Cogito ergo Cogito

A Christian once asked me what my fundamental source for ultimate truth was. The answer might be unsatisfying, but it should be there with a little explanation. In logic, truth is defined as that which can be proven not false in every case. This applies well enough in mathematics and computer programming, but how about for reality? The problem with truth is that every case can never be accounted for. Quantum physics specifically denies it.

Consider a particle in your body, and all the aspects of it. It has among other properties energy and location. Upon measuring this particle’s location, accuracy is lost in measuring its energy. This is the uncertainty principle, and it is an observable phenomenon that Einstein could not disprove. For some reason, this lack of truth is built into the very nature of the universe. I could measure the energy of that same particle, but if I wanted to know the location, I would again lose accuracy. If I wanted to know both the momentum and the location of a particle the best I’d be able to do is estimate. I would still be left with a version of the truth based on two separate measurements that have a mutually exclusive precision. So I’m left with a measurable amount of precision, but not the truth.

So, am I saying that truth doesn’t exist? This is aesthetically painful to the human mind, but it is the strongest possibility. Surely a particle has a location, and a certain momentum, but I won’t be able to figure that out because of an aspect of the universe that is not currently understood. So what is my foundation of ultimate truth, if I cannot know the truth of a solitary particle?

This is a universe of measurable precision. When the human mind decides to believe in truth, there’s an amount of error that cannot be escaped. Truth absolutely must exist, and it may be glimpsed by humanity, but it is impossible to see from all sides without distortion.

2 comments to Cogito ergo Cogito