(French philosopher of science, 1884-1962)
Bachelard is a philosopher of science. Science grows through a series of discontinuous changes, which he callls ‘epistemological breaks’ because they overcome epistemological obstacles. The path of enquiry is obstructed by a fixation on methodological and conceptual features inherited from common sense and outdated scientific ideas and theories. The major contribution of Bachelard to the philosophy of science has been his analysis of these epistemological obstacles, internal to thought itself in the unconscious, often cultural, depth of psychism. He upholds that scientific progress takes place by leaps and bounds in a discontinuous fashion. His ideas on scientific development anticipates Kuhn’s concept of revolutionary ‘paradigm’ (see Kuhn). Both defend the view that each new scientific framework rejects its predecessors as fundamentally erroneous.
Bachelard denounces the common idea that it is enough for us to start from an ‘object’ to think that we are ‘objective’. We marvel in front of the object and elaborate hypotheses and theories upon it. We form convictions which have the appearance of knowledge. Bachelard maintains that the initial source, the evidence of the object is not a fundamental truth. Scientific objectivity is possible only if we break away from the immediately given, if we refuse to be seduced by the first observation. Genuine objectivity gives the lie to the first contact with the object. It is its duty to first criticize everything: sensation, common sense, linguistic lure.
True knowledge is not the passive witness of things and events, it is creative of its relations to the world. Scientific knowledge manifests the life of the spirit; it shows that reason is initiative, that it is the result of a conquest over errors because our mind has a natural inclination towards the truth. We have to fight against our opinions, our subjectivity and common prejudices; we must criticize everything, formulate hypotheses, question nature, recreate a world in rejecting the first images. This task is achieved by imagination – which is not the faculty to form images of reality – but the faculty to distort images, that is, to form images that transcend realities. Creative imagination is an experience of openness through which one never ceases to overcome the acquired concepts.
No wonder that Bachelard rejects Descartes’s foundationalist claim that knowledge is founded on the infallible intuitions of first truths (see Descartes). All truth-claims are subject to revision in the light of further evidence. Reason in its conquest of truth remains always open to the future. It is always capable to question the principles on which it had been too readily leaning hitherto. Bachelard denounces the rigid and stiffened concept of reason in favour of a dialectical concept of knowledge in which imagination opens to way for creative liberty in scientific research. Rational knowledge is not the acknowledgment of fixed objectivities but a process that is constantly on the move and in need of being rectified at every stage of development. Error is not something negative to be eliminated, rather, it is an unavoidable element of growing knowledge.
* Bachelard, Gaston, The New Scientific Spirit, 1934. See The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, R.Audi ed., Cambridge University Press, 1999, p.67
(English philosopher, 1561-1626)
Francis Bacon is regarded as the champion of the inductive method for the discovery of natural laws. His aim was the separation of truth from error, reality from fiction. He considered that though the affirmations of Schoolmen might be true in the metaphysical sphere, their deductions in the region of ‘things’ were false. Bacon was concerned to insist that Truth is twofold: the truth of religion-metaphysics and the truth of science. These different kinds of truth must be separated, in order that the two kinds may not contaminate each other. “Sacred theology must be drawn from the word and oracles of God, not from the light of nature or the dictates of reason”. “From the absurd mixture of matters divine and human, proceed heresies and ‘fantastical philosophy’”. Bacon saw no problem provided that two realms of reason and revelation are kept separate. He was thus an advocate of “double truth”, that of reason and that of revelation.
Bacon denounces a double fallacy: first, to try to confirm the truths of religion by the principles of science, second, to try extract scientific truths out of the Scriptures, like some who “have endeavoured to build a system of natural philosophy on the first chapter of Genesis”. His concern seems to have been to separate religious truth and scientific truth in the interest of science, not of religion. He wished to keep science pure from religion and was probably far less interested in keeping religion pure from science. He was pleading for science in an age dominated by religion. Religious truth must be placed far out of reach, not in order that so it may be more devoutedly appproached, but in order to keep it out of mischief. In urging the separation of religion and science, he made sure that the new knowledge of natural laws through experimentation may be safely embraced without fear of endangering any religious beliefs.
* Bacon, Francis, Novum Organum, De Augmentis, quoted in Wiley, Basil, The Seventeenth Century Background, Chatto & Windus, London, 1946, p.26-31
(English medieval philosopher, 1214-1293)
For Roger Bacon the road to truth can be long and difficult; and, to be sure, it is never ending. But there are rules helping to denounce the four very significant stumbling blocks on the way of truth. He devotes the first part of his Opus Majus to the consideration of the four offendicula or causes of error: blind faith in a false authority, habit which keeps on what is false, prejudices of the ignorant crowd, false knowledge hidden behind ignorance. He reproaches the philosophy and theology of his time to work with unscientific methods and to deal with false problems.
1.Experiment, which is self-conscious and purposive experience, can validate the claims of genuine authority but external authority cannot supply the fruits of experiment.
2. Custom is often anchored in social expediency, but real knowledge cannot be rooted in ad hoc and peremptory speculations.
3. Experimentation needs the patient development of true skill in meditation and perception, for the senses alone will mislead the uncultivated and disordered mind.
4. Most dangerous of all, however, is the deliberate cloaking of ignorance behind pretended knowledge, the pathetic consolidation of errors arising from fragmentation of consciousness.
When these offendicula are purged, one may readily perceive the unity of science and recognize the need for an encyclopaedic approach to Nature.
* Robert Belle Burke, Bacon Roger Opus Majus, New York, Russel & Russel, 1962
(Moroccan born French philosopher, b.1937)
Truth for Badiou is not a matter of theory, but a "practical question", something that happens. It is not the adequacy or correspondence of something known to its object, but a process from which emerges something new. This notion of truth has nothing to do with what can be proved or demonstrated. Truth is not recognition or contemplation, it is a matter of active intervention by a subject.
In fact Badiou invents his own radical concept of truth : truth is what disturbs or destroys or interrupts the order of knowledge. What is true is a realization that rips apart our categories of understanding and forces us to commit ourselves to some new idea or new world of ideas. He says: "I will start with the following idea: a truth is, first of all, something new. What transmits, what repeats, I shall call knowledge." For Badiou distinguishing truth from knowledge is essential. Knowledge as such only gives us repetition, it is concerned only with what already is. All truth, for him, is something new, hence it must be submitted to thought not as judgment or proposition but as a process in the real. Truth is a process that begins and for the process of truth to begin, something must happen. Truth introduces a transformative innovation in any situation. Every such innovation can only begin with some sort of exceptional break with the status quo, an 'event'. Truth is always a challenge to what we already know. Truth is both a commitment and an openness. It is something that to which we commit ourselves, but that at the same time we must always remain open, because a new truth may strike at any time.
Thus for Badiou dealing with truth is not only an epistemological matter but also an ethical one, as he identifies evil as the attempt to create and live within a closed system of knowledge. Evil is the impulse to monopolize or determine or force all truths: it is something that one could call totalitarianism or fundamentalism. Human goodness is, for Badiou, a deep or even total openness to a belief that is not yet knowledge. Truth hence arrives as a disturbance of consensus and convention, as something that cannot be assimilated into the current state of knowledge, and it arrives because someone has the resoluteness to face it and hold to it, even alone.
* Badiou, Alain, Théorie du Sujet, Le Seuil, Paris, 1982. 352 p., L'être et l'événement , Le Seuil, Paris, 1988. 564 p.
(Founder of the Baha’i faith, 1817-1892)
1. All religions are from God. They differ only on account of time and culture. One should treat members of all religions as they are of our own. If religions are the cause of disunity, it is better to be without religion. God is one Being therefore truth must be one. Still truth is relative to the circumstances in which it is being applied. Religious truth is relative to the capacity, needs and understanding of people and culture.
Differences have been created by God. No two humans are the same. These differences do not diminish men and women’s spiritual equality: all human beings are the fruits of one tree. No one should exalt him/herself over another, no religion over another. Diversity of individuals and societies must be protected: it is a strength, not a weakness.
No human being is infallible. No one has the right to compel another to believe and think in the same way as he does. Conflict and contention are forbidden. Since individuals were created differently by God it is only out of the meeting of differing opinions that truth can be made known. Only if we respect and tolerate each other, can the truth be made evident, otherwise it remains obscure.
2. Baha’u’llah emphasizes the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their “own eyes and not through the eyes of others”. One of the main sources of conflict in the world is the fact that many people blindly and uncritically follow various traditions, movements and opinions. God has given each human being a mind and the capacity to differentiate truth from falsehood. If individuals fail to use their reasoning capacities and choose instead to accept without question certain opinions and ideas, either out of admiration for or fear of those who hold them, then they are neglecting their basic moral responsibility as human beings. Moreover when people act in this way, they often become attached to some particular ideology or tradition and thus become intolerant of those who do not share it. Such attachments lead to conflicts.
Baha’u’llah believes that, if only people would search out truth, they would find themselves united. The fact that many imagine themselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity. Unity is necessary if we want to reach truth, for truth is one.
* See Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, London Baha’I Publishing trust, 1969
(American foundress of the Christian Science movement, 1881-1910)
From the personal error to the impersonal Truth of being.
There is no escape from sin, sickness, and death, except on the Principle that God is the only Life and Intelligence of man. So long as man admits Life, sensation, and Intelligence in matter, he will be governed by his body, and at the mercy of death, sickness, and sin. Life, health, and holiness, together with all harmonies, are Truth; sin, sickness, and death, are error, the opposite of Truth, harmony and Life, and these opposites never blend.
The Soul's attraction is Truth; but the attraction of the personal sense is error. The former elevates and immortalizes man, the latter debases and makes mortal. The two cannot blend; one rules out the other as light shuts out darkness and darkness light. Our beliefs of a personal Deity place infinite Life and Love within the stature of a man, make man God, or put God into matter, which is atheism. Error is the basis of all belief; we need, instead, the true idea, based on the understanding of God the impersonal Principle, Truth, and Life of man, which is not body, but Soul.
Doctrines, opinions and belief are the "tree of knowledge" against which Wisdom warns man; knowledge is obtained from false premises, from the personal sense, that affords only the mortal evidences of man. Sickness, sin, and death are darkness, or moral ignorance that hide Truth, Life, and Love, but cannot extinguish them, or their idea cannot destroy God or man. The standpoint whence to reckon man is not matter, but Spirit. The Soul of man is never lost, insomuch as it is God, Principle, and man its idea, and both are eternal. The infinite is achieved only as we turn from the finite, and from the personal error to the impersonal Truth of being.
We must seek outside of the personal sense in the Principle of things, their true interpretation and remedy. To seek Truth through belief is to ask the changing and erring for the immutable and immortal; or to call belief Truth, is ignorance of God. We learn from the Scripture "God is Love," and this certainly is the Principle instead of a person. God is the Principle, or the Soul of all that is real, and nothing is real that does not express Him and is controlled by Him, and immortal. The Soul is lost sight of by the personal sense, but cannot be lost in science (Mary Baker’s “science”). The example Jesus presented for us to follow, and the Principle he demonstrated in healing, was beyond question, “science” ; but the error of past and present ages is our wrong interpretation of Jesus and Christ, or man and God, namely that the doctrine or belief, that Principle is in a person, and Soul in a body. The personal sense is the error that embraces all mistakes, wherein falsehood is considered fact until it is understood otherwise and the belief is destroyed. One of the beliefs of the personal sense, named sickness, we destroy mentally with the Truth of being, and the sickness is gone.
Eddy, Mary Baker G. , Retrospection and Introspection, Cambridge: University Press (published 1915),
( Contemporary British physicist)
The false idea that science is the search for truth
I think that ideas are true if they’re true and false if they’re false, and that the axes of truth and utility are not coincident. There are plenty of things that are true but of very little use, and there are also plenty of things that we know to be false and yet are extremely handy in practice. The great value of scientific theories is not their supposed truth, but rather their extreme usefulness. Indeed, scientific explanations of the world are among the most useful structures ever devised by human intellect.
The idea that science is the search for truth is an old one, but it’s not true. A true theory is an exact representation of some aspect of reality. If science were a search for truth, then the structures and relationships in successive scientific theories in a given field would presumably have to be successively more like the structures and relationships that exist out there in the world. But this isn’t the case!
The problem with the idea of science as the search for truth is that successive theories often contain structures that are utterly unlike each other. Even if we are destined to finally arrive at a theory of everything, we must surely doubt that the entities in our current theories bear even the slightest resemblance to the deep structures of the world.
If physics isn’t a search for truth, then what is it? That’s simple: it’s the search for useful theories! In other words, physics is the search for theories about the universe that are ever more comprehensive and which ever more closely match experimental data. It is not cumulative: we don’t learn one “law of nature” and then another. Nor is is always gradual: later theories are often radically unlike earlier ones. It is not the bolting on of ever more elaborate epicycles. So why do people persist in seeing physics (and the rest of science) as the search for truth? Partly, I think, as an attempt to draw a line in the sand in the the argument against the social constructionists and cultural relativists. Some people seem to worry that if science is anything less than the search for Truth then the whole edifice will be swept away by the deluge of postmodernist philosophy that claims that no way of viewing the world is better than any other. But the whole world is so full of evidence for the efficacy of science and the pathetic inadequacy of supposed “alternative ways of knowing” that this seems unlikely, at least outside the involuted world of “critical theory”.
The presence of things beyond what we measure is the very basis of my assertion that physics is not primarily about truth, for there are an infinity of possible structures in our theories that go beyond what we measure, there’s no way to reduce this infinity to just one, and only one could be true.
*See Onternet Richard Baker
(Russian Philosopher, 1895-1975)
Bakhtin’s philosophy allows for one absolute, which he calls dialogue. Dialogue in his view is not merely a form of communication, but the most fundamental human relation. “ ‘To be’ means to communicate dialogically. When dialogue ends, everything ends. All else is the means; dialogue is the end. A single voice ends nothing and resolves nothing”. No statement can claim truth without interaction with other, contradictory statements. Single statements and lonely voices have no significance. On the other hand no existing statement is refused to enter the big dialogue, or the polyphonic truth.
Truth for Bakhtin requires a multiplicity of bearers. It simply cannot be uttered by a single mouth. Truth does not consist in a statement, but in a multitude of simultaneous and contradictory statements. Authentic voices are those that are parts of a chorus. The fictive voices are those expressed outside a genuine dialogue. Truth is not ‘being in touch with one’s inner feelings’ but being in touch with the world of other human beings. The authentic self does not belong to the individual. There is no true self without other selves. Authenticity requires being different in different situations and with different people. Dialogue which constitutes the truth is a non-teleological concept. Dialogue cannot be used for some further end, but is an end in itself.
But if truth is polyphonic, how does one distinguish polyphony from cacophony, when all the different voices coexist but never touch each other? The multitude of representations by itself is not enough to constitute the truth. Bakhtin’s answer to this objection is first that the different representations constitute a dialogical whole only when they are part of the same conversation, even though they have differing opinions on the subject. The other requirement of the ‘polyphonic truth’ is what Bakhtin calls “inclusion”. The truth is in essence everything every one has to say on a subject, whether right or wrong notions. Truth is all inclusive. Neither the statements of the minority group nor the statements of the majority group represent the truth. The truth is there when real living people engage in dialogue around two (or many) sets of statements, even if apparently contradictory.
Bakhtin rejects the idea of ‘absolute’ truth because of its internal structure, namely, that it speaks in a single voice. No individual discourse is capable of producing truth on its own, just because no single voice has enough capacity to generate the truth. Bakhtin thinks of truth as a number of simultaneous statements about the same topic without trying to reconcile or “average” them.
* Bakhtin, Mikhail, The Dialogic Imagination, Austin, University of Texas Press, 1981
(Swiss theologian, 1905-1988)
Truth is hardly knowable without love. Beauty leads to goodness and goodness leads to truth
1. In the Truth of the World Balthasar begins by reflecting on the coinherence of truth, goodness, and beauty. For him the reduction of a knowledge of the truth to a purely theoretical kind of evidence from which all living, personal, and ethical decisions have been excluded entails such a palpable narrowing of the field of truth that it is already robbed of its universality and thus of its own proper essence. Truth and goodness are both transcendental properties of being, therefore both must interpenetrate each other. Correspondingly, the same also goes for the last transcendental property of being, that of beauty; she too makes a claim staked on her universal validity; she too can never be separated from her two sisters. Only a constant, living unity of theoretical (truth), ethical (goodness), and aesthetic (beauty) attitudes can mediate true knowledge of being.
The recognition of the true requires a commitment to the true and so what is recognized as truly good must be lived as well. But the perception of the true is also the unveiling of beauty. In fact, for Balthasar, truth is what happens when beauty is unveiled.
The meaning of being lies in love, and knowledge is only explainable through love and for love. From this follows the insight that love is never separable from the truth. Just as little as there could be knowledge without the will, so also truth is hardly knowable without love
2. Thus Balthasar argues that there can be no reflection on the truth of Christian revelation until it is lived out in committed action, which a Christian will never feel called to do without having first perceived revelation in all its inherent beauty. The fundamental property of beauty elicits a response; and for Balthasar, revelation is primarily a disclosure of the beauty of the Lord. Beauty compels, and a Christianity without beauty has lost its ability to compel.
Christianity, for Balthasar, has no need of apologetics of the conventional sort. The Church should instead endeavor to make her Lord visible. Christians must take up the endeavor to "shine through". Balthasar makes the "apology of holiness." He argues that the 'perfect' Christian is also the perfect proof of Christianity: in the Christian's existential transparency, Christianity becomes comprehensible both in itself and to the world and itself exhibits a spiritual transparency. The saint is the apology for the Christian religion. It is through living a holy life that a person can convince him/herself that the Christian faith is true, and that the God which is believed in is a real God.
* Balthasar, Hans Urs von, Theo-Logic: Theological Logical Theory : The Truth of the World, Ignatius Press, 2001
(American scholar on science and religion, b.1923)
There are four criteria for assessing the value or theories in normal scientific research:
* Agreement with data. This is the most important criterion, though it never provides proof that a theory is true. For other theories not yet developed may fit the data as well or better. Theories are always undetermined by data. However agreement with data constitute impressive supports for a theory.
* Coherence. A theory should be consistent with other accepted theories and, if possible, conceptually interconnected with them.
* Scope. Theories can be judged by their comprehensiveness or generality. A theory is valued if it unifies previously disparate domains.
* Fertility. A theory is evaluated not just by its past accomplishment but by its current ability and future promise in providing the framework for an ongoing research program.
In Western thought three main views of truth have been elaborated and each emphasises particular criteria from the list above. For the correspondence view, a proposition is true if it corresponds to reality. This is the common-sense understanding of truth. It is the position adopted by classical realism. It seems to fit with the empirical side of science according to which theories must agree with the data. But we have seen that there are no theory-free data with which a theory can be compared.
The coherence theory says that a set of propositions is true if it is internally coherent. This view has been adopted by rationalists and philosophical idealists, and it seems to fit with the theoretical side of science. No scientific theory can be evaluated in isolation. But this also problematic because there can be more than one internally coherent set of theories.
The pragmatic view says that a proposition is true if it works in practice. We should judge by the consequences. Scientific enquiry is indeed problem-solving and that is the fourth criteria mentioned above: fertility. But taken alone that criterion is inadequate. It is too vague to say that an idea “works” or is “useful” unless these concepts are further specified by other criteria.
Barbour’s conclusion is that the meaning of truth is correspondence with reality. But because reality is inaccessible to us, the criteria of truth must include all the four of the criteria mentioned above. The criteria taken together include the valid insights in all these views of truth. One or another of the criteria may be more important at a particular stage of scientific enquiry. Because correspondence is taken as the definition of truth, this is a form of realism, but it is a critical realism because a combination of criteria is used. In any case science does not lead to certainty. Its conclusions are always tentative, incomplete, and subject to revision. Theories change in time, and we should expect them to be modified or overthrown, as previous ones have been.
* Barbour, Ian, Religion in an Age of Science, SCM Press, London, 1990, p 34-37
(Contemporary Canadian philosophers)
The role of belief as a way of coming to truth in collaboration
1. Belief is not the same as knowledge. The knower is the person who examines the relevant facts, rightly understands and intelligently concludes with true judgment, as is the case, for instance, with the weatherman who has at his disposal all the required instruments. For TV viewers and newspaper readers, this is not the case: they are believers rather than knowers. Knowledge is immanently generated, while belief is the acceptance of reliably communicated knowledge. The weatherman knows, the listener believes. There is a clear difference between knowledge and belief. 2. Belief meets a real need in scientific activity as much as in daily life. It is part of successful human collaboration , and collaboration is essential to human progress. We need to rely on the knowledge of others. No person alone can know everything about everything. Collaboration involves belief.
3. Therefore not only knowledge but also belief are ways of coming to the truth. We rely on our own direct understanding ( knowledge) of things and situations and also on the understanding of others (belief). In practice knowledge and belief – though distinct – are woven together inextricably. Belief, the second way of coming to the truth, is basically possible because of the first way of direct knowledge. It is also possible because the truth reached by direct knowledge has an objective character, independent of the subject. The knower can communicate the truth to another who accepts it. In most cases – albeit not in all - the truth of knowledge is communicable. 4. Coming to believe a given truth involves a complex of personal judgments prior to the act of belief. First, we act on the conviction that belief in general is of value and that to communicate to others the knowledge we have and accept the same from others is possible and well-founded. Second, we must ascertain the accuracy of the communication from the orginal source of truth and the reliability of the source itself. Indeed a belief is always a secondary way to possess the truth. The proposition believed has to be knowledge for some one. Third, the ‘reliability of the source’ does not mean that we are looking for evidence of the truth of the particular proposition but for evidence of belief in that proposition. There is no general rule here to follow and no alternative to the intelligent and critical reflection on the sufficiency of accumulated evidence for the belief.
* G. Barden & P. McShane, Towards Self-meaning, Gill and McMillan, Dublin, 1969, p.63-78
(Byzantine humanist and theologian, 1290- 13480)
The identity between philosophical and theological truth
Barlaam, one of the pioneers of the Renaissance, reached the point of identifying the objects, the method and the achievements of philosophy and theology, supporting his endavour with arguments to the effect that every human good is a gift of God and therefore all are of high quality. Just as, he used to say, there are not two kinds of health - the one provided by God and the other secured by physicians - in the same way, there are not two kinds of knowledge - the human and the divine - but only one. Philosophy and theology, as gifts of God, are of equal worth.
That is why he raised the Greek philosophers to the same level as Moses and the prophets; and this tendency was later extended to the point of introducing such persons as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and other sages to the iconographical circle of Greek Orthodox Churches. Barlaam maintained that «both the sayings of the divine men with the wisdom that is within them and profane philosophy aim at a unique object and therefore have a common purpose, the finding of truth; for truth existing in all these is but one. This truth was given to the apostles at the beginning by God; by ourselves, however, it is found through diligence and purity. Philosophical studies naturally contribute to the truth given to the apostles by God and assist greatly in reaching out to the first immaterial principles».
In complete constrast to Barlaam’s view, Gregory Palamas drew a sharp distinction between philosophy and theology, rejecting Barlaam’s equation of the two disciplines. Their object, he said, must be clearly distinguished. Philosophy aims on the one hand at the exploration of the nature and movement of beings, and on the other hand at the definition of principles of social life. If it moves within these boundaries, it is «a dissertation of truth»; if it looks for something beyond them, it becomes an absurd, useless and dangerous occupation; because it belongs to theology to aim at the invisible and the eternal. But, since the objects of the two disciplines are distinct, the conclusions of both may be true.
This shows that according to Palamas’ teaching worldly knowledge and theological knowledge are clearly distinguished and proceed on parallel paths. The destination of each determines its value. The one intended for this transient life is a useful handmaid, but is not indispensable for salvation; the other intended for the eternal life is more precious and is absolutely indispensable for spiritual perfection and salvation. This is the only distinction for which Palamas uses the term «double knowledge» or double truth, which Barlaam rejects in upholding the unity of philosophical and theological truth.
See John Meyendorf, Byzantine Theology: Historical trends and doctrinal themes, Fordham University Press; 2 edition, 1987,
(British philosopher, b.1942)
Perhaps the truth is that there are many truths
We refer to truth all the time, extol it as a virtue, imagining it perhaps as a path we can follow, one of moral exactitude that will lead us to sainthood. But do any of us really tread this path? Think for a moment of all those occasions when we stray from the truth. We stray when we exaggerate, when we make excuses, when we offer an insincere compliment or remain silent when we ought to really speak out. We stray when we misinform children about Father Christmas, or even when we pretend to be well and happy when we are not. All these – and there are many more – are examples of us departing from what we believe to be the truth. It would seem then that our days are spent in a fog of make-believe, surrounded by advertisers hype, deceptions, denials and concealments. In our every day lives truth is not natural to us. So why do we persist in our belief in truth when none of us uses us as a currency? For one thing, in an uncertain world, it is comforting to have absolutes to cling to. They give us an identity and a moral purpose, and yet all too often are most fiercely held convictions are capable of doing enormous damage, either by inhibiting change – so necessary to our vitality – or by wishing to destroy that which is not encompassed by our versions of the truth. We have seen this writ large in political pogroms and religious persecutions and crusades, but what about in our own private dealings? Our lives become smaller when we believe in certainties, for we close ourselves off to the wealth of diversity. It begins with the misconception that if I am to be right it is necessary for you to be wrong, and all too frequently it ends with the desire to shun all those who disagree. Or worse. The pursuit of ultimate truth has led men and women into great difficulties and darkness. Can one really distil all thought and opinions into one ideal? There have been those who have tried and whose ideas are more worthy than others, but often even these have been distorted by followers with their own agendas. It is obvious that we need a code of morality, and law and order, but these operate for the common good, and do not force obscure truths upon unwilling people. In the final analysis, perhaps the truth is that there are many truths. A snowdrop is not wrong to bloom in winter just because a rose blooms in summer. I have a notion that we should learn to be curious about what others think. We should allow them time to speak and to say what they wish. And we should listen.
* BARNES, Jonathan. Truth, etc. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007.
(Contemporary American philosopher)
The discontinuity between knowledge and truth
That knowledge must be true is a longstanding presupposition of Western thought. Yet there are many instances of knowledge that cannot be called true. These include knowledge expressed in technological objects like a bridge or satellite, or in works of art and the imagination. A technological artifact or a work of art is not true (or false) in the way a proposition is. In the face of this discontinuity between knowledge and truth, one may question whether truth properly has the value for knowledge philosophers tend to suppose, or one may make subtle distinctions, dividing knowledge so as to preserve the necessary truth of its best and highest instances. Unsurprisingly, philosophers prefer to distinguish and preserve. Twentieth-century analysts discovered a "semantic" or "conceptual" distinction between knowing how and knowing that. Western thought consistently ignores, misdescribes, and underappreciates the knowledge involved in art and technology. To the philosophers, how-to (or technē) knowledge is routine, mechanical, and thoughtless, while knowledge of truth is a disinterested grasp of nature and reality.
Philosophers even preferred to invent new concepts of truth rather than question whether the best and most important knowledge has to be true.
Certainly there is some difference between knowing that the earth rotates around the sun (a true proposition) and knowing how to play the flute (a skill or art). But is the difference one in kinds of knowledge? What is obviously different about them is how the knowledge is expressed. In one case by producing a proposition, in the other by a musical performance. In both cases the knowledge concerns artifacts, constructions of ours, whether propositions or musical performances. Heliocentric astronomy and musical artistry are therefore not so different as knowledge. Whether we speak of knowing that (such and such is true) or knowing how, we are qualifying capacities for performance at a certain high level with artifacts of some kind.
Knowing how and knowing that are not different kinds of knowledge. They are different kinds of use for different artifacts, all expressing the only kind of knowledge there is: a human capacity for superlative artifactual performance.
* Allen, Barry. Knowledge and Civilization. Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 2004. Truth in Philosophy, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 199
(Contemporary Amrican author)
The many faces of truth
”The truth will set you free,” it is said. Well, no one ever mentioned that the truth can have many faces. Depending on your personal interpretation, the truth can set you free – or, it can cause you and others a lot of pain. Truth has many facs…
Truth can mean the opposite of lying. Lies are hard to maintain and therefore stressful, so this is a kind of truth that can set us free. Also, no one likes to be lied to, so the truth can set them free, as well.
Truth can mean stating the obvious. This interpretation of truth can cause pain.
Truth can be a disguise for anger. This interpretation of truth involves self-gratification. It’s a sneaky way of airing emotional baggage, with the hope of it hitting it’s intended target.
Truth can be a justification for gossiping or speaking negatively about a person. Do we really have the right to share something harmful about someone, even if “it’s true”? It’s the same thing when we speak negatively about someone. The truth of how we see that person is based on our own interpretations of them; which is generally colored by our level of intolerance.
I have come to see truth as much more than “not telling a lie.” Truth is a way of BEING. It is the reason we don’t tell a lie in the first place. It starts with a personal commitment – to do the “right” thing, for ourselves and others. This includes owning the things we say and do – taking responsibility for them. We do this for no other reason than because it fills us with an inner peace and happiness.
We are this way because we can’t be any other way. Truth becomes an innate part of who we are. When our conscience is clear from not having compromised ourselves in any way during the day, we not only sleep well at night, we deepen our love of self. When we love our self, we can’t help but love others.
* See Internet Barry Denise
The Role Of Myth As Truth
The popular meaning of myth is a falsehood. But is it correct to say that a myth is something that is not true? The answer depends on what is meant by the word "myth." The idea that myth is fiction has taken center stage. But this has not always been the meaning of myth. It is often defined as an "allegory" (Platonic myth). In this sense myth is a fictitious story which points to a truth. It does not matter whether or not the story is factually true - it is the lesson that is true. The facts of the story can be changed with no change to the truth of the lesson.
Examples are Aesop's fables and the two Genesis creation myths. The word "myth" has several meanings. Though the current popular meaning is a factual falsehood, a myth also acts as an allegory, which points to a lesson that is true. The factual accuracy of the myth as an allegory is not important. Modifications to the story to fit in with the background of the hearer may even make the myth's lesson clearer.
There are two contradictory creation myths in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Does the fact that there are two contradictory creation stories or myths in Genesis mean that one myth must be true and the other false or that both may be false? Not necessarily. If the two creation stories or myths are myths operating as allegories, then both can be true. Each creation myth may be pointing to a different aspect of how the universe came into being.That there are factual differences does not matter.
The understanding that there are two meanings of myth is most valuable. If common language usage will underscore that myth usually means falsehood, realizing myth as allegory is a very powerful medium for conveying truth. It will not only help the understanding of the Genesis myths but greatly enhance appreciation of myth in general.
* See Internet John Bartels
(Swiss protestant theologian, 1886-1968)
Truth can only come from Truth, i.e. from God. Religions are human fabrications and therefore they are false. Like Feuerbach, Barth regards man’s ideas of God as projections of man’s own wishes. If the coming of the truth to humanity is possible, it is only through divine revelation. Of himself man is not in a position to apprehend the truth. He ought to renounce even all attempts to try to apprehend the truth. The man who thinks that the truth comes from himself or humanity does not listen, he is not ready to believe. In ‘religions’ man endeavours to grasp God by his own power. Hence religions are the major obstacle for welcoming the divine revelation. In religions people bolt themselves against revelation by providing substitutes : they take away in advance that which can be given only by God himself. The ‘human’ God reached by religions, philosophies and natural theologies is a complete fiction which has no relation to the true God. It is an anti-God which has to be discarded in order that Truth may reveal itself. The Truth can come only to human beings who have emptied themselves of all claims to reach the divine. Divine revelation is the truth besides which there is no other truth. Truth is totally transcendent and there is no immanent human truth. Truth is sheer ‘grace’, the free and unmerited favour of God. Revelation does not link up with human religion which is already present and practised. On the contrary it contradicts it. There can be no question of a harmonious co-operating of man with the revelation of God, as if religion were a kind of outstretched hand which is filled by God in his revelation. There is no continuity and compatibility but only contradiction between religion and revelation, between unbelief and belief, between falsehood and truth.
Religion is never true in itself and as such. The revelation of God denies that any religion or any philosophy is true. Revelation is the truth besides which there is no other truth, over which there is only lying and wrong. No religion is true, for all religions are human products and truth can only come from without. If nonetheless we want to speak of “true religion”, it means that such a religion is the creature of grace. And grace is the revelation of God. In this sense Barth has no hesitation to say that only Christianity is “true” because it alone is the locus of divine revelation.
* K. Barth, The Revelation of God as the abolition of religion, in Christianity and other Religions, Ed. by J. Hick and B. Hebblewaithe, Collins, 1980, p.36-50
( American philosopher,1934-1990)
Truth: neither dogmatism nor relativism but ‘critical preference’
Bartley rejects the dogmatic 'true belief' framework of Western thought, which prevents problem solving and imaginative criticism. This framework, he contends, generates on the one hand true believers who insist that they have the truth in their grasp, on the other hand relativists and nihilists who think that truth and falsehood are indistinguishable. Bartley’s insight into the authoritarian tradition inspired him to pursue a fundamental critique of the quest for positively justified beliefs, an error, which he labeled "justificationism". The target of his critique is the dogmatic or 'true belief' theory of rationality which demands positive justification as the criterion of rationality. This demand is summed up in the formula: beliefs must be justified by an appeal to an authority of some kind, generally the source of the belief in question, and this justification makes the belief either rational, or if not rational at least valid for the person who holds it.
In the Anglo Saxon tradition of Empiricism the authority of sense experience was adopted. In the Continental Rationalist tradition, following Descartes, the locus of authority resides with the intellectual intuition. Both Empiricism and Rationalism did not challenge the deep-seated theory of justificationism, which provided the common framework of thought in which the rival schools waged their battles for intellectual, moral and political authority.
The “justificationist” position has given rise to either relativism or fideism. On the one hand relativists tend to be disappointed dogmatists who realize that positive confirmation cannot be achieved. From this correct premise they proceed to the false conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position. On the other hand fideists are people who believe that knowledge is based on an act of faith. Consequently they embrace whatever they want to regard as the truth. If they stop to think about it they may accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for their beliefs or any others, so they insist that we make our choice regardless of reason: 'Here I stand!'. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other fundamentalists because they share the same 'true belief' structure of thought.
The solution suggested by Bartley is to abandon the quest for positive justification and instead to settle for a critical preference for one option rather than others, in the light of critical arguments and evidence offered to that point. A preference may (or may not) be revised in the light of new evidence and arguments. This is a simple, commonsense position but it defies the dominant traditions of Western thought which have almost all taught that some authority provides (or ought to provide) grounds for positively justified beliefs.
According to Bartley’s stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism. A standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. But for Bartley this criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticized, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference
* Bartley William Warren, The Retreat from Commitment, Knopf, New York, 1962
(French social and literary critic, 1915-1980)
Words and thoughts never reach the truth
Bataille took Nietzsche’s epistemological skepticism to its extreme. He dared to profess what the implications of Nietzsche´s philosophy were. For it not only implied the death of God, but the death of his own humanity, of philosophy, also. If there is no permanent and absolute meaning to be found in the inner and outer world, then all philosophical statements are ´false´ in as far as they are provisional. All the constructions we make, be they material, mental, emotional or spiritual, are nothing but empty epiphenomena on an ever receding world of darkness that can never be grasped by the limitations of our thinking. We think we know something but this is only what Bataille used to call ´escape´. We are lured away from the fundamental unknowability of the world into thinking that somewhere there must be an epistemological anchor that connects us to the true reality that we are and where we live in.
Bataille’s radical views about thought and meaning have their bearings upon all his writings. He never seems to make a claim. His sentences are never propositional, but always tentative and probing. He is hard to pin down to definite philosophical views and statements. He seems to suggest that he wants to avoid presenting a philosophy of his own, because in that case he would have succumbed to ´the escape´.
For Bataille the poet and the philosopher of the inner experience have this in common that they both use the known the reach the unknown. They want to take the reader to the very limits of the possible, into ´the impossible´. This made Bataille very uneasy and also bored with philosophical discourse because the only result discursive thought could offer was to ´chop up´ the world in digestible fragments. But it never reached the inner experience of the world. But neither did poetry. Because poetry was still dependent upon words. So we find sentences in Bataille like ´I could have said.... but that bores me´ where he warns us that words have a tendency to become authoritative, despite the fact that they never reach the truth. The factuality of words and thoughts give the impression that they have reality and must be true for that reason.
According to Bataille the greatest philosophical misconception rampant in the world is the idea that being can be isolated, autonomous. The obvious fact that being is always ´being in context´, ´being in communion´, escapes us the most. We ignorantly perceive ourselves to be beings on our own, ´ipse-beings´, who are in combat with the world we live in. We want this isolation to end, because subconsciously we feel that it is unnatural for a being to be a ipse-being. The ipse-being is contra naturam. To annihilate this unnatural isolation we strive with the power and the exploitation of our knowledge to be the all and everything. But this is exactly what makes us so tragic. Because an ipse-being can never be the all. Finally man has to concede that he cannot be the all and that his attempts at knowing the all are futile. Fear rises because he has to admit that he knows nothing.
* Bataille George, The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge, Stuart Kendall and Michelle Kendall, 2004, University of Minnesota Press.
(British social scientist and anthroplogist, 1904-1980)
Bateson stated that the individual can never encounter the world as it actually is. We do not have access to the territory, as such, but only to maps of the territory and our descriptions are part of that map. There are innumerable characteristics or data contained in any event or entity. We can never choose all the distinctions to put on a map or to include in our research. In our daily lives, we systematically select certain differences from a vast array of sights, smells, and sounds to enter into the circuit of transformation and become information. In research, we also strive to bring some order and meaning to a large collection of data in order to make sense of it. This search for meaning generates structure, patterns, and categories. Every image we encounter requires coding and mapping. There is no such thing as true knowledge or a real picture of the world that is independent of any knower. There is always a blend of the phenomena and the way in which one distinguishes it. One doesn't cause the other to have meaning. They have meaning together, in relationship to each other. Differences are not present in things without the presence of a living organism to recognize that difference. Bateson stressed the idea that data are not events or objects but are always records of descriptions or memories of events or objects. "Always there is a transformation or recording of the raw event which intervenes between the scientist and the object. In a strict sense, therefore, no data are truly "raw," and every record has been somehow subjected to editing and transformation. There is an infinite line of separation between a moment or event and one's perception of that event. We can never capture or possess a moment. Reality is not palpable. It is impossible for language to be adequate to the phenomena. We can only scan it and attempt to convey its vitality. What we have is the facsimile of expression or a representation of reality. Something is lost and gained in every representation.
Bateson did not believe that things could be objectively observed and measured because observations demands involvement. Information is not a material thing. Information is relative to how I operate on what is out there. It is the researcher who must supply the thought and energy that is needed to decipher any information. Bateson concluded that in the world of mental process, there are not real things, only messages carried by things.
Research plans and methods are primarily determined by the researcher's opinions and assumptions about what sort of thing he is dealing with, so it follows that part of research should be to study the nature and process of research itself. If it is me as the researcher who is the primary instrument, it is important for me to examine how I participate in the observed since my own frame of reference will heavily guide what I choose to present as significant. Since I cannot analyze data as representing some objective state of events, research becomes a task of examining what I am doing to construct a particular representation of reality. My methodology becomes a reflection or discussion about my own epistemology or way of knowing, and what I as a researcher believe can be known, as well as who can be a knower. Thus Bateson was interested in how the observer observes and how we are able to make distinctions and distinguish between our distinctions. He believed in enlarging the view of science as a dialogical paradigm in which the observer is revealed in his descriptions.
* Bateson, Gregory, Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. University Of Chicago Press. 1972
(Postmodern French social critic and philosopher,1929-2007)
We live in an illusory world in which the idol of truth has no place According to Baudrillard we are living in a world dominated by mass media, images, signs, any other simulacra. It is a realm of ‘hyperreality’ and simulations where truths no longer exist. We live in a Disneyworld in which illusion has become reality, a fantasy world - ‘a simulacrum’ – which is the duplicate of nothing because the real world has disappeared. We live in a logic of simulation which has nothing to do with a logic of facts and an order of reasons. The belief in truth is part of the elementary forms of religious life. It is the last stronghold for the supporters of morality and rationality for which the reality principle cannot be questioned. These defenders of realism reduce their own life to an accumulation of facts and proofs, of causes and effects.
According to Baudrillard there is an insoluble relationship between thought and the real. Thought in the past had always been the accomplice of the real. It took for granted that thought refers to reality. But Baudrillard’s “radical” thought is ex-centric to reality and is incompatible with it. The happy conjunction of thought and reality affirmed by the Enlightenment and modernity is now over. In contrast to the discourse of reality, rationality and meaning which preserves the notion of an objective truth and a decipherable world, radical thought opts for the illusion of the world, the non-veracity of facts, the meaninglessness of the world, nothingness rather something.
We live in an illusory world, but for an illusion to take place, there needs to be a real – and there is no real. There is no real to be recaptured beyond the illusion – it is all illusion with no real to be its opposite and therefore no illusion either since illusion is definable by the existence of the real, as its opposite. The problem is that people go on speaking as if there is a real, and therefore an illusion or vice versa. In fact everything is a “simulacra”, that is a fake of the real that isn’t there. There no value, no truth, no reality that is recoverable. It is all simulation without anchor. Baudrillard calls it “hyperreality”.
The real world has become a myth, a simulacrum and that entails the death of truth, knowledge and philosophy itself. This situation that defines postmodernity is the outcome of the Nietzschean program of denunciation of those “free spirits who still have faith in truth, science and knowledge”. For Baudrillard it is the idol of truth itself, that had replaced the idol of God, that must be demolished.
* Baudrillard Jean, Simulacra and Simulation and Radical Thought, in Jean Baudrillard Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster, Stanford University press, 1988
(German philosopher, 1714-1762)
Aesthetic cognition has its own truth claim.
Art, for Baumgarten, denotes a special cognitive domain, that of sensual thinking, which he argues is distinct from rational or logical thought. Baumgarten's new 'science of sensible knowledge' would deal as fully with truth as did logic, but truth in so far as it is known through the senses. For Baumgarten, sensible knowledge is a faculty of the mind that he termed an analogon rationis—an analogue of reason: in short, a unique mode of reasoning in its own right.
Baumgarten states that aesthetic cognition has its own truth claim. He argues that there are several levels of truth that coincide with the levels of cognition. A metaphysical truth seems the equivalent of an intuitive and adequate cognition, that is, something that transcends the capacity of human knowledge. As far as man is concerned, his rational insights produce a truth that Baumgarten labels logical. The third truth is the result of confused cognition, namely, aesthetic truth. Baumgarten elaborates on how he understands aesthetic truth by situating it between falsehood and the certainty we achieve through correct employment of our rational faculties. Aesthetic truth for Baumgarten seems to come rather close to the rhetorical conception of truth, namely, probability.
In the rhetorical tradition, an argument was true if it was convincing, probable, or more likely to be true than other contenders for truth, but it did not have to agree with the substance of the object as the philosophical adaequatio -theory demanded. An argument would be deemed probable if we hold something to be true without having any logical proof for this belief. Likewise the object of aesthetic truth, Baumgarten writes, “is neither certain nor is its truth perceived in full light”. Although logical truth, and logical truth only, can provide us with certainty, it pays a high price for it. Baumgarten regards logical truth to be an impoverished abstraction, that is, a movement from concrete instances to a general concept. The multitude of concrete sensual experiences carries with it a sense of fullness, vibrancy, and liveliness that gets lost in abstraction. We are to think of abstract logical truth as somewhat pale and somewhat lifeless in comparison to the probability that the aesthetic faculty provides. Aesthetic truth, in opposition, celebrates “richness, chaos and matter”, he writes.
Baumgarten wanted to persuade his fellow rationalist philosophers that questions of art were as worthy of their attention as the more abstract spheres of thought with which they had theretofore concerned themselves.
* Baumgarter, Alexander, Aesthetica, 1758
(French philosopher and theologian, 1796 – 1863)
It is only the revealed truth that allows the philosopher to elaborate a coherent explanation of reality
Bautain presents contemporary Christianity as the only system that is worthy of the name of wisdom. Christian theology acquires the highest rank of a science that perfectly satisfies the need for explanation, a need that comes from philosophical questions.
Bautain distinguished reason and faith, and held that revelation supplies facts, otherwise unattainable, which philosophy is able to group by scientific methods. Theology and philosophy thus form one comprehensive science. Bautain exalted faith above reason. He pointed out that reason can never yield knowledge of things in themselves. But there exists in addition to reason another faculty which may be called intelligence, through which we are put in connection with spiritual and invisible truth. This intelligence does not of itself yield a body of truth; it merely contains the germs of the higher ideas, and these are made productive by being brought into contact with revealed facts.
He declared that reason is powerless to discover truth. “All that is human is contestable, variable, uncertain”. One must first consider the Christian revelation and faith; reason will come afterwards”. The sacred word must provide the philosopher the principles and fundamental truths of wisdom and science. He must develop these principles, bring these truths to light, and demonstrate them by experience in applying them to the facts of man and nature.
Bautain pointed to Kant, according to whom reason is incapable of achieving depth in the areas of metaphysics and morality. He extended Kant’s thinking, and thought that the reason does not have within it any integrating intellectual power nor any ability of deduction and induction; philosophical thought should therefore be based on Revelation, and morality should be based on humility. These statements gave his philosophy a fideistic character. Philosophical thoughts should begin from faith—this sequence of reflection is the condition for all cognition, every science and morality.
Bautain’s philosophical system is based on three basic categories: the intelligence of faith, the light of faith, and the philosophy of faith. They are connected as follows: since everything that exists participates in being, and the truth of beings depends on their agreement with the divine idea of which beings are a realization, the human science that investigates beings is more or less perfect depending on the degree of participation in God’s science or knowledge. Faith is an intelligence that causes us to participate in God’s knowledge, who alone sees things in their wholeness and their principles. Faith is the connection with God. It is a free and voluntary bond, and so it depends upon us to determine man’s subjective reaction with God’s objective action. A profound bond connects our being with the Source of this being. In our present state we cannot communicate with the Infinite, the source of all truth, except by receiving by faith the “impression of eternal truth”. Our intelligence, which of its nature wants to see and know, is inclined to possess the truth and aspired to the true, sole, and universal science. The truth of the revealed Word allows the philosopher to discover and elaborate a coherent explanation of man, the history of mankind, and the history of the world.
* Bautain, Philosophie du Christianisme (1835)
(French philosopher, 1647-1706)
Bayle emphasizes the weakness of reason and the impossibility of answering inescapable philosophical questions on fundamental issues. But Bayle’s doubt about many things is not enough to call him a sceptic in the classical sense of the term. Bayle did not advocate the practice of suspense of judgement like the ancient Academic sceptics. Neither did he follow the Pyrrhonian sceptics who came to accept suspense of judgement in order to achieve peace of mind. For both schools of ancient scepticism, nothing being certain, philosophical thinking is pointless. Bayle was not a sceptic of this type. Undoubtedly he had a sharp eye for bad argument, a good memory for alleged fact, a settled habit of testing every theory or assertion on any subject, a great inventiveness in devising objections and an urge to upset the complacency of people who think they know. He was more a kind of latter-day Socrates who wanted to show that on many matters certainty is not attainable. The goal of knowledge for him was neither suspense of judgement nor peace of mind. Rather, he was a disappointed and not very hopeful truth-seeker. His unsparing criticism of theories and historical assertions had the purpose to eliminate error masquerading as truth but he had no intention to show like the sceptics that thought is futile.
In fact human reason is better adapted for the detection of errors than for the positive discovery of truth. This is surely the case for theological controversies. Bayle considered them confused and pointless. Most controversies depend for their life on lack of proper judgement and prejudices. Bayle extends his scepticism to the field of metaphysics. The problem of evil, for instance, has never found a satisfactory solution. No proof has ever been given that the human soul is immortal. This does not mean that this doctrine is false, only that it is incapable of rational proof. As for the so-called truths of religion they belong to the sphere of the non-rational and that is why it is futile to indulge in theological argument and controversy. Religious truths for Bayle contain much that is repugnant to reason. He placed faith outside the field of reason and thus totally separated the truths of religion and the truths of reason.
* See Copleston, F., A History of Philosophy, Vol. VI, London, Burns Oates, 1960, p. 6-8; also Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Pierre Bayle’s Skepticism.
(Scottish poet and essayist, 1735-1803)
Beattie's Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth is an attempt to expose scepticism's absurdities and dangers. Inspired by Thomas Reid, he feels that God implanted several common sense intuitions within human nature, particularly beliefs about the integrity of reason, sense perceptions, and moral virtue. According to him common sense not only guides us towards truth, but it defines and is the criterion of truth. In his words, "that to us is truth which we feel that we must believe; and that to us is falsehood which we feel that we must disbelieve." In contemporary terminology, he is offering a theory of truth that radically differs from the familiar correspondence theory.
Beattie's doctrine is that all genuine reasoning does ultimately terminate in certain principles, which it is impossible to disbelieve, and also impossible to prove: that therefore the ultimate standard of truth to us is common sense, or that instinctive conviction into which all true reasoning does resolve itself. Therefore what contradicts common sense is in itself absurd, however subtle the arguments which support it.
Beattie's point is that we cannot judge truth and falsehood by inspecting reality itself since that is beyond what we can know. Second, he makes clear that common sense is the "standard" of truth, and not simply a guide or indicator of truth. Few people would object to the modest claim that common sense is a basic guide for recognizing the truth of at least some contentions. For example, our common sense inclines us to believe that the tree in front of us physically exists and, so, it is plausible for us to judge that this belief is true. However, Beattie goes much further in suggesting that "X is true" means that X is grounded in an instinctive common sense conviction. It is in this sense that he is offering a definition of truth to be placed for consideration along side other theories of truth.
