I hope this is the right section to post this in. I come here with both and ax to grind and hopefully to seek instructions on how it should be ground. But I have no background in philosophy and in the past, discussions in this section have gone over my head so please bear with me; if you got this far then I thank and congratulate you for putting up with me.
Often when a person presumes to be making a statement that is absolutely true, or infallibly true, or objectively true, they tag it with an attempted snipe such as, "1 + 1 = 2 no matter what you say it is." Normally I treat these on a case-by-case basis but I've seen two of them just today so I thought I'd come to get you Big Guns of philosophy to help me sort this out.
Actually the statement 1 + 1 = 2 has no meaning at all in binary arithmetic because there is no "2" in binary. A bit (Binary digIT, literally) can only hold values of 1 or 0. And yet binary is by entire dimensions the most common form of arithmetic "done" in the world, being at the basis of nearly all computer math. Scores of binary arithmetic computations are done for each and every character and emoticon I type to appear on the screen, and that's just before I post it.
Now humans, of course, typically think base 10, but I'm a nerd, and a former math teacher so I don't take it for granted we're dealing with the same numbers. Just ask someone who has written a program and gotten octal and decimal mixed up and you'll feel this pain.
I can give examples all over from physics and other disciplines, but here I'm talking grade school math. Or don't they teach number bases in grade school like they used to -- especially binary?
Now, if a person said, "in normal base 10 arithmetic, 2 + 2 = 4" I would have no problem. I'd even give them partial credit for "in normal arithmetic," implying base 10, but to say, "2 + 2 = 4, PERIOD," to me, just proves that the person writing it does not comprehend what absolute means, or at least what it means to me. It tells me they don't know what there is beyond their own understanding, or even that there is something beyond their own understanding. To me, if you wish to tell me something is ALWAYS true, then we had better have agreed on the underlying axioms and assumptions or I might just get defensive feelings. And as we apply absolute statements to theology, we are often talking about marginal, atypical boundaries and extremes or the statements would even come up.
There are a couple reasons this bothers me enough to start this thread:
1.) When someone tells me 1 + 1 is ALWAYS 2, with no conditions, it automatically calls into question any other "absolute sounding" statement they make because I know they are not being careful about stating their assumptions.
2.) When I call someone on this, I end up looking like the schmuck. The one who doesn't believe. The relativist who couldn't get it right even if I cared enough to try. The one who picks and chooses what to believe of the Church Teachings. The one who will argue about anything just for the sake of being contrary and shutting down "real" discussion. These aren't always stated, but that's how it often comes across to me.
Who can help this wretched soul with my grief on this? To me these things are like Kryptonite. It would be like saying "two" and "to" are the same word. Well, they're homonyms; I'll give it that, at least in the language I know.
Yeah, I know 1 and 0 are symbols, too. In computers they could be voltage ranges. Pot calling kettle black? I just can't seem to write anything without disclaimers. :rolleyes: