• ABDEL JALIL Mohammed Ali
  • ABELARD Pierre
  • ABHISHIKTANANDA (Dom Henri Le saulx)
  • ABITEBOUL, Olivier
  • ABU-GYAMFI Maxwell
  • ADAIR Robert O,
  • ADLER, Mortimer
  • ADORNO, Theodore
  • ADU-GYAMFI Maxwell
  • AGRIPPA the sceptic
  • AKBAR Emperor
  • Al KINDI
  • Al RAZI
  • ALBERT Hans
  • ALBERT The Great
  • ALBL Martin
  • ALCOFF Linda Martin
  • ALEAZ K.P.
  • ALEXANDER Samuel
  • ALLEN E.L.
  • ALLEN James
  • Allmyroads
  • ALQUIE Ferdinand
  • ALTHUSSER, Louis
  • ANSELM of Canterbury
  • ANYOL Scott
  • APEL Karl Otto
  • APPIAH Kwame
  • AQUINAS Thomas
  • ARENDT, Hannah
  • ARKOUN Mohammed
  • ARMOUR Leslie
  • ARNAULD Antoine
  • ARTIGAS Mariano
  • ASISH Meera
  • ATTWOOD Jayarava
  • AUDI Robert
  • AUGUSTINE of Hippo
  • AUN WEOR Samael
  • AUROBINDO, Ghose
  • AUTRECOURT Nicholas
  • AVELOO Alain
  • AVENARIUS, Richard
  • AVICENNA (Ibn Sina)
  • AYER A.J.

  • AAGESON James *

    (Contemporary American professor of religion at Concordia College)


    The truth of many biblical statements must be assessed on some basis other than historical correspondence or accuracy.


    A historical correspondence notion of truth is often brought to the reading of biblical material, and it frequently frames questions of biblical truth. If the historical facts are correctly reported, then the text is true. Otherwise, it is false. But this is a very limited understanding of history writing and truth. History has to do with more than data and evidence. It involves the ordering and arrangement of data. It involves the interpretation of data and evidence, as well as judgments about the meaning and significance of the evidence. In other words, history is not a mere report of facts but an interpretive retelling of what happened, what the events mean, and how they are significant. History is how we remember the past, and those remembrances may not always be the same, from person to person or from time to time. It is too simplistic to claim that all notions of historical truth can be reduced to the mere reportage of facts. Being more dynamic than that, history requires that judgments be made about what is more important and what is less so.

    To illustrate the way a historical fact can be invested with meaning and significance, let us think about a specifically Christian claim: Jesus died on a cross for the redemption of the world. This statement contains at least two factual kinds of claims: Jesus died, and he died on a cross. The first of these is hardly subject to debate, whereas the second is not self-evident and the truth of the statement could theoretically be tested according to evidence, assuming evidence is available. But both of these claims are rather mundane to say the least. Not much of significance is at stake in either one. To call the fact of Jesus' death on a cross historical is probably correct but not very unusual. But the claim that Jesus died for the redemption of the world is, on the contrary, a monumental claim. It has the potential to be of enormous significance. It is a religious way of investing a historical fact with meaning and significance. This death was not just any death. Others, too, died on crosses, but this death was special. This one had redemptive significance for the world. Can this claim about Christ's death being redemptive be tested according to factual evidence? Not obviously so. It is difficult to imagine any kind of factual historical evidence that could substantiate this claim. The truth of any assertion regarding Christ's redemptive death would need to be made on some basis other than sheer historical evidence. But the important point to notice is the way a historical claim is shaped in such a way that meaning and significance are attributed to certain historical events. It shows the way purported historical events are fused with theological claims and the way a historical model of truth is highly inadequate to judge the truthfulness of a theological assertion such as this one.

    There are many biblical themes and stories that fit into mythic categories. For illustrative purposes it will be helpful to list a few of these. The claim that God created the world and that human beings have dominion over the created order is mythic. This is a powerful idea but one that may not be subject to empirical verification. It may, however, have truth value. The idea that Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, fell from divine favor, suffered the consequences of toil, pain, and enmity, and forever affected the destiny of human beings is another conspicuous biblical idea. This is a powerful concept that may very well be true but is not subject to empirical verification.

    Assessing biblical truth is complicated and cannot be reduced to a single notion of truth. Multiple levels of meaning and truth can be discovered in biblical material, and the critical reader of the Bible needs sophistication and flexibility in evaluating them.


    * AAGESON James W., In the Beginning: Critical Concepts for the study of the Bible. Boulder: Westview Press, 200



    ABDEL JALIL Mohammed Ali *

    ( Syrian essayist, b. 1973)


    La vérité devient un vecteur de violence dès qu'elle s'absolutise

    L'homme qui affirme haut et fort « posséder » la vérité est un homme dangereux ! Il n'a de cesse de pourfendre l'erreur et de pourchasser les infidèles, les hérétiques et les renégats. L'autre homme qui ne pense pas comme lui est un ennemi. Il se trompe et il doit être détrompé ; s'il refuse de se laisser convaincre, il faut le contraindre. Lorsque la vérité se fige en un savoir dogmatique, elle devient un facteur de division, de conflit, d'exclusion et de violence. Ainsi, la vérité devient inhumaine et meurtrière : l'homme tue au nom de la vérité.

    La vérité de l'homme n'est pas constituée par une doctrine dogmatique qui devient une arme pour aller faire la guerre aux autres hommes. Elle est, d'abord, l'objet d'une quête, l'accueil d'une requête. Elle réside dans une sagesse pratique qui requiert l'intelligence et la volonté pour construire, à travers les conflits eux-mêmes, une relation avec les autres hommes, fondée sur le respect et la bienveillance. Une telle relation exclut toute malveillance, toute violence. Dès que la vérité est conçue et perçue comme une idéologie qui existe extérieurement à l'homme, le rapport que l'individu établit avec la vérité est de même nature que celui qu'il entretient avec un objet. Il la possédera comme on détient une chose qu'on s'est appropriée. Il se considérera comme propriétaire de la vérité et se fera un devoir de la défendre comme on défend une possession. Il n'hésitera pas à recourir à la violence et, le cas échéant, à tuer pour défendre la vérité.

    La vérité n'est pas extérieure à l'homme. Elle se trouve dans la relation vraie de l'homme avec l'autre homme, quel qu'il soit, fut-il un ennemi. Cette vérité se fonde sur la reconnaissance et le respect de l'humanité en tout homme. Elle veut s'affirmer avec l'adversaire et non plus contre lui. En ce sens, la non-violence opère un retournement dans la recherche de la vérité. La vérité de la non-violence s'éprouve, se vit, se construit dans la communauté des hommes. Cette vérité est indissolublement une pensée et une action. La pensée oriente l'action, et l'action met à l'épreuve la rectitude de la pensée.

    Il faut aimer l'humanité plus que la vérité. Cela signifie que la vérité commence par l'amour de l'humanité. L'histoire est là pour attester – et l'expérience le confirme tous les jours – que « la vérité » devient un vecteur de violence dès qu'elle s'absolutise et n'est pas ancrée dans l'exigence de non-violence.


    *See Internet Mohamed Ali ABDEL JALIL membre du comité de rédaction du magazine et de la Maison d'Éditions Maaber (Syrie).




    (Persian head of the Baha’i faith, son of its founder, Baha’u’llah, 1846-1917)


    Abandon all dogmas, seek truth in a spirit of freedom


    The Theosophists are very dear to me, for they have abandoned all prejudice. They do not abide in the confines of dogma, but are seeking truth in a spirit of freedom. All the religions of the world are submerged in prejudice. A Jew is a Jew because his father was before him. A Christian is such for the same reason, and it is the same with a Muslim. All follow the precepts of their fathers, refusing to go forth and seek for themselves.

    We both, Theosophists and Bahais, have abandoned all dogmas in our earnest search for truth. But look at the tribes and nations of the world—why are they seething with contention? Because they are not seeking truth. Truth is one. It admits of absolutely no division and accepts neither limitations nor boundaries. All dogmas differ, hence the nations are opposed. The different dogmas make wars and strifes..

    All the different religions of God that have risen on the face of the earth have one purpose: to educate man and to inform him of the spiritual, the luminous, the divine, so that he may partake of heavenly spirit and find eternal life, show forth the virtues of mankind, and from a world of darkness enter a world of light. There is no other reality of meaning to the different religions. Their purpose is one, the teaching is one.

    All these divisions we see on all sides, all these disputes and opposition, are caused because men cling to ritual and outward observances, and forget the simple, underlying truth. It is the outward practices of religion that are so different, and it is they that cause disputes and enmity--while the reality is always the same, and one. The Reality is the Truth, and truth has no division. Truth is God's guidance, it is the light of the world, it is love, it is mercy. These attributes of truth are also human virtues inspired by the Holy Spirit.


    *Abdul-Baha , address before the Theosophical Society, Liverpool, England, Saturday night, December 14, 1912. -  Abdúl-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 120-1.




    (Contemporary Islamic apologist)


    There is one true religion: Islam All the religions found today in the world are either all false, or that there exists one among them which is the comprehensive Truth; for although various religions do contain similarities, they also have fundamental differences.

    If we were to say that no religion in the world today is correct, then this would entail believing that God is unjust because He left us to wander about on earth in sin and transgression without showing us the right way to do things, and this is impossible for a Just God.  Therefore the only logical conclusion is that there is One True Religion, which contains guidance in all spheres of life, religious, moral, societal, and individual.

    How do we know what this one true religion is? This can only be done by investigation.  If one believes that there is a God, and that God must not have left humans to wander in misguidance, then they must search for the religion and way of life which God revealed.  Furthermore, this religion would not be hidden or hard for humans to find or understand, for that would defeat the purpose of guidance.  Also, the religion must contain the same message throughout time, since we mentioned that everything returns to one absolute truth.  Also, this religion cannot contain any falsities or contradictions, for falseness or contradiction in one matter of the religion proves the falsity of the religion as a whole, since we would then doubt the integrity of its texts.

    There is no other religion which fulfills the conditions mentioned above except for religion of Islam, the religion which is accordance to human nature, the religion which has been preached by all prophets since the dawn of man.  Other religions found today, such as Christianity and Judaism, are the remnants of the religion brought by the prophets in their time, which was Islam. However, over time, they have been altered and lost, and what is left today of these religions is a mix of truth and falsehood.  The only religion which has been preserved and preaches the same message brought by all prophets is the religion of Islam, the one true religion, which rules all sphere’s of humans’ lives, religious, political, societal, and individual, and it is upon all humans to investigate this religion, to ascertain its truth, and to follow it.                                                                                        See Internet Abdulsalam M.



    ABELARD Pierre *

    (Medieval philosopher and theologian, 1070-1142)))

    The first key to wisdom in truth is constant and frequent questioning

    Doubt leads to inquiry, and inquiry leads to the truth

     Nothing singles Abelard out more clearly among the teachers of his time than his intellectual independence. Most of his contemporaries followed St Anselm’s Credo ut Intelligam and accepted unquestioningly the view that in religious matters faith precedes reason.One might seek to justify one’s faith by reason, but preliminary doubt as to what should be the specific articles of one’s faith was inadmissible. With his critical, questioning mind Abelard found a flaw in this position: on many questions of faith the authorities themselves disagreed. In such cases, he felt, how shall we come to any definite belief unless we first reason it out? He held the view that it is by doubting that we are led to inquiry, and by inquiry that we attain the truth. In matters of truth, constant or frequent questioning is the first key to wisdom.

          The new method which Abelard formed for discovering the truth is presented in his most influential and controversial book, Sic et Non,  the “Yes and No.” Abelard maintained that truth must be arrived at by carefully weighing all sides of any issue. In those days, theologians tended to prove their points chiefly by quoting statements from the Church Fathers. In his book, Sic et Non,  Abélard  collected a list of 158 philosophical and theological questions and produced quotations from some Fathers on one side, next to contradictory quotations from other Fathers on the other side. He wanted to point out the foolishness of relying on authorities and showed the most respected theological authorities to be hopelessly at odds with each other.

             Dubitando ad veritatem venimus: it is in doubting, wrote Abélard, that we arrive at the truth.

    * Abélard, Pierre, Sic et  Non, See: Marenbon J. Philosophy of Peter Abelard, Cambridge U.P., 1997


    ABHISHIKTANANDA (Dom Henri Le saulx) *

    (French born Benedictine monk, 1910- 1973)

    The  never fully resolved tension between the  truth claims  of the Hindu  and  Christian religious experiences

        The Hindu advaita experience, which implies the supreme renunciation of oneself and the even more radical renunciation of the divine "Thou" encountered in prayer, seems to run counter to the Christian doctrines of the tripersonal God, creation, and prayer, and would make the double belonging to Christianity and Hinduism problematic if not impossible. Abhishiktananda acutely experienced the antinomy between the Hindu and the Christian conceptions of reality and the painful push-and-pull of his double identity as a ‘Hindu-Christian’ monk. He lived this anguish for nearly 25 years, never fully able to reconcile the two apparently opposing conceptions on the theoretical levels.

        He wanted to show that one can transcend dialogue to a level of "double belongingness," when one can experience the Absolute both according to the Christian and the Hindu tradition without either mixing them up or being able to integrate them. One becomes then a "Hindu-Christian."

        After years of sadhana in India he claimed to have experienced the advaitic oneness with the Absolute. He attempted to reconcile it with his Christian experience of the Trinity; however, he did not seem to have succeeded. It seems that at the end of his life he accepted both the experiences as true, but different. Some of the people who were reading his writings said that he had become a Hindu; others thought that he remained a Christian.

        His inability to reconcile theologically the advaita experience with various Christian doctrines did not diminish his certitude of the reality and validity of his experience. For him multiple religious belonging or double religious identity was  by no means a facile compromise, but rather a painfull feat of intellectual balancing between two opposing worldviews and ways of life. It was a lived drama of tension, never fully resolved on the theoretical level, but affirmed at the existential plane, a continuing quest for harmony amid dissonance, ever elusive, provisional, and unfinished, to be heard fully only on the "Other Shore."

        At the end of is life he counseled acceptance of the unresolvable tension without attempting at harmonizing them: "It is still best, I think, to hold, even in extreme tension, these two forms of a single 'faith,' until the dawn appears."

        It took a long time to Abhishiktananda to  realize what the Anglican bishop and theologian J.A.T. Robinson (see Robinson) had understood after some months spent in India to arrive at a proper evaluation of the religious truth claims of Hinduism and Christianity. The outcome of Robinson’s enquiry convinced him that  ‘truth is two-eyed’.   It is equally wrong, he claimed, to think that a synthesis  of both traditions – Hindu and Christian - in the Hegelian sense is possible. The ‘one-eyed’ approach is necessarily biased. One must adopt the ‘two-eyed’ attitude without attempting to make a synthesis. In fact not a few wise thinkers within their own traditions have shown openness and sensitivity to the pull of the other pole. Robinson suggests that one should  live with both poles, within the tension occasioned by both. The best working model of reality in this case may be elliptical or bi-polar: not one centre but two centres of the same reality . The I-Thou of personal relationhsip  and the Tat-tvam-asi of impersonal relationship do not say the same thing. They should be neither isolated nor fused. There should be neither absorption  and  nor  syncretism  but  the  ‘unitive pluralism’  of an unresolved dialogue.

        Robinson’s ‘Truth is two-eyed’ provides a valuable understanding of  Abhishiktananda’s long life of spiritual unresolved tension between the conflicting  Hindu and Christian truth claims.

    *See The Cave of the Heart: The Life of Swami Abhishiktananda, Shirley du Boulay (Orbis Books, New York 2005)                           


    ABITEBOUL, Olivier *

    (Contemporary French philosopher)

    The paradoxical nature of truth

        The paradox is what is opposed to opinion and shocks common sense. One might think that  paradox means falsehood. But it is a mistake to confuse paradox with sophism. A paradox is not a false reasoning that wants to pass for true. In fact the paradox implies the coexistence of truth and falsehood. It presupposes the impossibility to discriminate between the true and the false. Thus it seems to point at the non-existence of truth. According to the principle of non-contradiction, we cannot have A and non A at the same time. But in the case of a paradox we have the co-existence of both A and non A. The paradox seems to imply that the true is false and that the false is true. Is this an insoluble problem? For Abiteboul, the paradox does not imply the  absence of truth. On the contrary it rather stimulates us to a re-definition of truth. It does not lead to a dead end but to an imperative to a new problematics.

        It is mostly in the field of philosophy that truths present themselves as paradoxical. In so many philosophical topics  it is possible to affirm one thing and its contrary. One example can be taken from the problem of freedom, as Kant has shown. Every human action is at the same time free and not free, the effect of a free causality and a determined effect of a cause, noumenon and phenomenon. This example illustrates  the thesis that truth can be fundamentally paradoxical.

        Abiteboul infers from this that one should abandon the idea of an absolute and univocal truth. The principle of identity and non- contradiction should be superseded in favour of contradictory reason orientated to multiplicity. Objectivity is paradoxically warranted by an essential equivocity; the univocity approach to truth  leads always to partiality and must be dropped.

    * Abiteboul, Olivier, Le Paradoxe Apprivoisé, Paris, Flammarion, 1998


    ABU-GYAMFI Maxwell *

    (Contemporary author from Ghana)


    All doctrines, creeds, dogmas, philosophies and ideologies unsurprisingly collapse, but  the truth will always  stand.


    What is Truth,? There are a considerable number of questions that it seems the human race may never find accurate and satisfying answers to unless God breaks his deafening silence. One of such is paradoxically finding the Truth. In the world as it is now, no one is allowed to claim ownership of Truth, especially in the sphere of Religion.

    People are gradually beginning to accept that there are many versions of Truth - your version, my version and the Truth. So which one is the Truth, my version, or your version? However, in the midst of the thick darkness of uncertainty that humanity finds itself, it is pretty encouraging and inspiring that there is a flickering flame of hope of eventually discovering the truth buried under a mounting heap of ignorance, superstition, speculation and half-truths.

    There is an iota of Truth in every religion that is unevenly hammered and drummed into the conscience of adherents to the point of defending their belief, if necessary, with their lives. That partially explains why there are so many religious beliefs each claiming to have the possession of nothing but the whole truth. However, an impartial and impassioned inquiry by a neutral observer into any Religion would generate acres of revealing material about the sheer inconsistencies, ridiculous manipulations and twisted interpretations of enormous proportions enough to blindfold any adherent into total submission to that faith.

    All religions claim to have the Truth. However, all religions have different beliefs. Even different sects of the same Religion have different versions of what they claim as the Truth. Yet, there is supposed to be only one Truth. Can the Truth really be found? It could be.  If men had successfully shelved their own prejudices, arrogance, pride, selfishness, and self-seeking glory, then the path to the Truth would have been smooth, short and easy.

    The good news is that, the truth has always been with us albeit unrecognizable and difficult to find. The Truth is the greatest treasure to be found on earth. However majority of the world’s population and ironically many elites of the world who have gone to unimaginable extents to seek a special set of knowledge will find nothing until they are hit hard in the face by the fact that what they presumptuously ignored, despised and derided was the Truth.

    The truth stands. Let your quest for the truth be guided by that mantra. When all other institutions, organizations, doctrines, creeds, dogmas, philosophies and ideologies have unsurprisingly collapsed, the truth will stand. The truth is in the heart of the affairs of men. It is what men have long been yearning for.


    See Internet  Maxwell Adu-Gyamfi



    (Indian Jain saint and philosopher, 1920-2010)


    The one truth has infinite aspects


    Truth is eternal. The one who sees truth does not create it; he only explains it. Mahavira was not the founder of truth; he expressed it, he elaborated on it. With long years of penance, he was able to see truth and describe it within the limitations of language. He perceived that truth can be seen, but its entirety cannot be expressed. Explanations can be made of only one part of the truth.

    Mahavira and Buddha, Lao Tze and Confucius were contemporaries, differentiated in time and space. But truth cannot be so differentiated. It is in the same form at all times, at all places. But the one who reads Mahavira’s philosophy is trying to understand truth in a certain fashion, just as the one trying to understand Buddha’s teachings is perceiving it in another manner. Students of Lao Tze and Confucius understand truth in the third and fourth manner.

    Truth is one. Since perspectives are many, it is asked: “Is truth real or imaginary? If it is mere illusion, why bother to understand it?” Mahavira contemplated on this seriously. He saw how “partial truth” was imposing itself on the complete truth, and getting mistaken as the whole. To resolve this problem, he established the idea of anekanta and announced that all these expressions are not the complete truth but a part of the whole truth.

    The whole truth cannot be expressed. Only part of the truth can be expressed. Words are limited expressions; an entire language can only express a few aspects of truth. No human being in his lifetime can give expression to more than a few thousand aspects of truth.

    Thinking of partial truth as the entire truth, we cannot close the door to the quest for truth. The principle of anekanta has opened, forever and for all, the doors to the quest for truth. If we try to get to the entire truth through partial truth, there can be no greater untruth than this, for truth cannot be understood through its parts. Through its parts, a desire to seek truth may be created, but truth can be realised only through one’s own sadhana or spiritual practice.

    A straight and sincere man does not incline towards Mahavira or anybody else. His mind and heart are empty, a void. He does not insist that what Mahavira has said is the truth and what Lao Tze has said is untruth. He tries to understand Mahavira’s truth in the context of Mahavira’s time, place, expectation and situation. He tries to understand Lao Tze’s truth in the context of his time, place, expectation and situation. And for the realisation of truth, he does his own sadhana.

    All complications that arise in the quest for truth are created by those who see only one aspect. The entire nature of multidimensional truth cannot be established from mere words and texts. Therefore, accept the fact that one truth has infinite aspects.


    *See Internet, site of Jain Shwetambar Terapanth





    ADAIR Robert O, *

    (Contemporary American Baptist pastor)


    For the Christian, the basis of all truth is Scripture and plain reason (Logic).


    The Sophists held that knowledge of the truth is impossible. They were quite similar to contemporary Liberals and Post-Modernists today. But the philosopher Socrates was made to drink the cup of hemlock. Why? Because he told the truth. The Prophets of the Old Testament were persecuted and killed because they proclaimed God's truth. Jesus Christ was crucified because he was the Truth.

    The world can scarcely bear the truth, yet without truth, men and nations die. The desire to suppress truth is suicidal. Truth is indeed the key to it all. What is it and where is it to be found? The basic meaning of the word is "the actual fact" or "that which is so." Absolute truth is pure and simple without variation or mixture of error. Approximately truth, probable truth or relative truth are all derived from absolute truth. If there is no absolute truth there can be nothing probable, relative or approximate.

    There can be only one source of absolute truth, the Christian revelation or, in other words, God. The Bible is the only religious or philosophical book in the world which seriously claims to be the very Word of God and not the opinion or insights of man. The Bible is the only religious book free from mythology, error and contradiction.

    Next to Scripture, the testimony of God who made Heaven and Earth, there is Logic. This is not mere human opinion or something created by imagination but the way the mind of God works. Logic is based on various intuitions of the human mind. In Christian thinking, God created man in his own image and logic is an attribute of God, consequently there is a necessary connection between the way the mind thinks and the ultimate reality, God, the ground of all being.

    For the Christian, the basis of all truth is Scripture and plain reason (Logic).


    * See Internet Adair Robert O.