Beattie's views on the nature of truth was attacked by several critics, notably J.B. Priestley. The upshot of the critique was that common sense is notoriously variable from person to person, and Beattie's attempt to ground truth in common sense was in fact entirely subversive of all truth. Priestley argued that all that we can ever say is, that certain maxims and propositions appear to be true with respect to ourselves, but we cannot tell how they may appear to others. We cannot know the instinctive beliefs of others. It is absurd to argue that our private instinctive beliefs form the basis of truth. Common sense is too variable to function as an adequate criterion of truth.
* Beattie, Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, ed. James Fieser, Vol. 2 of Scottish Common Sense Philosophy, Bristol: Thoemmes Press, 2000.
(Contemporary Indian Microbiologist) The difference between knowledge and belief in the search of truth
Many philosophers have tried to explore the nature of human knowledge and the means through which we acquire it. Plato has said that something that is a justified true belief is knowledge. Understanding the definition would require a clear and concise understanding of the terms involved in it. Let us take a look at them. 'Justified' means something that is rational and reasonable. 'Truth' means something that is in accordance with fact. ['Fact' means something that can be verified, usually based on personal experience.] And 'belief' is something one holds to be true. So, if you have a belief, you have a reason enough to believe in it, and if your belief is in accordance with the truth, it becomes your knowledge.
Knowledge is the realization of a fact. You may come to know about things through various mediums - books, Internet, education or experience. Going back to the definition of knowledge as justified true belief, we know something to be true (or to be a fact) if we can verify it. Experience is something we rely on, the most, to verify our knowledge. It works most of the time. You can support knowledge and verify it using experimental or statistical data. This is also why knowledge can be 'proven' to be wrong.
While knowledge is regarded tangible, belief is a psychological state. This itself makes the whole concept vulnerable to strong debates and accusations. A belief is not something that can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. It is all in the mind; something that we all feel but cannot prove by the scientific method.
Knowledge and Belief: how are they different? Knowledge is indispensable, but belief is equally important. However, the more you can base your belief with fact, the stronger your belief will become. (or in turn, the lesser facts you find to base your belief on, the weaker it will become). Hence belief is affected by the knowledge you have.
The biggest difference between belief and knowledge is the tendency of most people to test their beliefs and not their knowledge. When we are sure we know something, we do not really go back and try to verify it. We tend to accept our knowledge more readily than our beliefs. Our beliefs, however, are constantly put to test; by us, by people around, by situations, experiences among many other things.
There is knowledge and there is lack of knowledge. It is the lack of knowledge that gives rise to such concepts as belief. Knowledge can strengthen or weaken a belief. But belief in itself arises out of lack of knowledge. If I know something to be a fact, I know it to be a fact. If I don't, then I have room to believe or not believe in it. Thus, it seems knowledge is more fundamental than belief. Whether you believe in something or not, does not change the fact. But whether you know something to be a fact or not can change your belief in it.
In short lack of knowledge leads to formation of beliefs. However, other things like culture, religious teachings, upbringing, experiences, etc. also contribute to the belief formed. Increasing your knowledge about something will alter your beliefs about it. But your beliefs won't alter your knowledge. In spite of this, the act of 'believing' in itself is indispensable, as you need to believe in what you know, to realize that it is knowledge. One should not try to eliminate either of knowledge or belief from one's life. Both are necessary, important and functional. Consciously, subconsciously, we are all keeping belief - in people, in situations, in ourselves. Belief is what keeps us going. After all, knowledge was, is, and will always be incomplete. All that we can hold on to and depend on, are our beliefs.
* See Internet Belvalkar Mrunal
(unidentified American author)
The fraudulent philosophy of "All truth is God's Truth"
"All truth is God's Truth" is a very pious sounding phrase which is seen often in the literature, especially those writings that are trying to reconcile or harmonize "truths" of science with the Biblical Revelation. This fraudulent philosophy leads to a more erroneous step where "nature" is seen as complementary to Biblical revelation.
The dangerous notion that "nature" is a book which can "reveal" true knowledge, and that this knowledge is compatible with or is of equal validity as the Scriptures is its inevitable perilous aftermath. Its advocates continue to cling to the carcass of empiricism, mistaking its stench for the fragrance of truth.
It is the basis of an insidious philosophy which rests on several incorrect and unBiblical assumptions because the writer does not know the correct definition of the word Truth. These several incorrect assumptions are:
1- That there are multiple truths available to mankind which can be known
2- That these truths become evident to any honest seeker
3- That these truths can be acquired through human efforts (science)
4- That information about creation is of the same significance as True Knowledge of God
5- That God has revealed True Knowledge of Himself in creation
In other words, Revealed Verbal Truth is confused with information or facts that most anyone can acquire. As the correctives to such confusion, it is imperative to understand that:
a- Eternally True knowledge of God must not be confused with information acquired through our daily experiences;
b- Eternally True knowledge of God cannot be discovered by any human;
c- Eternally True knowledge of God is not available to anyone except the elect;
d- So called "General Revelation" is an oxymoron and this phrase should NOT be used by Christians. By definition, Revelation is a ONE WAY flow of verbal information.
e- Scientsts can NEVER discover truth, because information acquired through human efforts is always erroneous and has no resemblance to Truth.
* Ben Masterm reviewing “All Truth Is God's Truth All Truth” of Arthur F. Holmes
(Contemporary French president of “Réseau Voltaire”
Pour parvenir a la Vérité: le doute, mieux que la foi ou la raison
Il n’est pas inutile de s’interroger sur la meilleure méthode permettant de séparer le vrai du faux. On peut définir plusieurs de ces chemins et en observer la validité. La foi, la raison et le doute font partie de ces voies que l’humanité explore pour tenter parvenir à La Vérité.
La foi est une croyance totale et aveugle dans une vérité mythique transcendantale, la foi ne requiert pas de démonstration elle est construite avec des axiomes et des dogmes. Toute religion fonctionne sur une foi. Egalement tout ce qui est considéré comme vrai, a priori, sans démonstration peut être appelé foi.
Les grecs de l’époque classique se sont les premiers interrogés sur la foi et sa validité. Aristote lui opposa la raison. Foi et raison serons depuis Aristote engagées dans une dualité souvent conflictuelle quand la raison pure contredit la foi, notamment dans la religion chrétienne créationniste : le monde fut créé tandis que la raison Aristotélicienne prétend que le monde est infini, donc n’a pu être créé. Mais même la raison atteint des limites comme outil permettant la description du monde. Elle utilise une rationalité simple voir simpliste, portant facilement à l’erreur grossière.
Ce qui va définitivement faire avancer l’humanité ce n’est pas seulement la raison, mais le doute, car seul le doute engage l’expérimentation pour le lever. La théorisation du doute revient à Pierre Abélard au début du 12ème siècle qui écrit dans son ouvrage « Sic et Non » qui se traduit par « Le Pour et le Contre » . « La première clef de la sagesse, c’est une interrogation continuelle, il n’est pas inutile de douter de chaque chose. En effet, qui doute conduit à chercher, qui cherche peut saisir la vérité ».
Cinq siècles plus tard, Descartes reprendra les réflexions de Pierre Abélard et de la scolastique parisienne dans « Le Discours de la Méthode », ouvrage mi philosophique mi scientifique qui définit pleinement une méthode de recherche d’une vérité forcément en suspend puisqu’à la merci d’un doute.
Ce doute est profondément humain puisqu’il permet le progrès car il provoque la recherche d’un savoir supérieur et de méthodes plus efficaces. La raison est bien de n’avoir foi que dans le doute !
See Internet, published by Alain Benajam - dans Idées
( Contemporary undetected author)
A justification of both relative and absolute truth
"Truth" is a word which can be widely interpreted, and has many different meanings in today's context. According to a first statement, "different cultures have different truths": this implies that culture somehow affects truth, and that the variance of each culture thereby brings out the various truths which can be determined. But according to a second statement, "a truth is that which can be accepted universally": this hints that the nature of truth transcends all barriers, even that of culture. Thus, arises the conflict in agreeing with both statements.
1. If we agree with the first statement, we are proposing that truth is different because of our cultural context, and that because every person has a different upbringing, their evaluation of facts will always be relative to what they have experienced in life, justifying that there are different values attached to everyone's beliefs due to cultural multiplicity. This position is echoed by the philosophy of relativism, which proposes that "Man is the measure of all things" , meaning that the only way truth can be gained, is through the individual, and his defined perception of the world. Therefore, the truth, in this sense, is personal to everyone because of the filters with which they perceive the world in brought upon by culture.
2. On the other hand, a truth being that "which can be accepted universally" is a statement which does not have any contradictions when compared from culture to culture, and is therefore seen as absolute in nature. It is defined as absolute when it can be said to be correct, at all times and at all places. Therefore, this statement promotes the issue of truth being affected by our basest instinct- human nature. The fact that we are all human, no matter what our culture, has given rise to truths which have crossed the barriers of culture. The concept of ethics also comes into play here, because some truths able to be "accepted universally" mostly appeal to human nature rather than anything else. Other absolute truths also exist, for example, the truth of mathematics, in which I state the answer to a mathematics question, and it is, and ever will exist no matter what culture that question is asked in. This is not subjective to relativism, and will therefore always provide a singular truth.
Truth has various areas where it may be relative or not; mathematics is one example of where relativism does not apply, while the above arguments listed in the proposition for the first statement give an example of how relativism does affect truth. Therefore, absolute truths do exist in a universal context. Also, the fact that the proposition for relativism, the statement that "all truths are relative" is universal in nature, and therefore contradictory, attempts to explain that universal, absolute truths do exist. On the other hand, we should not ignore truths derived from relativism, because relativism is truth that has undergone personal reason, and therefore thought, and is the product of our conclusions from experience, affecting how much we are able to rationally believe in a truth.
All in all, both statements provide different implications for knowledge, the first, one which is relevant and justified in a personal context to us, and the second, one which can be applied universally based on others' belief in it at the same time.
* See Internet Benjamin Lim Yahoo contributor network
(Contemporary British philosophers)
The importance of Truth for the human species
Truth has always been a central preoccupation of philosophy in all its forms and traditions. However, in the late twentieth century truth became suddenly rather unfashionable. The precedence given to assorted political and ideological agendas, along with the rise of relativism, postmodernism and pseudoscience in academia, led to a decline both of truth as a serious subject, and an intellectual tradition that began with the Enlightenment. Benson and Stangroom’s Why Truth Matters is a look at how and why modern thought and culture lost sight of the importance of truth. Their project is to 'fight fashionable nonsense' - identify and debunk such nonsense, and the spurious claims made for it, in all its forms. They denounce world-views that hold that there is no historical truth and almost everything is a mere social construction.
They deal with the necessity of defending objective and scientific truth against the threats to rational thinking allegedly posed by religious fundamentalism, pseudoscience, wishful thinking, postmodernism and relativism.
As Benson and Stangroom argue, “Truth-claims, evidence, reason, logic, warrant, are not some fiefdom or gated community or exclusive club. On the contrary. They are the property of everyone, and the only way to refute lies and mistakes… The real tyranny is being required to let humans – the community, the mullahs, the Vatican, the Southern Baptists Convention – decide what the truth is independent of the evidence.”
The great Enlightenment goal of pursuing the truth wherever it may lead us – even to ideas we find totally unexpected, or initially horrifying – is under siege. To its right, it is being assaulted by religious fundamentalists who want to ring-fence their own ludicrous propositions from critical inquiry. To the left, it is being assaulted by the postmodernists who argue that rationality is simply a police-state of the mind, demanding we follow its own arbitrary rules.
The main point Stangroom and Benson are making is that ‘truth matters because human beings are the only species capable of finding it out.' However there is no question for them to go back to a naïve ‘correspondence theory of truth’, where it is assumed that we have very simple, straightforward access to the objective world. All our understandings of the world are, as Wittgenstein showed, filtered through our language and culture. We need to always put in place controls and checks (as the scientific method demands) to minimize the problems that arise from this. But that does not stop it the world from being there, and from the need for us to try to maximize our understanding of it.
* Benson Ophelia & Stangroom Jeremy, Why truth matters, Continuum, 2007
( British social philosopher, 1748-1832)
Bentham, the founder of "utilitarianism" investigated human actions through the pleasure and pain that they entail. He founded all his reasonings on these observations and concluded that truth and utility 'walk together'. He claimed that the investigator who discovers what is useful is not far from the truth. It is easier to reach the truth through the search of utility than to find the truth without having the useful as guide. What is useful belongs to the field of experience while the domain of truth is a matter of mere conjectures.
For Bentham, the value of an action is based solely on its consequences, namely, the pleasure generated or the pain avoided. There is no intrinsic nature of an action nor is the value based on the intentions of the actor. If telling a lie creates more pleasure than pain, then it is a good act. If telling the truth creates more pain than pleasure, then it is a "bad" act.
This means that for Bentham truth is not a primary value for it cannot play its role unless subordinated to other values, especially the most fundamental value of "the greatest happiness for the largest number of people".
According to Bentham's Utilitarianism the final arbiter of "truth" and "significance" is the utility, the usefulness, or the practical workability for the person or groups of persons affirming "truth" and "significance". It presumes that the consequences of an action are the only measure of value.
* Bentham Jeremy, An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, London: The Athlone Press, 1970.
(Russian existentialist philosopher, 1874-1948)
1. Truth is not something in knowledge that corresponds to a reality outside man. It is not the intellectual submissiveness of the part of the cognitive mind to a reality presented to it from outside. To know the truth is not to recognize reality ‘as it is’. Reality or Being is all darkness. Human knowledge operates a breakthrough, a victory of light over darkness. The subject illumines the darkness of the world in giving meaning to it. Truth is the creative transforming of reality, it is the meaning of reality, the value of reality, not reality ‘as it is’. Truth is above reality. It is the process of instilling spirit into the material objective reality. Truth is the light breaking through reality and transfiguring it. It is the introduction into the world of a quality that the world did not possess before truth was revealed. It is the letting-in of light in the world.
Hence truth is not passive submission or obedience to reality. It is not the repetition of reality in the knower. It is not slavery to the real. Truth is a conquest, which is achieved by the subject’s creative act. It is the creative transforming of reality, the creative light that gives meaning to a meaningless world. Truth liberates being from darkness. Truth is the transfiguration of reality. It is the light breaking through reality; it is the letting-in of light in the world to transfigure it.
Berdiaev praises Nietzsche for having said that Truth is a value that is created by man – and not a merely passive reflection of reality in the knower. This dynamic understanding of truth was a breakthrough against the old static interpretation of it.
Truth is the victory of spirit over matter, it is the voice of eternity in time, a ray of light in the world. It judges the world. It even judges revelation. No religion is higher than truth. Religious revelations must be the revelation of the truth. Truth is the supreme value.
2. Truth is existential, subjective, ‘aristocratic’ and ‘prophetic’.
Truth is existential. It is the creative act of the whole person, intellect and will. When truth is made a matter of intellect and reason only, it is objectified. This is the case with the partial truths which are worked out by the various sciences: they refer to the objectified world. But Truth with a capital T is subjective and individual even though universal in its individuality. It is a quality and therefore it is ‘aristocratic’, not imposed on all, but revealed to some persons under certain conditions and rejected by others. It depends on the degree of consciousness of each subject. It is the object of a personal discovery, conquered by a creative act. Truth is ‘prophetic’ and the prophet often stands alone. Even if it is meant for all and is communal, still it can never be imposed by authoritarian collectivism. The socialisation of the truth is a great danger.
It follows that there are no criteria of truth outside itself and no objective standards of truth. The Spirit implies risk and it has to be so. There is no standard of truth outside the witness of truth itself. The search for an absolute guarantee is a false track. It is only in the acceptance of things visible, the so-called partial truths of the visible world in science, that there is no risk.
* N. Berdiaev, The Beginning and the End, Geoffrey Bles, London, 1952, p. 42-54; The Meaning of the Creative Act, Collier Books, N.Y., 1962, p.33-44; Truth and Revelation, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1953
(American sociologist, b. 1929)
Berger’s interest is in the sociological analysis of truth in the modern world.
1. In the stable societies of ancient civilisations and religions, answers to the problem of life could be given in a tone of great assurance. The socially defined reality had a very high degree of objectivity. The typical condition of pre-modern human beings was one of absolute certainty about all the perennial questions of existence and its meaning and value. Berger calls the pre-modern world a ‘world of fate’, inhabited by uncritically accepted traditions. Truth was defined once for all and it never came to the mind of any one to question it, except for a few ‘heretics’ who were soon silenced and ostracised.
2. Whereas formerly truth was imposed and uncritically accepted by all, in modern times the situation in regard to the truth has undergone a radical transformation. Today it has become ‘imperative’ to choose the truth in questioning all the traditions received from the past. Each individual today is compelled to assume the attitude of a ‘heretic’, i.e. some one who chooses (airein, in Greek) after critical examination. To the old world of Fate is substituted the world of Choice. Even more, one should say that modern man is condemned to the freedom of choice concerning the truths of life. There is a ‘market-place’ of ideologies and visions of life in the face of which every thinking person is called to make his/her own choice. The tension that the new situation provokes is mostly felt in the domain of religion. If the typical condition of pre-modern man was one of religious certainty, that of modern man is that of religious doubt.
3. This new situation provokes two main reactions: one of liberation and one of deep anxiety. Liberation, because truth and freedom are found side by side and no longer antagonized, but anxiety too because human beings are left alone to give meaning to life and find the truth without social support. The old feeling of certainty disappears and doubt creeps in. The transition from fate to free-choice is a welcome but also a painful experience. Now every individual is called to think by himself and take his responsibility. He is left alone to make his options with the disappearance of the official truth of the world of Fate.
* P. Berger, The Heretical Imperative, Anchor Books, New York, 1979
(French philosopher, 1859-1941)
1. Philosophical questions cannot be treated by the usual means of common parlance and scientific rationality. Genuine thinking that aims at truth is a spiritual exercise which has nothing to do with objective knowledge, but with the interior life of conscience that alone reaches the source of reality. Bergson’s ‘ontological’ revolution is that being is becoming, movement, evolution, elan vital. Temporality or, better, ‘duration’ is the essence of reality and the self. Science does not understand time because it begins by measuring it, that is, by transforming it into space. For Bergson duration is a metaphysical, almost mystical experience, something else than the scientific time.
2. A cental theme of Bergsonian philosophy is the opposition between intelligence and intuition. Our intelligence is radically inadapted to understand life-duration. It only thinks the motionless, the quantitative and the spatial. Intelligence analyses reality, classifies it, fragments it, reduces it to stable states through conceptualisation. Concepts being abstract and general define things by what they are not. Moreover intelligence expresses itself in language. No words can correspond to what is intimately lived; they betray life in transforming the real into labels and preventing us to see the world as it is. Intelligence which is turned to the static and the material is useful in science and for action but not for the knowledge of reality.
Intuition only is that by which the truth of reality is apprehended. It is the immediate perception of life by the spirit just as sensation is the perception of reality by the body. Whereas intelligence is the instrument of science, intuition is the instrument of philosophy. Science and philosophy do not have the same object and the same finality. Science studies matter and is at the service of action. Philosophy (metaphysics) deals with spirit and aims at knowing the truth through the use of intuition. Unlike other areas of study that resort to the mediation of language, concepts and theories, metaphysics does not represent reality by forms, symbols or viewpoints. It relies on intuition that brings about the fusion and coincidence of conscience with reality by “sympathy”.The absence of go-between in intuition justifies the claim of metaphysics that it reaches absolute knowledge in which reality is pure presence to conscience.
3. Bergson is not the enemy of science but of positivism. Human language is naturally positivist. Bergson reacts against the basic prejudice: that true knowledge has to be primarily objective, whereas, belonging to conscience, it is by nature subjective. Man’s inclination tends to petrify the living and objectify it in order to manipulate it. This positivist turning of subjectivity into objectivity is a fatal betrayal of reality. In his search of true knowledge, Bergson has chosen interiority against the values of objectivity and exteriority. Human existence is the field of subjective interiority. Therefore it is essential to recognize its primacy over objective exteriority. This view changes the philosophical scenery. The essential truth about reality is always something lived outside the reach of analysis and rationalisation. It can only be reached by intuition.
* Bergson, Henri, Les données immédiates de la conscience, Paris, PUF, 1889 ; See : Puech, Michel, La Philosophie en clair, Paris, Ellipses, 1999, p.96-108
(Irish philosopher. 1685-1753)
Reality is purely mental: hence truth is not a matter of correspondence but coherence between ideas
Berkeley’s famous immaterialist thesis, Esse est percipi, postulated that there was no such thing as an unperceived material reality. His world view was based on the marriage of two truths that he considered were self evident: - that the things which are immediately perceived are real things, and - that the things that are immediately perceived are ideas which exist only in the mind. This means that minds and ideas, which can be empirically verified, are the only realities and that reality is identical with appearance. Hence no place in his system for a correspondence theory of truth.
He argues that if the only evidence for an object's existence is its being perceived, then the conclusion is that existence consists entirely in being perceived or perceiving and that minds and their ideas constitute reality. Because we can never know anything outside of our own minds, we must conclude that there is no such thing as a real (material) world. Instead of saying that we often perceive what really exists, Berkeley argues that what really exists is what we or some other minds (God included!) perceive.
Berkeley held that the representationalist epistemologies led directly to skepticism. This is because it placed truth on a foundation of correspondence between our ideas and that which they represent. If there is no way to compare our representations with the reality that they are supposed to represent, then one really ought to be skeptical about whether there is any correspondence at all. If, instead, one embraces Berkeley’s idealism, this skeptical problem seems to disappear. Our knowledge of the “external world”—that is, our knowledge of the objects and events that make up ordinary experience—does not depend on a relation between our ideas of those things and some hidden reality that is said to be their cause. Instead, our empirical knowledge is trustworthy because of its internal coherence. Truth is not a matter of correspondence but of coherence between ideas. We never find that an idea is false or illusory by comparing it with “reality,” but only by comparing it with other ideas.
* Berkeley George, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
(British philosopher and political theorist, 1909-1997)
“Value pluralism” that Berlin espouses can perhaps be better understood by contrasting it with its antithesis, that is, the idea of monism. Monism is the idea, dating back to Plato, but also underlying much of modern Western philosophy, that, even though we may not always be able to see it, there is an underlying harmony in human values and that conflicts among them can be resolved by appeal to some higher principle or standard. The assumption is that behind the phenomenon of life, there is a timeless and eternal model to be uncovered. This kind of Monism is the idea that all truly good things are linked to one another in a single, perfect whole and that the realization of the pattern formed by them is the one true end of all rational activity, both public and private. Monism entails the notion of the perfect whole, the ultimate solution, in which all good things coexist.
But Berlin rejects the seductive Western idea of monism in favour of pluralism and his most cogent answer is that, from our own ordinary experience of the world, we know that our values often do conflict with one another in irreconcilable ways and that, in the absence of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, there seems little reason to reject the reality of this experience.
His idea of “value pluralism” is that many of the values or ends that we hold dear are incompatible and cannot be reconciled with one another. It is the idea that there might exist ends which are equally ultimate, but incompatible with one another, that there might exist no single universal standard that would enable human beings to choose rationally between them. Hence according to ‘value incompatibility’, the pursuit of certain values must inevitably compromise or limit our ability to pursue certain other values. The more we seek to attain some of these values, the less able we are to attain the others.
Now the conflicts between incompatible values can occur at different levels. Values can not only clash within the conscience of a single individual, but they can also be incompatible between cultures, or groups in the same culture, or between one person and another. In other words, value conflicts can make themselves known at personal, interpersonal, inter-group, and inter-cultural levels. This multi-faceted character of value conflict is important, because it means that value conflict presents individuals or groups with not simply a moral problem, but also a political problem.
The anthropological key concept of Berlin’s work is his idea that man is a fallible, complex combination of opposites, some reconcilable, others incapable of being resolved or harmonized, unable to cease from his search for truth and happiness and with no guarantee, theological or logical or scientific, of being able to attain them. He maintains that the old perennial belief in the possibility of realizing ultimate harmony is nothing but a fallacy. Moreover, the truth is something which we may never attain: it depends upon too many circumstances over which we have no power.
For Berlin, the idea of a perfectly happy world, a world with no error or evil, a world of one truth and a single set of values, is not so much unrealistic as incoherent. According to Berlin, political philosophy exists because it presupposes a world where one goal looses against other goals when they collide in a pluralistic environment. Therefore, in a society where there is no one truth and one answer to all social and political problems, any process of choice-making is at the same time a process of accepting other men’s choices as a result of a democratic agreement. Berlin’s thought reminds us that toleration and moderation are possible or even necessary because the values we hold are mere preferences rather than absolute truths. This is a warning against the optimism of fanatics who believe in the existence of a perfect world and a single truth. It is reasonable to assume, as Berlin does, that without tolerance the conditions for rational discussion are destroyed.
