Belief and certitude essay



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Truth is the one thing in which everyone seeks, yet no one can agree to be absolute. It is that fleeting entity which blows past in the wind. Yet as human beings we desperately try to grasp at the wind while it runs through our fingers. Although it is the plasticity of many pathways in which one can arrive at a truth, Logic is the chief pathway in which we find truth and certitude in the world and in ourselves. Logic, although not foolproof, is the most efficient and concrete way to arrive at a truth.

It is logic which enables us to make sense out of things. It is logic which enables math to occur, in which a plethora of philosophers believe to be the only absolute truth. But before one determines if something is true or not, they must first discern the definition of “truth”, however, it is not as simple as that. Truth is one of the core pillars in which philosophy is built upon, and it has been a controversial topic for thousands of years, with many varying definitions and theories regarding it.

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However, as humans who have debated the subject thoroughly, we have come up with a broad definition as a “guideline” for distinguishing truths vs non truths, courtesy of Plato. To make something true it must satisfy three characteristics; it must be public, independent of our beliefs, and eternal. To discern if something satisfies these characteristics one uses reason, and it is logic which tests reason, thus making logic the most effective pathway to truth. Logic is one of only two “formal systems” the other being mathematics (which is saturated with logic).

Logic begins with axioms, statements accepted without proof and considered to be self-evident. This illustrates how a truth can be deduced if that truth is recognized by anyone who understands it, and who reflects back on it with thought. For example, 22 divided by 2 is 11, and although this is not self-evident, one can find truth based on the calculations, which in this case are self-evident, making it true and allowing it to lack observational evidence. This can also be seen in history. Let’s take the statement “Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States.

” By using logic I can deduce that the USA has a president, there can be only one president at a time, there were 15 previous recorded presidents according to the years served by each since Washington took office in 1789, thus if Lincoln was elected as president during 1861, that makes him the 16th President. However, one can argue that this is a matter of believing that all of these records are correct, and that events in history actually happened. However, if we completely reject things based upon this reasoning, we would know nothing, which is a paradox in itself because we must know something.

Or on the other hand do we necessarily have to know “something” or do we not know anything at all? One cannot rely solely on logic to come to a truth, in fact there are many other pathways that play with logic to obtain truth. Perception and empirical evidence are definitely a part of the formula, however logic is used to make sense out of what we perceive and know, thus making logic the helmsman of the ship to certitude. We perceive thousands of different stimuli through our senses, but sometimes our senses deceive us.

We gain evidence to support our beliefs through observation and experimentation. However these are not enough on their own, we need logic to sort, make patterns, and discern what this barrage of information actually means. Although, this act of making patterns could be us inserting our own beliefs, thus no longer satisfying the second characteristic of truth. Other weaknesses of logic include Russell’s Paradox, and Einstein’s repudiation of Euclid’s theory, which was thought to be truth for hundreds of years. Logic may have its flaws, but it is still the best pathway to take to arrive at a truth.

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