Seeking Wisdom

The search for truth

Philosophers, Socrates among them, have searched for millennia. Scientists too. Mathematicians seem to come the closest, but theirs is a world where they control the fundamental axioms. Life is more complicated than mathematics.

The search for truth is a failing thing.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with knowledge; the precursor of truth. Philosophers ask about the origins of knowledge, the structure of it and how it may be used. They worry about its integrity.

It is a long journey.

It turns out that knowledge is elusive. Take the Earth. Most people agree that it is a sphere, not flat. Observation would point to that. But, it is not exactly a sphere. It is a little flattened at the poles. So, it is an oblate spheroid, but not a perfect one. Mount Everest and the ocean depths at the Marianas Trench make that wrong.

So, what is it? We cannot say exactly. There are no words.

Description does not make an object

That we cannot describe the Earth exactly does not deny the Earth’s existence. It means the way we describe things is limited to practical necessity.

Higher math is not like that. There are theorems that are perfectly describable, but almost no one can communicate their meaning in any way other than the artificial method created to describe the object.

There is another level of truth

What we can say about the Earth. The Earth is a sphere … for practical purposes of daily life. That the Earth is a sphere is not exactly true, but the statement has meaning.

Truth implies certainty

As we saw with the description of the Earth, truth is impossible. Meaning is more flexible. For example, quantum physics is about statistical certainty. A somewhat different idea of certainty. It comes to knowing something will work without knowing the details of causation, or even the details of all the components. Yet your DVD player, and your computer, and your phone, work reliably.

Meaning is what serves as truth day to day.

It does not have to be “true” if it serves our immediate needs. The rounding off of truth is harmless, except when we don’t know enough to notice the round off and its size. When we derive meaning from small samples we have a large round off. The thing might not always work that way. Meaning deals with close enough to work and awareness of the edges..

Apply meaning to financial planning

The search for meaning is an easier goal than truth. It is less rigid and more likely to be observed. Meaning can happen over time, like in the stock market. Yields are fairly stable over long periods. Truth demands instant and continuous truth. Every period observed must be the same. The real world is not like that. More a matter of tendencies.

Demanding “truth” means avoiding the reliable advantage of the stock market. People have emotional conflicts when they fail to notice that meaning is not as precise as truth. Sometimes there is a bad year. That emotion costs.

Continued life is near certain on an hour to hour basis. A house burns down on average once every 273 years. Highly probable continuity is not quite certain, so we should not talk about it as if it is. If the change from expectation would matter, we insure it. Or diversify.

Managing meaning

Meaning allows change. A person can amend their purpose or plan without the conflict of redefining truth. Meaning allows plans to improve.

Meaning is contextual. Given a certain observation, your meaning may be quite different from mine. If you have a cash and want bonds, rising interest rates are good. If I have a lot of debt, rising interest rates are bad. There are no absolutes. Everything is contextual and only meaning can work there.

Nothing is certain in real life.

Truth implies certainty and we all know that is not the way things work. Why then do we demand levels of precision that are impossible, and thus useless?

Meaning, not truth, is the precursor of wisdom and wisdom is what we use to manage our lives most effectively.

Giving up the search for certainty improves the probability of finding meaning and then wisdom. Wisdom makes better choices than truth.

I help business owners and others to use tax efficiencies and design advantages to achieve more efficient income and larger, more liquid estates.

In previous careers, I have been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you. 705-927-4770

One Comment on “Seeking Wisdom

  1. “All we see is perspective…all we hear is opinion…” Marcus Aurilius

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