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History is one area where individual truth becomes quite apparent as it is an area of knowledge where context is very significant. History can not be proven empirically and, though some facts such as ‘Britain declared war on Germany on September the 3rd 1939’ can be called true as there is considerable evidence to prove them, questions such as ‘who started the Second World War’ are extremely relative and are almost impossible to define absolutely true answers for. Individual truths ranging from polar opposites to small disagreements can exist in History almost directly as a consequence of context being so central.

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Therefore almost any viewpoint is liable to be justified, but only if it can be backed with enough facts. Facts are an aspect of truth which I would define as truths which humans have created or caused and to which context is irrelevant, such as the way we divide time into years and months and days. All units of weight or length, for example, are truths created by humans and it is irrelevant whether they are different in other paradigms as they have been created to function exclusively in our reality.

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If nearly anything can be justified through context, can anything be true? This question leads to the argument of: as individual truth is only true in its context, it can not be considered an absolute and universal truth, The Truth. It is debatable whether a universal Truth exists at all, but if it did, then I would define it as such: a state towards which we strive in all our areas of knowledge, in which all truth is absolute. It is a state which exists, but that we can not reach when what we know is relative to its context.

Even in our reality now, there are trends in our areas of knowledge which might suggest that we are moving towards an absolute truth, even though at the moment we can not reach it. For example in history, there can only exist one true course of events even though different versions will arise. It is hard, if not impossible, to write a history for 6 billion people, but in spite of this, a truth about the real proceedings of our actions will always subsist though we might never reach it.

In ethics, evidence of the existence of a larger Truth can be seen for example in certain moral codes, which are universal, such as do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The fact that some moral values such as this are implemented in most societies could be considered proof of an absolute moral truth. This moral truth could be the result of pragmatism as certain moral values just make life easier. For example murder is often considered wrong and is punishable in almost all societies, as it would be tedious to have to fear for your life constantly.

However, trends in societies’ moral values could also be considered an effect of cultural imperialism, where certain morals are only being implemented globally because they are held by powerful and thus influential societies. The areas of knowledge where a larger Truth is most apparent are mathematics and science. In both these areas of knowledge, individual truths do not exist in the same way as they do in for example history and ethics. However, as was already stated previously, they do not necessarily have absolute truths either as our capacity to understand and our capability to perceive is limited.

Nevertheless, this does not mean that what we do perceive and understand is false and so, as humans and technology develop, who is to say that we could not eventually achieve a complete understanding of the mathematics and science of the universe; a universal mathematical and scientific Truth. If context is all, and everything is relative, then truth can exists in the form of pragmatic individual truths, or as a larger Truth to which we strive, but which we have failed to reach as of yet. However, when do we know that we’ve reached this state of Truth?

There will always be the possibility that our senses have deceived us or our capacity to understand is too limited for us to realize that our perception is flawed. And is it really important to reach this state of Truth? Is it enough for us to have truths which serve our reality and to dismiss that which is perhaps irrelevant for our existence, such as Elliptic or Hyperbolic geometry? Perhaps we should appreciate the diversity and possibility that context dependency provides us with, as the idea of, for example, indisputable moral values seems daunting and even oppressive.

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Kylie Garcia

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