To What Extent Is Truth Different In Mathematics, The Arts, And Ethics?

1580 words - 6 pages

Humans constantly seek truth, though this is often elusive. To this end, when we seek the truth about the world around us, we are seeking knowledge, and use the Ways of Knowing as the input by which we gain knowledge; we organize it into the Areas of Knowledge to provide a framework for this knowledge. But, it is pertinent to question how truth, what it is and how it is acquired, varies between Areas of Knowledge. How truth differs for a Knower between three Areas of Knowledge, mathematics, the arts, and ethics, is the subject that will be evaluated by this paper.
We can begin to define truth in each area by looking first at truth in mathematics. Mathematics is the application of numeration, and the studying of the properties, relationships, and operations of spatial numerical measurement. Mathematics, thus, approaches truth in a distinct way: it finds truth in the analysis of objective reality, using logic and deduction to find the general principles behind phenomena: the best example of this is a mathematical postulate which describes a phenomenon, and mathematical proofs which confirm it objectively and empirically.
We must then examine truth in art. Art is the application of skill to create unique works which promote the aesthetic tastes and ideas of the artist and stimulate a response in its observers. As art is unique in interpretation to every observer, truth in art is also distinct: it is found in the subjective emotional and critical response it evokes in its observation. For instance, everyone has a different view of a given work of art, as everyone’s emotional responses are distinctive and thus truth in art, the method of the artwork and its meaning, is unique to everyone.
We must now turn to the nature of truth in ethics. Ethics is the examination of morality and moral structures in human societies and the application of these structures to try and promote human well-being. Ethics also finds truth in a way distinct from the other Areas of Knowledge, as ethical decisions are made on the basis of personal experience. Personal experience, in turn, is shaped by the relationship between one’s experience in objective reality and their subjective feelings, for instance, one’s experiences will affect their morality, and one’s feelings are shaped by the nature of human experience itself.
However, these claims must be more closely examined. First, with mathematics, a serious problem arises when we state that truth in mathematics is based on objective reality. Mathematics itself is a complete abstraction—numbers and measurements are just human concepts. How can we possibly say that these are based in objective reality when they are only in our heads? This seems to be confirmed by the presence of “aesthetics” in mathematics: many mathematicians claim the presence of elegance in their proofs, and areas of mathematics like fractals can be shown to have obvious aesthetic qualities. Since we are first imposing an abstraction on reality, and...

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