The necessity of choice and conflict between absolute truth claims is an inescapable characteristic of human condition.
* Isaiah Berlin, John Gray, London, Harper Collins, 1995
(French physiologist, 1813-1878)
In science what is observably true is the only authority
On the subject of the scientific method Claude Bernard describes what makes a scientific theory good and what makes a scientist important, a true discoverer: it is how well he or she has penetrated into the unknown. In areas of science where the facts are known to everyone, all scientists are more or less equal—we cannot know who is great. But in the area of science that is still obscure and unknown the great are recognized: “They are marked by ideas which light up phenomena hitherto obscure and carry science forward”.
It is through the experimental method that science is carried forward - not through uncritically accepting the authority of academic or scholastic sources. In the experimental method, observable reality is our only authority. ”When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted”.
Experimental science is a constant interchange between theory and fact, induction and deduction. Induction, reasoning from the particular to the general, and deduction, or reasoning from the general to the particular, are never truly separate. A general theory and our theoretical deductions from it must be tested with specific experiments designed to confirm or deny their truth; while these particular experiments may lead us to formulate new theories.
The scientist tries to determine the relation of cause and effect. This is true for all sciences: the goal is to connect a “natural phenomenon” with its “immediate cause.” We formulate hypotheses elucidating, as we see it, the relation of cause and effect for particular phenomena. We test the hypotheses. And when an hypothesis is proved, it is a scientific theory. “Before that we have only groping and empiricism” Bernard explains what makes a theory good or bad scientifically:“Theories are only hypotheses, verified by more or less numerous facts. Those verified by the most facts are the best, but even then they are never final, never to be absolutely believed.”
Proof that a given condition always precedes or accompanies a phenomenon does not warrant concluding with certainty that a given condition is the immediate cause of that phenomenon. It must still be established that when this condition is removed, the phenomen will no longer appear.
We must always try to disprove our own theories. “We can solidly settle our ideas only by trying to destroy our own conclusions by counter-experiments”. What is observably true is the only authority. If through experiment, you contradict your own conclusions - you must accept the contradiction - but only on one condition: that the contradiction is proved.
The “philosophic spirit,” writes Bernard, is always active in its desire for truth. It stimulates a “kind of thirst for the unknown” which ennobles and enlivens science - where, as experimenters, we need “only to stand face to face with nature”. The minds that are great “are never self-satisfied, but still continue to strive”.
Ardent desire for knowledge, in fact, is the one motive attracting and supporting investigators in their efforts; and just this knowledge, really grasped and yet always flying before them, becomes at once their sole torment and their sole happiness. A man of science rises ever, in seeking truth; and if he never finds it in its wholeness, he discovers nevertheless very significant fragments; and these fragments of universal truth are precisely what constitutes science.
*Bernard, Claude. An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 1865. First English translation by Henry Copley Greene, published by Macmillan & Co., Ltd., 1927; reprinted in 1949.
(Unidentified French internaut) La vérité est accessible: c’est pourquoi il y a un devoir moral de la rechercher
La vérité est accessible. Elle n’est pas réservée à quelques esprits supérieurs. Toutes les vérités partielles que nous pouvons saisir sont «bonnes à prendre». Elles sont le signe que le réel est intelligible ; que, dans le monde, la cohérence est plus originaire et plus radicale que le chaos ; que, chez les êtres humains, les espoirs et les promesses sont plus vrais que l’illusion et la tromperie.
Il y a là un formidable encouragement à chercher le vrai, à ne pas nous résigner aux idées toutes faites ou aux impressions. C’est pourquoi il y a un devoir moral de chercher la vérité, un devoir intérieur, qui touche la cohérence de chacun, de chercher et d’adhérer à la vérité que l’on a reconnue.
Il y a des domaines de vérité différents. Chacun de ces domaines a ses règles propres. Mais nous savons que l’univers est une réalité globale dans laquelle les différents domaines de la vérité forment une harmonie. La vérité des sciences et la vérité de la philosophie ne sont pas exactement les mêmes, mais elles sont liées entre elles, à une profondeur que nous n’épuiserons jamais.
Dans des sociétés où se côtoient des gens portant des représentations très différentes du monde, de soi-même et des autres, il n’est pas indifférent de croire que les vérités portées par les uns et les autres sont comme des éclats brisés d’une figure totale.
Connaître la vérité suppose une attitude intérieure d’ouverture, d’émerveillement, de disponibilité. La vérité s’adresse à la liberté de chacun. La vérité ne peut être connue que librement, grâce au travail de l’esprit. La vérité n’est pas facultative mais aucune force, aucune contrainte ne peut l’imposer.
Osons chercher la vérité.
* See internet Bernard Roman
(Contemporary American psychologist)
Four Types of ‘Truth’
If a truth is the perception that “it is so,” there are different types and perhaps levels of truth.
1. personal truth. A personal truth is what is true for an individual. For example, one person may believe that chocolate ice-cream is the best. Nothing said could alter his/her perception that “it is so.” He or she may consider your own favorite, strawberry to be inedible. Personal truths reflect physiological attributes, psychological tendencies and the learning and experiences of an individual.
2. social truth. A social truth is what a distinct group perceives to “be so.” Social truths reflect group history, customs, and values. For example, to group “A” it may be true that the neighboring group, group “B,” is the enemy and thus a threat. But group “C” might not find this to be so. Or group “A” may believe that Saturday is the holy day, while group “B” claims it is Sunday.
3. human truth. A human truth reflects and pertains to the universal dispositions and abilities of our species, Homo sapiens. To one human being there is nothing more beautiful than another human being of the opposite sex (at least for heterosexuals). But to say we are the most beautiful of creatures would reflect species-centric thought. Many things that we consider to be inherently true probably reflect distinctive features of human psychology. For instance, because human beings are primates that readily establish and acknowledge dominance hierarchies, the human individual may be predisposed to feeling that there is or could be some entity “greater than me,” whether or not that happens to be true.
4. universal truth, A universal truth is one that all sufficiently intelligent and educated observers, from this planet or any other (should they exist), would conclude to “be so.” For instance, the proportion of a circle’s circumference to its diameter is 3.141592 ( . . . ). This is a universal truth. Any capable, unbiased individual could verify that truth. Similarly, that energy is equivalent to rest mass times the speed of light squared, is also a universal truth. A universal truth is the only type of truth that is not relative to the person or group making the claim. Science, by and large, provides us with universal truths. Or it at least aspires to.
Religion, no doubt, reflects social truths, and perhaps, in some regards, human truths as well. While one religion maintains that person X was the real messiah, another religion, reflecting its own values, customs, and history, says, “it is not so.” All groups, however, may feel that death cannot be the complete end to life. How can something so valued be lost? Humans may be naturally inclined to envision something more, irregardless of evidence. What believers in a religion frequently fail to do is to place possible human truths and their own social truths into a wider perspective.
* See Intermet Bernardin Andrew
(Contemporary German theologian)
Fundamentalism and the claim of absolute truth in religion
1. The absolutist attitude about truth is at the heart of fundamentalism. One’s own religion has sole, exclusive and complete possession of the truth, elevated to the status of eternal and unchangeable validity, protected against criticism and progress of knowledge. The resistance to the free quest for truth derives from an overwhelming ‘desire for certainty’ that submerges the ‘desire to know reality’. This is the fundamentalist attitude which begins where convictions are absolutised i.e. derived from “ultimate truths” which are held to be absolutely valid and behind which it is impossible to investigate. What is required of believers is not insight but submission. Critical thought must stop at these ultimate truths and intellectual freedom must surrender. What is demanded is a naively realistic understanding of truth, and that is, correct information and literal understanding about things on earth and heaven as disclosed by sacred scriptures. For fundamentalism the epistemological and hermeneutical problems do not exist.
In addition there is a claim to universal validity, a totalitarian claim about the interpretation of reality and the aims of life for all people at all times. Truth is one and therefore there can be no pluralism of different perspectives on the truth. Anything that contradicts revealed objective truth can only be untruth. The absolutist attitude is characterised by dualism. Reality and the knowledge of reality are either white or black. People are classified as either believers or pagans, either saved or lost, either living in light or in darkness. Any one not on the side of the truth must be opposed. Open communication with the other side is impossible. Nothing is done to understand the other, on the contrary a compulsion towards hostility prevails.
2. However the claim of absoluteness in religion has acquired some justification and legitimacy from several renown modern philosopher-theologians.. At the centre of their positive approach to the problem, lies the distinction between natural (or intuitive, pre-reflective) and artificial absoluteness.
- Troeltsch sees the source of any claim to absolute truth in religion in the encounter with the Absolute itself, in the experience of God. In that experience there is the feeling of compelling certainty to have met the final and absolute truth. But when this original experience of certainty is intellectualised and channelled into apologetic and dogmatic principles, an artificial claim to absoluteness arises. The claim to absoluteness is now fossilised in theological notions and doctrines for which an unconditional claim to validity is made.
- Jaspers (see Jaspers) takes a similar direction through his distinction between existential and rational truth. The truths of faith are existential, not rational. Rational truths are universally valid; their correctness can be proved, but they are not absolute and unconditional. On the contrary existential truths are unconditional and absolute but not universal in their objective expressibility. The religious claim to universality arises when there is a narrowing down of existential truth to rational correctness.
- G. Mensching (1901-1976) makes the distinction between intensive experience and extensive assertion. In the highly personal “intensive” experience of God, there is a legimate claim to absoluteness, but no universality because it is personal. But when this personal certainty becomes a claim binding all believers universally, the legitimate intensive experience becomes an extensive claim to absoluteness. An inappropriate generalisation takes place through the transference from the personal to the universal.
Bernhardt sums up the critical approach of these three authors as follows: it is directed against the generalisation of certainties which cannot be generalised. The unconditional existential truth can only be relational, i.e. related to the person who experiences it. In other words, it is absolute without being universal.
* Bernhardt, Reinhold, Christianity Without Absolutes, SCM Press, London, 1994, p. 22-26,98-100
(Contemporary American philosopher)
The Pope’s controversial claim that the truths of reason and faith form a harmonious unity
I am writing this response to John Paul II's encyclical letter Fides et Ratio as a philosopher who does not believe that "the truth of Christian Revelation, found in Jesus of Nazareth" is "the absolute truth." It makes some very substantial claims about reason, truth, and philosophy that are, at the very least, rationally contestable
The Pope states that although times change, it is possible "to discern a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole”. His encyclical refers to these "truths" as an "implicit philosophy," shared in some measure by all, which can therefore "serve as a kind of reference-point for the different philosophical schools." Now if these claims are intended to be a statement of truths that are supposedly shared by all, then they are simply false. If one is going to be true to the spirit of the autonomy of philosophy, then one must recognize that these alleged truths are still rationally debated by philosophers. It is disingenuous to speak about the openness of the philosophic search and yet claim that there is more substantial agreement than really exists.
Another even more controversial claim: we are told that people seek an absolute which might give to all their searching a meaning or an answer—something ultimate, which might serve as the ground of all things. In other words, they seek a final explanation, a supreme value, which refers to nothing beyond itself and which puts an end to all questioning. Whether we admit it or not, there comes for everyone the moment when personal existence must be anchored to a truth recognized as final, a truth which confers a certitude no longer open to doubt.
However suppose for the moment that one grants that people seek an absolute and that they are not satisfied with hypotheses: it certainly doesn't follow from this seeking that there exists "a truth recognized as final, a truth which contains a certitude no longer open to doubt." But even more important, a variety of philosophers have questioned the very idea of such an absolute and final truth. They have been essentially fallibilistic in spirit. Fallibilism is not relativism or skepticism; and it certainly is not (nor does to lead to) nihilism. It is rather the conviction that knowledge claims are always open to further rational criticism and revision. Fallibilism does not challenge the claim that we can know the truth, but rather the belief that we can know that we have attained the final truth with absolute certainty. Fallibilism can even be translated into religious terms as the principle that acknowledges our finitude and humility in the search for truth. This principle is by no means incompatible with a proper understanding of faith, although it would clearly reject the idea of a faith "which concerns a certitude no longer open to doubt."
Although the letter stresses the search and the journey for knowledge, it contains a substantial and extremely controversial conception of what constitutes human knowledge. This can be summed up in a single word: "foundationalism." There is an absolute and universal truth that serves as the foundation for all knowledge whether it be the knowledge gained by natural human reason or the knowledge gained by faith. What is ignored in this document is that the very idea of such a foundation has been called into question by a variety of rational arguments. I am not referring to fashionable forms of relativism or irrationalism. Rather, I am referring to those philosophers who have defended reason, universality, objectivity, and our capacity to know the truth, and yet have rejected any appeal to absolute epistemological, metaphysical, or ontological foundations.
See Internet Richard J. Bernstein
(Contemporary Australian myotherapist)
Facts and truth are judged from the framework of our construct
Facts cannot exist, by their own definition. For anything to be perceived of as a fact, it has to be assessed; measured against the known technology and methods of the day. A problem happens when a thing requires assessment, whether objective or subjective. The very methods of assessment in themselves are only as valid as the understanding of the day and are totally subject to change in the face of evolving technologies and frames of reference.
So called facts are closed to further exploration, reinterpretation or change because they represent an irrefutable (absolute) truth, the very definition of 'fact'. But open your mind to the thought that there may be no such thing as a fact; there is only our best understanding of the day given the quality of the available data and the quality and technology in methods with which we assess and analyse that data.
Truth is a concept which is just as unlikely. Philosophers have been trying to define and teach ‘truth’ for centuries and seem no closer now than they ever have been. Truth, like love and pain, is totally subjective. The 'spanner in the gearbox of truth' is pretty much based on one persistent problem alone,.. CHANGE.
Absolute truth is in itself subjective and ultimately false, as it can be seen only from the known references of the perceiver observing and judging data as ‘truth’ at that time. My definition of truth is something along the lines of, “what is conceived of as sufficiently accurate to satisfy the needs of the perceiver at that time”.
Knowledge's truth is illogical, in that it is essentially 'made of facts' which deny that a person, a technology or a new discovery might materially invalidate the assumptions that lead to a thing being a ‘true fact’ in the first place. The closest to telling the truth that a reasonably objective, honest person can come is to say, “My truth is...”. Objective or subjective truth is judged from the framework of our construct. Our construct is our framework of self, familial and societal norms; perceptions, viewpoints and frames of reference built by experience and learning. A society’s construct is basically the same thing, but on a bigger scale.
See Internet Craig Berry.
(Contemporary American psychotherapist)
The Truth Will Not Set You Free
“We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.” This quote summarizes the idea that truth, the truth that one perceives, is subjective and can be wrong.
We have long been taught that the truth will set us free, and that seeking the truth is a worthy goal. What if there is no absolute truth? What if there are just degrees of truth (or lies) that we tell ourselves? What if, as some insightful, anonymous person once purported, “People tell themselves stories, and then pour their lives into the stories they tell”?
Meaning is created in life. Neutral events are made subjective by interpreting them through the lens of perception. “Truth” is merely a product of perceptions; perceptions are colored by experience, which is then filtered through the current state of mind and altered even further. By the time the neutral event is processed in this manner, it is little more truth than fiction. Yet personal truth is accepted wholeheartedly.
Now, if you are willing to suspend your truth for a moment, and to even momentarily accept that much of what you believe may only be your version of the truth; or that what you believe is not the absolute truth, you may wonder how this is helpful to your state of mind. Despite an initially discouraging reaction to finding you are not as in touch with truth as you had believed, the benefit to this understanding is substantial.
Detachment and the challenging and reframing of thoughts and meaning are meant to procure a happier existence for all, and to allow for less conflict in one’s life. It is not a panacea. It takes great effort to detach from one’s beliefs and thoughts, challenge them, reframe them, and develop new, healthier beliefs. But with practice, which begins with an awareness of one’s thoughts as well as an understanding that meaning is applied to events, not inherent in them, one can achieve a happier, more peaceful life. As such, it is not believing your truth that will set you free.
* See Internet ,William Berry, 2012 My path of acceptance.
(Austrian born biologist, 1901-1972)
Humans create their own reality, not because objective reality does not exist but because human knowledge depends on what humans are able and willing to perceive. Hence no world view and general systems are ultimately truth about reality. Each is a perspective or an aspect, owing to man’s natural and cultural limitations. No one can jump over his own shadow. Bertalanffy’s “General Systems Theory” is perspectivist, not a “nothing-but” philosophy but a view that is tolerant of other views and experiences. The world is rich with the truth of many perspectives. Every human accomplishment is always the outcome of human modelling: there is always something missing, something distorted or even wrong, because everything in modelling is dependent on the perspective it has created.
Such a view helps to comprehend the fallacy of absolutism in the name of which fanatical believers, all through mankind’s history, have perpetrated horrible crimes. Perspectivism is in line with Socrates’ maxim that the wise person is some one who is aware of his/her ignorance. Indeed the human mind needs to maintain continuously open his mind to valuable new ideas, those generated by other than him/herself and his/her community.
Bertalanffian perspectivism is a way of getting closer and closer diversely to the ‘absolute truth’ of every aspect of the whole reality. Obviously all the perspectives, as views explicitly expressed of a certain aspect of reality, are valid. At the same time none of them is more authentic than the other. This perspectivism is the proper alternative between nihilism – the rejection to make an effort towards the absolute truth because it is something impossible to reach –and absolutism – the dogmatism that has generated the scientism which assigns value to nothing but science itself.
* Bertalanffy Von, Perspectives on General Systems Theory, E. Taschedjian ed., New York, 1975
(American philosopher, b.1956)
Truth deals with the facts in the world. The truth of facts ultimately depends on reality, not on our perception or on our understanding of them.
Philosophers discuss the constituent parts of reality as represented by facts. The man in the street considers a fact to be what is real, but many philosophers mean something rather different, namely, that a fact is what we assert about reality, a proposition that purports to describe it, More specifically, a fact is a true proposition. And here is the source of much of the philosophical clutter, namely, trying to understand what it is that makes a proposition true.
1. Some facts or propositions are tautological, which is to say, they are true by definition. Logical and mathematical propositions are examples of tautological truths..
2. Other facts are judged to be true by virtue of their having been observed to be true. They are judged empirically, and they are therefore true by virtue of their corresponding in some sense to what we apprehend through our experience, that is, from our perception.
3. A great deal of what we believe to be true, what we call knowledge, is not based on our first-hand experience, but on the alleged experiences of others. Most of our knowledge of history, for example, is based on the description of others.
4. Much of what we consider to be true are so-called inductive truths. They are not derived from pure reason, but from our experience. Inductive truths are notoriously less reliable than formal, deductive truths.
It was the mistake of Ludwig Wittgenstein to essentially boiled the world down to what we say about it. He wrongly assumed that Language was reality. The world is more than what we say, and it consists of whatever it has. We make assertions about it, assertions that are themselves factual or not; however, that they are facts (or not) does not depend on our verification of them, any more than reality depends on what we say about it. Propositions are true or false or even meaningless even though they are unknown to us. The truth of propositions does not depend on their having been said, only on their having some relationship to reality.
Reality is what is, it is the universe that exists, whether or not it is an object of perception. It is the collection of everything. If, as some have assumed, it depends on being perceived, it nevertheless is what there is. True propositions are facts. To be sure, they are also real in the sense that the words are real, and therefore part of reality, but they are not identical to what they describe. What is more, facts that are the case are true even before our having strung the words together. A fact does not depend on our having discovered it, only on its possibility and correspondence to reality. Similarly, truth does not depend on our having found it. Truth is not given or bestowed on a proposition by our having verified something. Truth is not an activity. Truth and verifiability, or our ability to test something, are quite different.
The truth of facts ultimately depends on reality, not on our perception or on our understanding of them. In other words, truth is not merely an action on our part, something we do or a determination we make, it is a relationship between a proposition and reality, a kind of correspondence, even though the proposition was never been uttered by any being.
*See Internet Michael Berumen
(British theosophist, 1847-1933)
The esoteric truth of all religions
Annie Besant, renowned esotericist and Theosophist, asserts that there is a hidden or esoteric truth underlying all religions, a truth so deep and secret that until revealed we cannot truly reach the Divine. While many scholars, theologians and followers of conventional Christianity may not believe in such uniformity, people of all faiths can agree there are unknown elements of the Divine we all seek that are yet to be revealed. Esoteric Christianity shows this hidden truth that is lacking from the traditional exoteric teachings of Christianity: the Divine does not come from an external, outside source; it is something that can only be found within ourselves.
When Besant ceased to judge her beliefs in terms of revealed religion, she elevated truth into an almost religious ideal to be put before all other considerations. Thus, when people later attacked her atheism as negative, she replied that humans should live in accord with truth, not superstition: 'it is an error,' she explained, 'to regard my truth as negative and barren, for all truth is positive and fruitful'. Truth provided an ideal by which to live one's life. She even wanted her tomb to bear the epitaph 'She Tried To Follow Truth.'
More particularly, she felt that an account of the physical nature of the universe could not be considered true unless it were compatible with modern science and especially a theory of evolution. She had rejected Christianity because the supernatural revelations of the Bible did not accord with the empirical discoveries of the natural and human sciences. From now on, she would accept only natural accounts of the universe. Supernatural explanations were unacceptable.
Besant implies that Theosophy is not a passing fad or a new idea; it has an ancient pedigree. She goes on to delineate this pedigree by putting Theosophy, in its "religious aspect," within the context of "all true Religion," the object of which is the "direct knowledge of God". The inner, or esoteric, side of religion is found in all the great faiths of the world, more or less explicitly declared, but always existing as the heart of the religion, beyond all the dogmas which form the exoteric side. All the world's religions have a mystical aspect, many of the features of which Besant claims are similar to one another. She concludes from this that all religions come from a common source of Divine Wisdom. Theosophy recognizes this unity, and therefore embraces all religions. It is "an eclectic system, which accepts truth wherever it is to be found, and cares little for its outer trappings". Theosophy, Besant claims, represents a modern face of Sanatana Dharma, "the eternal truth," as the proper religion, the motto of which is: "There is no religion higher than Truth."
* Besant, Annie Wood, Annie Besant: an autobiography, Madras, India: Theosophical Pub. House, 1983
(British philosopher, b.1944)
“Truth Tetrapolity”: the four aspects of truth
1. Bhaskar’s critical realism denounces what he calls the epistemic fallacy. It argues that it is a mistake to focus exclusively on epistemology, the study of knowledge, and thus to neglect ontology, the study of what can be known. In reducing reality to what is known, one denies the reality of that which exists in the first place.
According to him, for science to happen there must be a reality independent of our knowledge of it. Of this reality, Bhaskar makes a useful analytical distinction between the intransitive and transitive objects of knowledge. Intransitive objects are the world of things and structures that are independent of our knowledge of them. These are the “brute facts”, that are ‘objective’ “in the sense that they are not a matter of your or my preferences, evaluations or moral attitudes”. The transitive objects are the “raw materials of human knowledge – the artificial objects fashioned into items of knowledge by the science of the day”. Thus, while our knowledge of the world (transitive) constitutes a part of the world (intransitive), the existence of the world is not dependent upon this knowledge. This distinction allows for the combination of ontological realism with epistemological relativism – aptly called critical realism. The intransitive dimension in the philosophy of science corresponds roughly to ontology and the transitive dimension roughly to epistemology. Knowledge exists as a real social object in the transitive dimension and is about real objects in the intransitive dimension, which exists independently of mental activity.
2. This brings Bhaskar to consider the notion of truth as a many-layered phenomenon. He distinguishes four types of truth and calls it "Truth Tetrapolity". - 1. First, the fiduciary notion of truth: to say that something is true is to say 'trust me, act on it'. We have to have a workable notion of truth to enable us to get around in a world we have only a limited grasp of. This is a pragmatic necessity. - 2. The second aspect of truth is truth as warrantedly assertable. This is the truth as epistemological, as relative to our knowledge, in the transitive dimension - 3. The notion that lies behind the first two notions is the idea of truth as absolute. To say something is true is to say this is the way reality is. This is absolutely indispensable for any notion of intentional action and hence for any notion we as human beings can have. This is our commitment to beliefs as expressive of reality. - 4. What lies behind the truth of a well attested scientific or moral proposition is a higher order proposition, the truth of that truth : the reality that generates it. It is a proposition at a higher level, and it is truth as ontological, no longer tied to language-use as such and in this sense objective, situated in the intransitive dimension.
* See Collier, A., Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar's Philosophy, London, 1996
(French philosopher, b. 1971)
Islam as the “unique and only truth” is sentenced to die
Islam as religion, i.e. as a system of fixed truths, is behind us. Religion is defined as the fixation of a unique truth for thought and action, “what we must believe” and “what we must do”. Religion is a way that we follow in existence in claiming that it is the only valuable way, the only path to truth, the exclusive genuine manner to lead one’s life.