    (American spiritual teacher, 1939-2008)

                                                                                                                                                                                 Truth Is Self-Evident As Reality Itself or “It”. All religions are inherently false.


    In Truth, and in Reality, Only Real (Acausal) God is "It". Only That Which Is,  God — which Is Reality Itself — is "It". Real (Acausal) God is not a myth. Real (Acausal) God is not merely an idea. Avatar Adi Da Samraj claims that the Existence of Real (Acausal) God cannot be disproven. And, paradoxically, the Existence of Real (Acausal) God cannot even be proven. Rather, the Existence of Real (Acausal) God is Self-Evident, or Self-Affirming and Self-Authenticating — because Reality Itself is Inherently The Case, Inherently True, and Inherently Divine.

    Conventional "religion" fails to turn people to the Realization of That to which it points — and, therefore, conventional "religion" is inherently false. That is a "radical" message — but it is the fundamental message that is relevant to the issues of "religion" in present time. The "ecumenical" message is not "It". It is essential to go beyond "religion" — to that to which "religion" points.

    No form of conventional "religion" is "It" — and, indeed, conventional "religion" never was "It". However, the human misuse of "religious" possibility is purposed to make "religion" seem to be "It" — and even, in the centuries since the Western Renaissance, to make humanity (in and of itself) seem to be "It". In Truth, and in Reality, humanity is not "It".

    Right "religious" practice is simply a Call to the Divine Condition that is Reality Itself. That is the Only Truth in right "religious" practice. Indeed, the Divine Condition that Is Reality Itself is the Only Truth in life altogether. Everything else is mummery, everything else is false.

    In this sense, writes Adi Da,” I am not in the slightest "religious". I do not "believe" anything. The Prior renunciation (or intrinsic transcending) of all mere belief is the basis on which I have always lived — and the basis on which I have done all of My Divine Avataric Work.”


    * See Internet Adi Da samraj


    ADLER, Mortimer *

    (American philosopher, 1902-2001)

    The Pluralism of logical and factual truths is not tolerable. Truth is not only descriptive, but also prescriptive.

      1. Pluralism is tolerable, or even desirable, in all areas that are matters of taste rather than matters of truth. Pluralism has always existed in the field of social manners, cultures, artistic styles, etc. In these areas individuals and communities are free  in expressing and acting on preferences and tastes. Such matters belong to the sphere of the voluntary.

        But with regard to matters that belong to the sphere of the intellect, that is, matters involving truth, not taste, pluralism is intolerable. One can differ in matters of taste but not in matters of truth. In questions of truth, unity is required and pluralism is out of place. This applies to judgments about questions of value as well as judgments in the sphere of mathematics and empirical sciences. In these areas the principle of non-contradiction is an essential part of the conception of truth. To affirm the unity of truth is to deny that two separate and irreconcilable truths can coexist.  

        Another way of assigning certain matters to the sphere of truth and certain matters to the sphere of taste is to make the distinction between the “cultural” and the “transcultural”. Anything transcultural is in the sphere of truth: technology, mathematics, science, ethics in which the criteria of truth and falsity apply. On the contrary  anything cultural is in the sphere of taste in which the criteria of truth and falsity do not apply. Matters of culture are matters of taste and not of truth. What about philosophy and religion? Are they cultural or transcultural phenomena? Philosophy, at present, is not transcultural but its aim is certainly to become transcultural. Philosophers who search for truth long for the one universal truth and the overcoming of all differences and opinions. As for religion, it is not transcultural and that leaves open the question whether it should be. Indeed if philosophy and religion are only cultural phenomena, if they are considered as “ a way of life”, then neither can claim to be more that a matter of taste and not a matter of truth. However the fact is that most religions – not all – do not see themselves as merely cultural: not matters of taste only but matters of truth.  

        2. Whereas pluralism is intolerable in the sphere of logical  truth, it is tolerable in the sphere of poetical  truth. Myths, for example, have poetical, not logical, truth and on account of that no myth excludes another myth. All myths can have maximum of diversity without being incompatible with each other. There can be a plurality of poetical truths.

        On the contrary in the realm of discourse where logical and factual truth is to be found, utterances that are contrary or contradictory are incompatible. The truth of one excludes the truth of the other. Pluralism is intolerable. Therefore if the truth of religion wants to be transcultural – that is, if its truth is more than poetical or mythological truth – then the modern view of religious pluralism (advocated mostly by Harvey Cox and Hans Küng) reveals little understanding of the logic  of truth. The attempt to think “ecumenically” about the plurality of religions fails to solve the problem of truth in religion. If one agrees to say that all religions are true and so advocates the theory of pluralism of religious truths, the reason is because one fails to define truth correctly and allows oneself to use the word “truth” equivocally. It is only in taking religious truths for “poetical” truths that it makes sense to speak of a pluralism of religious truths. If religion is true in the logical and factual sense, there can be  one religious truth and not many.

        As for the criteria of truth in religion, the little that can be said about it, is that religious beliefs or articles of faith cannot be established as true by the ordinary use of rational arguments and amassing of evidence. The difference between religious truths and all other kinds of truth is that they are beyond proof by any empirical or rational means. They are a matter of faith, but one thing is sure: they can be disproved or discredited by being shown to be incompatible with the established truths of science and philosophy. Matters of religious faith cannot be proved but they can be disproved if they contradict what is known with certainty in the other areas of knowledge.

        3. Adler does not want to restrict the definition of truth to descriptive statements. To counter the modern skepticism about moral knowledge, he extends the concept of truth to normative statements. Moral statements are cognitive, they can be true or false.

        Descriptive  truth consists in the agreement or conformity of the mind with reality. In sharp contrast prescriptive  truth consists in the conformity of our appetites with right desire. The moral judgments we make are true if they conform to the right desire, that is, if they prescribe what we ought  to desire.  

        Philosophy, unlike science, claims to have a hold on truth in two different modes: the descriptive mode of 'is' or 'is not'  statements (which it shares with science) and the prescriptive mode of 'ought'  or 'ought not'  statements. The first mode of truth is the correspondence theory of truth, according to which our thinking about reality is true if it agrees with the way things really are or not. The other mode of truth is prescriptive, and it is expressed   in statements that contain the words “ought” or “ought not”. These truths  state the categorical moral obligations that govern the conduct of our lives and the institution of our societies. It is clear that no “ought” question can belong to the realm of science. The modern disciplines of economics, politics and sociology avoid all normative considerations and questions of value. They have become purely descriptive like the natural sciences. They restrict themselves to questions how people behave, individually or socially. They describe  situations but forego all attemps to say how individuals or or social groups  ought  in principle to behave. However our common experience of living and acting with the moral responsibility that it entails manifests the importance and even the primacy of prescriptive over descriptive truth. As a result of excluding the prescriptive character of truth, many contemporary moralists dismiss all ethical or value judgments as noncognitive. They consider them as personal opinions and subjective prejudices, not objective knowledge. For them there is no truth in ethics because they mistakenly reduce truth  to its  descriptive mode.  

        Adler defines prescriptive truth as conformity with right desire. What is right desire?  Right desire is desiring what we ought to desire and that is that which is really good for us. It is a self-evident truth that what we ought  to desire is the really good  for us. This is the one controlling self-evident principle of all ethical reasoning, the only indispensable categorical imperative. Now the ultimate end of human life is that which leaves nothing else to be rightly desired and that ultimate end is “happiness”. Happpiness   functions as the end that ought to control all the right choices we make in the course of living.  

    * Adler, Mortimer,  Truth in Religion, The plurality of religions and the Unity of Truth, USA, 1990, The Four Dimensions of Philosophy,  Collier Books, Macmillan, New  York, 1993, p.29-42,127-131


    ADORNO, Theodore *

    (German philosopher and aesthetic theorist, 19O3-1969)

    Art is not a lie: it holds truth within itself

          Plato’s notion of art as ‘mimesis’ or semblance regards art as an imitation of that which exists. This idea has endured centuries of philosophical inquiries for its acceptance of reality as the basis for all works of art. Once reality is grounded as the measure of truth, art, which copies it, is deemed as a lie – which indeed was Plato’s view. But to accept art as a lie leaves no value to its content in philosophical aspects. It discards all works of art as mere artifacts which  do not serve in any way for the search of truth. But this is contradicted by the fact  that there is a certain quality that makes us  appreciate works of art above all other artifacts  and that quality is  a certain truth. But how can this truth be accounted for? Or what is the truth of art? This is Adorno’s problem.

             The truth which is sought in art is not the “things-as-they-are” truth concept. The truth  which is claimed to be found in art is an enigmatic quality rooted in nature, yet serving as a phenomenon for its own sake and not as a mere copy of nature. Is it the “truth in a lie”, as some (Picasso) have remarked? Adorno resolves this contradiction in terms by exploring the concept of “semblance”(the Platonic mimesis). Adorno wants to overcome the notion of semblance as a lie. He separates art from the truth of its content by claiming that art is autonomous. The autonomy of art achieves the separation of art from the empirical world. Art is a presentation of what is not and thus art becomes an autonomous presentation of this negation of reality, rather than a copy of reality.

             Still Adorno does not want to remove the connection of art to the empirical world – otherwise art would have no bearing any longer with the notion of truth. The difference of artworks from the empirical world, the “semblance” character of artworks, is constituted out of the empirical world and in opposition to it. Art is an autonomous presentation, rather than a re-presentation. By presenting a reality that contradicts our own reality, art creates a conflict: the conflict of the existing non-autonomous world (the empirical reality) with the non-existing autonomous world (the world of art).

             Artworks bear witness that the world itself should be other than it is. By presenting us with a distorted picture, a negation of what is, or an autonomous reality which is not separated from ours but actually contrasts our reality, precisely by virtue of that conflict, art is able to present us with truth both on an empirical level as well as on a metaphysical level.

             1. On the empirical level, art shows us the distinct conflict of our social reality and art’s reality. Our social reality is not free, being consumed by laws and regulations, preoccupied with social recognition and socially accepted  behaviour. Art, on the other hand, is free; it has no boundaries, no rules and no restrictions.

             2. On the metaphysical level, art presents us what we do not usually see. By its autonomy from the empirical world, art has the privilege of exposing a world that cannot exist by any other means.

             The Platonic mimesis or ‘semblance’ is  redeemed by granting semblance its proper meaning.  Semblance, in Adorno’s meaning, does not claim to be a copy of reality; it is the presentation of another reality. Thus art gains back its truth claim and is restored to the philosophical enquiry. Art is accepted as holding truth within itself and is no longer regarded as a lie.

    *  Adorno, Theodore, Aesthetic Theory, Minneapolis, University of Minesota press, 1997


    ADU-GYAMFI Maxwell *

    (Contemporary author from Ghana)


    All doctrines, creeds, dogmas, philosophies and ideologies unsurprisingly collapse, but  the truth will always  stand.


    What is Truth,? There are a considerable number of questions that it seems the human race may never find accurate and satisfying answers to unless God breaks his deafening silence. One of such is paradoxically finding the Truth. In the world as it is now, no one is allowed to claim ownership of Truth, especially in the sphere of Religion.

    People are gradually beginning to accept that there are many versions of Truth - your version, my version and the Truth. So which one is the Truth, my version, or your version? However, in the midst of the thick darkness of uncertainty that humanity finds itself, it is pretty encouraging and inspiring that there is a flickering flame of hope of eventually discovering the truth buried under a mounting heap of ignorance, superstition, speculation and half-truths.

    There is an iota of Truth in every religion that is unevenly hammered and drummed into the conscience of adherents to the point of defending their belief, if necessary, with their lives. That partially explains why there are so many religious beliefs each claiming to have the possession of nothing but the whole truth. However, an impartial and impassioned inquiry by a neutral observer into any Religion would generate acres of revealing material about the sheer inconsistencies, ridiculous manipulations and twisted interpretations of enormous proportions enough to blindfold any adherent into total submission to that faith.

    All religions claim to have the Truth. However, all religions have different beliefs. Even different sects of the same Religion have different versions of what they claim as the Truth. Yet, there is supposed to be only one Truth. Can the Truth really be found? It could be.  If men had successfully shelved their own prejudices, arrogance, pride, selfishness, and self-seeking glory, then the path to the Truth would have been smooth, short and easy.

    The good news is that, the truth has always been with us albeit unrecognizable and difficult to find. The Truth is the greatest treasure to be found on earth. However majority of the world’s population and ironically many elites of the world who have gone to unimaginable extents to seek a special set of knowledge will find nothing until they are hit hard in the face by the fact that what they presumptuously ignored, despised and derided was the Truth.

    The truth stands. Let your quest for the truth be guided by that mantra. When all other institutions, organizations, doctrines, creeds, dogmas, philosophies and ideologies have unsurprisingly collapsed, the truth will stand. The truth is in the heart of the affairs of men. It is what men have long been yearning for.


    See Internet  Maxwell Adu-Gyamfi



    (Greek skeptical philosopher, 1st c. BC)


    We are not able to know the "truth of things" either by the senses or by any method of reasoning


    Aenesidemus stated that men are not able to know the "truth of things" either by the senses or by any method of reasoning. His most important philosophical accomplishment is thought to be his collection and systematization of skeptical arguments that deny that things can be known by the senses. These arguments are presented in ten tropes: 

    1) A man perceives in a different way than does a beast, for his senses are constructed differently. We cannot regard the human mode of perception as the best, since we know, for example, that the hawk has better eyesight, and the dog has a better olfactory sense. 2) Men differ one from the other not only in appearance but also in character. What is harmful to one is beneficial to another. What seems good to one will seem the opposite to another. No one can decide which man is right. 3) We know things by the different senses. It is hard to distinguish which of the senses better presents the nature of the thing.             4) Perceptions depend upon circumstances. We see one way when we are healthy and in another way when we are sick; one way when we are in motion, another way when at rest; one way when we love, another way when we hate.   5) Our perceptions are also influenced by the conditions in which we perform our observations.6) We never know things in separation, but always in connection with something else. Since no thing occurs in pure form, we do not know the thing's particular individual properties.7) Things possess different properties depending on the quantity in which they occur. For example, a medicine becomes harmful when it is used in excess.   8) We always perceive things from a certain point of view, in view of something, and so our knowledge is always relative and never concerns the essence of things.  9) Things are also judged differently with respect to how frequently they occur. Things that occur more rarely are held to be more precious than things that occur in great quantities and are easy to obtain. For example, gold would lose its value if it could be obtained anywhere.   10) Upbringing, customs and beliefs have an essential influence on the human vision of the world, and for this reason there are essential differences of opinion among men as to what is true and false, good and evil.


    *See Caizzi, Fernanda Decleva (1992), "Aenesidemus and the Academy", The Classical Quarterly 42 : 176–189





    (Contemporary British philosopher )


    Utility is the criterion of Truth: an idea is useful because it is true, and an idea is true because it is useful.


    Pragmatism is a form of radical empiricism. It affirms that experience is the only source of knowledge. Reason alone cannot be a source of knowledge. Knowledge is derived from discernable facts and actions, rather than from logical proofs or abstract, rigid principles. The pragmatic criterion of truth consists in the utility of the belief in satisfying human needs in a social way. Pragmatism agrees with nominalism, in its concern for the particular rather than the universal; with utilitarianism, in emphasizing practical utility; and with positivism, in rejecting speculation upon final causes or ultimate ends.

    Pragmatism is not only a method, but is a theory of truth as well.  According to James, ideas become true to the extent that they help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience. True ideas work when applied to our experience, false ideas do not. Truth is not something abstract. Truth is what we say about ideas that work when we apply them to our experience. False ideas do not help us to meet the demands of experience.

    According to the pragmatic criterion of truth, true ideas have practical value, false ideas do not. True ideas are those that can be validated, corroborated, and verified. False ideas do not withstand this test. Truth is dynamic. The truth of an idea is not a static property inherent in it. Truth is something that happens to an idea.

    Truth emerges from facts, but also adds to facts. Facts are not true or false. Facts simply exist. Ideas may be true or false. True ideas can be verified, directly or indirectly. The importance of verification is that true thoughts are instruments of action. An idea that cannot be verified cannot become a rule for action.

    James's theory presents us with the question of whether the utility of an idea is defined by its truth, or whether the truth of an idea is defined by its utility. Both are correct, according to James's theory.


    *See Internet AERATHEDATHU Joseph.



    (Greek playwright, 5th B.C.)


    In war, truth is the first casualty

    “In war, truth is the first casualty.” The Greek dramatist and playwright Aeschylus noted this in the 5th B.C.

    Deception and propaganda are present in every war. Yet there is a deliberate suspension of disbelief with each new war. In every new war, there is an amnesia that sets in. We always forget that the first thing we kill in every war is the truth, thereby, human dignity. We kill our own humanity first. Why is this so? War is unnatural. War is merely mass murder sanctioned by a state or government. It is unnatural for humans to want to kill other humans. How do you overcome this natural human disinclination to engage in mass murder? The way you do it is with lies and propaganda. Deception, untruth, or lie is needed to launch any war. This is why the first victim of war is the truth.

    Aeschylus’ famous saying that “Truth is  the First Casualty of War” was the subject of a speech delivered by Dr. W. T. Foster, president of Reed College, USA.

    “One of the greatest immoralities of war, said Dr. Foster, is the general conspiracy concommitant with war for the suppression of the truth, or of that part of the truth that does not favor one’s own side. Before the outbreak of hostilities, the conspiracy begins to prevent the telling of the truth when that truth happens to be for the moment contrary to the opinion of the majority, or of the self-constituted majority.

    We have seen the workings of this conspiracy against truth in our own country and the attempts by self-styled patriots to call every person who differs from them unpatriotic and to malign them, bulldoze them and hammer them out of standing for that which they believe to be the truth. The salvation of the human race, the destiny of civilization, depends upon our building up relations between nations on a basis of open truth instead of the present basis of hiding the truth.”


    * See internet Aeschylus



    (Austrian Leopold Fisher, alias Agehanda Bharati, 1923-1990)


    An aesthetic-epicurean viewpoint on truth


        Convictions and beliefs are essential values of every human life.  But they are no proofs of anything. They are not even an indication of the possible truth of what is believed, but they are worthwhile even if they do not imply truth. Truth and belief-conviction are quite different kinds of value; they are independent of each other. Many things are good for us to adopt and it is right for us to follow them, though truth has nothing to do with them.  Truth does not play an important role in our decision to act like this or like that. What counts  solely  is what suits us in the long run, what satisfies us.  This is the Epicurean principle according to which we act  in this way or that way, not because of truth,  tradition  or custom, but simply because it is delightful to act like that.

             Truth about many ‘realities’ such as God or no God, is totally unimportant. The existence of non–existence of such things do not make any difference for me. What is important is that I feel at ease: this is what I call the  aesthetic  postulate.

    * Swami Aghehanda Bharati, The Ochre Robe, garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1970, p.78-82


    AGRIPPA the sceptic *

    (Greek philosopher, first century AD)


    The five grounds to doubt that truth can be known

    Agrippa is regarded as the author of "five grounds of doubt" or tropes (Greek: τρόποι), which are purported to establish the impossibility of certain knowledge to reach the truth. These tropes are given by Sextus Empiricus, who attributes them to Agrippa. The tropes  are:

    - Dissent - The uncertainty of the rules of common life, and of the opinions of philosophers. According to the tropos deriving from dispute, we find that undecidable dissension about the matter proposed has come about both in ordinary life and among philosophers. Because of this we are not able to choose or to rule out anything, and we end up with suspension of judgement.

    - Progress ad infinitum - All proof requires some further proof, and so on to infinity. In the tropos deriving from infinite regress, we say that what is brought forward as a source of conviction for the matter proposed itself needs another such source, which itself needs another, and so ad infinitum, so that we have no point from which to begin to establish anything, and suspension of judgement follows.

    - Relation - All things are changed as their relations become changed, or, as we look upon them from different points of view.  In the tropos deriving from relativity, the existing object appears to be such-and-such relative to the subject judging and to the things observed together with it, but we suspend judgement on what it is like in its nature.

    - Assumption - The truth asserted is merely an hypothesis. We have the tropos from hypothesis when the Dogmatists, being thrown back ad infinitum, begin from something which they do not establish but claim to assume simply and without proof in virtue of a concession.  

     - Circularity - The truth asserted involves a vicious circle. The reciprocal tropos  occurs when what ought to be confirmatory of the object under investigation needs to be made convincing by the object under investigation; then, being unable to take either in order to establish the other, we suspend judgement about both.

    *See Roman era philosophers, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


    AKBAR Emperor *

    (Mughal Emperor of India, 1542-1605)


    Truth should not be confined to one religion : a pluralistic view of religious truth

    Akbar stands distinctively from all other Muslim rulers in his policy towards the religions of his kingdom. His policy of inclusivism, religious tolerance, and inter-religious respect and endeavour towards an empire based on unity and equality led to Jawaharlal Nehru calling him the ‘the Father of Indian Nationalism.’

    The policies of Akbar grew out of more his syncretistic and pluralistic mind than his adherence to any particular religion. One Portuguese Jesuit of the group that Akbar had invited to teach him of Christianity when he was in search of truth reported that the Emperor was not a Muslim; in fact, he was skeptical of all religions and was of the opinion that there was not one religion on earth that was specially instituted by God and that there could be found things in any religion that was inconsistent in its own rationality. The Jesuit also reported that Akbar had found Christianity more interesting than all other religions and that he was close to conversion. He said that there were some in the court who argued that Akbar was a Hindu who worshipped the sun; some believed that he was a Christian, and others that he was starting a whole new religion (Din Ilahi) himself. The Jesuit reporter said that there were differences of opinion even among the subjects: some said he was a Muslim; some, Christian; others, Hindu. The wiser men of understanding, the Jesuit continued, believe that he was neither a Muslim, a Hindu, nor a Christian; and that they only considered him a Muslim who was outwardly interested in gaining the approval of all religions.

    Akbar’s pluralism is also reflected in the impact Zoroastrianism had on him. In 1578, the Zoroastrian scholar Dastur Meherji declared to Akbar the specialties of this Parsee religion. Consequentially, from 1580 onwards Akbar began to worship the Sun and Fire before his subjects and his courtiers began standing up in respect on the lighting of the evening lights. According to Vincent Smith, it was Jainism that influenced Akbar to stop eating meat and to impose a ban on all kinds of animal sacrifice.

    Srivastava considers Akbar to be a true rationalist who carried on his investigation into truth in a scientific spirit by which he concluded that sensible men and abstemious thinkers could be found in all religions and that if some true knowledge was thus everywhere to be found, why should truth be confined to one religion or creed like Islam which was comparatively new and scarcely thousand years old. Akbar rejected the Islamic doctrines of Resurrection and Judgement. He also rejected the doctrine of revelation. On the basis of such rational attempts to understand truth, Akbar took to study of different religions and absorbed several ideas from them.

    Thus, it can be concluded that Akbar’s religious policies of religious freedom and religious tolerance flowed out of his syncretistic, liberal, rational, and pluralistic way of looking at things. His integrative perspective prevented him from siding with any particular community and thus helped him to inculcate in his subjects a spirit of mutual respect and good will. This pluralistic attitude also grew out of his comparative study of the various religions and people as well as his own belief in the power and value of reason in understanding and judgement.


    * See internet AKBAR, Mughal Emperor of India



    Al-FARABI *

    (Turkish Muslim theologian-philosopher, 870- 950)

    All religions are the symbolic expressions of the one universal truth                                                                                                                                                        Al-Farabi, one of the first Muslim commentator of the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle, is known for having subordinated religious revelation to philosophy. He affirmed the primacy of philosophical truth over  religion. Contrary to the beliefs of particular religions,  philosophical truths for him are universal. He envisaged   the ideal of a universal truth or religion of which all the other existing religions would be the symbolic expression.

             He considered that existing religions are the cohesive principles of any society, and just as societies may be corrupt and imperfect, so can religions, and both degrade their members. But the “true” Religion is nothing other than the highest philosophy, known to the individual who has perfected his humanity. Since the average person has not attained this lofty end, the religions that proliferate in the world are images, more or less true, of essential religion. As collection of persuasive arguments and metaphors, each particular religion has its imperfections. Many are helpful, though a few are nefarious. Al-Farabi thought that Islam was close to the true religion of philosophical insight and eternal wisdom, but he admitted that there were others. He refused, however, to name them, for he wanted his point to be understood and avoided engaging in sectarian squabbles.

    * Al Farabi, The Book of Religion, in lectures of Dr Peter Adamson on Arabic Philosophy (see Internet)


    Al-GHAZALI *

    (Islamic mystical theologian, Bagdad, 1058-1111)

    The incoherence of philosophical and theological “truths”:  

    Truth is a divine gift.

        In his autobiography, The Deliverance from Error, the Islamic theologian al-Ghazali tells the story of his lifelong quest for truth. He expresses his disappointment with the  theological doctrines of Islam, whether in its Sunni  or Shiite form. He is even less  impressed by the teachings of philosophers. The use of reason by theologians and philosophers leads more to the divergence of opinions then to the unity of truth. He tells us that the light of truth came to him through divine grace. He highlights his skepticism for the capacity of natural knowledge to reach the truth in a book bearing the significant title of The Incoherence of Philosophers.  In a way, although for different reasons, he anticipates Hume’s skepticism in his understanding of the non-necessary nature of any causal relationship. According to him nature is understood to have no necessary entailments because the world proceeds solely  by the will of God. Through his recourse to the divine will as the explanation of everything he rendered all philosophical investigations redundant.  

             al Ghazali is the advocate of a mystical theology which alone, he claims, can be the path to certainty. He presents himself as a man devoted to certitude and to reach it he does not hesitate to doubt and question everything: inherited traditions, sense knowledge, reason, imagination. Like Descartes, he wants to reach certainty through universal doubt. The divergences of opinions which he has found among  scholars and sects of Islam have deeply shaken his religious convictions. Theology according to him has become the ground of intrigues in which no one is sincerely concerned with the search of truth and every one is prompted by the desire of triumphing over his adversaries through the use of subtle dialectics.  He criticizes not only  speculative theologians but also philosophers who want to use reason as a criterion of truth. Finally he rejects  the view of those who claim to have access to the hidden truth of  scriptures through an imäm or a so-called divinely inspired master. Certitude, for al-Ghazali, can only come from the intuitive personal experience of mystical knowledge, obtained through a serious and attentive reading of the Koran.

             Later in Muslim Spain Averroes took the opposite course in  defending the value of the philosophical search for truth in his writing on  The Incoherence of Incoherence, a book directed against al-Ghazali’s fideistic  approach.  

    * al-Ghazali, The Incoherence of Philosophers, in Cambridge Dictionnary of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, 1995, p.21


    AL-MA' ARRI *

    (Syrian-Arab poet and philosopher, 973-1058)


    Religions are fables invented by the ancients: only reason  provides a guide to truth


    Al-Maʿarri was skeptic in his beliefs and denounced superstition and dogmatism in religion. Thus, he has been described as a pessimistic freethinker. One of the recurring themes of his philosophy was the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.

    He taught that religion was a "fable invented by the ancients," worthless except for those who exploit the credulous masses. “Do not suppose the statements of the prophets to be true; they are all fabrications. Men lived comfortably till they came and spoiled life. The sacred books are only such a set of idle tales as any age could have and indeed did actually produce.”

    Al-Maʿarri criticized many of the dogmas of Islam, such as the Hajj, which he called, "a heathen’s journey." He rejected claims of any divine revelation. His creed was that of a philosopher and ascetic, for whom reason provides a moral guide, and virtue is its own reward. His religious skepticism and positively antireligious views are expressed in a poem which states "The inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains."


    *  See G. Brackenbury (trans.), Risalat ul Ghufran, a Divine Comedy, 1943.



    (Persian philosopher, 1154-1191)

    Illumination philosophy: intuitive knowledge provides access to a priori truths

    The complete and perfect witnessing of truth is reached, according to al-Suhrawardi, in the state of "illumination". "Illumination" is the central concept of al-Suhrawardi's philosophy. It signifies direct irradiation of the soul by superior, metaphysical lights. The soul itself is a light that has descended from the world of light" into the "world of darkness" and is yet impotent to return to its original abode. This congeneity of human soul and the highest principles of being constitutes the ontological foundation for the possibility of such irradiation. Illumination discloses the truth immediately and needs no verification

        For Suhrawardi, real knowledge is based on this immediate and intuitive knowledge. Whereas the Peripatetics had extolled intellection, Suhrawardi brings direct intuition or mystical contemplation to the forefront, as an alternative, albeit more reliable, foundation of certainty. Intuitive knowledge provides access to a priori truths of which discursive knowledge can only be subsequently validated through a posteriori demonstrations.

        In his Philosophy of Illumination, he states that “anything in existence that requires no definition or explanation is evident. Since there is nothing more evident than light, there is nothing less in need of definition”, thereby establishing the centrality of the concept of light for his Illuminationist ontology and epistemology. Suhrawardi argues that only direct intuitive experience can lead to knowledge of the reality  of things, which definitions can only attempt to describe and explain via a posteriori rational investigations or demonstrations.

        The object of perception — light — cannot be known discursively, but only through an immediate presence or awareness of its luminosity. Mystical vision and contemplation operate through this intuitive process of knowing metaphysical lights. Individuals achieve such states through spiritual and ascetic practices that enable them to detach themselves from the darkness of the world in their quest for the apperception of those lights. Intuitive knowledge thus constitutes a superior means of accessing the luminous reality and the divine realm of metaphysical truths.

    *See Amin Razavi, M. (1997) Suhrawardi and the School of Illumination, Richmond: Curzon.


    Al AFGHANI *

    ( Persian Islamic modernist and political thinker, 1838-1897)

    Religion is an obstacle to philosophical and scientific truths

    On the question of religion being an obstacle for the development of science and philosophy, Afghani basically agreed with Renan that all religions are intolerant in one way or another and that they suppress the free investigation of scientific and philosophical truth. Even though Afghani asserts that religions have played a vital role in bringing humanity from barbarism and myths to the level of advanced civilizations, both Islam and Christianity have turned against the free use of reason and thus stifled scientific progress at some point in their history.

        The claims of religion and philosophy, Afghani argues, are irreconcilable, and this is true across the religious boundaries whether we are talking about Islam, Christianity or Hinduism. Religious faith is based on dogma whereas philosophy demands free investigation, not bounded or aided by the revelation, to find the truth. The clash between the two, says Afghani, is an ineluctable part of human history.

        Religions, by whatever names they are called, all resemble each other. No agreement and no reconciliation are possible between these religions and philosophy. Religion imposes on man its faith and its belief whereas philosophy frees him of it totally or in part.  Whenever religion will have the upper hand, it will eliminate philosophy; and the contrary happens when it is philosophy that reigns as sovereign mistress. So long as humanity exists, the struggle will not cease between dogma and free investigation, between religion and philosophy: a desperate struggle in which,   the triumph will not be for free thought, because the masses dislike reason, and its teachings are only understood by some intelligences of the elite, and because, also, science, however beautiful it is, does not completely satisfy humanity, which thirsts for the ideal and which likes to exist in dark and distant regions that the philosophers and scholars can neither perceive nor explore.

        Afghani objected to dividing science into European and Muslim. He said modern science as universal, transcending nations, cultures and religion. Afghani criticised the Muslim scholars for not seeing it that way by saying: "The strangest thing of all is that our ulema these days have divided science into two parts. One they call Muslim science, and one European science. Because of this they forbid others to teach some of the useful sciences."

        Afghani was indignant that natural science was left out of the curriculum of Muslim educational establishments. He said: 'Those who imagine that they are saving religion by imposing a ban on some sciences and knowledge, are enemies of religion.' In an article, 'The Benefits of Study and Education", Afghani said that the misery in the Eastern countries was due to their ignoring "the noble and important role of the scientists".

    * See Niki Keddie, Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani : A Political Biography, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1972.



    Al BIRUNI *

    (Uzbek born Persian  Muslim scientist and philosopher, 973-1048)

    Plea for a genuine willingness to see truth and value in other cultures.

        For ten years in India, as chief advisor and astronomer to Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna,  the Uzbek astronomer Al-Biruni was in a prime position to see not only the movements of the stars but also the rise of attitudes that stood in the way of tolerance. From a position of eminence and renown as an astronomer, Al-Biruni challenged some of the acts of intolerance and carnage carried out in the name of Islam. In particular, he decried the sultan's attacks on the fine arts and culture of the Hindus.

        A prolific poet, philosopher, historian and mathematician in his own right, Al-Biruni also searched tirelessly for that elusive discipline: mutual understanding. He absorbed and paid due recognition to the scientific and cultural developments made by people of other cultures, to this end he was a keen student of Sanskrit and Hindu astronomy.

        Al Biruni was of the view that whatever the subject one should use every available source in its original form, investigate the available work with objective scrutiny, and carry out research through direct observation and experimentation.

        His work as a comparative religionist is rated high on the scale of his total scholarly output primarily because of his book India. In it he not only distances himself from his warlike patron, Mahmūd, for whose brutality he expresses barely veiled contempt, but he also attempts to understand what it was that made Indians think as they did; he prejudges neither the truth nor the falsehood of their religious beliefs and ritual practices.

        Al-Bīrūnī is an objective scholar, assiduous in research, critical in the scrutiny of traditions and texts, precise and conscientious in statement, frequently admitting his ignorance, and promising to pursue his inquiries till the truth should emerge . He strictly followed the holy injunction to "speak the truth, even if it were against yourselves ." In one of his books, he wrote: "We must clear our minds . . . from all causes that blind people to the truth –old custom, party spirit, personal rivalry or passion, the desire for influence." He also stuck by the principle, that it is crucial to obtain information from primary source rather than secondary sources. A prerequisite for a scholar was that he ought to be free from all bias and prejudices, selfish interests, ideas of profiteering and from the complexes of a conqueror. A historian should free himself from all such associations and drawbacks which inhibit him from observing the truth.

        His approach to the study of religious traditions presupposes a genuine willingness to see truth and value in other cultures, without being forced to insist that there are universal truths in all religious traditions or, like a radical pluralist, that all cultures are equally valid in their religious and social expressions. Rather, what Al-Biruni seems to be arguing is that there is a common human element in every culture that makes all cultures distant relatives, however foreign they might seem one to another.

        Al-Biruni’s method is phenomenological. “My book is nothing but a simple historic record of facts. I shall place before the reader the theories of the Hindus exactly as they are.” He attempts to understand the Hindu culture in its own terms, letting the subject matter  speak for itself. The concern to record facts as they are, without any prejudgments, is one of the most significant aspects of  his methodology.

    * See Scheppler, Bill , Al-Biruni: Master Astronomer and Muslim Scholar of the Eleventh Century, The Rosen Publishing Group, 2006



    Al HALLAJ *

    (Iranian Sufi Master, 858-922)

    See SUFISM


    Al KINDI *

    (Iraqi Muslim philosopher, 801-866)

    The truths of religion and philosophy are in accord

    Al - Kindi defined the word Falsafah as "Knowledge of things as they are in reality, according to human capacity". "Truth, he claimed, is universal and supreme, and the truths of religion and philosophy are in accord." In an effort to placate those theologians who viewed the aims of philosophy as essentially opposed to the dictates of faith and revelation, Al- Kindi proposed that the holy scriptures be looked upon as allegories that can guide the thoughts of men of reason.

        He argued that revelation was intended for all men and that it offers ample truth to all men in accordance with their abilities to perceive and understand. The masses, he insisted, were given the gift of faith. The elite, the educated, were given intellect to expand upon the words of revelation by applying logic and reason.

        According to Al-Kindi, Philosophy is 'the establishment of what is true and right'. He believed that the pursuit of philosophy is compatible with orthodox Islam. He said: "We ought not to be embarrassed of appreciating the truth and of obtaining it wherever it comes from, even if it comes from races distant and nations different from us. Nothing should be dearer to the seeker of truth than the truth itself, and there is no deterioration of the truth, nor belittling either of one who speaks it or conveys it."

        In the view of al-Kindi, prophecy and philosophy are two different routes to arrive at the truth. The content of the prophet's and the philosopher's knowledge is the same.    

        However it is important to mention that al-Kindi adopted a naturalistic view of prophetic visions. He argued that, through the faculty of "imagination" as conceived of in Aristotelian philosophy, certain "pure" and well-prepared souls, were able to receive information about future events. Significantly, he did not attribute such visions or dreams to revelation from God, but instead explained that imagination enables human beings to receive the "form" of something without needing to perceive the physical entity to which it refers. Therefore, it would seem to imply that anyone who has purified himself would be able to receive such visions.  This idea, amongst other naturalistic explanations of prophetic miracles, was vehemently attacked by al-Ghazali in his Incoherence of the Philosophers.

    * See George N. Atiyeh, Al-Kindi: Philosopher of the Arabs, Rawalpinidi: Islamic Research Institute, 1966



    Al RAZI *

    (Iranian medical scientist and philosopher, 865-925)

    Religions have choked the truth and fostered violence

        Al Razi is known as one of the most free-thinking of the major philosophers of Islam. Agnostic rationalist he was also a great medical practitioner. His motto was that “no one is above criticism”. He affirmed the equality of human beings, and the superiority of reason on blind faith. He denounced the prophets of all times who pretend the be the only  possessors of the truth. He attacked the Koran and qualified it as a pile of absurd fabulations. For him religions are the main cause of all the bloody wars that have ravaged humanity. Religions are hostile to philosophical speculations; their scriptures have done more harm than good whereas Greek philosophical writings have rendered immense service to humanity. Religions have choked the truth and fostered violence. Al Razi was particularly critical of those religions that claim to have been revealed by prophetic experiences.

        He deplored  the lack of interest among religious adherents for the rational analysis of their beliefs, and the violent reaction which takes its place: “If the people of this religion are asked about the proof for the soundness of their religion, they flare up, get angry and spill the blood of whoever confronts them with this question. They forbid rational speculation, and strive to kill their adversaries. This is why truth became thoroughly silenced and concealed.”   

         Al-Razi believed that common people had originally been duped into belief by religious authority figures and by the status quo of traditions. It was evident to him   that the existence of a large variety of religions was, in itself, evidence that they were all man made.

    * See Internet , Al Razi


    ALAIN *

    (Emile Chartier, French Philosopher, 1868-1951)

    The truths expressed in concepts and judgments last only a moment. “Stable truths” are a distortion of a reality that is always on the move.

          1. It is common to consider truth as the correspondence of mind with reality. Now the mind  produces concepts, ideas, judgments and theories which are all stable. But reality is ever in a flux; it is on the move and changing. It follows that what we express in words as corresponding to the real is true only for a moment. It is true the moment it is uttered but that moment is already soon past. The concepts and judgments of our language give only stilled photographs which are “true” provided they are dated. Undated stable ideas and judgments are false. Reality changes and evolves, but as soon as we say  it,  it comes to a standstill and thus what we say is no longer the truth understood as correspondence of mind with reality. In a way such a correspondence is impossible because the mind in stabilising the movement of reality distorts it.  

             The truth that follows the real is a historical, constantly evolving truth. The so-called stable truth is no longer related to a reality that invariably forges ahead. One should say that that stable truth was related to a reality that is no more. Consider the situation of a commentator at a horse race:  he must follow the movement of the event, and if he stops his running commentary for a second  he is no longer ‘telling the truth’.

             Unfortunately, people like and trust in the still and motionless reality, in theories, traditions and sacred scriptures written once and for all. They prefer customs to truth. They like stones and photographs. They do not like a truth that changes.  They do not accept that reality exceeds their ideas. But the wise person is never satisfied with ideas; he(she) remains open to the changing reality. He(she) prefers essays to dogmas. He(she) always searches and never recites.

             But scepticism for which there is no truth at all is equally mistaken. In fact there is an abundance of momentary  truths. In a way, everything is true! Even an error is true because there must be some reason why someone uttered it - because he is mad, for instance. But it must be added that truths are never true alone. Every truth admits of its contradiction.   Property may be just or unjust, freedom may be good or bad, etc. Fanaticism consists in sticking to one  truth only.  In the name of the so-called love of truth some are ready to kill others for fear that these others are also  in the truth. But intellectual charity recognizes the truth in every opinion. Everyone is right and there is truth everywhere. The main task is to accord these truths  between each other and find the synthesis that reconciles them.  

        2. Consequently, rather than taking our ideas, judgments and theories for either true or false, one should consider them as useful instruments to know reality gradually,  step by step. They enlighten reality but do not represent it. They are the mechanism of thought; they are never sufficient but never useless as long as one remains aware that their correspondence with reality is only momentary. One should never become the prisoner of ideas but always remain unsatisfied with them. In the name of the so-called love of truth people are often mistaken by precipitation. Truth-seekers are boiling with impatience. They judge too quickly. They stick to their ideas and to the static concept of truth expressed in them. They are embarrassed or too proud to change their mind.  


    * Alain, Propos, Collection La Pléade, Paris, Plon, 1960, p.504, 711,964, 1225-8



    (Spanish Jewish philosopher, 2d half of Xiii c.)

    Philosophic and prophetic truths can contradict each other, but both should be held

        In the composition of his work Albalag made it his main object to counteract the widespread popular prejudice that philosophy was undermining the foundation of religion. For Albalag, religion and philosophy agree on the fundamental principles of all positive religion and they both follow the same aim; namely, to render mankind happy. It is, no doubt, quite true that philosophy, which addresses itself to the individual, differs in its mode of establishing those truths from religion, which appeals to the great masses. Philosophy demonstrates; religion only teaches.

        A follower of Averroes, who accepted such doctrines as the eternity of the world, Albalag has also been described as a proponent of the theory of the "double truth," advocated by Latin Averroists. Like them he distinguished between two coexistent independent truths, philosophic truth and prophetic truth, and he held that the two can contradict one another. However, he does not cite in his work any instance of such contradiction . It seems that his own view on a given topic is always that of philosophy. He maintained that speculative truths are the province of philosophy, not of Scripture. The Torah has as its sole purpose the moral and political guidance of the masses and contains no speculative truths, even by implication. Nevertheless, Albalag offers philosophic interpretations of the Bible; for example, he explained the story of creation in accordance with the doctrine of the eternity of the world. In a somewhat different vein, he states that if philosophic and prophetic truths contradict each other, both should stand, and one should simply say that the prophetic truth is unintelligible.

        In cases where an adjustment is absolutely impossible, Albalag brings forward a very strange solution; namely, that the teaching of the philosopher is true from the speculative standpoint, and at the same time the utterance of Scripture is true from a higher, supernatural point of view — the philosophical mode of knowledge being altogether different from the prophetic. And as the philosopher is only intelligible to his compeers, so the prophet can be understood only by prophets.

    * Isaac Albalag European Jewish philosopher - Britannica online encyclopedia article


    ALBERT Hans *

    (German philosopher, b.1921)

    The impossibility to  prove any certain truth: the 'Munchhausen Trilemma'

        The central thesis of Albert's "Critical Rationalism" is  that there is no field of human activities where one should not be critical. Thus he applied critical rationalism to the social sciences, to economics, politics, jurisprudence, and even religion. He demonstrated the impossibility to prove any certain truth even in the fields of logic and mathematics. In what is called his Munchhausen-Trilemma, he illustrates the hopeless situation to justify all our means to justify any certain truth. Thus Albert considers fallibilism as inevitable, still he does not want to not fall victim to relativism or scepticism.  

             In his "Münchhausen trilemma" Hans Albert  expresses that any attempt to articulate foundations leads "to a situation with three alternatives, all of which appear unacceptable." The trilemma forces one to choose between (1) an infinite regress, because the propositions that serve as a fundament need to be founded themselves; (2) a logical circle that results from the fact that in the process of giving reasons, one has to resort to statements that have already shown themselves to be in need of justification; or (3) breaking off the attempt at a particular point by dogmatically installing a foundation.      In this latter case one can stop at self-evidence or common sense or fundamental principles or anything else, but in doing so the intention to install certain justification is abandoned.  

             Therefore certain justification is impossible at all. Once having given up the classical idea of certain knowing one can stop the process of justification where one wants to stop. Albert's advice is: don't look backwards to the solid basis of your thinking, but look always forward to the consequences. In this way no problem arises to justify this non-justificationalism. However he argues that critical rationalists have to accept that those attempts of rigorous justification  are not senseless, since only as long as alternative methods are without success can critical rationalism be called successful. Albert rejects skepticism while he endorses the fallibilist view that does not imply the need to abandon our knowledge - we needn't have logically conclusive justifications for what we know.  

             Albert admits that because empirical knowledge can be revised by further observation, any of the things we take as knowledge might possibly turn out to be false. Unlike some fallibilists who make an exception for things that are axiomatically true (such as mathematical and logical knowledge), Albert remains fallibilist about these as well, on the basis that, even if these axiomatic systems are in a sense infallible, we are still capable of error when working with these systems.

    * Albert Hans,  Plädoyer für kritischen Rationalismus, Piper Verlag, München 1971.


    ALBERT The Great *

    (German scientist, philosopher and theologian, 1206-1280)


     Philosophy is autonomous, different from theology, but united to it  by the unity of  the truth


     Albert constantly reminds people of the importance of faith and reason and that there is no needed separation between these two. Both reinforce and sustain each other superbly. In fact, one is incomplete without the other and both must work together for either one to function in the best manner.

    He was convinced that everything that is rational is compatible with the faith revealed in sacred Scriptures. He contributed to the formation of an autonomous philosophy, different from theology and united to it only by the unity of the truth.

    Albert is one of the first to have defined the philosophical method : it rests on an evidence obtained by the rational work of connecting every truth to  self evident principles.  The philosophical enquiry is an autonomous search for truth, because the truth revealed to the theologian is not in competition with it as it  stands on a transcendent epistemological level. While communicating to other types of cognition its part of certainty – as it is the source of evidence – philosophy does not supplant them and does not compete with them.

    Albert  endeavoured to make the truths of faith benefit from the lights of reason, in contrast  to the famous – Augustinian - saying : credo ut intelligam. Still he places the fundamental data of revelation outside the domain of reason; ex lumine quidem connaturali non elevatur ad scientiam trinitatis et incarnations et resurrectionis (Summa theolog.; Opera,. t. XVII). Indeed the human soul is able to know naturally only that which  has its principles in itself. For instance, it is not able to know the Trinity. This is Albert’s way to place the truths of faith outside criticism: they are out of reach of philosophical examination, even though in some cases they find confirmation in it.

    Thus was born in the 13th century a clear distinction between these two learnings, philosophy and theology, which, in dialogue between them, cooperate harmoniously in the discovery of the authentic vocation of man, thirsty for truth and blessedness. This is an historical fact of great importance: Albert, because being a theologian, has deliberately emancipated human reason  and its knowledge.


    * See Libera, A. de, 1990, Albert le Grand et la Philosophie, Paris: J. Vrin.





    ALBL Martin *

    (Contemporary Scottish teacher of religion)

                                                                                                                                                                                     All religions are not equally true, equally healthy


    In our pluralistic world, it seems arrogant and intolerant for one religion to claim to be more true than the others, or even to claim that it is “the one true religion.” We usually associate such claims with outdated medieval thinking, or with fanatical terrorist groups. So let's consider a more tolerant position. A fairly common modern belief is that all religions are equal paths to God, and thus it is intolerant and narrow-minded to claim that one religion is “better” or “truer” than another. This position sounds reasonable at first, but if we analyze it more carefully, we'll find some hidden assumptions that are open to question. First, it's rather odd to say that all religions are paths to God, when not all religions even claim to be paths to God. In his original teaching, for example, Buddha did not speak about “God” at all. He taught, rather, that the ultimate goal of existence was to attain Nirvana, a state of enlightenment. In classical Buddhism, one reaches this state of enlightenment by following the eight-fold path (whose main categories are wisdom, morality and meditation). God had nothing to do with the process. In other words, religions, although admittedly sharing many beliefs and practices in common, also differ in profound ways. To oversimplify just a little, Eastern traditions tend to identify the ultimate goal of life (or, in other words, “salvation” from life's suffering and limitations) as losing one's self. In Buddhism, a person attains Nirvana when he or she realizes that there is no permanent “self”- there are only passing emotions and desires. In Hinduism, the ultimate goal is the union between the individual and the Absolute: the self disappears into the Absolute as a drop of water disappears into the ocean. In Christianity, in contrast, the ultimate goal of life, salvation, also involves a union between the human and the Absolute or the divine. But it is a union in which the individuality of each person does not disappear. Quite the opposite: Each saved person becomes more than ever his or her own true self - having become cleansed of all self-deception, sin and limitation.

    The idea that all religions are equal also contradicts the obvious fact that religions can have a “dark side” to them. In the Aztec religion, for example, human sacrifices were offered to the gods. Do we really want to say this is just one of many equal paths to the divine? There are negative elements in every religion. We are familiar with the interpretation of Islam that led the Sept. 11 hijackers to belief that their terrorist act was in service of God. We know that the Christian Spanish government in the time of Columbus gave their Muslim residents the choice to convert to Christianity or to leave the country. But if we simply claim that all religious feeling is a striving toward God, we have no basis for distinguishing between a healthy spirituality and a distorted and corrupted form. Let's consider one more hidden assumption in the claim that all religions are equal. The claim often presumes that, in the end, all religious beliefs are merely subjective opinions. If this is true, then of course it makes no sense to claim that one religion is “truer” than another. When we are discussing opinions only, the question of truth does not arise. But is this assumption accurate? Do we really have no rational basis for distinguishing, for example, between the Christian or Jewish claims about the divine, and the religious claims of David Koresh or Jim Jones? Are these all really equally reasonable and rational ways to God? The ultimate goal of religions - whether it be Nirvana or eternal life in heaven - is something that is beyond rational description. But this does not imply that all religious belief is completely subjective and not open to reasonable discussion and debate. If we wish to avoid the cult mentality of a Jim Jones, we must insist that religious beliefs can be discussed and debated rationally. If we do that, then we also must be open to the conclusion that all religions are not equally true or equally healthy.                                      *Martin Albl, see Internet


    ALCOFF Linda Martin *

    (Contemporary American feminist philosopher)

    A non-idealist  view  of the coherence  theory  of truth.

    Ontological pluralism: many coherent ways to understand reality.

          A coherence theory of truth must not be interpreted, as is often done, as necessarily antirealist, idealist and purely epistemic. Those who hold that truth represents a kind of coherence are usually motivated by the legitimate desire to transcend the usual binary division made between world and thought, a corporeal entity and a mental one. In this binary or dualistic picture truth has been located as a bridge spanning the chasm between two ‘worlds’ and the outcome of this view has been labelled “the spectator or bill-board theory of knowledge”. But when human knowledge and world are separated in this way, any taints of human interpretation must be removed from the world side if one wants to obtain the truth.

             The fact is that it is impossible for human beings to remove all traces of their engaged concern with the world and to attain some sort of God’s eye view. We are not peering through a peephole at the world but are always already in its midst engaged in it in multiple projects. The coherence theory of truth begins precisely  with this metaphysical picture rather than with the binary picture. It offers an ‘immanent’ account of knowledge, against the transcendental account of the binary picture. For coherentism, knowledge is a product of lived (and not purely external) reality. It is not a link to something entirely extrinsic to human existence. Coherentism holds that an understanding of knowledge emerges from immanent relationships in which there is never a clear separation or non-involvement between subject and object, thought and world. Truth for coherentism is immanent to the domain of lived reality, rather than completely transcendent to human practice and content.

             The right concept of truth is not a correspondence relation but the achievement of coherence among the multiple and diverse elements involved in the process  of knowing practices. When the event of knowing comes together, a harmony is achieved and truth occurs. The experience of truth is the experience of pieces falling into place, or the experience of the pattern of the whole emerging from what had been atoms of disparate beliefs. Falsity is experienced as what is incapable of being sustained because of its incoherence. We find an idea or an explanation true and compelling because it makes sense of other things we already believe we know. Alternatively we cannot accept as true an idea or an explanation that conflicts with the many other things we know.

             This coherentist view makes truth both plural and changeable, since it is relative to a context richly conceived. But it does not make truth arbitrary or subjective. The so-called subjective elements of  knowledge are never sufficient to establish the truth.  Truth becomes apparent when beliefs and practices cohere within and refer to a lived reality. Truth claims take into account the ontological dimension of reality.  

             Does the coherence theory of truth lead to relativism? The coherence theory must commit one to some degree of relativism since coherence can be realized in more than one way. It implies some sort of conceptual relativism which admits that the variety of possible conceptual models are understood as expressions of the multiple possibilities inherent in the world itself. Ontological absolutism – which claims that there is only one objective way to understand reality - must be rejected.  On the contrary the fact of multiple possibilities of interpretations does not entail that one fails to attain the truth. It is only the sign that the truth of the world itself is rich enough to admit of more than one conceptual expression. Ontological pluralism must be substituted to ontological absolutism provided that this view does not commit one to the idealist notion that reality is a construction of the human mind. The world we know admits of more than one ontology, not because we can interpret it in various ways but because we are related to the world in a variety of specific locations, and with a variety of specific projects. There are many ways to look at the world and understand it. Not only one way is the truth about it, there may be many coherent ways.

    *  Alcoff, L.M., The Case for Coherence, in Lynch, M.P., The Nature of truth, Bradford Books, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2001, p. 159-182


    ALEAZ K.P. *

    (Contemporary Indian Christian theologian)   


    The Pluralistic Inclusivism of religious truths                                                                                                                  For Aleaz,  the classical interpretations of theology of religions in terms of exclusivism, inclusivism and pluralism are not sufficient to explain our religious experience and personal knowledge. Therefore, he advanced the theory of Pluralistic Inclusivism. By this he rejected exlusivism completely but found some meaning in bringing together inclusivism and pluralism. He found that inclusivism can be camouflaged as exclusivism, therefore, he was more inclined to see himself as a pluralist. Since classical pluralism, as it is interpreted by its major proponents like John Hick , which claims that everything is legitimate and true as expressions of truth, cannot withstand the test of experience it prompts one to accept what Aleaz has attempted in terms of Pluralistic Inclusivism. In this approach one can get rid of the arrogance implied in inclusivism, the idea that what we believe is capable of accepting all truths everywhere and therefore can escape the slushy state of pluralism, where nothing is solid and authoritative, as truth becomes evasive and a useless piece of argument . In Pluralistic Inclusivism one can arrive at one's own particular understanding of truth and take a particular standpoint, as in the Istadevata concept of Hinduism where one is free to accept a personal deity without denying other deities and thus make our perception of truth meaningful and usable.

    Aleaz’s Pluralistic Inclusivism is capable of absorbing the merits of both pluralism and inclusivism and it can reject what is not acceptable to our preference of truth interpretation, which is not possible either in pure pluralistic or inclusivistic positions. Pluralistic Inclusivism thus opens the doors to other ways of knowing truth, with the right to accept or reject, avoiding the ambiguity of pluralism and arrogance of inclusivism and exclusivism. As Aleaz views it, Pluralistic Inclusivism allows religions or cultures to draw from one another and enrich one another. It aims at making one pluralistic as well as inclusivistic simultaneously. A pluralistic inclusivist is not more than a pluralist. However, the merit of Pluralistic Inclusivism is that it invites us to see the limitations of pluralism as a theological position. Plurality cannot be reduced to pluralism as pluralism cannot account for contradictions, that is, it cannot accept a theory that rejects the theory of pluralism. Pluralistic Inclusivism needs a postmodernist framework in order to achieve what it wants to achieve, namely harmony of religions.

    There is no objectively existing datum that can be called religion -- there is no “true religion” as such. Neither are we able to discover truth. We only become real only in relation between objectivity and subjectivity. Since we cannot understand ourselves or others wholly we must focus on what we are made for—relationship. So the encounter with other religions must focus on the relational aspects of the encounter, not in search for authoritativeness but for self-understanding. The relational character of human existence, the network of existence, need to be the common ground between people, defined by way of religions, ethnicity, race, language or gender.

    The world is what we make. Truth is what we accept. Faith is what we believe. Search for absolute truth leads to totalitarianism and fundamentalism, intolerance and disharmony. What we need to learn is to let others live as we live. Accept the other as neighbour. Coexistence is the ethics of plurality. Coexistence need to be extended to the plurality of religions.


    * K.P.Aleas,  Some Indian Theological Reflections (1st Edition)- January 2007



    ALEXANDER Samuel *

    (Australian b. British philosopher, 1850-1938)

    Truth  is the progressive revelation of reality to the minds which know it.

            Truth is different from reality, it is  the possession of reality by a standard mind, it is possible for it to vary and grow obsolete or even to become a falsehood. Hence we should say that a theory may be true for one generation and false for the next.   But since reality includes far more than that by which each generation is affected, we must say that a theory remains true within the range of facts available to minds in any particular generation, even though, for a later one, it becomes obsolete or even false. 

        We must keep in mind that both truth and error are products of the mind’s responses to reality.  It is the case that, insofar as more reality reveals itself, what was formerly true may become error.  “Error is always partial truth and truth may contain the seeds of error.”  But, such truth is determined by the reality contemplated, which is to say, by the amount of reality revealed.

        Truth is  the ever-increasing adaptation of minds to the reality which they know. It is the progressive revelation of reality to the minds which know it. Hence, neither truth nor reality may be spoken of in terms of degrees, because truth is true within the coherence of the perspectives of the revealed reality.  Nor are there degrees in the truth of knowledge.  We may, however, speak of the range or perfection of true knowledge insofar as there is more or a fuller knowledge.

        For example the Copernican theory of the solar system is no “truer” than the Ptolomaic theory.  However, the former is fuller; it is a greater revelation of reality; that is not to say, a complete revelation.  It renders the latter less complete than it is, revealing the lesser extent of the truth of the Ptolomaic theory.   In some sense, it can be said to be “false.” 

        As knowledge grows life may be revealed more fully, and propositions true for the older revelation may need to be readjusted for the fuller one. The once true proposition may turn out even to be erroneous for the newer knowledge, while it remains true and real as such within the narrower range of ancient revealed fact. Thus truth is at once eternal and progressive. ‘Once true always true,' so long as the range of facts is restricted as before. But truth varies and grows obsolete or even turns to falsehood. Hence a theory may be true for one generation and false for the next. Yet it remains true for the range of facts open to the minds of the earlier generation. This is possible because truth is different from reality and implies possession by a standard mind. Reality determines what is true, but reality includes more than that part of it which affects any one generation.

        The only propositions which are true and cannot change are those which embody categorial characters, as that ‘every event has a cause’. Even mathematical propositions since they are concerned with empirical determinations of space and time may be subject to error because of the defects to which our intuitions are subjected. Truth is thus the ever-increasing adaptation of minds to the reality which they know, which is the same thing as to say it is the progressive revelation of reality to the minds which know it.

    * Alexander Samuel, Space, Time, and Deity (1920), Macmillan & Co., reprinted 1966 by Dover Publications, reprinted 2004 by Kessinger Publications       


    ALI SINA *

     (Pseudonym of the founder of ‘Faith Freedom International’, a contemporary secularist website with critiques of Islam)


    Democracy is not for finding truth, but it is in democracy you have the best chance to  reach it.


    Voting does not make a proposition true or false. Voting  is a civilized way for conflict resolution. We could also throw a coin for that matter. But voting is a smarter way. The majority is not always right. That is why in democracies people continue to vote every four years.  Voting is not about finding the truth. It is about what to do without having to resort to force and cut each other's throat.

    Truth cannot be determined by polling and through universal consensus. Truth must be found through logics, science and research. 

    Democracy is for governance not for finding the truth. Democracy is devised to avoid conflicts. Wise people decided that instead of rioting, making revolutions and killing each other, it is better to vote every four years and let people choose their government, and change it if they don't like it after four years. We vote for the government not for the truth. Who said truth must be sacrificed in order to have democracy? Democracy and finding the truth are two different subjects. Both of them are important, but they are not related.  They do not even overlap. So why should one sacrifice the truth in order to achieve democracy? 

    In democracies, revolution happens every four years. That is done through voting and no blood is shed. Which system is better?  Democracy is about governance not truth. But incidentally truth is far more protected in democracies than in dictatorships. Truth can manifest through the clash of opposing ideas. In a place where thoughts and opposing ideas are suppressed, truth can never manifest. 

    Truth and falsehood cannot be determined in a poll. If in an Islamic country you ask people to decide which religion is true, of course the majority would say Islam. But Islam is false even if all humanity vote for it. To decide whether Islam is true or not, we must evaluate it with logic, science and commonsense. It is under this litmus test that Islam fails. Majority can't decide what is the truth. That would be argumentum ad numerum. which is a logical fallacy.  

    Laws have nothing to do with truth or falsehood. We make laws because they are useful and reduce human friction/conflict. We change them when they outwear their utility. As the society changes, so should the laws governing it.

    In democracies, where people make the law, we can change inhumane laws. In theocracies we can’t. Theocracies and all other forms of autocracies, can't tolerate criticism. They rely on falsehood for their survival and censor the truth. A good example of that is the Islamic Republic of Iran where those who speak against it are jailed or executed and dissidents outside Iran are assassinated. Iran is not the exception. In all Islamic countries, thoughts are suppressed and truth is nipped in the bud. Falsehood must rely on violence, censorship and suppression of truth to survive. Without that it will vanish like darkness faced with light. 

    So although democracy is not about truth and falsehood, in democracy you have the chance to right the wrong and reach the truth while in dictatorship you don't have that chance.


    See Internet Ali Sina


    ALLEN E.L. *

    (Contemporary American philosopher)

    The problem of  the ‘polymorphous truth” of religions. The will to boundless communication of truth in religions.

        The distinction between truth and error is as valid in religion as elsewhere in human experience. The view, shared by not a few believers, that all religions are false save one’s own is not worth considering for being too obviously naïve. However it is based on the valuable persuasion that the distinction between truth and falsehood is a vital one. Its mistake lies in supposing that the true and the false in religion are to be identified with particular religions and that in the case of the true the identification is with one’s own religion.  

             According to Allen one should think of truth and error as present in all religions. They are true in so far as they apprehend the Transcendent aright, false in so far as they fail to do so. Truth is not a matter of exclusive possession, it is always beyond us. Our duty is to serve it without fanaticism, bigotry, or intolerance.

             On the other hand it is not possible to place all religions on the same level and to assert that they are all equally true. Many today are tempted to support this view and not without justification. Once we have abandoned the position of arrogant superiority of our own religion over the others, we may be drawn to regard all religions on the same level. But then we would have to give up our basic assumption that truth and error are sharply opposed in religion as elsewhere.  

             Nothing is this world of space and time is absolute. An absolute religion is a contradiction in terms because all religions are historical phenomena, and as such conditioned and relative. But then how can we reconcile the relativities of historical enquiries with the absolute that faith requires? We have to distinguish between the standpoint of the spectator, the disinterested observer and the standpoint of the committed participant, the believer. To the first corresponds the truth of information and to the other the truth of transformation. For the disinterested scholar there is no absolute knowledge, for the believer the absolute is a matter of personal commitment arising out of personal discernment. For the latter his religion is an “absolute for him”. For a community whose members share a common faith, their religion is an “absolute for them”.  

             But this concept of ‘polymorphous truth’ (“absolute for me but not for the other’) is highly problematic. How can one  devoted to his own truth recognize the existence of truths other than his own? Allen endorses the view suggested by Karl Jaspers (see Jaspers) that there is no theoretical solution to this problem but and existential one. From the standpoint of the observer, there is no solution, he sees only conflicting claims and neither is truth. But on the plane of the participant believer, the truth is that to which he has come under God’s guidance and in respect and love of other people who have made a different experiment with truth.

             The problem of ‘polymorphous' truth is never solved by conflict but by communication.  Truth can remain true only “in the will of boundless communication”(K. Jaspers’ expression) between the committed participants. The presupposition of communication is that no one party to the debate has the monopoly of the truth. If conflict arises, it will be a conflict waged in love, each seeking victory not for himself but for a truth that will be common to both and will bind them together. The opponent is each case will not be the other person but ignorance, prejudice and self-satisfaction. All participants are supported and united by a common faith in truth. All that can be done at present is to call for this boundless communication. No one can know what will come out of it: no syncretism, no assimilation, no world-faith but something better than these – a growth in mutual understanding.

    * E.L. Allen, Christianity among the Religions, Allen & Unwin, London, 1960, p.117- 133, 145-155


    ALLEN James *

    (British little known philosopher, 1864-1912)


    Self is the denial of Truth. Truth is the denial of self.


    In every soul the battle is waged, so every heart is enlisted either in the ranks of self or of Truth. There is no half-and-half course; "There is self and there is Truth; where self is, Truth is not, where Truth is, self is not."  Thus spoke Buddha, the teacher of Truth, and Jesus, the manifested Christ, declared that "No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other”.

    Truth is so simple, so absolutely undeviating and uncompromising that it admits of no complexity, no turning, no qualification. Self is ingenious, crooked, and, governed by subtle and snaky desire, admits of endless turnings and qualifications, and the deluded worshipers of self vainly imagine that they can gratify every worldly desire, and at the same time possess the Truth. But the lovers of Truth worship Truth with the sacrifice of self, and ceaselessly guard themselves against worldliness and self-seeking.

    The eternal Christ declared that he who would be His disciple must "deny himself daily." Are you willing to deny yourself, to give up your lusts, your prejudices, your opinions? If so, you may enter the narrow way of Truth, and find that peace from which the world is shut out.

    Self is the denial of Truth. Truth is the denial of self. As you let self die, you will be reborn in Truth. As you cling to self, Truth will be hidden from you.

    Truth in itself is not hidden and dark. It is always revealed and is perfectly transparent. But the blind and wayward self cannot perceive it.

    He who is immersed in self regards his own opinions as Truth, and the opinions of other men as error. But that humble Truth-lover who has learned to distinguish between opinion and Truth, regards all men with the eye of charity, and does not seek to defend his opinions against theirs, but sacrifices those opinions that he may love the more, that he may manifest the spirit of Truth, for Truth in its very nature is ineffable and can only be lived. He who has most of charity has most of Truth.

    Men, enslaved by self, passionate, proud, and condemnatory, believe their particular creed or religion to be the Truth, and all other religions to be error; and they proselytize with passionate ardor. There is but one religion, the religion of Truth.


    *See Internet  James Allen, edited and revised by Dainial MacÀdhaimh 


    Allmyroads *

    (unidetified internaut)


    God versus Truth


    While God is truth, truth is not necessarily God.  A square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not necessarily a square. So truth, as we’ve come to know it in our subjective psyches, does not equate to God.

    And the reason for such mishaps? Simply put, God is so far outside the parameters of truth, of logic, that it takes a leap of faith to reach Him. Today that leap of faith requires a leap of abandonment to the labels, lenses and predispositions of our own notion and will. Nothing else will cut it. Until we take that leap our journey and exploration for truth will lead us short of God, to the point where faith is required. If, however, truth is not the means to an end but and end in itself, then that leap of faith will be illogical.

    Picture a large canyon, on one side is truth, and on the other God, with a huge chasm in between. That chasm represents the leap of faith we all must take in order to truly believe God is who He claims He is. If we come searching for truth, we will find ourselves on one side of the chasm, staring down into the abyss, contemplating how illogical any movement (let alone jumping) would be.  Why risk it? We came searching for truth, and found it, so why attempt to leap across to the other side for a God that wasn’t our aim in the first place? If we find ourselves searching for truth, and short of God, we may very well look to other sources for that truth, and dispel the notion of God completely.

    So where does this leave us? Well it leaves us in a very precarious position  that requires reflection. We are a nation of searching cynics. And what do we claim to look for in our wanderlust of intellect? Truth, facts, theories and understanding. Within this it is easy for truth to become an idol. After all, truth is by no means evil. In fact it is pure; it is an attribute of God. But let us remember that an idol is rarely evil in and of itself, it is the desire of our hearts that places it upon the throne and makes it an idol. Truth is good, it is noble, and as Christians we should seek it. But what we should seek above all else is God.

    Therefore, let us seek God. Let God be on the throne of our heart, and our search for truth merely as a means to the end of knowing and loving God more completely. I don’t ever want to be known as someone who sought truth, but someone who sought God and by His grace stumbled upon infinite truth, of which God has always been the source.


    *See Internet Allmyroads


    ALLSTON Dee *

    (Contemporary American Christian apologist)


    The  Christian type of truth claims to be  an objective truth claim.


    Are the various religious claims of the world subjective claims, or objective claims? When people talk about something being true, they can mean the word “true” in a couple of different ways. Some types of truth claims are subjective, other types are objective.

    The following statement is objectively true: The Christian God exists. It’s quite obvious that this claim is either true or false. The law of non-contradiction dictates that the Christian God is either real or imaginary. So, when a person makes the claim the Christian God exists, they are not saying anything about their private, internal, tastes, preferences, or feelings. This type of truth claim is a objective one.

    Saint Paul  wrote that if Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, then the Christian faith is “worthless,” “vain” and he is a “false witness.” Saint Paul is not saying that he “prefers,” “likes,” or “feels” that Jesus rose from the dead—he is saying that it objectively happened.

    As a Christian, I have good reasons to believe that the claims of Christianity really happened. But in principle, it is possible I’m wrong. The claim I’m making can be true or false—at least in principle. If it can be true or false—not depending on my personal preferences or feelings—that proves that Christianity is an objective truth claim. I could be wrong, but that is what makes up an objective statement—it’s either true or false.

    If religion was the type of thing that could not be proven true or false, and it was only based on subjective feelings and preferences, then why would anyone oppose it? By bringing up the objection that “it’s hard to know” is an admission that the claim in question is in fact, objective. Christianity makes claims that are objective


    * See Internet Allston Dee.



    ALQUIE Ferdinand *

    (French philosopher, 1906-1985)

     The illusory truth of absolute systems

    Aristotle saw in ‘first philosophy’ the science of being as being. But history has established that one cannot constitute such a science on the condition to renounce to understand beings as being to determine it only as object. Philosophy must be taken as a meta-physics which underlines the unbridgeable distance of conscience from being. All ‘ontologies’ (from Spinoza, Fichte and even more Hegel) have tried to fill the gap of this separation by a return to a ‘recovered paradise’ but all in vain.  Kant was right to denounce the illusion of all ontological systems in opposing them to the philosophies of separation and analysis or critical philosophies. There is no experience of the Whole and the plenitude of a pure presence of being is forbidden. We are bound to aspire for Being but find ourselves immersed in the object, without ever being able to fill the chasm that ontological systems claim to have discerned in the affirmation of the absolute. Still it is not possible to reject metaphysics, the negative side of ontology, in reducing man to only one side of reality, because man searches eternally for some sort of vertical rapport to Being.

        To avoid the illusion of systems which claim to have access to a total conscience, thus to the absolute, in rejecting the separation between conscience and spirit, between the eternal and the temporal,  “passionate metaphysics” (that Alquié calls “ontologies”) must be discarded in favour of the philosophies of reason which do not yield to the love of totality, for only they have the right to be called “metaphysics” as they saveguard the distance between the finite and the infinite, between the illusion of eternity and the truth of the eternal.

        One must renounce to the eternal, in committing oneself freely in action which is like a descent of “the eternal in  the temporal to realize our human condition”. All systems that claim to reduce the gap between conscience and being, bringing down transcendence in the structures of immanence, are bound to fail. This radical divide between conscience and being reveals the natural dualism of philosophy.

     * Alquié Ferdinand, Le Désir d'éternité, PUF, 1943, La Nostalgie de l'être, PUF, 1950.


    ALSTON P.W *

    (American epistemologist and philosopher of religion, b.1921)

    “Alethic realism”, a minimalist realist conception of truth,

    neutral in respect to realist  and antirealist metaphysics.

        1. Alston has a particular way of advocating a realist concept of truth and he calls it alethic realism “ (from the Greek word aletheia or truth). “A statement is true if and only if what the statement says to be the case actually is the case”. This entails that it is not required that any person or any social group be in the know of what is the case. Truth need not be  shown or proved or justified to be the truth. In other words there is no epistemic  requirements for the truth of a statement. As long as “Sugar is sweet”, then my statement that” Sugar is sweet” is a true statement. Nothing more is required for its being true.  Aristotle had already defined the truth in that way. It has the appearance of an obvious truism. Nevertheless it is frequently denied in recent times, either by the various forms of ‘epistemic’ accounts and by ‘deflationary’ accounts of truth. For the epistemic accounts, the truth of a statement is in its being justified or supported by evidence or coherent with a set of beliefs or bringing satisfaction to the intellect or agreed by all who investigate, etc. Such is the case, for instance, with the coherence and pragmatist theories of truth. For the deflationary accounts truth is not a property of statement, for it is simply redundant and useless. Alston rejects the epistemic and deflationary accounts of truth.

             The realist  way of thinking of truth is that the truth-maker – the fact, the state of affairs, what is the case - is something that is objective vis-à-vis the truth-bearer – the statement, the proposition. The truth-bearer is what is true and is made true by the truth-maker. The realist concept of truth has to do with what  the truth bearer  or the  assertion is about rather than with some “internal” or “ intrinsic” feature of the truth-bearer such as its place in a sysem of propositions (coherence) or the confidence with which it is held (pragmatism). The common core of all forms of realism is the objectivity of truths, properties and  moral standards. A proposition is true  when it is related to something that is the case. A state of affairs being the case is what renders the proposition true, and nothing else. Truth is not an ‘epistemic’ concept for it does not dependent of our beliefs and of our ability to learn the truth.  

        2. However Alston claims that alethic realism differs from metaphysical realism. For it makes no commitment as to the nature or the ontological status of facts, even if it takes facts to be the setting of the extralinguistic, extramental world. It has no precise implications on the ontological character of facts and states of affair.  

             Alston’s realist account of truth does not require that one holds metaphysical realism rather than metaphysical antirealism. The realist account of truth he advocates is concerned with what it is for a proposition to be true or false,  but it is not concerned with what propositions are true or false. Realist and antirealist metaphysical positions – unlike alethic realism - have implications for what propositions are true or false.  Alethic realism implies that what makes a particular assertion to be true or false is independent of the assertion itself. It constrains itself only to supporting the view that what confers a truth-value on a statement is something independent of the cognitive-linguistic goings on, independent of our talk and thought and therefore external to the truth-bearer. It rejects the epistemic accounts view of truth and at the same time  it is neutral with respect to all the controversies over the metaphysical status of reality.  

             It is clear that alethic realism does not propose a ‘substantial’ realist account of truth, but only a minimalist one. It states only that some truth-maker, which one calls facts or state of affairs, is what  renders  statements to be true or false. It could be that the truth-maker, the so-called facts or state of affairs, are not mind-independent (for instance in a Kantian sense) but this does not affect the central claim of alethic realism, which avoids the metaphysical questions concerning the relation and ‘correspondence’ of thought with reality. It holds only  that whether what we say is true is determined not by anything we do or think, but by the way things are.  

    * Alston, William, A Realist Conception of Truth, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1996


    ALTHUSSER, Louis *

    (French Marxist philosopher, 1918-1990)

    Ideologies are neither true nor false but constitutive of our subjectivity

    The critique of ideology has played an important part in Marxism. Ideology or “the science of ideas” was opposed to metaphysics. It took on a pejorative sense with Marx and Engels. For them “ideology” refers to a theory that is out of touch with the real process of history.  The negative sense of ideology as “ false consciousness” is the most common usage in the Marxist tradition.

             Althusser in his main work “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses” rejects as  oversimplification  the concept of ideology as “false consciousness”, or a distorted representation of reality. The oversimplification which he denounces  implies an opposition of “false consciousness” to some kind of “true consciousness”.  According to Althusser, no subject can transcend ideology. All consciousness is constituted by and necessarily inscribed within ideology. Ideology is as inescapable and indispensable as the air we breathe. There can be no question of true and false ideologies. All that we have are competing versions of “false consciousness”, for all understanding of reality are limited and therefore incomplete, and in that sense false.

             The individual subject is faced not with a problem of differentiating the “ideological” from the “real”, the false from the true, but with the problem of choosing between competing ideological versions of the real.

             Althusser’s concept of  ideology depends on the notion of  subject. There is no subject except by and in an ideology and there is no ideology except by the subject and for subjects. All individual subjects are constituted in ideological structures. All ideology has the function of enlisting subjects in its belief system.  We are born as subjects and to be subjects implies that we are born in specific ideologies, which we inhabit and which we recognize as true or evident. Others’ belief are also ideological, i.e. imaginary/illusory, whereas ours are simply ‘true’. For instance, everybody thinks his/her religion is true and that every one else’s religion is just illusion , or ideology. Althusser explains how every one recognises that his/her beliefs are true and not relative through the notion of “interpellation”. Ideology interpellates individuals as subjects. Interpellation is a hailing, says Althusser. A particular ideology interpellates us and we respond positively to it. A particular ideology seems to address the subject personally and the individual accepts to become a subject within that ideological structure. We believe  that these ideas – like commercial ads - are individually addressed to us and we take them to be true. That is why we are ready to behave as the ideology dictates.  

    * Athusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, in Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, New Left Books, London, 1971[ii]


    AMARATUNGA N.A de S. *


    Contemporary SriLankan scholar of Buddhism)

     The  one truth in Theravada Buddhism : empirical, not transcendent

    Nagarjuna  of the Mahayana Tradition  identified two truths, but his theory was different from that of Theravada Buddhism. Are there, in fact, two types of Truth in Theravada Buddhism? Some Buddhists commit the mistake that Absolute Truth is superior to the Conventional Truth. In fact, there is only one Truth in Buddhism, but there are two ways of presenting it. 

    The bone of contention between Theravada and Mahasangika appeared to be the respective position taken up by each faction regarding the concept of transcendence in relation to the Buddha and his Dharma. This seed of discord had remained throughout the history of Buddhism and grown to be the major fundamental difference between the main schools of Buddhism. Mahayana seems to have taken up this concept as its central philosophy and developed it further. Mahayana writings transform Buddha-hood into a transcendental phenomenon.

    Transcendence in the context of religions refers to a phenomenon that exists or manifests in a realm that is beyond this world. In this sense it is beyond experience in our life. Further its exact nature cannot be clearly described using the language we know. In this sense it is beyond language too. Hence it is a phenomenon that is beyond our experience and something we cannot comprehend and explain in words. Further it is the view of philosophers of religion that all religions have features of transcendence. God in theistic religions would qualify as the transcendental phenomenon. The exact nature of God is ineffable, beyond our experience and language. This is an essential feature of a religion, they say. In Mahayana Buddhism the Buddha and Nirvana are depicted as transcendental phenomena.

    However Buddha was beyond doubt an empiricist. He identified three methods of gaining knowledge practiced during his time and they were: 1) Authority of scriptures 2) Reason and 3) Experience. He rejected authority as a reliable means of gaining knowledge and cautioned against the over reliance on reason. He said he gained knowledge through experience. Buddha rejected mystic powers as capable of arriving at knowledge. Buddha gained his higher knowledge by a process of purification of the mind and training and intense concentration. It was a natural process and a causal process (Anguttara Nikaya). This higher knowledge was gained by his own effort and not endowed by inheritance, god or a mystic power.

    The higher knowledge that the Buddha attained, Nirvana, is defined as extinguishing of fire by covering it and depriving it of further fuel, by not feeding it, or by withdrawing the cause of its production. What has to be extinguished is the fire that originates in our senses and burns with the fire of greed, hate and delusion. The purification of the mind of these defilements is the path to Nirvana. It is achieved by great effort and it is cultivated and earned in a gradual and systematic manner. Most importantly it is not gained by the intervention of an external mystic power unlike in theistic religions where the goal is transcendental and therefore external intervention is needed.

    Buddha rejected all ideas about mystical, metaphysical and transcendental phenomena. He did not subscribe to the theory of a personal god or a creator god. He fought against such ideas that appeared in the Upanishads. The theory of "anithya" that Buddha developed was based on experience. Hence Buddha could not have preached any metaphysical or transcendental doctrine in keeping with the empiricism he tenaciously adhered to.

    The Mahayana doctrine in regard to Buddha-hood and Nirvana consists of transcendental, metaphysical and ineffable features rendering it very similar to other religions such as Hinduism. The uniqueness that Buddhism inhered due to its basis of empiricism has been totally removed by Mahayana making it vulnerable to distortion.



    * Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian, Filed under Buddhism, History, N.A. de S. Amaratunga



    ( Greek philosopher, 3d century AD)  

                                                                                                                                                                         Eclectic Spirituality: a celebration of the truth found in all religions and philosophies.


    According to the view of modern Theosophists, Ammonius Saccas held that all religion originated form the same source and from this sameness a brotherhood could be created that would bring an expression of order. From this order, one could then begin to explain the branching out of religions in all their diversity. This study of comparative religions is what gave rise to Saccas’ school of thought and the origin of the term Eclectic. It was his ultimate goal to fuse all religions together into one common faith that celebrated Supreme Being that governed the universe through an immutable set of laws. 

    This eclectic Spirituality is in essence the epitome of religious freedom. Eclectic Spiritualism hold that all world religions and philosophies hold some common truths. These truths are found in tenets such as killing others is forbidden and a belief in a power higher than ourselves. Beyond these spiritual truths, one’s personal spiritual experience is paramount to the understanding of our human relationship to the universe.

    The term eclectic stems from the Greek word eklektikos which means selective or the  act of picking out. Ammonius Saccas was among the first to take the truths of existing religions and philosophies and blend them into a new system.                                The very name Theosophy comes to us from these Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil "loving," and aletheia "truth." It  began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system. To prove this was the aim of Ammonius, who endeavoured to induce Gentiles and Christians, Jews and Idolaters, to lay aside their contentions and strifes, remembering only that they were all in possession of the same truth under various vestments, and were all the children of a common mother. This is the aim of Theosophy likewise.


    * See THEOSOPHY, Vol. 25, No. 2, December, 1936 :`Great Theosophists, Ammonius Saccas




    ANGLARET Marc *

    (Contemporary French professor of philosophy)


    Incompatibilité de la vérité révélée et de la vérité philosophique 


            On peut se demander si une philosophie peut être religieuse ou si une religion peut être philosophique. Bien que la réponse soit évidemment positive pour beaucoup, nous tenterons de montrer ici que la religion comme la philosophie ne peuvent que se perdre elles-mêmes, c’est-à-dire renoncer à ce qui les caractérise respectivement, dans une telle "union".

    Il semble que la notion de révélation soit la première spécificité de la religion au sens habituel du terme – celui, précisément, de religion révélée –, dans la mesure où elle est la condition même de la possibilité d’une religion : aucune ne prétend en effet être une émanation de l’homme seul ; il faut donc qu’un principe extérieur à l’humanité soit en mesure de transmettre à celle-ci, quelle qu’en soit la manière, ce qui définira la religion en question. C’est cette transmission que nous appelons ici révélation. (Anglaret précise que le cas du Bouddhisme est particulier du fait que le Bouddhism est moins une religion qu’une philosophie )

    Il semble que l’on peut dire de la philosophie l’exact opposé de ce qui vient d’être dit de la religion. La seule idée de révélation rendra a priori le philosophe, au mieux, perplexe. Pour accepter positivement l’idée qu’une révélation, tout en étant manifestement irrationnelle, est source de vérité, il faudra franchir un pas qui, d’après nous, fait sortir de la philosophie. Le philosophe le plus "ouvert" aux religions ne peut donc qu’être réservé quant à l’idée même de révélation.

    Concernant le contenu des dogmes eux-mêmes, le philosophe devra adopter la même prudence. On peut sans doute s’entendre pour considérer qu’en aucun cas le philosophe n’acceptera une "vérité" qui, sans être évidente en elle-même, ne s’accompagne d’aucune justification théorique. Or nous avons remarqué précédemment que le fondement d’une religion n’est précisément jamais justifié a priori ; quand il l’est a posteriori, ce ne peut donc être que par une personne qui l’a au préalable admis sans une telle justification. Comment le philosophe pourrait-il avaliser cette admission ? Comment pourrait-il ne pas dénoncer la justification a posteriori comme une imposture visant à légitimer philosophiquement une prise de position qui ne fut pas, au départ, philosophique ? Le fondement d’une philosophie ne saurait être lui-même extérieur à la philosophie. Or la religion, et elle s’en félicite, trouve son principe hors de l’humanité, donc hors de la philosophie.  On pourrait dire que, si la religion est acceptée, elle rend la philosophie, pour une importante partie, inutile. En effet, certains dogmes religieux peuvent être considérés comme des réponses non philosophiques à des questions que se posent aussi les philosophes. Aussi le philosophe qui cherche à répondre, philosophiquement, à ces mêmes questions, entreprend-il une tâche ridicule du point de vue de la religion.

    Pour les philosophes religieux, la philosophie ne peut servir qu’à "redécouvrir" par la raison ce que la foi, par le biais de la révélation, a déjà enseigné. Cette conception de la philosophie comme "servante de la théologie", héritée du Moyen-Âge, ne peut pas disparaître si l’on admet, avant de philosopher, la vérité d’une religion. Et, même si l’on fait mine de se défendre d’adopter une telle conception, on voit mal comment il en serait autrement : "la vérité ne peut contredire la vérité", et si une vérité est admise au préalable – la vérité religieuse –, on sait déjà, avant même de commencer à philosopher, que la deuxième – la vérité philosophique – sera identique à la première ou au moins compatible avec elle ; il reste seulement à trouver des arguments philosophiques pour appuyer cette vérité unique, mais à deux visages. C’est par exemple la position de Jean-Paul II qui ouvre ainsi l’encyclique Fides et ratio : "La foi et la raison sont comme les deux ailes qui permettent à l’esprit humain de s’élever vers la contemplation de la vérité". Mais si la métaphore est juste, les deux ailes doivent nécessairement voler de manière concordante. Le chemin et le but étant bien sûr déterminés, dès l’envol, par l’aile de la foi, l’aile de la raison n’a plus qu’à s’y plier…


    See Internet Anglaret Marc



    ANSELM of Canterbury *

    (English monk, philosopher and theologian, 1033-1109)

    Truth is the rectitude perceived by the mind

          Anselm following Augustine identifies the ‘supreme truth’ with God. God is the source of the immutability and eternity of our participated truths.  

             In On Truth Anselm begins his examination of the claim that “God is truth” by discussing the truth of statements, since that is the sort of truth with which we are most familiar. The truth of a proposition for him consists in its signifying that what-is is, or – better –in its signifying as it ought to be, and that means that truth consists in rectitude. In all cases the truth of things consists in their being what they ought to be.  God is the One Eternal Truth, and thus He is the rectitude that dictates how everything else ought to be. Anselm comes to the definition of truth as “rectitude perceptible only by the mind”. But what then is the difference between truth and justice? Anselm answers that justice is a subcategory of rectitude in that it involves reason and will. Justice requires willing what one ought to will exactly because that is what one ought to will.                            

             Thus Anselm’s originality is that  he defines truth by “rectitude”, that is, rightness. When he says that “the truth of things is their rectitude”, he means that each thing realizes the thought of God in such a wise that every being is true through its  very essence. This is the ontological truth of things. Logical truth is the rectitude of enunciation in which the words state that which they should. In Holy Scripture one  reads that Christ said:” He who does  the truth will find the light”. “Does  the truth” means “acts with rectitude”. Truth is something that is done. Every action either tells the truth or else lies. The kind of rectitude which is truth is to be understood in term of doing what ought to be done.

             Still in the strict sense the word truth should be reserved to the intellectual domain and then Anselm defines it as “the rectitude perceptible by mind alone”. Truth then is the rectitude of  being as envisaged by reason. In all cases  truth is something that ought to be – that is “rectitude” -  in things, in enunciations or in actions, whether perceived by the mind or not.  

    * Anselm, De Veritate, 7, see Thonnard, History of Philosophy, Desclée, Paris, 1950, p.315  and  Campbell R. , Truth and Historicity, Chap.VI passim, Clarendom Press, Oxford, 1992[iii]



    (Greek philosopher, 440-370 B.C.)

    No other judgements than tautological judgements can be true

      Antisthenes, the founder of the Cynic school, considered that language is incapable to describe the concrete reality  of individual units. He was a thorough-going nominalist, who maintained that the individual alone is real, and that the universal is nothing but a collective name. Ideas do not exist save for the  consciousness which thinks them. "A horse," he said, "I can see, but horsehood I cannot see." Following out this view, he held that, as things are quite isolated in their individuality, the only judgements that are true concerning them must be tautological judgements, in which a thing is predicated of itself; for if the predicate differs from the subject, then the judgement must be untrue when it asserts that the subject is the predicate. Hence in strict logic one cannot say that "a man is good" but only that "good is good" and "man is man". Defining a thing by another is impossible. One can only name things without attributing a predicate different than their name.  His theory of language rejected both logic and physics.

     The sole legitimate part of philosophy for him was ethics, not as speculations and discourses but as the practice of virtues by the individual in total autonomy from all social conventions. Just as in logic the inevitable result of his approach was the purest nominalism, so in ethics he was driven to individualism, to the denial of social and national relations. Each man must take the care of his own life upon himself, shape out his course by his own thought, and regard the State with all its customs and laws as a mere usurpation. In this spirit Antisthenes raised the banner of Nature against Convention, and met every claim of society upon the individual with contempt and derision.

    * See "Cynics" in the Dictionary of the History of Ideas, Charles Scribner, New york, 1972


    ANYOL Scott *

    (Contemporary American Baptist minister)


    Biblical  truth is not mainly propositional and doctrinal but aesthetic.


    In its most basic definition, a statement is true if it corresponds with reality. The truth we wish to preserve—the truth of which the Church is the pillar and support has been revealed to us through the written Word of God. Everything contained within God’s Word corresponds rightly with reality, and it is our responsibility to pass that truth on to future generations. What we find there is truth about God, man, sin, salvation, the world, and so much more. Therefore, the truth we wish to preserve can be no less than doctrinal.

    But what we have been given through Scripture, and what we are charged with preserving, is more than brute theological facts compiled in abstract statements. Truth is no less than facts in statements to be sure, but it is more. I am not arguing for another kind of truth, but a component of truth that exists beyond mere factual correspondence.

    Modernism has led us to equate truth with factuality alone. Truth is no less than factuality, but it is deeper than that. The Bible does not come to us as a collection of propositional statements or a systematic theology. Instead, God’s revelation of truth comes to us in various literary forms, most of which are not merely didactic or propositional. These forms provide a way of communicating God’s truth that would be impossible with systematic statements of fact alone. These aesthetic forms are essential to the truth itself since God’s inspired Word is exactly the best way that truth could be presented. To reduce God’s truth, then, only to doctrinal statements does great injustice to the way God himself has chosen to reveal truth to us.

    Scott Anyol does not put aside  the propositional nature of truth. Truth can—and indeed often must—be summarized in propositional statements. What he argues is that truth is more than that. Nor is he arguing for two kinds of truth, one propositional and the other not; he is arguing that truth is always both propositional and aesthetic. Thus what we are charged with preserving is not only a collection of propositions that correspond to God’s reality, but also ways of expressing these ideas that likewise correspond to God’s reality. We are committed to preserving not just intellectual facts, but “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Faith is more than facts; faith is right facts combined with the affection of trust; faith is right facts felt rightly.


    * Aniol Scott ,Preserving the Truth in our Worship, 2011, see Internet





    APEL Karl Otto *

    (German philosopher, b.1922)

    Moral truths as inter-subjective consensus, understood as coherence

         The heart of Apel's position on truth is that, following Peirce, it identifies truth with what would be agreed upon in the limit of indefinitely continued discussion. He understands truth as inter-subjective consensus, understood as coherence. Together with Habermas, he searches for an ideally unlimited inter-subjectivity of consensus. For him truth is both a presupposition, in a sense that the speaker assumes among the conditions of speaking the truth and truthfulness, as well as the final aim of unlimited communicative action that take places in the community, namely to reach a convergence between all our beliefs.

        Apel contends that the fundamental defect of all the past moral theories is that they have all been monological, that is, they have all been the result of the ruminations of the individual, solitary thinker reflecting upon morality. They have all neglected to take cognizance of what is nonetheless an inescapable fact, namely, that their solitary reflections could only have taken place within the context of language and discourse, thus within the linguistic community. All our thoughts and reflections, even those of the solitary philosopher, can only occur in, and through, a communal language. Hence, all our thoughts and reflections are virtually, if not actually, dialogue and argumentation. It is this fundamental forgetfulness of the linguistic conditions of their philosophizing that, for Apel, is the root of the failure of all past moral theoreticians to provide adequate grounding for a universal morality. For Apel, then, it is only on condition that we start from this awareness of the linguistic condition of all our thoughts and meaningful actions that we may finally see the universal conditions and ground of all human theoretical and practical activities, and, thus, of morality.

        But then, as critics have raised, it remains the subject of doubt whether the agreement sought for is only inter-subjective and linguistic or objective and real, based upon an effective conformity of being. Another question concerns the extension of the unlimited community of communication. Does it include the transcendental or, in principle, is it primarily limited to the level of the dialogue among humans? It is a risk of the doctrine of truth as inter-subjectivity to identify inter-subjective knowledge with valid knowledge as such.

    * Apel, Karl Otto, Towards a Transformation of Philosophy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980.



    (American historian, b. 1929))

    How to tell the truth about history

        Appleby (in collaboration with Hunt and Jacob) believes in the possibility of achieving truth and objectivity in human knowledge of the past, even if these truths are not absolute. A democratic practice of history encourages skepticism about dominant views, but at the same time it trusts in the reality of the past and its knowability.  

        Telling the truth about History is possible provided one refuses to cling to the two extremes of positivism and postmodernism.  The positivist view falters in giving a privileged position to value-free science and progress, postmodernist relativism nihilistically denies any effort to seek truth. Instead, Appleby  offers a rational middle road, which accepts the demise of intellectual absolutism and yet sustains the belief that objective truth can be produced by deeply subjective people. She argues that, in a democracy that fosters freedom of inquiry and critical exchange, practical realism, healthy skepticism and qualified objectivity can lead to reasonable, if partial, truths.  

        Her version of objectivity concedes the impossibility of any research being neutral and accepts the fact that knowledge-seeking involves a lively, contentious struggle among diverse groups of truth-seekers. Standards of objectivity recognize at the outset that all knowledge is suject-centered and artificial. Human language cannot be fixed on objects and describe for all time the way the external world is. At the same time Appleby is convinced that no philosopher has ever succeeded in proving that meanings are simply “in our head”. In other words the “facts” need the “conventions” and vice versa.

        The ‘practical realism’ advocated by Appleby thwarts the relativists by reminding them that some words and conventions, however socially constructed, reach out to the world and give a reasonable true description of its contents. The study of nature suggests that having knowledge of a thing in the mind  does not negate its being outside of the mind behaving there as predicted and that something exists as an image of something’s being in the mind does not in the least diminish its external existence or its knowability through the medium of language. That it could be in both places, out there and in here where words reside, seems only to verify the objective nature of anything under consideration.  

        However despite their relationship to the natural sciences, the human sciences, such as history, have a distinct set of problems. Any analogy to natural science falters because the historian cannot effectively isolate the objects of enquiry. The most distinctive of historians’ problems is that posed by temporality. For the historian, truth is wrapped up with trying to figure out what went one in time past. The past, in so far as it exists at all, exists in the present, the historian too is stuck in time present, trying to make meaningful statements about time past.

        Historical ‘objective truth’ cannot be grounded upon neutral experimentation. The beliefs, values, and interests that defined the researcher as a person cannot simply be brushed aside. Therefore one has to redefine historical objectivity as an interactive relationship between and inquiring subject – the historian - and an external object – the time past.  

    * Appleby, Hunt & Jacob, Telling the Truth about History, New York, W.W.Norton, 1994


    APPIAH Kwame *

    (Ghanaian American philosopher, b. 1954)

     “Cosmopolitanism”: rather than aiming at universal truth, one should  respect  diversity because there are many values worth living by.

         Appiah endorses the view of ‘Cosmopolitanism’, i.e. the notion that individuals are “citizens of the world.” The essence of the cosmopolitan ideal is that individuals need to develop habits of coexistence with others at the personal, local, national and international levels. He emphasizes that cosmopolitanism entails an ongoing conversation with both neighbors and strangers. It advances the possibility of achieving mutual understanding between individuals holding different worldviews and adhering to different moral systems. At the same time, cosmopolitanism recognizes the possibility that consensus on a single worldview may not be reached. Such a possibility does not necessarily lead to conflict. Instead, it can result in a cooperative decision to ‘agree to disagree.’

        Cosmopolitanism is other than competing universalisms, for it goes  beyond talk of truth and tolerance. Cosmopolitans think that there are many values worth living by and that you cannot live by all of them.  So they expect that different people and different societies will embody different values. Cosmopolitanism gives us a power and a means and an inclination to connect.  It rejects the ideal of achieving total unity, because that’s a kind of cultural imperialism that must be avoided.  It wants to respect diversity, and diversity is more than simply to be tolerated. People will always disagree upon innate and core values.  Philosophers have been wrong in seeking false universalisms, false agreement.  At the same time Appiah rejects the relativist standpoint that claims that agreement is impossible.  He says that what we need instead of false agreement is conversation.  The conversation is “getting used to things,” not agreeing.  He says practices and not principles are what enable us to live together in peace.

        According to him, one must discard the pernicious myth that we are necessarily separated and segregated into groups that are defined by criteria like gender, language, race, religion or some other kind of boundary. It is easy to see that these boundaries are a major cause of conflict.  Appiah challenges this kind of separative thinking and that is why he wants to resurrect the ancient philosophy of "cosmopolitanism”, a school of thought that dates back almost 2500 years to the Cynics of Ancient Greece. They first articulated the cosmopolitan ideal that all human beings were citizens of the world.    

        Appiah laments that so many philosophers and intellectuals have argued, falsely, that we humans can only see the world up to the point of our own contextual "walls." He contends that differences can be accepted without being allowed to become barriers. The reason is simply this: most of us arrive at our values not on the basis of careful reasoning, but by lifelong conditioning and subjective beliefs and attitudes.

    *Appiah, Kwame Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.



    AQUINAS Thomas *

    (Medieval philosopher theologian, 1225-1274)

    The truth of judgement and the truth of Being.

    The unity of truth but a twofold method to pursue it.

          Aquinas uses the concept of truth  in two different ways. The primary sense of truth is the logical truth of judgments, the secondary sense is the ontological truth of being.                                                                                                                                                  

             A. Truth and  Judgment

             Aquinas agrees with Aristotle when he writes that in their primary  sense the true and  the false  pertain to the judgment, which is the locus  of true and false. “It is in the mind’s judgment that truth is found and not in sensation, nor in the intellectual apprehension of an essence….Sense does not know truth as such. For although sight has the likeness of a visible thing it does not know the correspondence between the thing seen and the perception of it. The mind, however, can know its own conformity with an intelligible thing, not simply by apprehending its  essence, but it makes a judgment about the thing….It is that first knows and enunciates truth.” (S.T., Ia, 16,2)

             In sensation and simple apprehension by the intellect, sense and intellect come to be informed by the species of things. To form percepts and concepts is a natural and spontaneous  operation brought about by the presence of the species in sense and intellect. Truth and error are not involved in these simple apprehensions, but only when the intellect, not  content to apprehend passively what it has acquired, makes a judgment. In both, sensation and simple apprehension of the intellect, there is no known truth yet, because there is no judgment. Making judgments  always involves combining and separating, as Aristotle had already pointed out. Truth is found in the dividing and composing (judging) intellect.  The conformity of intellect with  reality becomes known when the intellect makes a judgment. If the judgment combines or separates the essential notions as the facts really show them to be combined or separated, the judgment is true. Veritas est adequatio intellectus cum re. (S.T., 1,16,1).  

             B. Truth and Being.  

             According to Aristotle, truth has nothing to do with metaphysics but with logic  and epistemology. For him truth in not in things but in the mind. On the contrary, according to Aquinas, truth is not only in the intellect but also in being. But then how are truth and being distinct?  Everything is being. But some predicates can be said to add to being as they express a mode of being. They are called by Aquinas the five ‘transcendentals.’ One of them is ‘truth’. It expresses the coming together of things and knowledge. Truth is the conformity of being and intellect and that is what it adds to being.

             Hence the formal notion of truth is different from the formal notion of being, that is, they do not mean the same but they do not differ in reality.

             In this derivative, not primary, sense of truth, things are said to be true by reason of their conformity with the ideas of the intellect, either divine or human. When we say, “this is true  gold”, we use a way of speaking that invites us to take into account another kind of truth than that which is in the mind - we point at the truth of things.  This occurs mostly when a thing is related to an intellect as to the cause  on which it  depends for its existence. Thus,  artifacts are said to be true  as a result of their conformity with the mind of the artisan. The knowledge of the architect is the cause of the being of the house. He preconceived it and that is why we say that it is a “true” house. Even more one should say that all realities are true  beings because they have been preconceived by the divine mind. The truth of beings consists  in their conformity with the mind that conceives and creates them, whether human (in some cases) or divine (in all cases) . Being and truth are interchangeable (“convertuntur”) and that is why  truth must be dealt with in metaphysics as well as in the science of knowledge.

             C. The unity of truth against the Averroists.

             For Aquinas the truths of faith and the truths of reason are  the same kind of truth. If they happen to come apparently into conflict, the conflict has to be resolved. For him truth is one comprehensive, integral, and coherent whole with many parts differing in the methods by which truth is pursued. For the Latin “Averroists” (Siger of Brabant) whom Aquinas combats, it is impossible to reconcile the truths of religion with the truths of philosophy and science and so it is better to keep them in separate compartments to avoid confrontation. Aquinas implicitly accuses the Latin Averroists to be committed to the theory of double truth. He rejects the claim that a proposition could be true in philosophy and science and at the same time false in religious faith.  

             On the other hand Thomas was also opposed to the Augustinians, who would make truth a matter of faith. He held that reason and faith constitute two harmonious realms in which the truths of faith complement those of reason: both are gifts of God, but reason has an autonomy of its own.

    * Aquinas, De Veritate, q.1, a.2; Summa theol., 1a, q.16, a.2-3. See  A.D. Sertillanges, La Philosophie de St Thomas d’Aquin, Tome II, Paris, Aubier, 1942, 157-175



    (Greek philosopher, 315-240 BC)

    No valid criterion of truth exists

          Arcesilas, a sceptic of the New Academy appears to have been influenced by Pyrrho. But while Pyrrho’s brand of scepticism was not posited on account of its speculative interest but because it shows the way to happiness, Arcesilas was an eminent dialectician and controversialist who took delight to argue in utramque partem and balance argument against argument.  He took up the position that to know we know is an impossibility, and to seek for absolute truth is an absurdity. His polemic was chiefly directed against the Stoic epistemology (see Stoicism) and its doctrine of the ‘apprehensive presentation’ as the ‘criterion of truth’. Arcesilas maintained that we can assent to no sense-impression as carrying conviction and indubitably true, and that the objective realities are consequently unknowable;  we can only suspend judgement about them, unless we content ourselves with fallible opinion instead of true knowledge. False and true presentations are indistinguishable: non-existent objects (dreams, errors, folly, etc.) as much as existent ones produce on us clear and distinct impressions. So no valid criterion exists, we have no guide but opinion, and we can only think, believe, and act in accordance with what seems reasonable or probably right.  

    *Arcesilas of Pitane, see Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Ancient Greek Skepticism


    ARENDT, Hannah *

    (German-born American political theorist, 1906-1975)

    Truth and politics: Politics in a democracy is a contest of words about competing truths.

         Hannah Arendt’s account of the relation between truth and politics is one of the most interesting one can found on this subject. According to her, to look on politics from the perspective of truth—and by truth she meant “factual truth” —is to stand outside the political realm. She notes that the question of truth has never been counted among the political virtues, because it has little to contribute to that change of the world and of circumstances which is among the most legitimate political activities. Arendt is not recommending lying in politics, but rather trying to explain why the political realm so often seems immune to truthfulness.  

         Politics, rhetoric and truth have been linked ever since democracy took shape. Hannah Arendt reflects upon the Greek legacy: she makes the point that the Ancient Greek belief in argued speech and deliberation is fundamental to any definition of humankind as political. To share in social life necessitates, at any level and in various grades of expertise, to be able to articulate thoughts into words, and to impart these words in such a way so as to make an impression upon those who are addressed in order to persuade them. In Arendt’s vision, rhetoric lies  at the core of being citizens. The “logic” invoked in the political debates is however not that of logicians: citizens are not philosophers, they do not search for universally proven Truth. In fact – and this is a fundamental “political fact” –, they should not. They utter their beliefs, expecting their fellow citizens to do the same, and to listen to each other’s expression of opinions which each speaker may hold to be true.

        Arendt argues further that in a democracy truths expressed by citizens must somehow represent the diversity of the citizenry. A democracy is made of diverse individuals and multi-cultural communities.  In a democratic setting, truth is transient, fragmented, often community-based, it belongs indeed to the domain of prejudice, opinion and belief. This is why argument and deliberation – “rhetoric” – allow citizens, and their representatives, to articulate such diversity. The anti-democratic peril of ideology consists, conversely, in the attempt to try and impose one single truth onto the citizenry. The difficulty of being a democratic citizen resides indeed in learning to accept that each individual, however passionate he is about “what he believes”, and hold to be “true”, may and will be untrue for another citizen. Thus politics in a democracy is a contest of words about competing truths. No government ought ever to believe that they have “the truth”. The danger for politicians is to fail to realize that “rhetoric” is part and parcel of public debate – unless they wrongly believe that there is a fixed “truth” about living together in a democracy.  

         Politicians are often branded people without ethics. This argument found its expression in the Ancient Greek debate between the Sophists and Plato. Arendt refuses to accuse the Sophists of not respecting “truth”. For to do so would be at the peril of retrenching from public deliberation and civil life the very nature of democracy, notably the common ability to change one’s  opinions and to argue for them either way. A democracy is not a theocracy. The ability to exchange viewpoints with others, and with oneself, is the very stuff of democracy. Democracy is the art of conversation.  

    * Arendt, Hannah, Essay on Truth and Politics, The New Yorker, 1967, reprinted in Between Past and Future, Penguin Books, 1993



    (Greek philosopher, 384-324)

    Truth is correspondence of mind and reality

          1. “I am the friend of Plato, but I am even more the friend of the truth”. This famous saying of Aristotle well emphasizes that for him the search for truth has little in common with Plato’s approach. Plato had  transposed the truth in the transcendent world of ideas. Aristotle, on the contrary, wants to find the truth about wordly realities:  matter, life, man himself and his mind. Therefore to make true judgments, one should first observe the world to discover the hidden nature and finality of all things. This search for truth is achieved by the empirical method. Furthermore Aristotle observes the human mind and how it functions. He discovers the science of Logic: how valid conclusions are obtained by deduction from given premisses.

             In both cases of inductive and deductive process of knowledge Aristotle manifests his interest not only in true knowledge  but in  necessary  knowledge. The knowledge of truth has much to do with the discovery of the necessary links that pertain to the structures found in forms, natures and essences. Aristotle is a staunch believer in the world order in which causalities, whether material, formal, efficient or final,  play  a central role. To know the truth about world and man is to discover the underlying network of cause and effect.

             2. “To say that what-is is not  or that what-is-not is, is false;  but to say that what-is  is, and what-is-not  is not, is true”. (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1011). Truth is a characteristic of statements. Truth is located in the judgment. Falsehood and truth have to do with the combination and separation of ideas and concepts used as subject and predicate of judgments. What is not composite can neither be true nor false. Affirmations and negations in the judgment  arise only when the terms of the judgement, subject and predicate, are combined.

             Every sentence has meaning but not every sentence is a proposition. Only such are propositions as have in them either truth or falsity. A prayer is a sentence but it is neither true nor false. The truth-value is a conceptual constituent of propositions.  Every proposition must be either true or false with respect to affirming or denying accidents of substances. The question of  truth-value is bound up with the nature of propositions and propositions have always a subject-predicate form.

             A statement remains unchangeable even if it is true now and false a little later (that Socrates is sitting now, then no longer later). The statement  has  not changed but, because of a change in the actual thing, the statement has become false. The true statement is not the  cause of the actual thing's existence, but rather the actual thing is the cause for the statement to be true. Truth and falsehood depend on things. The affirmation is true if it states the combinations and separations found in things themselves.          

             If the truth of a statement is in the mind  the cause  of such truth is in reality. “The false and the true are not in things but in thought”(Metaphysics, 1027).                                                                          The truth or falsity of propositions, which is determined by reference to our experience, can be discovered about past and present events.  But Aristotle is aware that there is a problem regarding propositions about the future.  If a proposition about tomorrow is true (or false) today, then the future event it describes will happen necessarily, which is absurd because fatalism is unacceptable. Aristotle’s solution of this problem is to maintain that the disjunction is necessarily true today even though neither of its disjuncts is. Thus, it is necessary that tomorrow’s event will occur or it will not occur , but it is neither necessary that it will occur nor necessary that it will not occur.

             3.  Aristotle is aware of the complexity  involved in the search for truth. That is why he wrote: “No one is able to attain the truth adequately....but everyone says something true about the nature of things...While individually we contribute little or nothing to the truth, by the union of all a considerable amount is amassed.” ( Metaphysics, II, 1, 993 b)

    * Aristotle, Metaphysics, 993, 1011, 1027


    ARIUS *

    (Lybian born Alexandrian presbyter, 250-336)

    In the Christian Trinity, only the Father is ‘true’ God

    Arius argues that there is only one God, who is eternal and completely self-sufficient. The so-called ‘Son of God’, therefore, must be a created thing—a creature. Hence he cannot be God. The Trinitarian God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit - is a misconception for neither the Son nor the Holy Spirit possess the same being or substance as the Father. Arius put his finger on the very core of the question of the Trinity. How can God be one and three?                                                                                                                                                               When Arius was asked if Jesus Christ was God, he confronted the problem as a specifically philosophical one that admitted of solution according to his particular categories of thought. His position has as its essential starting point the conviction of the absolute transcendency of God, who is in this case God the Father. There can be no other but one God. The being, substance and essence of the one unique God is absolutely incommunicable. If another being shared the divine nature in any intrinsic sense, there would follow a division of divine Being into several. Thus everything else but this one indivisible God must be a result of God's act of creation.                                                                                                                                                             Logically one is brought to the conclusion from these premises that the Son or Word is subordinate to the Father. The Son is a creature, a perfect creature, "the first begotten of all creation," but nonetheless a creature—made out of nothing by the Father. It also follows in this logical system that as a creature the Word must have had a beginning. Of course, he was not in time as we are, but "there was when he was not".    Jesus, the Word, is made Son by the Father in grace. He is an adoptive Son. Thus even though one can use the term Trinity and speak of three distinct persons, they remain three utterly different beings, and do not share in any way the same substance or being as each other. Only the Father is true God. The Son and Spirit are "God" in a figurative sense.

    * R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God: The Arian Controversy,   T&T Clark, 1988).


    ARKOUN Mohammed *

    (Algerian -French historian of Islam, 1928-2010)


    The claim for absolute truth - whether religious or secular - leads to violence


    Arkoun refuses to consider that violence is consubstantial to Islam. He applies himself to the study of  the relationship between the sacred and violence since antiquity, well before Islam, and even in monotheistic religions, according to an anthropological approach. He is concerned with the study of the relations between violence, sacredness and truth. He calls it the “anthropological triangle” of the sacralization of violence, which for him is not the proper of Islam:  “How can any religious truth admit the justification of   going to war, sacrificing oneself, and killing other human beings?”

    He refers to René Girard who has studied the mimetic rivalry as the cause of violence. He notes that “the danger erupts when the religious Truth is presented as an absolute truth, intangible, immutable, because it is supposed to be the Truth of the Divine Word revealed to mankind.” Indeed, in such a case, those who do not participate to this definition of Truth can only find themselves excluded. Then any contest to the proclaimed truth can lead to violent reactions.

    During a long time Christians have argued that outside the Church there is no salvation. In the same way, Muslims  have claimed that there can be no religious truth outside Islam. The Truth understood in these ways necessarily provokes violent reactions.

    Thus there is a cycle of violence, sacredness and truth. This does not explain only the religious phenomenon. It applies to many other domains. The so-called Marxist truth, as instrumentalized by the communist party in the USSR, has functioned in the same way and generated the untold violence that we all know. The “anthropological triangle” allows one to understand not only religious violence but also the violence manifested in modern secular ideologies.

    We, modern and secular, must stop regarding religions as the only responsible factors of fanatical violence. For there exists also a political and secular type of fanaticism. Even the truth that pretends to be philosophical can degenerate in violent truth, the source of persecutions and condemnations of all kind.

    * Arkoun Mohammed, L’islam. Approche critique, Le livre du mois, Club du livre 2002.


    ARMOUR Leslie *

    (Canadian philosopher, b.1931)      


    Truth and God are identical. Knowing Truth is knowing God!


    It is easy to admit that Truth exists, is unchangeable, eternal, spiritual, and is superior to the human mind. But only God possesses these attributes. If we substitute the word “God” for the word “Truth” in the list of attributes, we see that: God Exists, He is

     Unchangeable, Eternal, Spiritual, not a function of Space, Time or Matter. God is Superior to the human mind.

    These attributes apply equally to Truth and God, and only to Truth and God.

    Truth and God are identical. The only true propositions are about God.

    In other words, Knowing Truth is Knowing God, Truth is Knowledge of God.


    When we say “Truth IS God,”  we should  understand  what the word IS  means, In fact the word IS can have four meanings:

    1- “Truth is God” cannot mean Truth Exists. Replacing the word IS with the word EXISTS does not make sense. This meaning of IS, is not what we mean.

    2- “Truth is God” is Not a Predication about Truth. God is Not an attribute, quality or characteristic of Truth. This meaning of IS, is not what we mean.

    3- “Truth is God” does NOT mean that Truth belongs to a Class of things (or beings) called God. This meaning of IS, is not what we mean.

    4- The only other choice we are left with is that “Truth is God” means  that Truth and God are IDENTITIES. Truth and God are two different names for the same “thing.”

    We can restate it as “Truth is the same as God” and we have done no damage to the meaning of  “Truth is God.” In addition, we can transpose the subject and the predicate to “God is Truth” and we see that we still have a logical and meaningful sentence.

    This shows that the words Truth and God are IDENTICAL. Hence we cannot use the word Truth as a Property of sentences that do not refer to God. True sentences

    are about God only. Knowing Truth is knowing God!

    Truth is NOT the property of Propositions. Truth is a synonym for God.


    * Armour Leslie, The Concept of Truth, Royal Van Gorcum, Assen, and The Humanities Press, New York, 1969.


    ARMSTRONG David *

    (Australian philosopher, b.1926)

    'Truth maximalism': Every truth must have a truth-maker

    Armstrong is a philosopher who insists on a materialist-naturalist metaphysics: there is one actual spatio-temporal world, and nothing more. He regards beliefs as structures of the mind that represent or map reality on the basis of which we undertake actions. These actions are effective to the extent the map is precise.

        He adopts a  version of the correspondence theory of truth, that beliefs are true if definite states of affairs in the world correspond to them. According to him not all true beliefs are knowledge. Beliefs that are true only accidentally or by mistake are not knowledge. Only beliefs that constitute a credible sign of the occurrence of the states of affairs they concern are knowledge. The truth of what is believed is determined by correspondence between belief states and reality. Knowledge is a reliable mapping of reality.

        A central concept for Armstrong's realism is the concept of truthmaker, which is required by the correspondence theory of truth. The correspondence theory respects "the realistic insight that there is a world that exists independently of our thoughts and statements, making the latter true or false". Armstrong suggests that we may accept the redundancy theory as a true account of the semantics of the truth predicate but that we may simultaneously stick to the correspondence theory, which, 'at a deeper, ontological, level', "tells us that, since truths require a truthmaker, there is something in the world that corresponds to a true proposition".

        Armstrong does not just defend truthmaker theory but also truthmaker maximalism: the thesis that every proposition has a truthmaker. He provides us with a maximal theory of truth, namely that all propositions are made true by something in the world, some non-propositional thing or set of things. Every type of proposition, from every area of discourse, must  find an adequate truthmaker. He attempts to show this, as he extends the account to contingent truths, modal truths, truths about the past and future and mathematical truths. Armstrong's case rests not only on successfully demonstrating a theory of truthmaking for each of these areas, but also on there being no other significant area of discourse outside his consideration and for which there are no truthmakers.  

    *Armstrong, David, Truth and Truthmakers, Cambridge University Press, 2004


    ARMSTRONG Jack *


    Unidentified internaut)


    True Belief  vs professed  Belief


    True believing is something much different from professed believing. You never question or doubt your true beliefs ― not even for a minute. Your true beliefs are at a level so deep that no questioning or reasoning is in order. That the earth is round and orbits around the sun in a perfectly functioning solar system is without question in your mind. You know without any conceivable doubt that the sun will rise in the morning and set in the evening. Your true beliefs are based on clear-cut evidence that the universe is in divine order: the seasons follow each other in order, apple trees produce apples instead of oranges, the aging process happens, and death is its culmination for every living thing. There is no doubt. There is total and complete acceptance.

    Professed beliefs are those that your human intellect either has developed on its own or has read or heard about and ― after thought and consideration ― has accepted as part of its own belief system. The striking difference between these professed beliefs and your true beliefs is that at some level, your professed beliefs are always subject to being called into question. Someone or something can raise an unanswered doubt about the validity of the professed belief, and uncertainty arises. Your intellect then begins an internal review of the issue, and you ask yourself how absolutely sure you are that what you have believed is accurate or appropriate for you.

    You call many realities into question at times. You want with all of your heart to believe that they are true. Yet the years of influence of your “worldly” experiences and the false concepts that you have learned over those years still keep you from total, unquestioning acceptance.Your goal is to convert these concepts that you are learning from the level of professed beliefs where they are now to the level of true beliefs, where you will never question or doubt them again. Take strength and comfort from your true beliefs and allow them to expand.


    *See Internet Armtrong Jack





    ARMSTRONG John H. *

    ( Contemporary American evangelical pastor)


     Propositional  truth is unhelpful to understand biblical truth


    Proposition is a philosophical term that is used in logic to describe the content of assertions that are understood to be non-linguistic abstractions drawn from sentences that can be evaluated as either true or false. "All snow is white" is a common proposition, to use a simple illustration. When we use the term "propositional truth" we are saying, in effect, that our truth claims can be stated and analyzed in forms that fit into what we call, in logic, proposition.

    Simply put, there are loads of problems with the term proposition. For example, lots of logicians do not like or use the term for very good reasons. There is no doubt that the term is hugely controversial, even among philosophers. Aristotle said proposition referred to a kind of sentence in which one affirms or denies the predicate of a subject. An illustration would be: "All men are created mortal" This would be followed by the conclusion that "Socrates is a man," thus "Socrates is mortal."

    But think about this for a moment. If we say "All men are mortal" and "Jesus of Nazareth is a man" where does this "valid" proposition lead us? Jesus is a man, that is a truth. But Jesus is not mortal in the sense that all other men are mortal. In this case the propositional form has landed you right in the middle of a serious heresy. Propositional logic seeks to express complete propositions. I do not believe this can be done in many instances since Christian truth claims lead us into a biblical category we call mystery. I much prefer we stop using the term proposition before the term "truth." I would prefer to say I affirm the "truth." This underscores a very important biblical and theological truth, namely that Jesus is the truth, not our humanly constructed propositions. Christian faith cannot be contained in logical formulas and the sooner we recognize this the better.

    I am not saying that Christian truth is anti-logical, or illogical, but rather that the truth rises above categories of human logic. It would be helpful, I believe, if this Greek influence on the church was submitted to the Hebrew-Christian thought forms of the Bible itself. By this means new biblical reformation might break out in many places. Certainly, we would be much more humble about how we state our truth claims. This is one reason I like the way many Christians today are moving away from the term propositional truth and simply affirming the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.


    *Armstrong John and others, This We Believe: The Good News of Jesus Christ for the World,  Zondervan



    ARMSTRONG Karen *

    (English scholar of religions, b.1944)

    The fundamentalist confusion of two different kinds of truth: mythos and logos

      In her arguments against religious fundamentalism, Armstrong takes stock of the ancient distinction between two forms of truth - as described by the Greeks  : mythos and logos. Logos is scientific, rational truth, the basis of modern technological progress. Mythos is a different kind of truth, found in myth, art, and in the beliefs of religion. Armstrong's central thesis is that fundamentalism is essentially the result of confusing one kind of truth with another. Both mythos and logos express truth, but truth of two entirely different and incommensurable kinds, which should not be confused.  

            Pre-modern peoples, she argues, saw religion as belonging firmly to the realm of mythos. Religion was concerned with stories and concepts not to be taken literally, but used as ways to consider the nature of humanity, our relationship to the spiritual, and our place in the world. But after the Enlightenment, when rationalism became so effective and so much a part of life, there was a gradual change of mood and an increased sense that scientific truth was more important than spiritual or mythic truths. Mythos became sidelined and subsequently discredited as 'only' a myth.

            It was, Armstrong argues, in reaction to this mentality that some religious groups, feeling threatened, attempted to reinterpret mythos as logos, taking religious concepts as being literally true. This attitude is the core of the disastrous  fundamentalist attitude of  many religious people today. Armstrong argues that logos and mythos are like two antithetic chemicals that cannot be mixed up. Logos is useful for science and politics, but it cannot answer the big questions of existence: that is the job of mythos, and the two realms of truth must be kept  separate.

            Many critics have not accepted Armstrong's idea that pre-modern religion was based on mythos rather than logos. They have pointed out that fundamentalists are not the misguided modernist innovators expressing imaginative religious truth in ways it was never meant to be expressed. In fact the allegorical (mythos) interpretation in Christianity has never been a powerful one, if compared to the very ancient and common literalist (logos) tradition. The "fundamentalist" concept of religious truth - as logos as much and more than  mythos - has always existed.

    *Armstrong Karen, A History of God, Ballantine Books; first  edition, 2001


    ARNAULD Antoine *

    (French theologian and philosopher, 1612-1694)


    Truth  according to”The Port-Royal Logic”


    In “The Art of Thinking” (more commonly referred to as "The Port-Royal Logic”),

    Arnauld argues that some propositions ("maxims") can be known to be true in themselves, by "intellection," "when the evidence offered by the maxim suffices to convince us of its truth" . Our knowledge of "first principles" is of this sort.

    Other propositions are not self-evident in this way, and they are accepted as true either on the basis of authority or on the basis of reason. Authority-induced assent is called "faith." The use of reason either produces complete conviction or it does not. In the latter case, it is called "opinion."

    If complete conviction is produced, there is (in an extremely weak sense) knowledge. It may be through an apparent reason or through genuine reason. In the former case, the conviction is due to a "lack of attention”. If the maxim itself is false, then "the knower is in error," and even if it is true, "the knower has at the very least judged rashly."

    The "knower" is said to have "understanding" in the case where "the reason is a genuine one, recognized as such by a fairly long and minute scrutiny as well as by a strong sense of persuasion and a vivid and penetrating quality of clarity."


    * Arnauld Antoine, La logique ou L'art de penser. Paris : G. Desprez, 1683.


    ARONRA *

    (Contemporary American philosopher)


    The difference between reality and truth


    Reality and Truth are two words that are often misunderstood to convey the same meaning but strictly speaking they are not so. Reality is an existent fact whereas truth is an established fact. There is lot of difference between an existent fact and an established fact.

    Reality has been existent ever since the beginning of the universe. On the other hand truth is something that you have proved. Truth is the exactness of a fact. Hence it is something you try to establish. This is the main difference between reality and truth.

    The difference between reality and truth is akin to difference between a discovery and invention. A discovery is self existent or something that has been existent right from the past, whereas invention is the one that has been found out with the help of the discovered facts.

    In the same way reality is the one that does not change its nature in the present and future too. It is always of the same nature. On the other hand truth can change its nature in due course. Many scientific truths were disproved in the past. The truth about the planetary motion was re-established later. Hence truth sometimes is bound to change.

    What is found out in reality is what is given ultimately as truth. Hence truth needs the observance of reality. This is especially true in the case of Science. The reality about planetary motion with the sun at the center has been stated as the scientific truth. Hence truth is the subset of reality.

    Reality is not questionable whereas truth is questionable. Reality has nothing to do with power. It is all about authenticity. Authenticity is the proof regarding the original. Hence it can be said that reality is original. It is indeed the factor of authenticity that separates reality from truth.

    It takes time for reality to become truth. How long it takes for the reality to become truth lies in the hands of man. Man needs the power to establish the truth in the reality that has been existent for long.


    See Internet AaronRa



    ARTIGAS Mariano *

    (Spanish scientist and philosopher, 1932-2006)


     In actual scientific practice the contextual, referential and pragmatical features of truth are inter-related.


    Whatever may be the interpretation of scientific methods, it is undeniable that science provides us with an extensive knowledge about the  many  features of the real world. All this points out towards the existence of scientific truth. It is not difficult to argue that the method of science presupposes a basic gnoseological realism and that this realism is refined and enlarged by the progress of science, so that scientific truth provides a clue for understanding the intelligibility of science.

    Artigas faces the intriguing situation in contemporary epistemology, namely the fact that there is a strong tendency towards relativist and instrumentalist views. He admits that the core of the problem of realism in science is the notion of truth. Difficulties necessarily arise if we think about truth as a qualification that could only be applied to something totally independent of our abilities to know and of our active intervention; if this were the case, we could never institute a meaningful talk about truth. But we can do it provided we realize that truth primarily is a qualification of our knowledge, and that this knowledge can be called true if what we assert corresponds with the real situation which we intend to reflect. Then, truth is always relative to a particular perspective that includes theoretical and pragmatical features, and this amounts to saying that truth is contextual. However, once we have established a well-defined context, we are no longer free to interpret claims to truth in a subjective way.

    Does this mean that we can only achieve a contextual truth? In this case, truth would mean only coherence and there would be no problem about realism. Even the strongest opponents of the idea of scientific truth would admit that we often reach rigorous proofs; nevertheless, they will argue that proofs are rigorous only within a given presuppositional framework and that, therefore, we can only speak of truth as consisting in relations of coherence. What is then at stake is the possibility of passing from a coherence notion of validity to a correspondence notion of truth.

    Artigas argues we can speak about a scientific truth which is contextual and therefore is also partial and approximative. And this implies that it is perfectible; that it must be conceived as having a somewhat different value according to the different modalities of constructions and proofs; and that it has a historical dimension, because any context is defined by using constructions that depend on historical conditions.

    His explanation of truth combines the contextual, the semantic and the pragmatical features, which correspond to the theories of truth as coherence, as correspondence and as praxis. We will find unsolvable problems if we separate these features. This would happen, for instance, if we try to establish truth as a correspondence conceived as complete independence of theoretical construction and pragmatical intervention. An interpretation of this kind would amount to an illegitimate absolutization of truth, because the value of our knowledge would be considered as if it were independent of our concepts, of their references and of the real problems which we try to solve. Instead, our explanation of truth takes into account these dimensions of our real knowledge.

    Our knowledge is rightly seen by relativism as framework-dependent; by fallibilism as limited and perfectible; and by instrumentalism as connected with pragmatical problems. But these views extrapolate these real features of scientific knowledge, and the result is that they fail to reconcile them with the undeniable fact that we achieve a true knowledge about reality. Instead, the notion of truth can be applied not only as a regulative idea, but also in a concrete way, if we realize that in actual scientific practice the contextual, referential and pragmatical features of truth are inter-related.

    The realism presupposed by the scientific method is only a basic one that does not involve many specific philosophical consequences. It is centred around the possibility of obtaining a true knowledge about reality. The analysis of the method of science shows that this method basically corresponds to the realist character of ordinary knowledge. Furthermore, it shows how that basic realism can be refined and enlarged.

    Once we accept the possibility of speaking about a contextual and partial, but authentical truth, it is not difficult to show how to combine the provisory character of science stressed by fallibilism with its reliability. Indeed, we reach a real knowledge which, due to its contextual character, can be partially superseded by another context, without losing its own validity and truth. Furthermore, insofar as science is a human activity which aims to obtain not only knowledge but also a dominion over nature, there is no difficulty in admitting that scientific constructs can sometimes have an instrumental value which suffices to make them acceptable.


    *Artigas Mariano, Communication presented in the 9th International Congress of Logic, Metodology and Philosphy of Science, Upsala (Sweden),  1991.

    Knowing Things for Sure: Science and Truth - with Alan McCone (July 28, 2006)




    (Unknown contemporary Indian arya samaj  author}

     The path of Truth is revealed in the Vedas.

     The path of Truth leads to the Highest Truth. The path of Truth is revealed in the Vedas.  When the Vedic knowledge is understood and put into practice, the Highest Truth is attained. The path of Truth is known as DHARMA, expounded in the Vedas (and Vedic literature), which reveal the nature of Reality.  There are not two Realities; there are not two Truths.  There is One Reality; there is One Truth.                                                                                                                                                                                                  The nature of Reality is revealed to be three-fold, yet One and indivisible.  That Reality is SatChitAnand.  SAT is Existence, CHIT is Consciousness, and ANANDA is Bliss. The reality of innumerable particles of Existence devoid of consciousness and bliss is known as PRAKRITI. This is one aspect of Reality.  Another aspect of Reality is the reality of the existence of innumerable conscious beings known as Souls (ATMAN).  Pervading all of this, and beyond all of this, is the Highest aspect of Reality which is All-existing, All-conscious, and All-Blissful and is known as SatChitAnand, the indivisible, One Supreme Reality.

    The One Supreme Reality is Eternal: it is beginningless and endless.  Similarly, the innumerable souls and Prakriti are uncreated (beginningless) and indestructible (endless), and like the qualities of that Highest aspect of Reality their characteristics too are eternal. These three: the Supreme Self, the innumerable Souls, and Prakriti are eternal aspects of Truth.  One who is truthful, one who is real, completely embraces the Truth and manifests all aspects of Reality.  Such a truthful one lives a natural life, knows the limits of mind and matter, and worships (reaches for) the Supreme Self.

    One who is not truthful  worships the temporal as permanent, the limited as the limitless, and the half-truth as the whole truth. The path of half-truth leads nowhere.  In fact, half-truth cannot be called truth at all. Truth is indivisible and whole, and only those who wholly embrace it know it. Completely embracing Truth means practicing it in thought, word, and deed.  This does not mean one has to be perfect to know the truth; it only means one needs to be truthful.

    All of the various religions resolve themselves back to a particular person, personality, or image.  One who really wants to know the Truth has to leave all these religious trappings and turn his or her mind inward to the Light of the Soul. Guided by Divine Wisdom, and protected by one’s own solid practices, one will tread the only true path that there is—which  is the Path Within.

    The ‘Path Within’ simply means that one stops looking outside of himself for the answers that can only be found within. The Truth-seeker stops trying to validate his or her ego with false knowledge and flimsy images of spirituality. This is the one Path of Truth which is known by various names:  the Path Within (the search for Truth within), the Path of Dharma (the practice of Truth), the Path of Divine Wisdom (the knowledge of the Vedas), the Path of YOGA (the realization and actualization of the essence of the Vedas).  We can call it the Vedic Path, or we can call it the Universal Path; or we can simply call it the Path of the Wise.


    ASISH Meera *

    (Contemporary Indian Times of India reporter)


    Truth, love and compassion: the three basic principles of all faiths


    Truth, love and compassion are three principles in which all faiths are founded and which none can speak against. If we abide by these, we have imbibed the basic teaching of all religions. Truth instils fearlessness. Where there is love, there is always sacrifice. If there is compassion, there can be no violence. Fearlessness, sacrifice and non-violence all lead to internal and external peace. Morari Bapu (Indian  spiritual teacher) likens truth to childhood; in its youth, truth is called love. When love matures it takes the form of compassion. Again, compassion will then become innocent as a child, and the cycle returns to truth. This threefold aphorism, truth, love and compassion, is the fundamental principle of life.

    To uphold the principle of truthfulness, says Bapu, one must have truth in thought speech and action. However, it is equally important not to be obdurate about one`s own version of truth, such that we refuse to accept what another might consider the truth. Rather, we must respect one another; we must respect the truth of others. Every religion has its own version of truth, but followers should not insist that theirs is the only truth. Furthermore, while truth can be obtained from a scripture, supreme truth can only be attained with guidance from an evolved master who is himself the embodiment of compassion. Bapu likens truth to a tree, whose fruits are love, and compassion is the embodiment of the tree`s shade.

    The second principle, love, says Bapu, is necessary for internal purification, a fluid that is able to remove any negativity that might exist in our minds. Love is the life force, leading to salvation. Jesus Christ said that love itself is God, and Lao Tsu advocated a life of simplicity to attain a happy existence, and claimed his first wealth to be love. The virtue of charity and giving, whether this be sharing knowledge, food, even ideas, as well as total surrender, are all necessary conditions of love.

    Rather than trying to change others, let us be open and accepting, by drawing on compassion. It is through our conduct rather than speech that compassion is conveyed, it is through the eyes that it is expressed, and kindness and generosity are firm principles to which compassion is devoted.. Our duty is truth, the fact that we are still enduring is because of our love and now as we start practising compassion, our life will be filled with all three.

    The Supreme Being, whom we may call Ishwar, Allah, Jesus, or any other name, is nothing but truth and love. The Supreme Being is also compassion. As true seekers, let us uphold these three - truth, love and compassion.


    *See Internet Meera Ashish


    ATMOSFERA Jong *

    (Contemporary Filipino free-thinker)   


     Three Primary Truths


    There are three truths which must be accepted at the beginning of any investigation into the problem of knowledge and truth:

    * The First Fact: The fact of our existence. “I exist.”

    * The First Principle: The principle of contradiction. “A thing cannot be and not-be at the same time in the same respect.”

     * The First Condition: The essential capability of the mind to know truth. “My intellect can reason and discover truth.”

    These primary truths cannot be “proved” by a positive demonstration because they are presupposed and involved in every demonstration. They are fully grounded in reason and no reasonable person can dispute them consistently.

    Religion only subscribes to the First Fact (our existence), but not to the First Principle (contradiction) and the First Condition (intellect’s ability to discover truth). Religious dogmas have so many contradictions that are conveniently answered by “our minds are too finite to grasp God’s infinite wisdom”.

    As freethinkers, we know that belief is no longer a matter of choice, but of conclusion; no matter how the religious try to proselytize, as long as what they preach is unscientific, illogical, or irrational, they cannot force us to believe, We do not choose to be atheists, agnostics, or deists; we just become, most likely as a result of freethinking.

    Now the question is, do we choose to become freethinkers? Is it a matter of choice when we base our beliefs on science, logic, and reason instead of authority, tradition, or dogma? It is not a matter of choice but of conclusion when we realize that science, logic, and reason are more reliable in terms of finding the truth than authority, tradition, or dogma.


    Posted on 27 February 2010 by Jong Atmosfera. Tags: logic, Religion, The Filipino Freethinker





    ATTWOOD Jayarava *

    (Contemporary American Buddhist autodidact)


    A critique of the Buddhist Doctrine of the Two Truths.                                                                                                    In broad outline the idea of Two Truths says that there are two ways of understanding the world. In the conventional (samvti) sense the world is just as it appears to the unawakened. According to this theory, this conventional world is not real. Taking the world to be real is why we suffer. Buddhist theorists came up with the idea of an ultimate (paramārtha) truth, the perception of which is liberating, and the understanding of which is liberation—those who see things this way see things as they really are, i.e. they see Reality (with a capital R).

    However we do not find the idea of Two Truths in the Pāli suttas, we cannot cite any Pāli sutta in defence of this idea. If the early Buddhists did not feel the need for such a theory why did later Buddhists invent it?

    Not content to leave the dhamma as an indeterminate 'mental thing', what I refer to deliberately vaguely as 'an experience', they began to speculate on the nature of dhammas. Where they real? Where they ultimate? How long did they last? The answers to these questions were from the beginning irrelevant to the Buddhist program of practice.  I understand the early Buddhist response to the question of whether dhammas are real or unreal to be that the question was neither answerable nor relevant, so even attempting to answer it is pointless.

    If I close my eyes then my mode of perception has changed, and my experience of 'the world' has radically changed. This probably leaves the world itself unchanged. I say probably because I do not know and I do not believe I can know the world except through my senses. This leaves me uncertain, and unable to come to any firm conclusion. So neither materialism or idealism in the strict senses are intellectually honest. All I know for certain is that I have experience of something; I find the experiences I have problematic; and early Buddhism tells me that the something is not the source of the problem. Its pragmatic position avoids any argument about relative and ultimate. Such a duality is simply unnecessary. But once we begin to take sides, to insist that dhammas must either be real or unreal, or worse that objects in the world are real or unreal, then we come into a dilemma because neither stance makes sense in light of the nature of perception. When we limit our domain to experience then dualities like real/unreal or existence/non-existence simply and straightforwardly do not apply, and we do not create paradoxes.

    Because we are, or should be, talking about experience of things rather than the things in themselves, we have no need of two different truths. Only those who attempt to stretch the application of the paicca-samuppāda beyond it's intended domain require two truths. All Buddhist philosophers (including the modern Theravāda) are barking up the wrong tree with this business of Two Truths. The early Buddhists had no need of a Two Truths theory because they understood the domain in which paicca-samuppāda applies i.e. the domain of experience.


    *See Internet Attwood Jayarava





    AUDI Robert *

    (American Moral philosopher, b.1941)

                           Basic moral truths are known without inference

        Audi defends ethical intuitionism, objective values and objective reasons for action. He models ethical intuitions on a priori, non-empirically-based intuitions of truths, such as basic truths of mathematics. His ethical intuitionism claims that basic moral truths - whether they are principles (such as don't kill people) or judgments (such as it is wrong to kill people) - are known without inference, and in particular they are known via one's rational intuition. One intuits the truth of basic moral propositions, rather than inferring them.

        Audi characterizes moral "intuitions" as a species of belief that are self-evident in that they are justified simply by virtue of one's understanding of the proposition believed.

        He argues that one has direct access to one’s moral intuitions.  These beliefs are not justified by their relationship with other beliefs, rather they are known without being inferred from other premises.  For example, that torturing a child for pleasure is wrong can be known without being inferred from any premises.

        However direct awareness of one’s intuitions does not necessitate infallible intuitions. Audi defends a kind of “moderate intuitionism” in distinguishing between hard self-evidence and soft self-evidence. Hard self-evidence is strongly axiomatic, immediate, indefeasibly justified, and compelling, while soft self-evidence has none of these properties, and will always be mediate.  This mediation allows the capacity for error within self-evident intuitions.

    * Audi Robert, The Good in the Right: A Theory of Intuition and Intrinsic Value. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004


    AUGUSTINE of Hippo *

    (African philosopher theologian, 354-430)

    Truth is transcendent, eternal and immutable: God himself.

    The role of the will in the search for truth.

