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How Truth Is Different In Mathematics And Ethics Philosophy Essay

Recognition of a statement as fact or certainty changes from generation to generation; what is regarded currently as truth may not be regarded as truth in the future. I mention this promptly to distinguish the common truth definition, which could read something like: “A statement that is accepted as fact or reality.” Truth itself resides in a coherent set of constant, perpetual propositions. We use mathematics, arts, and ethics to grasp and depict truths, though they are not true themselves. The three disciplines (mathematics, arts, and ethics) can be categorized into three truth classifications: objective truth, subjective truth, and relative truth, respectively.

Mathematics always returns a self-consistent true result due to the axiomatic nature of its foundations. That being said, the truth is absolute in math. There are always a limited number of set solutions to any one problem. How do we find the ‘truth’ in mathematics? It lies within the structural form; most of math’s concepts are two-sided purely for balance (derivatives and integrals, the law of sines versus its cosine counterpart). The concepts of mathematics are discovered, and from them, the laws of mathematics are invented. The concept of the triangle and the circle were discovered, and later the laws of sines and cosines were invented. These axioms, definitions, conjectures, studies of quantity, structure, space, and change, provide the clearest source of knowledge, with the least amount of grey. The truths in mathematics are used daily by millions; engineers, architects, actuaries, mathematicians (perhaps), even ecologists, all require a substantial background in mathematics (Kuoba 1). If we look at what mathematics teaches (patience, discipline, and step-by-step problem-solving skills), we can see how the truths that can be derived from it might be useful. For example, with the introduction of Boolean algebra, mathematical models of logic began to treat truth, “T” or “1”, as the opposite of false, “F” or “0”. Additionally, truth tables manipulate these constants in the theories of logic. The fact that individuals will walk away from mathematical truths each with the same understanding (providing they do in fact understand it) is part of the clarity of its objectivity. Even when dealing with imaginary numbers (perhaps the ‘greyest’ area of mathematics), the solid, and distinguishable nature of this area of knowledge places it into the category of objective truth.

Art is by definition associated with subjective appreciation. Given the genetics and culture of an individual, they appreciate that piece of art. Therefore, since the truth is completely subjective in art, it depends entirely upon the viewer what truths can be derived from the art. While the truth in mathematics lies within conceptual evidence, the truth in art lies within expressive techniques. The complexity and subjectivity of art places it on the opposite pole of mathematics, previously labeled as logical and objective. However, as complicated and dispositional as art is, it contains truth. Musicians fall under the realm of artists, and as a musician, I often observe other musicians claiming that X guitarist is superior to Y guitarist. Is there a truth here that can be, as in mathematics, consistently upheld? There is certainly truth, but the truth is not objective. Again, it lies on the opposite pole of objectivity (subjectivity). A person’s perspective, feelings, and beliefs now enter into the realm of art, as the person embraces the truth in art. While mathematics offers a route that is clear and cohesive, art provides the qualia that are only available to the person experiencing it. To emphasize this, we must look no further than musical genres; what may be moving or ingenious to one person may be nonsense to another. More simple forms of truth in art do exist. However, some incorporate the old debate “Is X even a work of art?” For example, there is truth in my driver’s license photograph-it could be used in court, but is that photograph a work of art? Moreover, many novels contain fictional stories that could be branded as being “true to life,” encompassing real figures (relationships, the “way things actually happen”, etc.) An artist’s creations-an author, for example, writes novels that are usually about generalized truths. Tom Sawyer depicts many lifelike situations, all of which are true to reality, but overall generalized.

Ethics involves many types of truth. There is a belief in a universal set of ethics; this is an absolute truth. All modern day cultures will agree that killing for one’s own gain is wrong. The Bible, in addition to being the top bestseller in history, is a collection of absolute ethical truths; it contains rules for people to live by, rules that never change (Genesis, Ten Commandments, etc.). Where mathematics fell into objective truth, and art into subjective truth, ethics encompass relative truth. Certainly, the rules by which we live vary from culture to culture, and these rules are considered situational by many. Platonism enacts a situation in which actual objects of daily occurrence are mere copies of ‘true beings’, the perfect counterparts to these inferior objects.. Here, Plato’s reasoning provided ethically valid beliefs for religions, specifically Christianity. Individuals can grasp ethics through the constraints (possibilities, practicalities) of physics and society, and the use of morality with said constraints. A situation to illustrate this could be between a friend and me, where I would like to loan the friend money, but am unable to due to my low income. The truth is variable in ethics, since it is dependent upon the beliefs and moral values of any given individual. Referring back to the example that no culture promotes killing for one’s own gain-if there were in fact a culture which encouraged these acts, the culture would find no truth in the former statement.

Mathematics, the arts, and ethics, which were so clearly viewed in the prompt, happen to be in a specific order, which was not only the order with which I discussed the subjects. The solidity of truth progressively deteriorates as you go through the subjects, and each area of knowledge contains less and less absolute truth. Unlike arts and ethics, mathematics is a system, one developed due to practical necessities (to label large-scale possibilities and impossibilities with numerical relations). However, ethics can also be viewed as practical necessities, without which a society would collapse. Mathematics, art, and ethics do intersect, since they all give us limitations on morality. Art has moral implications as pleasure or dislike, if we believe art to be a genetic, not cultural, appreciation. Ethics combine individual moralities, and as a result, we see a large range of morals: everything from the primary right to life to the right to one’s own religion.

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