But this is impossible and unthinkable, in our time where on the contrary every one wants to lead his life as he wishes, find his own way, build his own understanding of truth in which the perceptions of what is true, just, good, beautiful, important are so diverse, where humans ceaselessly question everything and construct, alone or together, new images of life and the world. That is why the days of religions will come to an end, because religions always speaks of “one”, “one truth”, “one law”, “one book”, whereas the world today speaks of “several” and even an “infinity of …”.
Abdennour argues that Islam as a religion is bound to disappear and that is will not be born again. This process will take time, it will take all the time needed, one can scarcely believe it. Indeed many people think that Islam nowadays is well alive, and even better now than ever because we still see whole communities in the Muslim world living under one unique and same law. This is frightening because we see the fanatics everywhere brandishing the Koran and promising the return of these times when it was taken for granted that the whole truth is contained in one book, in one way of life.
But we should not be deceived or impressed. Even if it amounts to the threat of an open war between Islam and the West, this explosion of religious intolerance amounts only to a spectacular agony which will be more or less slow, more or less murderous, but an agony nonetheless. These societies, these nations and people who brandish today the flag of Islam as the “Unique Truth” will be ultimately converted by the spirit of the time. Their Islam will undergo a radical mutation. And this will occur in the very spirit of the Prophet who had written in the Koran that “ for each and every one, there is a direction”. People will find in themselves the genius of diversity, pluralism and freedom – no longer the obsession of the unique truth. It is vain to believe in the “return of the religious” for the centuries ahead of us. The spiritual dimension of mankind will take a totally new turn.
*Abdennour, Self Islam, Paris Seuil, 2004
(Contemporary American philosopher of religion}
True religion must be atheistic and declare God redundant.
According to Ray Billington, religion and atheism are entirely compatible. He objects to the common argument that morality, human nature, human destiny and even mystical experiences can only be discussed in a theistic context. As a result, he seeks to “save” religion from God.
He wants to rid religion of theology, to rescue it from God, to declare God redundant. The religious experience is one that is potentially available to everyone without their having to make obeisance in the direction of the supernatural. Religion is not a gift bestowed upon grateful receivers by an act of revelation from on high: it is a natural part of human experience which embraces many more people than actually claim to be religious. Religion is something natural, fundamental and unavoidable — God, however, is artificial, superficial and redundant.
For people in the West, religion and theism always appear together in the major religions which are common in their culture. However, throughout the rest of the world, a number of religious traditions have dispensed with the absolute need for gods and have managed to survive just fine. This is especially noticeable when one considers the question of mystical experiences. Mystical experiences are one type of religious experience which is not only common among many different religions, but which is in fact common outside of religion as well. Mysticism is neither inherently religious nor inherently theistic. It may be defined as a form of direct communication with ultimate reality or spiritual truth, brought about not through the five senses or by any kind of rational process, but by direct intuition, insight or illumination. It involves the loss of personal self-consciousness by a process of what may be termed absorption in the ultimate, the achievement of a non-dualistic state, that is, one in which there is no more “me” here and “you,” “that,” or “them” out there: the individual self and the object of the self’s consciousness have become one; the state which is reached is then on longer dualistic, but monistic.
It is through such experiences that religion without theism can develop. It is also through such experiences that non-theistic religious traditions have developed in both Hinduism and Buddhism. According to Billington, theism is ultimately harmful to religion because it creates and encourages a superstitious view of morality. Postulating an absolute god with ultimate authority over morality results in a humanity without responsibility and without autonomy.
An atheistic religion, on the contrary, results in no such abrogation of individual autonomy because whatever the ultimate causes of mystical experiences, people are still responsible for what they do and the principles which guide them.
* Billington Ray, Religion without God, Routledge 2002
(British philosopher, b.1944)
The truth-war rages between what Blackburn identifies as absolutist and relativist camps. The absolutist view of truth holds that there are mind-independent facts (truth-makers) that confirm or deny the content of a proposition p. The absolutist believes that there is a stamp of truth, independent of us, and independent of our wishes, emotions and desires. True propositions have authority, since true propositions are the instruments through which one gains knowledge about the world.
On the other hand the relativist doctrine advances the idea that individual feelings and desires are the gauge of truth. There are no universal norms or standards against which our propositions, ideas, or values might be measured. The sole measure is the individual human and his or her basic desires. The relativist holds that truth has only particular authority, extending only to the individual, and that this is based on her attitude or desires. The casual observer will notice the unflinching, dogged persistence that either camp displays, for the battle appears to be at an impasse. This is what Blackburn terms the "truth war".
According to him both the absolutist and the relativist are guilty of a shared misunderstanding about the nature of truth. The dispute over authority - which mobilizes the absolutist against the relativist - is energy misdirected. The "truce" Blackburn proposes comes in the form of a minimalist view of truth. This view recommends, "you tell me what the issue is, and I will tell you what the truth about the issue consists in". The minimalist view limits the scope of truth, not to a grand story (the Truth with a capital T) or individually pursued ends (the truth for me or for you), but rather to a particular issue or proposition. Blackburn contends that in real conversation, "we do not raise the temperature by talking of truth". Rather, one simply agrees with a proposition, disagrees with it, or suspends judgment. The minimalist view is advanced for its empirical value, analyzing particular claims qua particular claims and not as examples of more general or theoretical ideas. The implication is that minimalism makes truth available to everyone. If one can easily identify the problem in the proposition (i.e., "the price of petrol is rising,"), then one knows enough to know the truth for oneself.
Minimalism can produce widespread agreement on questions most of us view as straightforward and factual, but it stands mute before huge metaphysical questions. It can do nothing, according to Blackburn, to diminish the chance of conflict over grand philosophical issues where minimalism leads to disagreement rather than consensus. But to Blackburn, this is entirely healthy.
* Blackburn Simon, Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed, 210pp, Allen Lane
(English psychologist, b. 1951)
Blackmore is interested in what is called “memetics”, the theory that studies the replication, spread and evolution of “memes”. Just as genes are units of biological information, so "memes" are units of cultural information. Memes are cognitive or behavioral patterns that can be transmitted from one individual to another one.
Blackmore looks at how memetics can illuminate sociobiology, in relation to sex, altruism, science and religions. She is not afraid to make clear where her own preferences lie: she holds that science is, in a sense, superior to religion, even though both are masses of ‘memeplexes’. Science does not offer us Ultimate Truth but a set of methods for trying to distinguish true memes from false ones. Religions, in contrast, are hostile to the testing of their theories about the world.
The truth trickery is liberally used in religions, she claims. In most of them, God and Truth are virtually synonymous. Rejecting the faith means turning away from Truth; converting others means giving them the gift of the true faith. This may seem odd when so many religious claims are clearly false, but there are many reasons why it works. For Blackmore memetics has the answer. For example, people who have a profound experience in a religious context are inclined to take on the memes of that religion; people who like and admire someone may believe their truth claims without question. The core features a religion must have in order to achieve successful memetic duplication or adherence is almost the same as those that allow chain letters to survive: desire and fear. In religion, however, desire can be dressed up in some fancy garb like "heaven," "nirvana, "happy hunting grounds." Fear, likewise, can take on a much more scary face like, "hell," damnation," “samsara", "hades," and so on. Couple desire and fear with a meme that says it is your duty to "spread" the message vigorously and you have a potential "winning" religion. Popular religions appeal to fundamental human needs in order to succeed. But, more importantly, those appeals don't have to be necessarily true, provided that they "appear" viable.The key point in all of this is propagation and successful duplication.
Religious belief systems arose thousands of years ago to respond to human needs, mostly our questions about the universe. Today we have a new tool for answering our questions about the world: science. No doubt science is also a memeplex, but it is one that uses a process of observation and experimentation to distinguish false memes from true ones. This makes science a much more superior tool for investigating the world. While false theories can thrive within science for the same reason that certain ideas are popular within religion, science is a self-correcting process that eventually eliminates them by demanding they be proven.
In spite of it all religion remains, simply because it can. It is a memeplex, a mass of ideas reproducing themselves. Any thing that can replicate will replicate. The ideas they offer are far more pleasing to many people than the cold truths offered by science. Religion still fulfills its original role for many people. It provides answers to tough questions. It offers comforting ideas about justice and life after death. Religion remains an important part of human society.
* Blackmore, Susan, The Meme Machine, Oxford University Press, 1999
(American founder and president of the Institute for American Values, b.1955)
The four partially competing concepts of Truth
1. Truth is one and is known.
In this conception, all of life’s important questions can be asked, and for each question, there is one (and only one) true answer. More fundamentally, truth in this conception is a coherent unity existing on one plane. That is, all of the particular “pieces” of truth fit together perfectly, like pieces of an intricate jig-saw puzzle, ultimately comprising one clear and well-ordered image of the good – one unified portrait of truth that pertains to all people in all situations at all times. In this conception, therefore, truth is both intrinsic and objective. What isn’t truth, is error.
The methodological procedure most suited for this conception of truth is deductive reasoning. That is, from certain true statements, I can proceed logically to certain necessarily true implications; and given a true premise, I can logically reach certain necessarily true conclusions.
2. Truth is one and can be known.
In this conception of truth, just as in our first, truth in principle is one, universal, and accessible to all; truth is intrinsic and objective, such that the only categories are truth and error; and each bit of truth fits smoothly into a larger coherent pattern, again like pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, ultimately producing one unified and universally applicable portrait of truth. But in this conception, we don’t already know the truth. Instead, we are diligently looking for it, like explorers looking for gold, or scientists in a lab. We don’t yet have the problem all worked out – there is still considerable confusion, disagreement, and clouded perception – but we know, we have faith, that if we try hard enough and long enough, we will win the prize and finally know what is true. We’ll find the gold.
The methodological procedure most suited for this conception of truth is inductive reasoning. That is, we start from small observable facts, and proceed incrementally outward and upward, piling up fact upon fact, until the weight of evidence leads us to certain empirically valid generalizations. Eventually in this way, the truth-seeker builds up a body of truth, similar to the way that a brick-layer constructs a wall – that is, layer by layer, with each layer resting securely on top of the layers that came before.
3. Truth is romantic.
In our first two conceptions, truth comes mainly from reason. But in the conception of truth as romantic, truth is larger and more powerful than reason alone and is not constrained by it. In this conception, we find the truth from our whole selves – our desires and intuitions, our thoughts, our dreams, our bonds with others, our needs, our history and our entire personality. We come to know that some things are simply too beautiful to be untrue. We come to know that some things are too important or too needful or too primitively potent to be untrue.
This conception of truth breaks decisively with the claims of universality and objectivity. It does not claim that there is one objectively true answer to each question, and it does not claim that all true answers fit together into one harmonious pattern of truth. 4. Truth is plural.
The fundamental premise of the conception of truth as plural is a kind of philosophical negation, or what might be called epistemological realism or modesty. The conception of truth as plural rejects the (in its view, pretentious) idea that the philosopher, like the person completing a jig-saw puzzle, can fit every important true thing about the universe into one harmonious whole. Instead, in this conception the truth-seeker accepts both the reality and legitimacy of values pluralism – the notion that, within certain (and debatable) ranges, there are, among persons of rational capacity and good will, inescapably diverse and at times conflicting understandings of what is good and what is true; and that, absent the resort by society to violence and coercion, these divergent views do not and likely will never fit together into a harmonious pattern in which every aspect of truth reinforces and is reinforced by all the other aspects.
*See internet David Blankenhorn
(American philosopher, 1892-1987)
1. According to Blanshard, coherence is not only the sole criterion of truth, but also a theory of truth, that defines the nature of truth. Our beliefs are true when they cohere with the whole. Coherence with the total system is the evidence of their truth. Even more coherence is truth. Blanshard’s presupposition is that Reality is a system, completely ordered and fully intelligible. Therefore the degree of truth of any proposition is accounted for by its coherence with the whole. Coherence is a relationship of mutual dependence between the part and the whole. A proposition is true only if it coheres with the rest of the system. Reality as a whole is the Absolute, the integral Truth. Anything less is only partially coherent and therefore partially true, being true to the degree that it expresses the whole. Blanshard’s idealist metaphysics conceives the universe as a totally interconnected whole, which is ideal in character.
2. According to Blanshard the realist theory of truth as correspondence is meaningless. There can be no correspondence between statements and facts because cognition can never get outside of itself. He argues that the fact that corresponds to our judgment is a “pure fiction”. There are no unadulterated brute fact given directly to our senses and providing a solid reality to which our thought is to correspond. The brute-fact view of perception is mistaken because perception essentially involves judgment. There can be no pre-judgmental sense perception of anything and no sensory consciousness of a fact without judgment. Thus when we try to get at a fact to see whether it ‘corresponds’ with a judgment, we only succeed in getting a different judgment. We do not compare a judgment with a fact, but a judgment with another judgment.
3. Moreover Blanshard argues that the correspondence theory of truth according to which one has access to the world of fact beyond thought and language makes it impossible for perception to be mistaken. He pins the correspondence theory to the requirement that our cognition be infallible and indubitable and infers from this that the brute-fact view of perception, unmediated by conceptualisation and judgment, is unacceptable because of the evidence that our perception can be mistaken and that error is possible. If we simply passively receive the fact itself, nothing can go wrong. But we know too well that our cognitions are not immune from doubt and error. This is enough to show that our apprehension of facts is achieved through our judgments and that our role is not confined to receiving what is given to us. Our judgmental, interpretative activity is involved and makes doubt and error possible.
4. Some reputable philosophers, says Blanshard, have held the the test of truth is coherence, while holding that the nature of truth is correspondence. But the result of such a claim is itself incoherent. For if we accept coherence as our test, we must use it everywhere. We must use it to test the suggestion that truth is other than coherence. But if we do, we shall find that we must reject the suggestion as leading to incoherence. Indeed if one holds that truth is correspondence, one cannot intelligibly hold either that it is tested by coherence or that there is any other dependable test at all. If you place the nature of truth in one sort of character and its test in something quite different, the two will fall apart. It is impossible to argue from a high degree of coherence within experience to its correspondence with anything outside it. Blanshard concludes: assume coherence as the test only, and you will be driven by the incoherence of your alternatives to the conclusion that it is also the nature of truth.
* Blanshard B. Coherence as the Nature of Truth, in The Nature of Truth, Ed. by M.P. Lynch, A Bradford Book, Cambridge, Massachussets, 2001, p 103-121; See Alston, W. A Realist Conception of Truth, Cornell University press, Ithaca, 1996, p. 87-102
( Ukrainian foundress of Theosophy, 1831-1891)
The ‘theosophical’ truth : to be one with the ‘universal mind’
There is no room for absolute truth upon any subject whatsoever, in a world as finite and conditioned as man is himself. But there are relative truths, and we have to make the best we can of them. However, in every age, there have been Sages who had mastered the absolute and yet could teach but relative truths.
For none yet, born of mortal woman in our race, has, or could have given out, the whole and the final truth to another man, for every one of us has to find that (to him) final knowledge in himself. As no two minds can be absolutely alike, each has to receive the supreme illumination through itself, according to its capacity, and from no human light. The greatest adept living can reveal of the Universal Truth only so much as the mind he is impressing it upon can assimilate, and no more.
To reach the Sun of Truth we must work in dead earnest for the development of our higher nature, the animal man in us must make room for the spiritual. This is what the great adepts, the Yogis in the East and the Mystics in the West, have always done and are still doing. But we also know, that with a few exceptions, no man of the world, no materialist, will ever believe in the existence of such adepts, or even in the possibility of such a spiritual or psychic development.
Most of us are as incapable of seeing an absolute truth. As physical man, limited and trammeled from every side by illusions, cannot reach truth by the light of his terrestrial perceptions. “Man, know thyself,” no greater or more important truth was ever taught. Without such perception, man will remain ever blind to even many a relative, let alone absolute, truth. Man has to know himself, i.e., acquire the inner perceptions which never deceive, before he can master any absolute truth. Absolute truth is the symbol of Eternity, and no finite mind can ever grasp the eternal, hence, no truth in its fullness can ever dawn upon it. To reach the state during which man sees and senses it, we have to paralyze the senses of the external man of clay. This is a difficult task, we may be told, and most people will, at this rate, prefer to remain satisfied with relative truths. Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of mind, during which Man is at one with the UNIVERSAL MIND—he can get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from whatsoever philosophy or religion. Concerning the deeper spiritual, and one may almost say religious, beliefs, no true Theosophist ought to degrade these by subjecting them to public discussion, but ought rather to treasure and hide them deep within the sanctuary of his innermost soul. Theosophical truths, when they transcend a certain limit of speculation, had better remain concealed from public view, for the “evidence of things not seen” is no evidence save to him who sees, hears, and senses it.
*See Hanson, Virginia , H.P. Blavatsky and The secret doctrine, A Quest book, Theosophical Pub. House, 1988
(Contemporary American founder of The Integral Enneagram Institute)
Perception is not Reality and cannot be promoted to “Truth”.
There's an old expression that masters of illusion love to use: "perception is reality." Actually, in the cold light of day we find that perception is not reality. Perception is what we react to, as if it was reality. Perception is a kind of story, made up of filtered memories, projections, assumptions, and most importantly interpretations of stimuli. We can perceive what is not present, or not perceive what is present. We see what we expect to see, don't see what is "off our radar," and emphasize or minimize in accordance with our beliefs and upbringing. What causes trouble is simply that perception gets promoted to "Truth," and we fall into the trap of defending it as such. When we rise to defend the "truth," it doesn't occur to us that we're actually defending an interpretation.
One of the most influential aspects of our perception is our perspective. This is the place from where we’re perceiving; both in physical space, and our internal filters. So the result is almost entirely an interpretation. Depending on where you sit, you’ll see some things that somebody else might not, and vice versa. Knowing that we can change our perspective, it follows that the perception will change along with it. Thus, perception is far from a fixed truth; perceptions are constantly in change and flux.
Along with perceiving visual information, perception enters our communication on a regular basis. We are after all conveying our interpretation of events, feelings, or thoughts. The words we choose, the imagery we choose, and certainly the metaphors that make sense to us, are all dependent on our perception, which is in turn dependent on our changing perspectives.
*See Internet Blei Ian
(German Marxist philosopher, 1885-1977)
Bloch develops a philosophy of hope and the future, a dreaming forward, a projection of a vision of a future kingdom of freedom. It is his conviction that only when we project our future in the light of what is, what has been, and what could be, can we engage in the creative practice that will produce a world in which we are at home and realize humanities deepest dreams.
He rejects what he calls the 'half-enlightenment' of classical Marxist philosophy because it deludes itself by thinking that truth and enlightenment can be obtained solely by eliminating error rather than offering something positive and attractive. Genuine enlightenment, for Bloch, goes further than just criticizing any distortions in an ideological product: it goes on to read it closely for any critical or emancipatory potential. He argues that genuine ideology does not consist in merely unmasking or de-mystification, but also in uncovering and discovery: revelations of unrealized dreams, lost possibilities, abortive hopes - that can be resurrected and enlivened and realized in our current situation. Bloch's cultural criticism thus accentuates the positive, the utopian-emancipatory possibilities, the testimony to hopes for a better world.
For Bloch the world, and humanity in it, are unfinished. Humanity's only authentic task is the completion of the world and therefore ourselves: "the world is untrue, but it wants to return home through man and through truth". As we shape the world through our work so we come to a condition of self-possession. Bloch's conception of authenticity is as a coming-to-ourselves, in which we have reclaimed our human capacities from our alienation, manifest in the worship of false gods and masters.
Hope is the moral conditioner of Bloch's project: "Only hope understands and also completes the past, opens the long, common highway". Hope is both goal and always sought for.
* See Münster, Arno, L'utopie concrète d'Ernst Bloch, Kimé, Paris, 2001
(French philosopher, 1861-1949)
Philosophy must not be treated as a self-contained system, in which the revealed truth could appear as a mere intruder. The world of reason and experience is not a self-sufficient world. The supernatural order is sometimes treated as an unnecessary superstructure over and above the truths of reason and experience. This view that Blondel calls “extrinsicism” must be rejected. A philosophy that operates without any reference to faith inevitably becomes aware of its own limits. It discovers within the human person a dynamism toward a goal that nature cannot reach and toward a truth that reason cannot discover. Though Blondel rejects the idea of a philosophy that would be Christian on account of being based on revelation, he holds that all sound philosophy leads to the threshold of revealed truth. In other words philosophy is affected by the natural desire for the supernatural: it is oriented toward revelation as its own completion. Thus philosophy cannot be a closed system of rational knowledge. An autonomous philosophy cannot be self-sufficient. The journey of philosophy cannot be completed without faith.
Blondel’s position that the human spirit has an inbuilt restlessness toward the divine, an inner exigency for the supernatural message of salvation is basically an Augustinian position. It differs from the traditional medieval scholastic approach that treats Christian truth as a content to be imposed on the inquirer from the outside and through arguments abstract from the demand of life. Blondel wants to distance himself from this ‘extrincist’ approach in favour of the ‘method of immanence’. He defends it against scholastic philosophers who object that this method undermines the old justification of Christian beliefs in opening the way to subjectivism and relativism. The weakness of the traditional doctrine, Blondel argues, is its excessive objectivism, which has lost sight of the subject. The rationalistic cast of this approach neglects the role of the will. Indeed faith is not principally directed to objective truths. Faith is a knowledge by connaturality which is given in a spiritual experience where all the personality, intelligence, will and sentiment, is engaged.
Faith, he writes, appears as the encounter of two loves and not as the liaison of two ideas: it is not an abstract conclusion, it is a living action. The objective proofs of the revealed truths are not efficacious if the subject is not prepared interiorly by grace and personal disposition. Adherence to the truths of faith is not a matter of understanding without the involvement of the whole personality. The will and the heart help to see.
* Blondel, Maurice, Les Exigences Philosophiques du Christianisme, Paris , 1950
(Contemporary British sociologist)
Truth reduced to social convention
According to Bloor, knowledge in sociology is distinguished from belief only in that it is collectively held. The sociology of knowledge seeks to provide causal explanations of how our ideas about the world change, how they are transmitted, created, maintained, organized into disciplines.
He explains his stand on truth:
1. What most people mean by truth is something like correspondence with reality.
2. However, it is very difficult to get clear about exactly what this means. The notion of correspondence to reality is vague. At no point do we ever have independent access to reality that would allow us to see that our theories correspond to it. Besides
the evaluation of scientific theories takes place entirely "internally" to our theories, standards, interests, problems, etc. Given this problem with defining truth, why not give it up entirely and conclude that our theories are simply "conventional
instruments" for coping with our environment? So, instead of trying to define truth, Bloor examines how notions of truth and correspondence are used in practice.
The functions of the idea of truth are triple:
1. a discriminatory function: we use the words "true" and "false"to distinguish those ideas that work from those that do not.
2. a rhetorical function: that is, we use terms like "true" and "false" in argument, criticism, and persuasion
3. a materialist (i.e. realist) function: the fact that all of our thinking rests on the assumption of the existence of an external world with a determinate structure so that
we use the word "true" to mean exactly how this world is. This may vary from culture to culture.
To the objections to the idea that scientific theories, methods and
results are social conventions, Bloor replies that conventions are not arbitrary:
for not anything can be accepted as a convention: it must be credible and useful.
The acceptance of a theory by a group does not make it true but the acceptance of an idea by a group makes it knowledge for them.
* Bloor David, Knowledge and Social Imagery (Routledge, 1976; 2nd edition Chicago University Press, 1991)
(American president of ‘PsychoHeresy” awareness ministry)
No extrabiblical "truth" ever set anyone free: the so-called “truths’ of “Christian” psychology.
"Christian" psychology says that we do need the help of ‘psychologists’, that the Bible doesn't have all the answers we need, that Biblical remedies are not enough because there are psychological problems that require something more.
But does it not seem a bit odd that God has apparently inspired the likes of Freud, Jung, Maslow, Rogers, et al., with the "truths" unknown to the apostles and prophets and all of the leaders in the entire history of the Church? No, we are told reassuringly, this is not to be considered strange at all. What we need to understand is that "All truth is God's truth."
The question of what is meant by truth is seldom asked. Are we talking about scientific facts involving the brain and body, or about God's truth involving the soul and spirit? Jesus said, " when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth" (John 14:17; 16:13). Therefore, it is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, that leads us into ALL truth. How, then, can a Freud, Rogers, Maslow, Jung, et al., have any truth for believers?
What extrabiblical "truth" ever set anyone free? One may get some facts of nature from extrabiblical sources, but NOT the truth that sets you free. ‘E=MC2’ is a scientific "truth," most certainly, but it sets no one free.
Each so-called "Christian" psychologist decides for himself which of the many psychological opinions and methods constitute his ideas of "God's truth." In so doing, the subjective observations and biased opinions of mere mortals are placed on the same level as the inspired Word of God. Perhaps they think that what has been observed in nature by the limited minds of men equals God's truth. But the Bible contains the only pure truth of God. All else is distorted by the limitations of human perception. Whatever else one can discover about God's creation is only partial knowledge and partial understanding. It cannot be equal to God's truth.
There are no parts of this truth missing from the Bible and left in limbo to be discovered by godless theorists floating about in the secular world. To suggest that there are, is to contradict the clear testimony of Scripture and the consistent teaching of the Church since the beginning until Psychology's very recent introduction into secular society and from there into Christianity.
As soon as the door was opened for the "truths" of psychology to shed further light upon Scripture, a subtle process began. If "All truth is God's truth," and psychology is part of that truth, then it has to be given at least equal authority with the Bible. Of course, "Christian" psychologists deny that they do this. In all sincerity, they assure us that no psychological theory will be accepted that contradicts the Bible; but in actual practice, "psychological truth" is imposed upon the Bible and becomes the new grid through which the Bible is to be interpreted.
* See Internet Bobgan Martin
(Contemporary American President of ‘Legacy of Truth Ministries”)
“We hold these truths to be self-evident”
Our founding fathers knew that in a country filled with diversity, the founding principles must be based on absolute truth, because absolute truth brings unity out of diversity. Such unifying principles are known as first principles, or self-evident truths. In a group of essays called the Logic or Organon, Aristotle explained how first principles form the bedrock upon which any particular body of knowledge rests. In the same manner, our founding fathers, philosophers in their own right, constructed our government upon certain unifying first principles. These principles were to be guarded and passed on to future generations for the purpose of bringing unity out of diversity.
The government of this country was to be unified with respect to certain non-negotiable absolute truths. Hence, the founding document that articulated these “Truths” and gave birth to these United States reads as follows:
“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”. It is obvious that our founding fathers believed that governments were instituted to secure certain human rights—they did not believe that governments were instituted to create these rights. They understood that true unity required unity in the truth and knew that all who were to pledge their allegiance to this country must accept these truths in order to bring unity out of diversity.
Today, unfortunately, children are being taught ideas that contradict these founding principles. There is no talk of God in the classroom; they are led to believe that all truth and morality is relative and that people decide who has value. It’s about time that we step into our classrooms and teach our children that the truths set forth in the Declaration of Independence are the unifying principles that we value more than our own lives. They need to learn we have inherent worth given to us by our Creator and that governments are instituted under God to secure and protect human life and freedom. They must be taught that there are certain unchanging truths and moral absolutes that do not depend upon public, or individual, opinion. These are the basic unifying and immutable truths that give us tremendous latitude to express our individual differences.
See the Legacy of Truth Ministries Web site.
(Roman Christian philosopher, 480- 524)
The capacity of philosophy to bring truth and complete happiness
Boethius' "Consolations of Philosophy" is a dialogue between Philosophy and Boethius, in which the Queen of Sciences strives to console the fallen statesman. The main argument of the discourse is the transitoriness and unreality of all earthly greatness and the superior desirability of the things of the mind. There are evident traces of the influence of the Neo-Platonists, especially of Proclus, and little, if anything, that can be said to reflect Christian influences
Boethius examines the raison d'être of philosophy, and its capacity to bring about true and complete happiness -- a happiness which can be acquired by unearthing the hidden treasures which dwell within.
Being at once a Christian and a philosopher, he was confident that reason and faith were reconcilable, and his entire literary enterprise can be summarised in his own words: fidem rationemque coniunge (show the harmony of reason and faith). What makes the Consolation unique is that although it is a religious text, it doesn't make recourse to revealed religion, in Boethius's case, Christianity. That Boethius sought to answer religious questions without reference to Christianity, relying solely on natural philosophy, caused some later figures to question his religious allegiance. But Boethius believed in the harmony of faith and reason; being a Christian-Neoplatonic philosopher, for him to have found solace in philosophy does not imply that he left Christianity. For him the truths found in Christianity would be no different than the truths found in philosophy, and whether consolation was found in the religion of Christ or Socrates would make no great difference.
Of course, one may reasonably ask why Boethius chose philosophy, and not his Christian religion, to console him in those final months of his life. It seems that a Christian would find the most comfort in his religion and his God, rather than exercises in logic and reason.
Boethius has no problem using philosophy as a conduit to God. From several statements made within The Consolation, one might safely assume that he saw a very strong relationship between reason and belief in God. All of our earthly existence is for the purpose of reawakening to our true nature. This truth lies within all of us and it is only reached by personal introspection (Know thyself.) Only in this way will we return to the eternal Source that lies beyond time itself.
* Boethius, Anicius Manlius Severinus. Consolation of Philosophy. Translated by Joel Relihan. Norton: Hackett Publishing Company, 2001.
( Danish – Swedish philosopher, 1230-1285)
The double truth theory ?
Boethius of Dacia adopted essentially the same attitude as Siger of Brabant. His central position was that philosophy has to follow the arguments where they lead, regardless of their conflict with religious faith. For him, philosophy is the supreme human activity, and in this world, only philosophers attain wisdom.
However Boetius attempted to reconcile his religious beliefs with his philosophical position by assigning the investigation of the world and of human nature to philosophy, while to religion he assigned supernatural revelation and divine miracles. He was condemned for holding the doctrine of double truth, though he was careful to avoid calling philosophical conclusions that ran contrary to religion true simpliciter; in each branch of knowledge, he asserted, one must be careful to qualify one's conclusions. The conclusions that the philosopher reaches are true "according to natural causes and principles".
He did not himself argue for a theory of double truth; rather, he reserved the term truth in an ultimate sense for revealed doctrine and never claimed the possibility that there could ever be two equally true contradictory truths specific to the competing requirements of theological and philosophical discourse. Nonetheless, he recognized that reason rightly used could reach conclusions that did not agree with revealed doctrine. He thought that correct philosophical reasoning, based on valid premises, can lead to conclusions that are (revealed to be) false . As a result, he "strongly warned against attempting to justify faith" through philosophical arguments” . In this way Boethius attempted to protect both faith and philosophy by separating the two. He did not advocate the much-maligned pseudo-doctrine of the double truth. Boethius was not a secret rationalist, but a sincere Christian, confronted with a dramatic gulf between his deeply held religious beliefs and the conclusions of his philosophical pursuits. He adjusted the conflict by setting the revealed truths totally outside the natural order. Then he declared all descriptions of that order, produced by philosophy, to be statements of a limited, probable, and hypothetical nature. The doctrine of two contradictory truths was imposed on him by his adversaries who suspected him of heresy.
* Boethius of Dacia: On the Supreme Good, on the Eternity of the World, on Dreams, tr. by John F. Wippel, Pontifical Inst., 1987
(Brazilian “liberation” theologian, b. 1938)
The interaction between "pistic” truth - a truth of praxis - and theological truth - a truth of theory
The relationship of praxis and theory is central to the method of liberation theology. Liberation theologians generally presume an "indissoluble link" between orthodoxy and orthopraxis. While acknowledging an interconnection of praxis and theory, liberation theologians have often assigned priority to praxis, and insofar as it was given primacy it also came to be referred to as the "criterion of truth."Orthodoxy possesses no ultimate criterion in itself because being orthodox does not mean possessing the final truth. We only arrive at the latter by orthopraxis. It is the latter that is the ultimate criterion of the former, both in theology and in biblical interpretation. The truth is truth only when it serves as the basis for truly human attitudes.
The most prominent challenge to this simplistic notion that orthopraxis has priority over orthodoxy is forwarded by Boff. His argument arises from his initial conception that there is no direct, causal relationship between praxis and theory. There is no obvious analytical road by which one might pass from theological theory to love-centered Christian praxis and vice-versa.
Because theory and praxis are of two fundamentally different orders, Boff argues that it is irrelevant and illogical to directly compare them and assign primacy to one over the other. He states that, from the viewpoint of theological practice, (political) praxis neither is nor can be the criterion of (theological) truth. … The thesis that praxis is the criterion of truth is theologically non-pertinent. It seeks to compare the incomparable.
As a result of the fundamental division of theory and practice, Boff draws a corresponding critical distinction between two types of criteria of truth: "theological criteriology," which indicates criteria of truth in theology as a theoretical practice, and "pistic criteriology," which indicates criteria of truth in theology as practiced faith and love.
Boff confirms that "pistic truth—a truth of praxis—and theological truth—a truth of theory—call for each other, and interact upon each other." Boff’s indication that real dangers can be involved in a single-minded focus on praxis is an important contribution. Perhaps most obviously, without a proper balance of theoretical consideration, political action risks myopia or blindness to the wider scope and scale of its impact and significance. Its work could become overly hasty, altogether misdirected, and self-hindering. In omitting regular theological reflection, political action risks growing away from its rootedness in Christian Scriptures and faith.
* Boff Leonardo, Introducing Liberation Theology, Softcover, Continuum International Publishing Group, Limited
(American quantum physicist, 1917-1994)
According to the quantum physicist David Bohm, the subatomic particles are thoroughly interconnected with each other. Such an interconnection indicates that the universe viewed as composed of “parts” is in fact organized by a basic wholeness. Bohm arrives at the conclusion that “the universe is a giant hologram”.
All of existence is one undivided, interconnected whole. We, however, see ourselves as separate individuals. In reality, we are all part of one whole but seeing from different perspectives, with different paradigms, seeing different realities. Any form of thought, concept, idea which becomes crystalised as the “whole truth and nothing but the truth” interferes with the natural flow of reality which is ever changing and never static, and this includes ideas as well which are insights about this flow.
We debate our various views, trying to convince others that what we see is correct. However, we are all merely seeing incoherent fragments, of which, none are completely correct. Only by synthesizing all of our various, fragmented perspectives together do we stand a chance of understanding the synthesized whole.
We must be able to think together through dialogue and common consciousness. People will, however, come to a group with different interests and assumptions. In dialogue they should be ready to suspend carrying out their impulses, suspend their assumptions and look at them, then they could all stand in the same state of consciousness. In dialogue the whole structure of defensiveness and opinions and division can collapse; and suddenly the feeling can change to one of fellowship, participation and sharing. It isn't necessary that everybody be convinced to have the same view. This sharing of mind, of consciousness, is more important than the content of the opinions. Truth does not emerge from opinions; it must emerge from something else.
Besides, dialogue may not be concerned directly with truth—it may arrive at truth, but it is concerned with meaning. If the meaning is incoherent you will never arrive at truth. You may think, "My meaning is coherent and somebody else's isn't," but then we'll never have meaning shared. And if some of us come to the "truth", while a lot of people are left out, it's not going to solve the problem. You will have the "truth" for yourself and for your own group, whatever consolation that is. But we will continue to have conflict. Therefore it is necessary to share meaning.
In a dialogue, unlike in discussion with people batting their ideas back and forth in order to win the game, there is no attempt to gain points, or to make one’s particular view prevail. It is more a common participation, in which people are not playing a game against each other but with each other. In a dialogue, everybody wins.
*Bohm, David, On Dialogue. Ed. Lee Nichol. London: Routledge, 1996
(Danish physicist, 1885-1962)
Bohr, one of the founder of quantum physics, discovered that nature at the subatomic level apparently does not conform to normal logic. Since the time of the ancient Greeks, Western logic, through Aristotle's law of excluded middle, has demanded an "either-or" in our relationship with the universe. For instance, either light is a particle or it is not a particle; either light is a wave or it is not a wave. It was assumed that views about the cosmos should be consistent with common sense and every day's experience, namely the perception of a world undisturbed by human thoughts, wishes and desires, full of things, spatially separated from each other, and interacting with each other through distinct recognizable forces. Within that perspective it would be natural today to think of electrons or photons as some sort of independent things, showing signs of being particles independent of our observations of them. They would be taken for distinct realities that we discover with our thinking, not something that we create with our thinking.
But then Niels Bohr and some other philosophically minded physicists realised that nature at the subatomic level was trying to tell us something very different than common sense. They established that electrons showed signs of being waves, and that means that electrons are waves and particles at the same time. The wave-particle duality seems to be nature's way of informing us that we cannot impose our human concepts on the subatomic level. Just as Einstein had discovered that we cannot impose our normal assumptions of space and time to all levels of reality, so quantum physics reveals that we have no empirical justification to impose our most basic thoughts about the nature of reality on the subatomic realm. According to Bohr, nature empirically reveals this understanding to us by showing that we can have only complementary (contradictory?) views of reality. If we set up an experimental arrangement that allows for a wave manifestation of subatomic phenomena, wave effects will be observed. If we set up an experimental arrangement to view subatomic phenomena as particles, particle effects will be observed. Thus it seems that what we observe in our experiments is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our methods of questioning nature. In short, an electron is not a thing until we observe it.
For Bohr this was a momentous epistemological discovery about ourselves and the nature of science. The complementary view of reality (the wave-particle dualism) rather than only one unified view, is as important as Einstein's discovery that the reference frame of an observer is crucial for measuring space and time.
The question of whether this epistemological discovery is also an ontological one came to the fore in the famous Bohr-Einstein confrontation. Einstein could not agree with Bohr's interpretation, according to which, if an electron is not a thing until it is observed by some instrument, we are bound to say that reality depends on our observations and the thoughts we use to frame the world. Einstein, being a realist, rejected the view that reality is created by human thoughts.
But Bohr's advice was that physicists should be interested primarily in being able to predict experimental results and not in the question of what is real. The question of what is real is primarily an unanswerable philosophical question. He simply argued that the results of quantum experiments provide empirical evidence that nature does not have a hidden true self that can be pictured with human concepts. Einstein failed, according to Bohr, to understand that the empirical evidence demonstrates that the faith in a hidden, objective reality is but faith in a dogma.
* Bohr, Niels, Discussion with Albert Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics, See Internet
(German philosopher, 1903-1991)
Objectivity is the common mark distinguishing scientific views from unscientific views. It means the exclusion of all forms of subjective bias, such as prejudices and vested interests. It is thanks to its method of objectivity that science has been highly successful. But to preserve objectivity it seems that the price to pay is the exclusion of the personal, subjective and existential dimension. If this is the case, it appears that only the natural sciences can be regarded as objective whereas the human sciences are unqualified to the claim of objectivity.
However it is a mistaken view to think that the criterion of objectivity in the human sciences has to be identical to the criterion of objectivity in the natural sciences.
1. The criterion of objectivity in the natural sciences is universal validity. The personal , the subjective, the existential are eliminated. The guarantee of universal validity rests on two facts: first that any experiment can be repeated at will so that the findings of one scientist can be checked by another; second, that all phenomena investigated are reduced to their measurable, quantitative aspects. All the non-checkable observations are eliminated.
2. The criterion of objectivity in human sciences (history, psychology, sociology, etc.) cannot consist in the same ideal of reaching ‘universal validity’. The human sciences are also ‘subjective’ and dependent on the knower. If they have a claim to be objective, it has to be in a different sense than the objectivity of universal validity. It has to be an objectivity that includes the subjective element.
We must show that the necessarily subjective approach of the human sciences does not exclude ‘objectivity’. It all depends of our understanding of ‘subjectivity’. It is not the ‘bad’ subjectivity of prejudices and vested interests, but the positive subjectivity which is an integral part of any process of knowledge in which the subject encounters the object. Thus it is possible to give a new definition of ‘objectivity’ for the human sciences: not universal validity but the relation to and the reaching of the object in the best possible adequate way. Objectivity and subjectivity are not viewed as opposed but as complementary. One acknowledges that some truths are not accessible in a universally valid way and still they are truths.
3. Once this point is admitted, the question remains: if the criteria of truth and objectivity in human sciences are not universal validity, what are the new criteria of truth, specific to these sciences?
Three conditions must be fulfilled to satisfy the requirement of criteria of truth in the human sciences. These criteria are found in the knower. What is it in the knower that is the mark of genuine truth? What are the criteria of ‘subjective’ truth?
- First condition: the resistance of things, objects and facts. The scholar has to face the reality, how painful it may be. He must bend to the facts and not indulge in subjective projections, ingenious constructions, theories and ideologies. Hence the analytic attitude is to be preferred to too quick synthetic views.
- Second condition: the inter-subjectivity (or super-subjectivity) of the truth. Truth must be open for other people. One must be able to come to an understanding of the facts with others. There is no truth that holds only for one individual. This is different from ‘universal validity’ of the natural sciences. Truth-searchers in the human sciences are not necessarily of the same opinion. There must be dialogue with complete openness, not to reach agreement but to seek the truth together. Openness to dialogue is the criterion of super-subjectivity. There is no esoteric truth; truth is openness.
- Third condition: the truthfulness of the knower. This is an ethical requirement of honesty and transparency to oneself.
* Bollnow, O.F.,The Objectivity of the Human Sciences and the Nature of Truth, Philosophy Today, Spring 1963, p.39-51
(Austrian-Czech philosopher, 1781-1848)
It is mainly in order to combat radical skepticism that Bolzano found it necessary to affirm the existence of truth-in-themselves, prior to and independent of language and man. These truths he carefully distinguished from truths expressed in words and conceived truths.
Bolzano develops a theory of the ‘proposition in itself’. He draws a distinction between the ‘proposition in itself ‘and the judgement or proposition that is thought, expressed, or uttered. The former is an abstract entity belonging to a special logical realm beyond the realm of what exists in space and time; the latter belongs to the concrete realm of speech and language. The primary element in a proposition is its objective content or meaning, irrespective of whether anyone has ever formulated it in words, or even irrespective of whether it has ever been present in any mind as a thought. Now, if there are propositions in themselves, there must be also truths in themselves, namely those propositions that are in fact true. Their truth does not depend in any way on their being expressed or affirmed in judgements by thinking subjects. This holds good not only of finite subjects but also of God. Truths in themselves are true not because God posits them; God thinks them because they are true. Bolzano arrives at that conclusion because he looks on the matter from the logician’s viewpoint. The truth of a mathematical proposition depends on the meaning of the terms, not on whether it is thought and expressed by a mathematician, human or divine. The mind of Bolzano is clear: he wants to de-psychologize logic, to formalize it and set it free from any intrinsic connection with subjective factors.
Bolzano’s theory like Platonistic theories in general, is designed to serve as basis for a defence of the objectivity and eternity of truth. Every truth is mind-independent in the sense that it obtains independently of whether it is ever thought or recognised. Every truth is absolute and eternal in the sense that it does not depend on the context in which it is judged or asserted.
* Bolzano, The Theory of Science, Blackwell, Oxford, 1972 ; See Copleston, F., History of Philosoph,
(Medieval theologian and philosopher, 1221-1274)
Like Plato and Augustine, Bonaventure found two conditions necessary for truth and certitude: immutability of the object and infallibility of the knowing subject. These two prerequisites cannot be adequately accounted for by changing sensible objects or by a fallible, mutable mind. Therefore if man’s intellectual soul is infallibly converted to immutable intelligible objects such as God, the soul itself and necessary principles, it can be so only insofar as it is influenced by God’s infallible, unchangeable light, or eternal ideas. To reach what is infallible in God’s light and what is unchangeable in his truth, superior reason must experience an immediate contact with God’s eternal principles. Whatever the variable content obtained by abstraction or reflection, it is only the divine illumination that assures the mind of certitude in infallibly grasping the invariable formality of truth, though without implying a direct vision of God’s ideas. With God present in human knowledge as an image naturally infused into the intellect, Bonaventure reaffirmed the position of Augustine that the human mind can be certain of truths in the light of divine truth. True knowledge in the soul is an image of eternal truth. However the divine light, without which nothing can be understood, is not directly known, remaining inaccessible to intuition. The divine ideas are only indirectly affirmed by thought in view of the results flowing from them, as the existence of an unseen source is known in the flowing waters that are seen. The mind mediately apprehends God’s presence in his effects — the soul, things, and transcendent principles — immediately experienced.
* See F.Copleston, History of Philosophy, vol.2, p.240 sq, London, Burns Oates, 1950
(German theologian, 1906- 1945)
‘Truth telling’ can be destructive
One of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's concern was the problematization of conventional understandings of "telling the truth." Truth is contextual, Bonhoeffer urged, and " 'telling the truth' means something different according to the particular situation in which one stands. Account must be taken of the one's relationships at each particular time. Further, not all who inquire have the right to know the truth -- and in particular, Bonhoeffer noted, not everything regarding sexuality is meant to be exposed. "Exposure is cynical," wrote Bonhoeffer, "and even if the cynic appears to himself to be specially honest, or if he sets himself up as a fanatical devotee of truth, he nevertheless fails to achieve the truth which is of decisive importance, namely, the truth that since the Fall there has been a need also for concealment and secrecy." Bonhoeffer wrote that often "those who pretend to be executing God's judgment" are in fact pursuing "a truth which is of Satan." Such fanatical truth-seeking "wounds shame, desecrates mystery, breaks confidence, betrays the community in which man lives, and laughs arrogantly at the devastation he has wrought and at human weakness which cannot bear the truth.”
Bonhoeffer maintains that telling the truth “is a matter of correct appreciation of real situations and of serious reflection upon them.” He is emphatic that communicating in a truthful manner must go well beyond questions of factual accuracy. He insists, for example, that a “lie cannot be defined in formal terms as a discrepancy between thought and speech.” More specifically, “there is a way of speaking which is in this respect entirely correct and unexceptionable, but which is, nevertheless, a lie.” This occurs, Bonhoeffer asserts, “when an apparently correct statement contains some deliberate ambiguity or deliberately omits the essential part of the truth.”
For Bonhoeffer, “an individual utterance is always part of a total reality which seeks expression in this utterance.” It does not rest in the literal factual accuracy of a particular communication separate from that larger reality. The more complex the actual situations of a man’s life, the more responsible and the more difficult will be his task of ‘telling the truth.’
Journalists do assume a particular responsibility in light of their claim to be professional communicators. By appropriating the professional title, journalists accept an obligation to learn how to communicate in a truthful manner. Communicating in a genuinely truthful manner, Bonhoeffer wrote, is “something which must be learnt.” It involves “serious reflection” upon that which is being communicated and a recognition of the very real complexity of the task that confronts any journalist who aspires to authentic professionalism. The obligation to communicate in a truthful manner is not something theoretical. Neither can it be subjected to a process of “mental gymnastics” that allows one to plead that they have not told a formal lie, when they are in fact attempting to deceive or mislead those entitled to the truth.
For Bonhoeffer, truth is not a static principle but a dynamic force deeper than simple correspondence of speech to certain facts. If a notorious liar tells "the truth" in order to mislead, this could be considered a lie. Or if a child is pushed by the teacher to reveal family secrets in front of the class, then the child has a right to lie because the question should not have been asked. The child's lie contains a greater truth. Truthfulness does not mean disclosing everything. In fact, in a fallen world a certain amount of concealment is imperative.
* Bonhoeffer Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship , John D. Godsey (editor); Geffrey B. Kelly (editor). Fortress Press, 2000
(Contemporary Argentinian “Liberation” theologian)
Knowledge of Truth is not found in the world of ideas, it is only revealed in action.
Truth, as traditionally understood, has been conceived as belonging 'to a world of truth, a universe in itself, which is copied or reproduced in "correct" propositions, in a theory (namely a contemplation of this universe) which corresponds to this truth. Then, in a second moment, as a later step, comes the application in a particular historical situation. Truth, therefore, is held in the world of ideas; the role of theory is to reproduce that truth in propositions and action. Subsequently, then, correct action is the accurate interpretation and application of pre-existing truth. The realm of action corresponds to a second level: that of "consequences" or "inferences" of these truths . In order to act properly, the Christian is required to interpret the realm of truth correctly and apply it to the world of action. Therefore, the truth of the theory (or theology), is judged, not by its correspondence to historical conditions but rather by its correspondence to the world of truth. Theory is never judged on its effectiveness in the fire of historical conditions but only on its philosophical integrity. Traditionally, theology was not evaluated on how it corresponded to concrete historical conditions, but as to whether it was correct in its relation to the heavenly world of truth. Theology done in the Western world therefore was thought to be the norm for all other theology. It was believed to correspond to the world of truth and was therefore correct. The attitude commonly held was that theology done in the Non-Western world, had to repeat what was understood to be the truth in the West and to apply it to their different situations.
For Míguez Bonino and other Latin American theologians, this understanding of truth legitimizes the status quo and does nothing to transform reality. For Latin America, this meant (and means) accepting the contemporary conditions of poverty, injustice, dependence and inequality. Míguez Bonino rejects the traditional understanding of truth. He argues that there is no truth outside or beyond the concrete historical events in which men are involved as agents. There is, therefore, no knowledge except in action itself. For Bonino, the world of truth, as described above, does not exist. Theory and theology, for him, are to be judged as true or false in the way they correspond to the concrete situation in which human beings find themselves. He believes that the classical view of truth is unfaithful to how the Bible conceives of truth. He states: 'God's Word is not understood in the Old Testament as a conceptual communication but as a creative event, a history-making pronouncement. Its truth does not consist in some correspondence to an idea but in its efficacy in carrying out God's promise or fulfilling his judgment’. Therefore, 'knowing God is the equivalent to coming actively to grips with God's concrete demands and actions'.
Bonino concludes that 'it seems clear enough that the classical conception can claim no biblical basis for its conceptual understanding of truth or for its distinction between a theoretical knowledge of truth and a practical application of it'. Knowledge of truth in the Bible is only revealed in action.
* Bonino José Miguez, Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation, Fortress Press, 1975
(American philosopher, b. 1943)
The correspondence theory of truth must be combined with a coherence theory of empirical justification.
Classical – idealist - coherence theories of truth hold that truth is to be simply identified with coherence with some specified sort of system. This is not the coherentism adopted by Bonjour. He is a classical realist who adheres to a correspondence theory of truth. However BonJour points out the distinction between theories regarding the nature of truth and theories regarding the criterion of truth. According to him, the latter theories should be called coherence theories of justification: theories about the criteria or standards or rules which should be appealed to in deciding or judging whether or not something is true.
The correspondence theory of the nature of truth is characterized as the view which holds that a belief or statement is true if it corresponds to or agrees with the appropriate independent reality. According to BonJour, this is the central tenet of metaphysical realism. To deny this would be to adhere to metaphysical idealism – which he rejects.
He develops an argument for his own view, combining a correspondence theory of truth with a coherence theory of justification . For him it is crucial to make clear the role justification plays, relative to cognitive claims, and the entirely distinct issue of truth-determination. He admits that a combination of a coherence theory of empirical justification with a correspondence theory of truth is most unusual from an historical standpoint, but it is arguably the only hope for avoiding both foundationalism and skepticism while preserving a dialectically independent basis for defending an account of empirical justification.
If on the one hand Bonjour rejects the idealist identification of coherence and truth, on the other hand he argues that only coherence among a set of empirical beliefs can provide justification for those beliefs, in the sense of rendering them likely to be true. He repudiates all forms of foundationalism for empirical beliefs. He stresses that cognitively spontaneous beliefs are not to be construed as foundational, for although they are initially acquired without the exercise of inference, they are not justified unless and until we find reasons for them. If we do not have any reasons (distinct from the beliefs themselves) for thinking our cognitively spontaneous beliefs are likely to be true, then although we may continue to hold them, we won't be epistemically justified in holding them. Our observation beliefs start out with no initial degree of justification whatever, and coherence alone provides justification for them. He claims that we have no satisfactory explanation of why foundational beliefs are likely to be true. The cornerstone of his theory is to show that coherent beliefs alone (and no fundational beliefs) are likely to be true.
Bonjour Laurence, The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 198u
(Contemporary Canadian philosopher)
1. Our understanding of the world can steadily improve. It all depends on whether language can intentionally be changed and improved to express more effectively the data of our experiences. It has been claimed that our thinking is the ‘prisoner’ of the language we use (Wittgenstein’s claim, for instance). However there are cogent reasons to follow Gadamer (see Gadamer) who contends that language has the capacity for improvement. We can stretch the boundaries of language. Reason and experience are always ahead of language. Thought escapes the prison of language. Experience can recognize the error of one’s conceptions. Our human experience is infinitely perfectible. and calls for new views of the world, even though they may never be the views of a ‘world-in-itself”. Polanyi too (see Polanyi) emphasizes that we always know more than can be put into words. There is a gap between what we know and what we say. Of course we are heavily influenced by the language we speak. But then one must take great care in choosing our language and modifying it.
Both Gadamer and Polanyi recognize that our language can be modified so as to incorporate what we discover in our constant questioning into the nature of things. The corrigibility of language implies that any perspectival view we have may serve as a starting point in our search for truth and that we can continue to approach a true and adequate understanding of the world’s nature.
2. However the truth that we hope to approach cannot be the actual correspondence of our ideas and schemes to mind-independent objects. We have to define truth in another way than staightforward correspondence. Truth should be understood as the ideal towards which we tend through the various approximations that we express through the use of a constantly reformed language. Our schemes of representation constitute our conception of the real. Such schemes are a kind of ‘objectvity for us’ in the present circumstances. But we can imagine that it is possible to achieve an ideal form, a perfect form of the world as we experience it. All along we keep the important distinction of the conceptual scheme–reality while holding that we can always improve the conceptual scheme of reality. We are aware than a certain scheme is defective and we endeavour to improve it. We search for more and more approximation of the truth.
Bontekoe calls this approach the “spiralling route” to truth. Truth is approachable through the progressive elimination of anomalies from our theories. This procedure will take us through every detour imaginable. But every improvement thus achieved will carry us in the direction of truth. We cannot presume that the attainment of a final truth is possible but this cannot have any bearing on the way in which we pursue truth or on the question of whether we should pursue truth. If we are genuinely interested in pursuing truth, we have no option but to follow the “spiralling route” toward truth.
* Bontekoe, Ron. , Rorty’s Pragmatism, in Int.Phil.Quat., n_30, 1990, 235-245; Metaphysics: should it be Revisionary or Descriptive? IPQ, June 1992, p. 156-160
(American New testament scholar, b. 1942)
The absurd fact-fundamentalist view that the Bible is ‘literally true’
Borg makes persuasive arguments against the fundamentalists, those who call themselves "Bible-believing" Christians and who define their belief via the insistence that everything narrated in the Bible is literally, factually, historically true. Fundamentalists believe their argument for the inerrancy of the Bible is in line with traditional Christianity. Borg demonstrates that it is not: They typically see themselves as affirming "the old-time religion"--that is, Christianity as it was before the modern period. In fact, however, their approach itself is modern, largely the product of a particular form of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Protestant theology.
As Borg explains it, Bible literalists, unbeknownst to themselves, have been made pawns of the very Enlightenment culture they struggle against. How could this be? It is a result of the pervasiveness of Enlightenment views of reality and how we ground our knowledge of reality.
All of us raised and educated in modern Western societies have, whether we like it or not, been indoctrinated with generally Enlightenment views. As Borg likes to put it, we are "fact fundamentalists." We learn early on that statements of truth must be factually verifiable: any statement that doesn't correspond to "the facts" cannot be true. Not factually true, it is false, or, worse, simply nonsense. Our culture's deeply ingrained respect for facts is a result of the success of Enlightenment science, which we credit with all the technological breakthroughs of the modern world. However, the pervasiveness of science in our world has made us deaf to other sorts of truth than the merely factual or material. Specifically, we've lost the ability to understand broadly metaphorical truths. As "fact fundamentalists," we assume that anyone intending to say something important will use a fact-based manner of presentation. This, after all, is how scientists and researchers state the truth, so it must be the way to state the truth.
Religious fundamentalists, who also live in the modern world, anachronistically impose this Enlightenment perspective on the Bible. They mistakenly assume the writers of biblical times shared our fact-based understanding of how to communicate truth. Fundamentalists are thus led to insist on the factual "inerrancy" of the Bible because, as moderns, they tacitly believe anything not grounded in historical fact will lose its authority. Indeed, given their narrowly modern perspective, they assume it could never have had any authority to begin with. In this way Borg shows that fundamentalists are duped by the very modernity they struggle against: insisting on the "literal truth" of the Bible, they risk shrinking the Bible down to the size of a high school science textbook. The problem is very clear: the Bible's manner of conveying truth is not and never was that of a textbook. Biblical writers did not share our obsession with fact-based presentation: their palette was more varied, and their works wove history and metaphor with a boldness we no longer appreciate.
* Borg Marcus J. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally, 2001, ISBN 0-06-060918-4
(British idealist philosopher, 1848-1923)
Bosanquet’s concept of logic determines his metaphysical standpoint: for logic is the science that enables to seize totality: “truth is the whole”. To think logically is to pass from a piecemeal experience to a system that contains that fragmentary experience as a part, now enriched of all its correlations with the system in its totality. Logic being “the spirit of totality” is the key to understand reality, value and freedom. The quality of ideas and works of art is measured by their logical ability, their aptitude to promote and reinforce the coherence with the totality. Like the majority of idealist philosophers, Bosanquet adopts the coherence theory of truth.
However Bosanquet is less concerned with metaphysical questions than with the lofty experiences such as art, science and the life of human communities. According to him, for instance, the detailed analysis of one single day in the life of an individual would be enough to establish all what in principle he needs to affirm the absolute and live in the truth. It would reveal the transmutation of all disorders into order, all evils into good, all sufferings into joy, all hatred into love, etc. The person would soon find himself immersed in the deepest experience of the totality beyond the narrow limits of his ego.
In religion man recognizes himself for the dependent being that he is. He must give up every vestige of independence and surrender his separate finite selfhood in his membership of the Absolute, the true “individual” and the ultimate value. Thus the true destiny of the finite self is neither destruction nor immortality, but transmutation in the Absolute. This is not something future because transmutation of the finite self can and should experienced here and now. The truth of the human destiny lies in the evanescence of personality and absorption in a deeper experience available to every day life.
* Bosanquet, Bernard, The Value and Destiny of the Individual, See:Dictionnaire des Philosophes, Pariis , Albin Michel, 2001, p.266-267; Macxquarrie, John, Twentieth Century Religious Thought, Harper & Row, New York, 1963, p.32-33
(Contemporary French philosopher of Réunion island)
La vérité des mathématiques n’est pas absolue, mais relative au système d’axiomes adoptés.
1. La conception classique de la vérité en mathématique
Pendant longtemps dans l’histoire des sciences, les mathématiques ont été considérées de par leur nature et leur construction comme une science exacte et formelle. Que ce soit les nombres en arithmétique ou les figures en géométrie, elles étudient des objets idéaux et déduisent leurs propriétés à partir de règles de logique et d’un raisonnement déductif irréfutables. Cependant, s’il est vrai que les mathématiques évoluent dans un monde abstrait, elles s’appliquent aussi à notre monde réel. Pour Euclide comme pour Descartes, la vérité en mathématiques est donc à la fois formelle et matérielle :
* Elle est formelle car elle respecte le critère de cohérence. Pour qu’un discours soit vrai, il faut qu’il soit cohérent, logique et non-contradictoire, ce qui est le propre même des mathématiques où le raisonnement suit les règles de la logique et de la pensée formulées depuis Aristote.
* Elle est matérielle car elle respecte le critère de concordance, c’est-à-dire que le contenu du discours est conforme à la réalité. Ainsi, pour Euclide, les axiomes ne sont pas des propositions arbitraires, mais ils correspondent à des évidences et sont en adéquation avec le réel.
Cette union de la vérité formelle et de la vérité matérielle en mathématiques va prévaloir pendant de nombreux siècles. L’assimilation entre « mathématiques » et « vérité absolue » va leur donner une place importante et un rôle privilégié dans l’histoire et l’évolution des connaissances.
2. Les géométries non-euclidiennes
Le père du formalisme, Euclide, était sûrement bien loin de se douter qu’il avait laissé avec le 5e postulat — dont la version équivalente la plus connue est « Par un point passe une et une seule droite parallèle à une droite donnée » — un élément qui, plus de 2000 ans après sa mort, allait complètement bouleverser les mathématiques et la manière de les considérer.
Au milieu du 19e siècle, on démontre que ce 5e postulat est indémontrable et ne se déduit pas des autres axiomes. Il n’est ni vrai ni faux et constitue un indécidable de la géométrie classique. Ainsi, une géométrie n’est pas plus vraie qu’une autre. Chacune d’elles nous donne un modèle qui sera plus ou moins commode selon le domaine dans lequel on travaille.
Dès lors, la vérité d’un théorème n’est plus absolue, elle dépend du système d’axiomes adopté. Une proposition mathématique n’est plus vraie ou fausse en soi. La vérité mathématique est soumise à des conditions : elle devient conditionnelle et relative. Les mathématiques ne sont plus catégorico-déductives mais hypothético-déductives.
La conception de la vérité en mathématique n’est pas aussi simple qu’elle y paraissait : * Elle n’est plus une, mais plurielle. Des positions divergentes voire contradictoires coexistent. * Elle n’est plus absolue, mais relative au système d’axiomes adoptés. * Elle n’est plus définitive, mais elle peut être rectifiée par une théorie plus large et plus féconde.
*See Internet Fabienne Bossy
(Contemporary American author)
The truth of Intelligence Design, if any, has nothing to do with science
The controversy around Intelligence Design (ID) need not be so divisive - not because one side of it is clearly “wrong” but simply because there is a confusion here of what one means by “truth”. What must be realized is that intelligent design is not scientifically false, because natural science does not use that criterion. Natural science simply deals with what is the case or not, using fact and reason: scientific explanations gain credibility through evidence, predictability, and verifiability. As far as scientific theory goes, a theory cannot be proven, because what can be proven must be shown to empirically exist. A theory is a regulative idea that is supported by physical evidence to a greater extent than other ideas: hence, evolution is a theory while intelligent design is not. One cannot disprove gravity any more than one can disprove evolution or intelligent design: it simply comes down to that what the physical world shows us implies that these ideas are more useful than others.
A theory is only worth studying insofar as it permits further study. Intelligent design is not scientific because as it is impossible to study the nature of such a designer, there is no way to establish a necessary link between physical events and whatever being may have ordained them. Yet excluding intelligent design from science does not imply that it is completely without merit as an idea. If it is indeed true, then it is a metaphysical truth dealing in realms that science does not deal with; it deals with a topic far greater than simply physical events, and as such is deserving of study in philosophy and theology.
* See Internet Bouchard Jack
(The name of a group of French mathematicians, 1935 onwards)
The eternal character of mathematical truth
Mathematics is a priori knowledge, i.e., not based on experience. Mathematics, therefore, is not an empirical science and, thus, not a natural science (although it can serve science). Mathematical results, therefore, are verifiable through reason, not through experience. This explains why mathematical truths are not merely approximate findings, but absolutes and, therefore, infallible.
These ideas foster a view that separates Mathematics from sensory experience and other natural sciences, eliminating the role played by empirical intuition and eradicating the heuristic and approximative approach of mathematical practice. Thus Mathematics becomes a pure, abstract, lofty, eternal, absolute and infallible knowledge.
The so-called Platonism in mathematics, which holds that there is a universe of mathematical objects beyond human consciousness, independent of individuals, and perceivable through reason, has found a lot of strength in that vision. According to that vision, the work of mathematicians is only to describe that abstract universe.
Like many other mathematicians, past and contemporary, Bourbaki understood the historical development of mathematics as a series of necessary stages inexorably leading to its current state—meaning by this, the specific perspective that Bourbaki had adopted and were promoting. Unlike anyone else, Bourbaki actively put forward the view that their conception of mathematic was not only illuminating and useful to deal with the current concerns of mathematics, but in fact, that this was the ultimate stage in the evolution of mathematics, bound to remain unchanged by any future development of this science. In this way, they were extending in an unprecedented way the domain of validity of the belief in the eternal character of mathematical truths, from the body to the images of mathematical knowledge as well.
* "Bourbaki: Towards a Philosophy of Modern Mathematics", J.Fang, Paideia Press, Hauppauge, New York 1970
The role of heart, as well as intellect and will for truth and certitude
For those whose certitude admits no other standard of value than force, it is useless for them to attempt to attach any kind of a meaning to the word: truth. If the doctrine of force defies refutation, it is because it has destroyed everything on its path. It is really nothing less than fathomless arrogance, a sort of challenge flung at reason and truth.
According to the doctrine called pragmatism, it appears to regard feeling as the common principle of certitude and truth. According to this philosophy, the ultima ratio which enables us to regard a maxim as true is that this maxim, if put into practice, works satisfactorily, and fulfils our expectation. This satisfaction is the principle of truth itself.
There is considerable merit in this theory. It must be confessed that intellect, of itself alone, only attains to abstractions. And will is but a lawless force, affirming its resolve to impose itself. Feeling is reality, as it appears at first, before undergoing any artificial elaboration. But what exactly is that sense of satisfaction which, according to the pragmatists, should be the sole principle of the notions of truth and certitude ? For if feeling is but a fact, an indisputable one, it is all the same powerless, in theory, to establish certitude and truth.
It must be recognized that will and intellect are really principles themselves, that they should be considered as existing per se, and not as simple modifications of feeling. Intellect seeks truth as something which is, and which is only if it possesses the character of eternity. Will is not something given: it is a power which realizes itself only by creating, and which, if it ceased to act, would also cease to be. Will and intellect, according to this view, are first and irreducible principles, radically distinct from each other.
And yet each of these two faculties needs the other for its fitting development. The certitude, to which will tends, will be but obstinacy and fanaticism unless determined by the possession of truth. And truth, the object of intellect, would be devoid of life and interest, a crude fact, a blind and gloomy necessity, if it were not action, the life of an excellent will.
But how will these two heterogeneous principles be able to participate in each other? This antinomy can be solved if, instead of recognizing no other primordial realities than intellect and will, we equally, and on the same grounds, admit the reality and role of feeling.
If we admit that intellect and will are linked to each other by feeling, we can conceive that they may grow and become enriched through their mutual relations without being faithless to their respective principles. Feeling transforms abstract ideas into motives and interests, and the latter influence the will without compromising its personal and living character.
Thus life, soul and feeling being intercalated, as an original and first principle, between certitude and truth, these two meet again without clashing with each other. Truth creates certitude in the will, because, instead of being separated from this latter, it receives from it, through the medium of feeling, life and direction, without which it would be only a chaos of abstract possibilities. And certitude is something more than fanaticism and the infatuation of an arrogant will, because it does not rest on itself, but finds, in truth translated into feeling, the appropriate matter which it needs to be fully realized.
Of themselves alone, will and intellect would be incapable of acting on each other. Each of them, however, acts on feeling and submits to its influence; it is through feeling, then, that they have communication. Hence, all effective certitude participates in truth, and all concrete truth participates in certitude.
* Boutroux Emile, Certitude et vérité, London, Pub. for the British Academy by H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1915
(French philosopher, b. 1940)
A plea for rational truth to counter postmodern nihilism and religious revivals
1. Bouveresse deplores that nowadays people’s minds are not on the side of reason and science, but on the side of pseudo-sciences, religions and mythologies. Religious revivals as much as postmodernist nihilism converge in their rejection of the most fundamental certainties of reason.
Rather than adhering once and for all to the supremacy of reason, many today are inclined to take refuge in beliefs to the point that the freedom of not believing has again become suspect. Bouveresse concedes that it is not only possible, but often necessary not to believe, because all forms of belief are not of equal values. In any case it is always necessary to evaluate beliefs on the basis of rationality. Scientists have their articles of faith but that faith has nothing to do with the beliefs of religious fictions. To believe in order to know is not the same as to believe by tradition or instinct. Even if there seems to be a fundamental disposition of the human mind to be a believer, one should seriously consider how not to be a believer. Unbelief today is perceived by many as a kind of intolerable dogmatism and sectarism.
According to Bouveresse the incapacity and refusal of distinguishing the true from the false can only engender violence, arbitrariness and tyranny. He does not think that the religious revivals of our times can contribute to the betterment of humanity. On the other hand, in destroying the ideas of science, truth and certitudes, postmodernists have prepared the minds if not to religions but at least to the idea of their inescapable return. It is not in doing away with the idea of truth that we shall be able to make humanity more democratic and tolerant. One must hold on to the value of reason and with it search without arrogance for the truth.
2. The truth of religion and the truth of science are not the same. In the first case it is a revealed truth, given all at once. In the second case it is an ultimate horizon towards which one approaches by successive approximations. The notion of progress is crucial for scientific truth. The ultimate truth, if one can speak of such a notion in hoping to reach it one day, cannot be attained, if at all, except at the end. For the scientist the idea of a final and definitive truth has no real meaning and that is why some people keep away from science to take refuge in religion.
Nonetheless Bouveresse does not think that it is impossible for a scientist to adhere to a religious faith, but this creates tensions and even insurmountable contradictions. Still there is a relatively simple way to render science and religious belief compatible, in considering – as Wittgenstein explains well – that they are not concerned with the same problems. Once science has said all what it has to say, there remains our existential questions which science in unable to deal with. It is here that religions can come in. Several theologians have suggested a distribution of tasks between science and religion: whereas science tackles the questions of knowledge, religion is concerned with problems of life and action. Still those who adopt this view have a tendency to minimize the importance of the doctrinal content of religion in favour of more or less symbolical interpretations. This solution is scarcely satisfactory because religions are not compatible with relativism. But if in religion what counts is morality and not dogma, it is surely easier to reconcile science with religion.
* Bouveresse Jacques, Peut-on ne pas Croire? Paris, Agone, 2007
(Contemporary English theologian)
Difficulties around the truth of Christianity began to emerge particularly as a result of the rise of modern science in the seventeenth century and the feeling of many that the world and human knowledge have changed to such a degree that what is said about Christianity must change also. Christianity today runs the risk of being turned into a less than desirable ideology in the bad sense of the term. Ideology in its negative connotation denote the way in which a group disguises in its thinking and attitudes the real nature of the situation, since to recognise that reality would not be in its interest. The doubt whether Christianity must be regarded as truth or ideology has sprung up from its incompetence to cope adequately with intellectual challenges to its views and its inability to answer an enormous number of new questions that have arisen from the realm of history, science, psychology , sociology , etc. It belongs to Christianity today to explain how its beliefs are still viable. How has this radical change taken place in history?
During the first fifteen centuries of Christian history, the Bible in the Western world was considered the sole source and focal point of all knowledge. The Bible was all in all an encyclopaedia which contained all knowledge useful to man, both sacred and profane. No one doubted its essential truth. As the Middle Ages came to a close the situation changed dramatically, through new discoveries, specially in the field of astronomy and geography. A new source of truth had emerged. Biblical knowledge lost the monopoly of the knowledge of truth. But it took a long time to acknowledge the fact. Every kind of device was adopted in defence of the old view. Everything was done to avoid the problem of two conflicting sources of truth. Galileo was its first victim, even though he was concerned to find a way of reconciling the two apparently conflicting truths. He was the first representative of the many who were to face similar problems in defending the view that the new scientific knowledge represents a second source of truth. Since then the evidence in favour of a source of truth that is not the Bible has grown quickly. Today it is no longer a question of taking one’s stand on the Bible and seeking to explain new phenomena which corroborate it. Rather the opposite: one takes stand on the world-view that emerges from science and a greater knowledge of the world, and it questions everything else, Bible included. This means that the burden of proof has shifted. From now on, Christians and those of other religious traditions as well, have to face the possibility that in reality there is again one source of truth: but this time that source is not the Bible or any other religious book or authority.
* Bowden, John, Jesus: Unanswered Questions, London, SCM Press, 1988, p.16-31
( English theologian, b.1935)
We must accept the limitations of language without giving up the pursuit of truth
In many areas of knowledge, we trace today the collapse of realist ambitions and with it the possibility of saying something true about what is the case. The relativity, incompleteness and subjectivity of virtually all our judgements are taken for granted. “Realism is dead “ has become the motto of several anarchist theory of knowledge (Feyerabend) and the same devastating conclusions have been drawn in the domain of theology (Don Cupitt).
But realism is not dead except, may be, in the forms of the obvious naive realism according to which the evidence of one’s senses is incorrigible. This is the naive empiricism that hundred years of antirealism has made untenable. In contrast, critical realism has accepted the incompleteness, approximation and corrigibility of all our judgements. It admits that many of our ways of imagining, describing or thinking can turn out to be incomplete and maybe wrong in some or many respects from another and later perspective. But critical realism has contributed to irreversible gains and enduring achievements; not everything is swept away. For instance philosophy today can no longer be written without a careful attention to language and sentences. We have learned to accept the limitations of language and in that sense we can be anti-realist in relation to theories. But at the same time we must remain unashamedly realist in the way in which we live and act upon the world. We can be relativist in relation to languages, and absolutist in relation to the constraints on judgements based on strong evidence. We must accept the limitations of language without giving up the pursuit of truth
The contemplative account of knowledge (in which reality is apprehended passively and speaks for itself) operates side by side with the instrumentalist account of knowledge (in which knowledge is the product of minds operating in terms of interests). Both accounts must be held in conjunction. Everything known is embedded in theory, still every view portrays the reality in its own way.
Therefore all theological pictures, propositions and imaginings carry with them the possibility of being defective or even wrong. One should not be surprised or alarmed that this is so. But the fact that the theological imagination is corrigible and historically traceable, does not mean that imagination is not “about” some reality independent of itself. There is a difference in saying that our judgements are corrigible, approximate and no doubt frequently wrong , and saying that we cannot rely on anything.
Our language about God can never be descriptively complete. Our present condition is that we see through a glass darkly. What is known only in part is not false, it helps us at least to begin to see. That is why all accounts of God, in religions, inevitably end up with the via negativa of Christianity or the neti, neti of Hinduism.
* Bowker, John, Licensed Insanities, Darton & Longman, London, 1987, p. 60-65, 76-78
(British idealist philosopher, 1846-1924)
1. “What satisfies the intellect is true and what satisfies the intellect is real” : these are two distinct assertions, but for Bradley and absolute idealism they are not separable. The basis of Bradley’s position is a certain view of the central activity of the intellect, that is, the judgment. Judgment is, for him, the intellectual function which defines reality by significant ideas, and in so doing affirms the reality of those ideas. The real is the subject of every judgment. Reality is such as it is expressed in the judgment.
