Then, there is Aristotle. The rock consists of a substance in which the properties of said rock adhere. The properties are real. The rock is real. But what the heck is a substance (in an Aristotelian sense). It can’t have any properties (so, good luck imagining it), and yet it is the glue that holds all the properties of the object together.

Nowadays, the metaphysics of today (a non-absolutist metaphysics) has moved beyond this. Now, we differentiate between the property and its referent, i.e. the actual color white on my computer screen and the word (or sign) ‘white’ by which I refer to it. The word ‘white’ is necessarily less than the actual property. In someone important’s words (possibly G.K. Chesterton): no sign of reality exhausts the reality of its referent. There is always more to reality than there is to what we use to refer to it. Hence, how can any combination of signs be absolute? They will always be an inadequate reference to Reality.

True, they will be inadequate for a complete description of Reality, but is a complete description required to obtain truth? I say, no. A rock is not absolute, but whoever claimed it was? Is it not possible that our ‘signs’ are well-understood partial slices of Reality? Cannot these slices be arranged in simple, yet certain, truthful relationships (this can get dicey as the term Absolute might have different possible meanings: for now I mean by the term something that is necessarily true)? “Red is a color.” That seems to be, at first blush, necessarily true. “1 + 1 = 2” Again, necessarily true … as is all mathematics and logic. But my personal favorite is this, which is very dangerous to deny: “I know I am not omniscient.”

Anyway, I guess my point … um, well … I think I forgot my point. My bad. Here goes, anyway. It was something like: claims that Reality is not Absolute do not imply that there is no truth. Truth has a different domain than Reality. Truth is a property of statements made by sentient things and how they stand in relation to Reality (Basically, the Correspondence Theory of Truth). Mars, a piece of Reality, is not true. Even if one claims that Mars is just a flux of particles, or better yet, just a pile of quantum goo, you still haven’t eliminated truth because your statements are only understood because they are conceived to be true. And if you expand the domain of the term “Reality” to include the statements made, then those statements, as parts of Reality, are examples of truthful statements and possibly (in mathematics, etc …) absolutely truthful statements.

Anyway, “1+1=2” and “I am not omniscient.” Denials of such claims just seem stupid to me, but I’m too tired to quarrel with people over such things anymore. I don’t have the energy. And with that, I bid you good night.


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