    1. Some items of man’s rational knowledge are remarkable in that they are truths expressed in necessary, immutable, eternal propositions. Such truths are common to all minds who contemplate them. From where do these propositions derive these characteristics?  They do not come from the senses perceiving objects which are mutable. Perhaps the mind draws truth from itself ? In that case truth would depend on the mind like an effect depends on its cause.  It is evident that truth is not the effect of reason. Truth is not inferior to reason. We do not pass judgments on  intelligible truths; on the contrary, we discover them. We submit to them and by them we judge everything else.

             Therefore, truth is independent of the mind it rules. Truth is transcendent  to the mind. In discovering the transcendence of truth  the mind discovers God’ s existence. In seeing the truth the mind perceives a law above itself and an immutable nature : God himself. God is the eternal subsisting Truth, which is cause of the ontological truth of all creatures.

             The Augustinian concept of truth may be seen as a transformed and Christianised Neo-Platonism. Plotinus (see below)  had made the Intellect, the second principle, inferior to the One. Whereas the One is simple, this Intellect contains many ideas and truth is one of them.  Augustine could not maintain the Plotinian distinction of the One and the Intellect. For him the immutable truth is the Son of God, the Logos, and therefore God himself, rather than  a principle inferior to God. Augustine internalized the ideas in God. Hence his argument for God’s existence  simply is that  “Truth exists, but God is Truth, therefore God exists”.

        2. Truth is not only something given to us; it is also something we must choose. Augustine underlines the great influence that the will has upon the judgments of the intellect. A soon as one draws near to God and his mystery, the intellect is prevented from being irresistibly drown by proofs and arguments  unless the will adds its command. There is no doubt that Augustine here grants the primacy of the will over the intellect. “The vision of  truth is the prerogative of the one who lives well, prays well, and studies well.”, he writes. And elsewhere: ”It is incorrect to wish to see truth that you may purify your soul, which should rather be purified that you may see”. The characteristic of all demonstrations, above all in the field of religion, explains how there is place for free choice. Augustine admitted that he erred before his conversion when he demanded absolutely cogent and almost mathematical proofs, not recognizing that the knowledge of God is always mysterious.    

             His own life story exemplifies the tragedy of the human will : that one can fail to choose the truth.  A teacher can lead us to the truth but his words are not the truth. The truth is inner and even though it is given to us, it is ‘subjectively objective’. Once this is understood  we must let ourselves be attracted to it and be open to it. Truth is not just something to be known, for once it is found one must do  something about it. It is possible to choose willfully against it and that is the tragedy of man’s lot. Augustine’s ‘Confessions’ is the dramatic account of a human conscience who gradually discovers the truth but wavers and hesitates to commit itself to it. His reluctant will was for  a long time the obstacle to welcoming the truth.  

             Augustine’s view is a major modification of the Platonic concept of truth for which truth is a matter of contemplation only. For Augustine truth is also something to choose and  to be done about - a matter of will  and praxis.

    * See E. Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St Agustine, Random House, New York, 1959, p.15-19. See also R. Campbell, ibid., p;85-91; Portalié, Eugène, A Guide to the Thouhgt of St Augustine, London, Burns & Oates, 1960, p. 105-109


    AUN WEOR Samael *

    ( Spanish ‘neo-gnostic’ author, 1917-1977)


    The truth is neither belief, negation nor skepticism: it is is a matter of mystical experience


    The mind of believers is bottled in beliefs. To believe is not experience of that which is the Truth, God, Allah or whatever you want to call it. The mind of the atheist is bottled within incredulity, and is not the experience of the Truth, God, Brahman, etc. The mind of the one who doubts the existence of God is bottled in skepticism, and this is not the Truth. That which Is, that which is the Truth is totally different from any belief, negation, or skepticism. While the mind remains bottled within anyone of these three factors of ignorance, it cannot experience That which is the Truth.

    When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is the truth?” Jesus kept silence. When the same question was asked to Buddha, he turned his back and walked away. The truth is incommunicable. The truth is a matter of mystical experience, thus only by means of ecstasy can we experience it.

    Everybody can give themselves the luxury of having an opinion about truth, but truth has nothing to do with opinions. Truth has nothing to do with thought; the truth is something that we can only experience while in the absence of “I.” The one who knows it does not say it, and the one who says it does not know it.

    The Truth is a series of always expansive and successively more and more deeply significant experiences. Some people have an idea about the truth, and other people have other ideas about it, thus everyone has their own ideas about the truth, but the truth has nothing to do with ideas. The truth is totally different from all ideas. Thus, in the world are many people who believe they have the truth, without ever in their life having experienced the truth. Without wise concentration on thought, the experience of the truth is impossible.


      *  Samael Aun Weor, Spiritual Power of Sound (1966)


    AUROBINDO, Ghose *

    (Indian mystic philosopher and guru, 1872-1950)

    The Truth of ancient Scriptures

        For Aurobindo, the existence of  one and eternal Truth - the object of man's  search - is certain. All other truths derive from Truth. In the light of Truth they find their place in the general economy  of knowledge. For this reason the one Truth can neither be confined within the limits and particularities of a philosophical system or a unique body of Scriptures, nor enunciated in its totality and once for all by a Master - be he a guru, a prophet or an avatar. We cannot claim to have discovered the Truth if the idea we form about it necessitates the intolerant exclusiveness of  truths which form the basis of other  conceptions.

             This Truth, although one and eternal, expresses itself in time and by way of human knowledge. That is the reason why every Scripture must necessarily include two elements: the first is temporary, perishable, relative to the time and place in which it took shape, and the other is eternal and imperishable, applicable to all times and cultures. Besides, the human intellect undergoes constant modifications; it leaves the old expressions and symbols behind to adopt new ones. It can never be certain to understand  an ancient Scripture in the same way it was understood by its contemporaries. What remains invaluable in the Bhagavad Gita and other ancient scriptures is not a doctrinal content that speaks to the intellect, but the vision of a message of life that is atemporal and universal.  

             Thus it is of little interest to discover in the Bhagavad Gita the exact metaphysical meaning intended by its authors and contemporaries. The divergences between the commentaries written on the Gita during centuries show that this task is futile.  Deep disagreement divides the exegetes of the Gita and each commentator interprets the book in the light of his own metaphysical system or his own sectarian  religious views.  

             What is much more valuable is to draw out from the Gita the living truths it contains without bothering about doctrinal contents and metaphysical issues. The Gita imparts a message of life, perfectly adaptable to our present day humanity and capable to satisfy its spiritual need. It is for this purpose that the Gita and other sacred  Scriptures have been handed over to us. All the rest are only academic disputes and theological dogma. What are of vital importance to the man of today are Scriptures, religions, philosophies that can constantly be renewed and adapted to the need of the inward spiritual experience of an evolving human world. It is in that sense that they are the expressions of the one and eternal truth. The remnants are monuments of a past, with no vital interest for the future of humanity.

    *Aurobindo Ghose, Bhagavad Gita and Its Message, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, 1994


    AUSTIN J.L. *

    (English Philosopher, Oxford, 1911-1960)

    Descriptive statements may be true or false, but performatory  

    statements do not aim at saying what is true or false.

          1. Austin is well known for his concept of performatory  utterances. Language, he explains, is not only used to make statements that are true or false but for a variety of other purposes:  giving orders, asking questions, taking oaths, giving thanks, etc.  When sentences are used in these ways it makes no sense to ask if they are true or false. Many of our statements do not aim at being true or false. They are not meant to describe but rather to perform a certain act.  He calls them “speech-acts”. Descriptive utterances may be true or false if they fulfil the condition of reference to reality. But this is not the case with performatory utterances which are neither true nor false and still perfectly meaningful. Meaningful sentences can have other purposes than saying what is true or false. The logico-positivist dichotomy between true/false and meaningless is proved to be unfounded. That means that truth and meaning must not be confused; the meaningful need  be neither true nor false  but simply neutral.  

             Austin complains that logicians and philosophers of language have had too little to say about the multiplicity of structures and usages in natural languages. Their mistake was to presume that language is preeminently the tool of constative or descriptive  assertion, a tool interested  in providing statements about the world which are characterisable  as either true or false. They had forgotten Aristotle’s wise remark that: “Not all sentences are statements; only such as have in them  either truth or falsity; thus a prayer is a sentence, but neither true nor false”. Many utterances are not subject to the truth/false conditions of propositional knowledge. They exist as  performatives or acts of welcoming, apologising, advising, etc. Such utterances have felicitous conditions in place of truth values. In them we do not describe a state of affairs in the real world. Rather we bring a state of affairs into existence by virtue of our utterances. The performative is an act and not a representation.

         2.  What is true or false are statements. But statements are not made in the abstract. Making a statement is a historic event made by a certain speaker to an audience in particular circumstances. It is a matter of describing something and doing it correctly. Austin endorses  a form of correspondence theory of truth. Facts and state of affairs in the world are what make true statements to be true.

             What kind of correlation is there between words  and situations, events or  state of affairs?  Austin agrees to call that correlation a ‘correspondence’ , but he admits that it is not easy to define it. Nevertheless, he adds, there is no reason to reject the view. At least it should be made clear that the correlation or correspondence is purely conventional, and that means that the words used in making a true statement do not mirror in any way any feature of the situation or event. The statement we make does not reproduce the structure of reality. We must not read back into the world the features of language (as it is done by Russel’s and Wittgenstein’s naive view of the pictorial  theory of world and language) (see Russel and Wittgenstein I).

    *  J.L. Austin, Truth,  p.18-31, from Truth, Ed. by G. Pitcher, Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1964


    AUTRECOURT Nicholas *

    (French philosopher, 1295-1369)

    The certainty of  truth is based only on experience and logical reasoning

        Nicholas of Autrecourt has been called a medieval Hume. He maintained that all certitude is based on and reducible to the immediate evidence of experience and the Principle of Contradiction. But there is no absolute evidence derived from experience that any natural causes operate. Moreover, it is a consequence of the Principle of Contradiction that in every valid inference the consequent simply restates all or part of what was stated in the antecedent. Hence from the fact that one thing is known to exist, it cannot be inferred with the evidence of the Principle of Contradiction that another and different thing exists. From this, it follows that effects cannot be logically inferred from alleged causes nor conversely. Thus, though there may be a probability for causal connection, there can be no certainty that any natural causes exist. Neither experience nor logical reasoning can provide such certainty.

        All evident knowledge  must be reducible to the first principle, i.e. to the principle of non-contradiction. An inference yields evident knowledge only when the affirmation of its antecedent and the negation of its consequent are contradictory. This means that the antecedent and the consequent, or, more precisely, what is signified by the antecedent and the consequent, must be identical, "because if this were not the case, it would not be immediately evident that the antecedent and the opposite of the consequent cannot stand together without contradiction." It is in the context of this theory that Autrecourt launches an attack on our claim to have certain knowledge of the existence of substances and causal relations. On the basis of this principle, one may not infer knowledge of the existence of effects from knowledge of their causes, nor knowledge of the existence of substances from knowledge of their accidents.

        This view runs contrary to the Aristotelian position, according to which causal relations really exist and are discoverable by means of induction, so that the existence of substances can be inferred from the perceptible accidents inhering in them. The upshot of Autrecourt’s view is that we do not have experience of causal relations or substances, nor does logic provide certain knowledge of them. There are no logical reasons to assume that there is an evident relation between a cause and an effect, or between a substance and an accident.

    * See Grellard, C., Croire et savoir. Les principes de la connaissance selon Nicolas d'Autrécourt. Paris: Vrin, 2005.


    AVELOO Alain *

    (Contemporary French philosopher)


    Le difficile problême de la vérité en histoire


    1. Nous ne pouvons faire autrement que de croire les historiens. Car, si tel n’était le cas, nous nierions notre propre passé. L’histoire,  considérée comme discipline scientifique, pourrait alors être en mesure de dévoiler une part de vérité.

    2. Toutefois, l’histoire ne peut se reposer toute entière sur la science puisque l’écart temporel entre l’histoire passée et l’histoire construite, c’est à dire l’histoire transmise par l’historien dans le présent, rend la scientificité de l’histoire tout à fait contestable. En effet, elle révèle avant tout de interprétation que les historiens feront d’elle..

    Il n’y a de sciences que s’il n’y a des lois prédictives, c’est à dire, des lois universelles et nécessaires, qui, autrement dit, sont des lois, des vérités qui valent dans tous les cas et qui ne peuvent pas ne pas être. Dès lors, sommes-nous en mesure de pouvoir considérer l’histoire au même titre que des sciences telles la physique ou la chimie ? A l’inverse de ces sciences, l’histoire, elle, ne peut se baser sur des vérités universelles et nécessaires. Tout au contraire,  l’histoire est contingente, c’est à dire qu’elle peut ne pas être puisque, l’époque étant révolue et l’historien ne l’ayant pas connu, il ne peut que l’interpréter. Comment être certain d’être dans le vrai ? De surcroît, elle ne peut être universelle en raison des nombreuses et différentes interprétations de chaque historien.

    3.Mais alors on peut se demander s’il ne serait  pas contradictoire d’affirmer l’existence de plusieurs interprétations, de plusieurs vérités historiques. La vérité, en plus de se définir comme l’adéquation, la correspondance parfaite avec une réalité passée ou non, respecte avant tout le principe de non-contradiction. Ce principe veut qu’on ne peut affirmer et nier une même proposition en même temps.. Or, et tel est le cas pour les historiens qui, en donnant plusieurs interprétations à une même chose, à un même événement, vont  assurément biffer le principe de non-contradiction. En effet, tous produisent le discours d’une interprétation pour un événement et soutiennent donc la vérité de celui-ci. Pourtant,  en exposant chacun une interprétation différente, les historiens vont se contredire. Si jamais un historien prétend que son interprétation se trouve être juste, une autre se trouverait dès lors systématiquement fausse.

    L’historien ne devrait-il pas faire preuve d’objectivité ? C’est à dire, ne devrait-il pas se comporter comme impartial et neutre ? Nous ne sommes jamais certains d’atteindre la vérité, que cela soit en histoire ou autre discipline. Il ne s’agit pas là de refuser, de ne pas reconnaître une existence à la vérité puisqu’une telle affirmation reviendrait d’ailleurs à adopter de nouveau une position dogmatique, c’est à dire, se plonger dans une certitude et se fermer à une seule et même interprétation. C’est pourquoi, les historiens plutôt que de se contenter d’une interprétation devrait poursuivre indéfiniment la recherche de la vérité puisqu’ils ne sont jamais certains de l’atteindre. Cela ne reviendrait pas à douter de la vérité mais à l’inverse, la rechercher c’est à dire, mener un effort constant pour l’atteindre.


    *See internet Avello Alain



    AVENARIUS, Richard *

    (German philosopher, 1843-1896)

    Truth is recovered in pure experience and the elimination of all ideas

        Avenarius' philosophy called Empirio-Criticism is only another name for the philosophy of ‘Pure Experience’. The aim of this  philosophy  is that, since so much of our experience is now no longer pure, the philosopher must make it his business to purify it. He can only do it by making a clean sweep of all those notions by which our ancestors strove to facilitate thought, but in fact have only encumbered it. All philosophical ideas such as substance, accident, cause, self, etc. are useless: they must be done away with since they are static, whereas experience is essentially a process and a growth.        This done, all that will remain will be impressions. 'Being' must be thought as an impression which presupposes nothing beyond what is apparent to the senses. Impressions are the only real content of experience, while change is the form  which experience takes.

        This is all the truth with which philosophy is concerned. It will be purely descriptive, yet simple, exact, complete.  Philosophy  is the scientific effort to exclude from knowledge all ideas not included  in the given. Quality will be reduced to quantity and laws will treat of quantitative equivalence, not of causal connection or sequence. All values and quantitative relations will be interdependent and mutually deducible one from another.                Religion, philosophy and morals also will be characterised by a purely experimental method, and will be regarded from a purely experimental point of view. Predispositions, prejudices and individual differences will have disappeared, and their place will be taken by an indefinite variety of minute impressions, leading to reactions of a simple and invariable type. In short, when the ideal of pure experience has been realised, man will have become a mere machine, so that no matter what particular specimen of humanity you may choose, if you press the same lever you will get the same feeling,  the same experience, the same truth.

    * Avenariius Richard, Critique of Pure Experience, Kritik der Reinen Erfahrung. Leipzig: Fues (R. Reisland).



    (Islamic philosopher, Spain, 1126-1198)

    No “double-truth theory”, but three levels of understanding truth

          Averroes considered the philosophical system of Aristotle as the supreme truth. Being a Muslim and wanting to avoid being accused of heresy,  he had to harmonize his philosophical ideas with Islamic orthodoxy. It is often said that he worked it out in inventing the so-called ‘double truth’ theory. This theory means that a proposition can be true in philosophy and false in theology or vice versa. But Averroes never taught such a thing. He only meant  that one and the same truth can be understood in different ways.

             He distinguishes three different levels of understanding of the religious revelation contained in the Koran.  First, the highest and noblest form of religious understanding is reached through philosophical demonstration. Second, a lower level of theological understanding consists in taking the truth of the Koran for granted and arguing for it dialectically on the basis of undemonstrated assumptions. Third, the lowest form of understanding is the proper of  unsophisticated believers and religious fundamentalists who take the poetic analogies and metaphors of the Koran as literal truths.                                            

             Thus, according to Averroes, religion (Islam) does not teach any truth that the reason of the philosopher is not able to discover by himself. Even more, the  deepest meaning of the Koran is known  through philosophy so much so that Averroes seems to attribute an inferior status to the truths of religious faith. In any case he  stresses that  there can be no conflicts between these different kinds of truth because they belong to different levels of understanding. Truth cannot contradict truth and therefore the Koranic revelation and Aristotle’s philosophy are two different expressions of the same truth.

             If Averroes was so eager to show the concordance between the essentials of Islamic religion and philosophical truth, his intention was probably to save religion and making it respectable in that it could be seen as intrinsically rational. To “rationalize” religion, for him, was not to destroy it but rather to enhance it and to demonstrate its truth. If religion were not philosophically true, it would be irrational and unintelligible, the product of pure imagination, an admixture of myths with no truth-value. Averroes’s so-called two-truths (three-truths) theory  makes it possible for the philosopher to be a ‘religious’  person in the fullest sense.

    * See Averroes in M.J. Charlesworth, Philosophy of Religion: The Historic Approaches, Macmillan, London, 1972, p.23-27


    AVICENNA (Ibn Sina) *

    ( Persian Islamic philosopher and theologian, 980-1037)


    Absolute being is true in itself, contingent being is true due to something else other than itself.


    First it must be said that Avicenna  - online with Aristotle and reiterated by Thomas Aquinas - defined truth as: ‘what corresponds in the mind to what is outside it; truth is the veridical belief in the existence of something’ .

     An understanding of Avicenna’s thought on the truth of being can be best grasped in drawing a parallel between  Descartes' famous First Meditation and Avicenna’s own thought on the same topic. Descartes sheds away the outer world, its sensations and perceptions, and ultimately his own body until all that remains is the "I", the thinking being which is aware of its own existence. For him, the goal of his experiment was to find at least one truth of which he could be absolutely certain and from which he can then proceed to build his new science in such a way as to rebut radical skepticism. Descartes strips away, as if in concentric circles, all that on which even the smallest doubt can be placed. The world, the senses, and finally even the body itself are doubted. What he cannot place any doubt on is the fact that he thinks, he cannot be fooled into thinking otherwise: this is the first truth.

    In contrast with this Cartesian approach Avicenna’s argument intends to prove something quite different and comes from a very different starting point altogether. To begin with, Avicenna also places doubts on the existence of the world. But it is not the radical skepticism of Descartes, where reality is deceiving and the subjects find  themselves unable to determine whether they are waking or dreaming. The world does exist for Avicenna, but his examinations were into WHY it exists. For him, the entire world is itself contingent and is necessary not through itself, but through another, a Necessary Existent. It is this Necessary Existent which is the ground for all reality as we see it. He begins by observing the world around him and concludes that it is a contingent world whose necessity, and not being qua being, is in doubt.

    The contingent in itself, asserts Avicenna, has the potentiality to be or not to be without entailing a contradiction. When actualized, the contingent becomes a ‘necessary existent due to what is other than itself’. Thus, contingency-in-itself is potential beingness that could eventually be actualized by an external cause other than itself. The metaphysical structures of necessity and contingency are different. Necessary being due to itself  is true in itself, while the contingent being is ‘false in itself’ and ‘true due to something else other than itself’. The necessary is the source of its own being without borrowed existence. It is what always exists and is ‘true in itself’.

    * See  Avicenna/Ibn Sina at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy




    AYER A.J. *

    (British logical positivist, 1910-1989)

    There is no problem of truth, neither rational nor empirical truth

    The so called problem of truth is no problem at all. For truth is neither  something real nor  a quality nor a relation.

         1.There is no ‘truth of reason’ in analytical propositions but only tautologies established by linguistic conventions. The so called truths of reason have no content.  They say nothing more than “A is A”, which is certain and necessary because we have decided to adopt such linguistic conventions. These propositions simply record our determination to use words in a certain fashion. They are not only independent of the nature of the external world  but also of the nature of the mind (Ayer rejects Kantian idealism). They are “true” by definition. Mathematics, Logic, etc. are nothing more than immense tautologies.

         2. There is no empirical truth of reality with which the mind is in correspondence and which language expresses in  synthetic propositions. To say that something is true is to say nothing more than affirming  it. Truth and falsehood are nothing more than affirmation and negation. There is no need  to state or add : ‘is true’ or ‘ is false’. The predicates ‘true’ and ‘false’ are redundant and useless.  The real and only problem is to show how our propositions are validated.  Why do we agree to affirm or negate our propositions?        

             To that question Ayer answers : we agree to affirm P, not because it is ‘true’, but because P enables us to anticipate experience. If P fulfills that function, it is valid. Past experiences are a guide for us for future actions and commitments. Besides, experiences never give certainty for they are all hypothetical and probable. Through them we are never  in contact with the immediately given because experiences are always interpretations. Accordingly they are never absolutely valid but always tentative and provisional. Ayer rejects the possibility of ostensive  propositions, that is, propositions that are not just hypotheses but are a direct record of the data of experience, being thereby absolutely certain. He claims that no synthetic empirical propositions can be purely ostensive. One can never simply register a sense-content without describing and interpreting it.

             To sum up: there is no problem of ‘truth’ but of validation of propositions. A priori analytical propositions are validated by linguistic conventions and definitions. They are absolutely certain but have nothing to do with reality. Empirical propositions are said to be valid or more  valid than others because they enable us to anticipate experience. They are never certain, always probable.  

        3. As a consequence of Ayer’s claim that “All truth claims are either empirical or analytic”, all objective accounts of ethics and theology must be rejected.

             Moral judgements are neither empirical nor analytic, therefore no truth claims can be made about them. Moral judgements are expressions of feelings. “This is good”: such a statement cannot make a genuine truth claim. Moral judgments function as  exclamations. To  assert “Peace is good” amounts to the expression of a feeling “Hurrah for peace!” and nothing more. Another person may declare “War is good” and he means “Hurrah for war!” Values and disvalues are not a matter of true or false, but of likes and dislikes of individuals and societies. Ayer favours an ethics of ‘emotionalism’.

             Belief in God is to assent to a reality that transcends sense experience. Such a belief is neither empirical nor analytic, hence it is non-sensical. It is neither true nor false.  Belief in God expresses the ‘feeling’ of the believer, but it is not a genuine intellectual issue.  

    *A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth and Logic,  McMillan, London, 1936 , chap.IV & V


    Jean Mercier