The title asks one to what extent is truth different among mathematics, the arts and ethics; it does not question the existence of truth. I interpret truth as justified belief and categorize it into three approaches: personal, social and universal. Personal is what one perceives to be true, social is what a group perceives to be true, and universal is what the whole perceives to be true (Bernardin). In this essay, it will be shown that the approach towards finding the truth within mathematics, the arts and ethics vary, but upon further investigation, the final truth is intertwined.
Mathematics is approached as a universal truth. I was once given the equation
“9x – 7i > 3 (3x – 7u)” and asked to solve for “i”. Any mathematician who has been introduced to algebra would immediately execute the procedures necessary to isolate the “i”. Doing so, I determine the answer to be “i < 3 u”. According to mathematical reasoning that is the only true answer, and any mathematician around the world would get the same answer. Mathematics is approached without question or doubt unless another person attempts to solve the problem and arrives at a different answer. At that point, the two mathematicians would closely scrutinize the procedures used by both and eventually, confirm the answer to be “i < 3 u”. No matter where in the world one travels, mathematics is a universal concept. It is a connecting factor for all humans to share knowledge. Different units can be used for the same measurements, but there are always conversions and equations that can be used to determine values for comparison, such as converting a dollar to a Euro or inches to centimeters. Truth in mathematics is approached in a universal manner and concludes that when anyone attempts to add one plus one anywhere in the world, the result would be two.
The arts are approached as a personal truth. When a piece of art is created, it too is often closely examined but may result in various answers. I recently uploaded a photograph to Flickr titled “Nick in a Box”, which depicted my friend huddled in a light box. Personally, it reflected the frustrations students were going through that week. To others, it was merely a student acting foolish. For any piece of work, many interpretations may arise towards the reason for the creation, the meaning conveyed and perhaps even to whom. Art is commonly seen as not having an incorrect answer because its meaning is open to interpretation. In this case, the photograph was a snapshot without any particular intention to be shared with whoever happened to stumble upon it. Those who stumbled upon that photograph would not have known that interpretation and came to their own conclusions. Although the photograph was just a snapshot, mathematics was incorporated through the method of cropping the photograph and analysis of the histogram to present the subject in the most pleasing way possible to the human eye. Nevertheless, if one sees an object as a piece of art,...