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Is it True that “Everything is True” just means “Nothing is True”?

Does “God is everything” mean “there is no God”?

Does “I love everyone” mean “I love no one”?

Does “It’s all good” mean “nothing is good”?

Maybe!  It could be that we only have words like “true”, “love”, and “God” to pick out certain situations or aspects of reality as worthy of trust, love, faith or worship.  If so that would mean that applying these words globally means nothing is worth picking out as especially worthy of these attitudes.

If this were true one of our requirements of a meaningful speech act is that it runs some risk.   That is, we want to say to the person talking about truth, if there is no chance you are wrong, don’t waste my time.  You need, as they say, to have skin in the game.  You need to run the risk of misleading me for me to bother even considering following you.

Maybe!

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10 thoughts on “Is it True that “Everything is True” just means “Nothing is True”?

  1. N.S. Palmer says:

    A lot depends on the purpose of the speech act. Not all “statements” assert things that correspond to the words they contain. “I love everyone” could assert just what it seems to assert, could be a metaphor for “I am a good person,” or could be simply an expression of good will toward other people.

    You allude to the fact that the wider the definition of a term, the less useful it is for talking about some aspects of the world. I certainly agree. A term that applies to everything is less useful in that sense. However, it could — as with statements about God — be a veiled affirmation of belief in the essential goodness of the universe. In that case, it’s not meant to be useful at the detail level so it’s not a problem.

    For me, at least, all the examples you gave would be not statements but resolutions to live in particular ways suggested by the words used.

  2. People who use blanket statements like that are intellectually lazy. They can’t or won’t make judgements. It is a sign of weakness.

    “It’s all good” means “I’ll take whatever comes from whomever it comes on my back quivering with paws up and neck exposed, while urinating over myself”.

    “God is everything” says one who has given up figuring out the Universe. He won’t make a good physicist.

    “I love everyone” says you’d rather deny than discover and fight evil. Comforting chemicals course through your cerebral cortex until a threat comes, then you’re not ready. Good. Another weak mind bites the dust leaving stronger minds to thrive and own the Earth. The cutting edge of Natural Selection. It’s a beautiful thing!

    “Everything is true” – the cop-out of cop-outs. Though given the set of all extant perspectives, everything could be perceived as true. Even “my dog is Jesus Christ”, or “the Universe continues to expand at an accelerating rate because God died of His pity for Man before He could stabilize the expansion.”

    “Verily, I advise you: depart from me, and guard yourselves against Zarathustra! And better still: be ashamed of him! Perhaps he has misled you.”

    Friedrich Nietzsche : Thus Spoke Zarathustra / The Bestowing Virtue

      • N.S. Palmer says:

        I lost the paperwork a long time ago, but I’ll be happy to sell you the earth for only $9.99. If you call by midnight tomorrow, I’ll throw in a blender. 🙂

  3. One would have to be able be sentient and be intelligent enough to perceive the Earth as a value in order to begin to want to own it. And, as always, might is right. Who owns the Earth now? I don’t. Do you?

    • Nobody owns the Earth — it’s not the sort of thing that you can own. Strong nuclear force has more might than weak nuclear force, which in turn has more might than e-m, which in turn has more might than gravity. But that doesn’t make these forces more or less “right”, does it? Seems we have crossed our wires here somewhere, not sure where…

      • I would argue that whomever feels he owns the Earth actually owns it: those in power, in government and business and both. My question “do you own the Earth” should be interpreted as “do you feel powerful?” I feel utterly impotent (not sexually), vulnerable, hopeless. All of the power is concentrated in monolithic structures at the base of which I stand peering up with envy! I am a slave who is afforded the opportunity to select from between two masters periodically. Will the intelligent ever own the Earth? The Earth is owned now by the merely clever, who exploit the intelligent to enhance their power.

  4. Mikey says:

    There seems to be a difference in the emphasis. Does “Everything tastes of pain” mean the same as “Nothing tastes of pain”? I reckon they’re similar to “I love no one” and “I love everyone”.

    • good point! although if somebody always thought everything tasted of pain, would you worry that he means something different? Some people have told me they have a high-pain threshold. They obviously mean something other than that they just are insensitive — they mean they feel the pain but they are macho enough to take it. But how do they know? Is there such a thing as a low pleasure threshold?

      • Mikey says:

        That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that, but I have a quite high pain threshold and a quite low pleasure threshold. I guess I’m just insensitive. That makes sense.

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