In other words it is a mistake to suppose that thought is “about” a reality other then thought. The reality to which thought refers is simply thought itself in its ideal completion. Truth is “an ideal expression of the Universe, at once coherent and complete”. A proposition is true if it coheres with the comprehensive whole. Truth is attained in a system of beliefs that is maximally comprehensive and coherent.
2. Bradley’s view of judgment goes against all forms of epistemological dualism for which judgments and ideas are distinct from the things themselves. Bradley contends that his theory of judgment is warranted by experience. Indeed the mind can never be separated from the external order of nature. The classical epistemological problem of how the mind can know reality is a meaningless problem. It assumes wrongly that there is an entity called mind on the one side and another entity having no relation to mind called nature on the other side. But the standpoint of experience itself is that these realities are not opposed but related and complementary. Ideas and judgments are not representations of reality, but characterisations of the real world. Truth is the form that reality assumes when expressed through such ideas. If ideas do not express reality and if reality has no expressions in ideas, the essence of truth is destroyed.
Thus Bradley’s view is sometimes called an ‘identity theory of truth’. According to the correspondence theory of truth, the relation of the truth-bearer (the proposition) to the truth-maker (the fact or what is the case) is correspondence. But Bradley’s contention is that correspondentists are wrong in placing a gap between mind and world, between truth-bearer and truth-maker, between judgements and facts. He rejects ‘correspondence’ to replace it by ‘identity’, the ‘identity theory of truth’. This identity theory is clearly absurd for all those who believe that truth-bearers are linguistic sentences and truth-makers are non-linguistic state-of-affairs. But that is not the view of Bradley and idealist philosophies for which reality is made to coincide with experience.
If truth were not the same thing as reality, there would be a difference between the two and then truth would be defective, hence truth cannot be anything else than reality. Reality for Bradley is a monistic coherent system. Hence a judgmenet is true only if its content belongs to a coherent system of reality, the Absolute. But the coincidence between an isolated judgement and reality is never perfect. No truth is ever a perfect truth except when it coheres with others to become the Absolute. This is why Bradley says that a judgement is always “conditional” and that there are degrees of truth, since the perfect identity between thought and reality “can never be stated”. Thus Bradley’s so-called identity theory of truth is unstable. Since reality as well as the thought which, ideally, would be identical to it, is a coherent whole, Bradley identity theory looks more like a coherence theory of truth.
3. According to Bradley neither common sense nor physical science can ever describe the world as it is. They at best can reach parts of the appearance of the world. They are powerless to reveal the true reality. One needs a method that will enable to advance to a point of view outside that of common sense and scientific inference. It must enable to see the world in its completeness, as an absolute totality. Reality or Truth is this Absolute totality. However this goal is unattainable because our relational thinking is not fitted to grasp reality as it is, as one fully coherent and comprehensive whole.
As there are degrees of reality, there are degrees of truth. Some appearances stand nearer to reality than others; the test is that of comprehensiveness and coherence. For instance the Christian religion does not provide utimate truth: its personal God is not the ultimate truth of the universe, because the notion of personality belongs to appearance. Metaphysics deals with the ultimate truth, and in this respect stands higher than religion. There is a demand for a new religion and philosophy could supply this, a religion with a creed which metaphysics could justify. Metaphysics would be compatible with an idealized form of religion.
* Bradley, Appearance and Reality, 1893, See A History of Philosophical Systems,, Ed. Vergelius Fern, NY, The Philosophical Library, 1950, p.320-322
(Contemporary American professor of mechanical engeneering)
The objective truth of the Christian religion
Bradley endorses the ideas expressed by Mortimer Adler on the subject; “Truth in Religion”. Adler makes a distinction between two kinds of “truth”:
1. Trans-cultural truth – also known as objective truth. This is Adler’s term for the correspondence theory of truth. A claim is true if and only if it is made true by corresponding to the state of affairs in the mind-independent external world. It is irrelevant who makes the claim.
2. Cultural truth – also known as subjective truth. This is Adler’s term for claims that are arbitrarily true for individual and groups of subjects. In case of subjectve truths, truth is a matter of taste.
The question that Bradley addresses is: are religious claims trans-cultural truth or cultural truth? Some people want to believe that religious truth claims are subjective because religious claims differ, and people lack the courage to tell some group of people that their beliefs about the world are wrong. By reducing religion to personal preference, no one is wrong, because everyone who believes in any religion, or no religion, is just expressing their own personal preferences.
But, if religious truth claims are trans-cultural claims, then some religions are going to be wrong, because religions disagree about reality. It’s possible that no religion is right, or that one religion is right, but it is not possible that they are all right because there is only one reality shared by all people. Religions make contradictory claims about reality – so they can’t all be true.
Bradley argues that religious claims are trans-cultural. The problem now is how can one test those claims to truth. He argues that only Christianity passes the test and he concludes that it is the only objectively true religion.
See Internet Bradley Walter
(English mathematician and philosopher, 1295-1349)
Every proposition signifies that it itself is true
The essence of Thomas Bradwardine’s theory of truth consists in the claim that an utterance is true if and only if everything the utterance says is the case. The essence of his solution to the Liar paradox ﬂows from this, and consists in the claim that a Liar utterance is false: indeed, as in addition to its saying of itself that it is false, it also says of itself that it is true, and so, by contravalence (no utterance is both true and false), not everything it says is the case.
For Bradwardine's theory of truth, by virtue of their constituent terms, propositions signify things; but, in addition, a proposition as a whole signifies that such-and-such is the case. It is this latter kind of signification that is the basis for his theory of truth.
For him, a proposition is true if, and only if, it signifies only as is the case (tantum sicut est), and false if and only if it signifies otherwise than is the case (aliter quam est). In order for a proposition to be true, all of what it signifies to be the case must in fact be the case; if any of what it signifies to be the case fails to be the case, the proposition is false.
This general theory of truth provides a simple solution to insolubles. For it follows from Bradwardine's semantics that every proposition signifies that it itself is true. Given this, consider the insoluble case where a = ‘a is false’. Now a signifies that a itself is false. We also know that it cannot signify just that, but must also signify that a is true, and in general whatever else follows from a. But then proposition a cannot be true. If it were, then it would signify only as is the case, and so, since it signifies that it itself is false, it would have to be false, not true. But if a is false, there is no way to argue, in the other direction, that a is true after all. All that follows is that a signifies somehow otherwise than is the case. And it certainly does, since it signifies that a is true. The paradox is broken. Insolubles, then, are simply false. They are false not because of what they signify on the face of it, because that much of what they signify holds. Rather, they are false because in addition they also signify that they are true, and that does not hold.
See Burton, Edwin. "Thomas of Bradwardine." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York
(British philosopher of moral sciences, 1900-1990)
It is not possible to admit that religious assertions are true because they are neither empirically verifiable propositions nor tautologies (neither a posteriori, nor a priori true). However one should not conclude, as many do, that these assertions are meaningless. They may not be true but they have a value. Religious assertions are moral assertions, they have a use in guiding conduct and therefore they are meaningful.
For instance, the central Christian assertion that ‘God is love’ does not convey any truth about God’s existence or nature. Rather it declares the Christian’s intention to follow a ‘agapeistic’ way of life. Religion is primarily a matter of commitment of believers to a set of moral principles. But it differs from plain morality in that its message is conveyed by the stories that belong to its lore. Whether these stories are true or false is of no importance, because what matters is that they be a stimulant to the mind of the religious person to carry out the ‘agapeistic’ way of life.
* Braithwaite, Richard, An Empiricist Vies of the Nature of Religious Belief, see Macquarrie, J., Twentieth-century Religious Thought, Harper & Row, New York, 1963, p. 312-314SSe
(American philosopher, b.1950)
Truth lacks explanatory power : hence it is an outdated metaphysical concept
Brandom argued that truth does not matter because the concept explains nothing for a statement. The concept of truth is expressive, Brandom argued, but that expressive nature does not do enough to actually explain. Far from helping to explain, it can actually confuse logic because truth does not explain the actual, functioning content of a statement.
In addition to raising issues about the function of truth, he suggested another framework to fill in for where truth falls short. According to Brandom, inference is that concept. Conceptual inference is what people actually use when they make truth claims. Inference can play the explanatory role that people think truth does. Truth, however, does not do this. Philosophers should not talk about truth and knowledge, but instead about inferences and understanding. According to Brandom, this will make philosophical work clearer.
Brandom Robert, Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism, Harvard University Press, 2000 (paperback 2001)
(Contemporary American pastor)
Truth is truth: what changes is the perception of the truth in light of the new evidence
Truth, it seems, causes more arguments than enlightenment these days. And that’s just not right, no matter how you slice it. Because IF a person’s goal is actually truth, there should be nothing to argue about. So why does it cause division then? Doesn’t everyone want to know the truth? Strangely, the answer seems to be “no”. It seems that even the definition of truth is a point to be debated rather than a category of fact.
Some times, there is good reason to not want to know the truth, one could state. Take the case of a person who has a suppressed event in their past. That has been working through therapy to realize it’s impact, and now is not sure they want to remember the event. I understand the point. But it doesn’t speak to the truth of the matter. What happened did in fact happen, realized or not. That’s the truth.
Truth Is Truth! The notion that something can be true for one person and not for another is absurd! Truth as a category DOES exist! If you take a moment to think this through, it’s just common sense.When people thought the world was flat in Columbus’s day, was it true? Was the world ever flat? When they discovered it was round, what changed? Had the world always been round? Of course it had!
What changed was their perception of the truth in light of the new evidence.
The point is often times we find out things aren’t what they seemed to be as we go through life. Right? There was a time they taught big rocks fall faster than little rocks. They taught that for 2000 years! Guess what. It isn’t true.
Certain things are true with out the possibility of the contrary. And the implications are radical. This evidence MUST be weighed alongside the other evidence.
*See internet Brad Brandon
American R.C. priest)
Conscience is based on the truth of the nature of things in themselves
What does conscience look like? It is that part of me that is bigger than me.
The common misunderstanding is that conscience amounts to “what I think” on an issue. Conscience is not just “what I think,” but it is me “thinking about what is just” and true. It is not a partial appraisal based on the words of a preacher, politician or passions. The inner moral sense is not built on a sum total of what I think, but is a manifestation linked with truth itself regardless of my preferences.
Conscience tells me that to be free I must admit the truth that some acts are inescapably evil and no manner of circumstances or intentions can make them somehow good. Conscience bursts all other bubbles: it tells me the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, based not on the truth of circumstances or best intentions, but first and foremost on the truth of things in themselves.
To make a decision in conscience is to consult the truth of the nature of things in themselves. Conscience begins “outside-in.” The objective reality summons accountability from me and forms the central coordinate of conscience. Conscience must begin with the true good. This starting point ensures that freedom and truth are not enemies.
There is a faculty deep within that I do not create. It is not programmed. This region is more than super ego or social convention. It is however, formed. The moral sense of conscience must be molded, not developed simply by feelings, opinions, circumstance, intentions or movements, but by the deep moral sense in which we participate by being human and capable of reason. Conscience does not simply decide for happy or sad, but for good or evil.
* Father Brian Bransfield is in the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis of the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops.
(Contemporary American pastor and theologian)
Theological truth is not to be confused with the ultimate Truth. That Truth is God alone.
There are two views about theology.
First view: theology and theological systems tell us what is ultimately true in a philosophical, abstract sense. In this view, theology, and often doctrines, are the final statements of the reality about God. Theology and theological beliefs tell us what is ultimately true, not only about God but also about all of existence since everything is related to God. Theology is, therefore, also ontology, what is real and true. In that sense, theology is unchanging and fixed because truth is unchanging and fixed.
Second view: this is the "testimony" understanding of theology. This perspective takes seriously the meaning of the word theology, which means "God-talk," or "words about God." This view sees theology as the way we express what we understand about God, yet using the language, metaphors, thought structures, imagery, and context in which we are located. This perspective admits that how we talk about God, whether in formal theological systems or in personal beliefs about God, is always conditioned by our location and its attending limitations. That does not make theology less than true. It is only to say that theology is always and necessarily limited by our own range of vision.
It also means that theology must change every generation, or even more often. It is not that truth changes, but that how we understand and talk about truth changes. That is, WE change. In this view, theology is not ultimate, never-changing truth that requires unqualified assent. From this perspective, Truth in any absolute sense lies only with God. Rather, theology is the best that we can say about God from our limited understanding and location.
Those who hold the first view cannot admit that theology, whether from a particular tradition or theological system, or even in personal beliefs, is ever flawed. It is the same logic that is used to argue a God-authored absolutely inerrant Bible, since human involvement in Scripture would render it less than perfect.
Those who hold the second view accept a human dimension and tend to see the Faith in terms of ongoing relationship with God. They acknowledge that we express what we have come to believe and understand as true about God and His work in the world in terms of our present understanding of the world, our historical context, and our location within a specific cultural milieu, all of which shape both our perceptions and manner of expression. We still affirm that our theology is the best expression we can give to our beliefs within those contexts and limitations, and that it expresses what is true about God. Yet we also recognize our own limitations in apprehending absolute reality and ultimate truth, and that our theology, while expressing what is true, is limited by our own context and the limitations of our own understanding. As such our theology is not to be confused with the ultimate Truth. That Truth is God alone.
*See internet Bratcher Denis
(Contemporary American free-lance writer)
The Kind Lie Versus the Unkind Truth
I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. When a friend needs consolation, nothing will keep so well until tomorrow as the truth.
“Telling a falsehood is always bad”. How do I respond to this? I respond by coming down coming squarely on the side of kindness. I believe this puts me on the side of the God of both testaments of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, – the God who gave us the Ten Commandments and the God who gave us the Sermon on the Mount.
To my ear, the commandment against lying seems to have been carefully crafted to exclude the lie of kind intent: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” The God of Moses had no trouble with clarity. He was explicit in saying “Thou shalt not kill” and “Thou shalt not steal,” these being clear assaults against one’s neighbor. But had He said, “Thou shalt not lie,” his law might have been construed to condone an assault of truth against one’s neighbor. Instead, His commandment puts the emphasis clearly on the consideration of our neighbor’s welfare. The short form of the commandment is not “Thou shalt not lie” but “Thou shalt not harm thy neighbor by thy word.” It is a corollary to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ spoke of those “who say all manner of evil against you falsely.” He did not condemn those who say all manner of good of you, in the interest of your welfare, be it false or otherwise. Here is the God who reduced the commandments to two: Love thy God and Love thy neighbor. In giving us the beatitude, “Blessed are the merciful…,” did He intend to exclude from the merciful those who bend the truth so as not to hurt their neighbor?
I think of it this way – there is a distinction between the facts that we discern as truth, and the Eternal Truth which is God Himself, to whom our only allegiance is owed, and who has provided us the model of kindness and understanding that should inform our lives. And so, for myself at least, the rule is simple: “Love thy neighbor, and if it requires that you bend your understanding of the truth, the Truth will understand.”
See Internet Robert Brault
(Contemporary British humanist philosopher)
Against relativism: the truth is true whether anyone believes it or not
Relativism holds that no opinion is better than any other opinion. Taken to its logical conclusion, it destroys the whole enterprise of rational discussion. If every opinion is as good as any other, then the opinion I come to at the end of a long, informative and rigorous debate is no better than the one I started with—so, what good did the debate do? Worse, relativism says that the opinion of a world-renowned expert on some topic is no better than that of the least informed person. Relativism means that any kind of enquiry is pointless, not only scientific and philosophical investigations.
The tendency to relativism arises from three decent motives that teachers try to foster in their students: independence of mind, politeness and objectivity. Brendan argues that these three decent motives need not drive us to relativism. In fact, relativism works against these decent motives.
First, we can be critical of our leaders and authorities without falling into the complete cynicism of the person who refuses to believe anything that they say. It is proper to require experts to demonstrate their expertise and authorities to show us their credentials, and it is a proper use of our independent intelligence to judge whom to trust. Indeed, if we value independent thought, we should resist absolute cynicism because it is the easy, unthinking option. The cynic who refuses to respect anyone else’s opinion for fear of being hoodwinked has given up on thinking critically.
The second motive is politeness. When teaching religious studies or ethics, it is natural to worry about giving offence. But it is a shallow politeness that refuses to contradict someone else’s convictions. The opinions we most respect are the ones we bother to argue over. To say, “that may be true-for-you but it’s false-for-me” is to say that your opinion makes no difference. It means, “I can allow you to enjoy your convictions as a personal, relative ‘truth-for-you’ because I think them so primitive, childish or silly that they are nothing to me”. In fact critical thinking is a valuable social activity. It includes the art of giving criticism without giving offence and taking criticism without taking umbrage.
The third motive for relativism is objectivity in the human sciences and humanities. But trying to be objective does not require us to abandon our convictions; it only requires us to suspend them temporarily while we think our way into some else’s perspective. Objectivity makes sense only if there is a common truth to pursue, independent of anyone’s opinion.
There can only ever be one truth. Independence of mind, politeness and objectivity are the virtues that we need in order to look for it. Relativist ‘true-for-you/false-for-me’ talk undermines these virtues.
*Brendan Larvor , Relativism explained, Humanist Philosophers’ Group, 2005
(Austrian philosopher, 1838-1917)
Brentano holds a psychological theory of judgement. Judgements are subjective phenomena. They are mental episodes of individual judging subjects. To determine the truth and falsity of a judgement, it is the internal act of judging itself that is primary. This view eliminates any account of truth and falsity as timeless properties. The question is then of how Brentano can tie the subjective realm of mental acts of judgement to the objective realm of truth. He rejects the traditional conception of truth as correspondence. The main reason for him is that the correspondence theory does not yield a criterion of truth. Brentano was convinced that a theory of truth must solve the problem of knowledge, that is to say, it should provide a means by which we can intelligibly pick out truths from falsehoods. He finds such a criterion – so he thinks – in relation to what is for him a large class of judging acts pertaining to the sphere of inner perception. He divides judgements of facts into judgements of inner and of outer perception. A judgement is judged with evidence, only where there is what he calls an ‘identity’ of the judger and that which is judged. The experience of such identity is illustrated by the Cartesian Cogito: “I think , therefore I am (thinking)”. The validity of this inference is fundamental, it is evident, it cannot be explained further. The identity of judger and judged is perfect. On the contrary that identity is ruled out for judgements of outer perception. Evidence belongs only to judgements of inner perception.
Brentano’s treatment of the concept of evidence is important, because it is through it that an empirical subject can come to know objective truth.
Still Brentano does not deny that one can judge about the external world but such judgements remain a matter of guesswork. They do not belong to the domain of knowledge in a strict sense. Truth, for Brentano, is linked to the experience of evidence. That experience of evidence can be obtained only with respect to certain classes of judgements: those of inner perception. Brentano’s understanding of truth leaves us with hardly any account of how judgements of necessity, a priori propositions and logical truths which he calls ‘axioms’ can be valid. Indeed for him the evidence-based concept of truth relates always only to single cognitive acts and thus always only to a single judging subject. How can he explain the fact that logic is a common possession of all thinkers?
* Brentano, Frank, The Truth and the Evident , Ed. by Oscar Kraus, New York, Humanities Press, 1966
(Contemporary unidentified French writer)
La poésie, mieux que la philosophie, permet d’approcher la vérité de l’Etre,
La poésie, mieux que la philosophie, permet d’approcher la vérité de l’Etre.
L’histoire de la relation entre philosophie et poésie est l’histoire d’une rivalité doublement fondatrice, autour et au nom de la vérité. Platon, en affirmant la primauté du logos (connaissance rationnelle) sur le muthos (les productions de l’imaginaire = la littérature), fonde la philosophie - et en même temps la science - comme unique mode d’accès à la vérité, condamnant du même coup la poésie - et toute la littérature en tant que fiction - à un rôle subalterne.
Il appartient a Novalis et Schelling de renverser la conception platonicienne, en faisant de la poésie un mode d’accès au «réel absolu», fondant à leur tour la littérature. Désormais, face à la philosophie, la poésie a vocation à penser le monde, à approcher la vérité de l’Etre. Nietzsche et Heidegger achèveront ce renversement platonicien. Nietzsche, dans son entreprise de démolition du logos, ira jusqu’à mettre en poésie sa philosophie dans Ainsi parlait Zarathoustra. Quant à Heidegger, il sacralisera le Poème au point de lui faire incarner l’essence de l’art : «l’essence de l’art, écrit-il, c’est le Poème. L’essence du Poème, c’est l’instauration de la vérité.» (Chemins qui ne mènent nulle part). En affirmant ainsi la vérité (métaphysique/ esthétique) du langage poétique, le philosophe reconnaît le pouvoir magique d’une parole qui réenchante le monde, en lui redonnant sens et beauté. La poésie philosophique est sans doute rare, en revanche la poésie authentique donne souvent à penser. Dans notre monde bruyant, saturé d’informations, la poésie offre encore de belles plages de silence qui peuvent inviter à une rêverie méditante.
*See Internet Hubert Bricaud
(Contemporary American professor of statistics)
The mistake of confusing truth and conjecture
One of the key fallacies of scientism, in the sense of being the most destructive to common sense and personal wellbeing, is to suppose that any theory put forth in the name of science is therefore true, or certain enough to believe as true.
In virtue of their being generated by scientists, that “scientific” truths are better than other kinds of truths, say metaphysical or logical truths. Stating it so plainly makes it obvious that if a truth is a truth, then it is a truth, and a truth is not more “truthy” because it comes from a scientist than a truth which comes from (say) a theologian.
The main problem is that often scientists use the word truth to mean “a belief which is probably but not 100% certainly, no-matter-what true.” That later creature is not a truth at all; it is a conjecture and nothing more. A conjecture which is “almost” true, or “for all practical purposes” true, is still a conjecture and not a truth. A truth is only true when it always is, when it can be deduced, when it arises as the end result of a valid argument. That is, conjectures when they are conjectures are not truths, but conjectures might become truth as new evidence arises.
Physicists make the mistake of confusing truth and conjecture just as often as sociologists and psychologists, only the physicists’ conjectures more often turn out to be truths as that new evidence arrives, so their error is of less consequence. Note that it is an error (a fallacy) to say, given evidence less than deductive, that a conjecture is a truth. The error will turn out to be more or less harmful depending on to what use the conjecture is put.
If the conjecture turns out true, because of new evidence from an experiment, then the conjecture turns into a truth and gains are made. If the conjecture turns out false, we again know this based on new evidence, and loses are suffered. The loses are of particular interest: these are less the closer the conjecture is to the truth. Which is why the losses are greater in the soft sciences: their conjectures are much more often farther from truth.
One reason for the difference is that physicists more often than sociologists test their conjectures against reality. Another reason is that the evidence for a conjecture for the hard sciences is not just statistical, as it often is for soft-science conjectures. And any conjecture which relies primarily on statistics should not be trusted.
See internet William Briggs
(contemporary American computer scientist and psychologist )
Memetics” is the study of memes. “Memes” are basically ideas or concepts that are good at spreading. They are the basic building blocks of our minds and culture, pieces of mental programming or conditioning that people acquire throughout their lives, in the same way that genes are the basic building blocks of biological life. For instance, the latest women's fashion is a meme, that spreads from one woman to another. A cult or religion would be another example, according to Brodie. Because memes can spread, and because most people aren't aware of the concept of memes, therefore they are susceptible to picking up all sorts of memes without even valuing them, because they're good at spreading. Why do so many people think the goal of life is to make money? Because they've been "infected" with the money is important meme. Memes don’t care whether or not they represent the truth, they just want to survive and be passed along to other hosts.
Brodie introduces the "Virus of the Mind" concept in all cases where the memes that become the most wide-spread are not necessarily "good" memes but simply memes that are good spreaders. Thus, for instance, Nazism (which isn't a good idea) was good at spreading, and thus became a popular meme in its day (at least in Germany). Religions are just memes that have been particularly good at spreading. By starting with a meme 'this is the Absolute Truth', religions become particularly clingy and hard to shake off, regardless of whether they actually are true or not.
Thus for Brodie memes are not necessarily socially beneficial phenomena, and he urges caution with respect to memes that become “mind viruses” which limit opportunities or that do harm to people. “Mind viruses” are memes that infect a mind without the mind being conscious of the infection. If people become robotically enslaved by advertising, religion, sexual fantasy, cults, etc. it is all because of "mind viruses," or "memes," and those who understand how to plant them into other's minds.
Still Brodie is not all doom and gloom. Even if he acknowledges that there is no absolute truth and that everything is a half-truth, he wants his readers to know about memes so that, rather than being mindless infected by whatever memes are in vogue or whatever we're brought up with, that instead we can step back and really think about what types of memes we're accepting, and which ones we're spreading. He challenges people to turn the power of memes and mind viruses to socially positive ends by consciously spreading potentially beneficial mind viruses to as many people as possible.
* Brodie, Richard, Virus of the Mind, the New Science of the Meme, Integral Press, 1995
(Polish philosopher of religion, b.1950)
The many questions involved in the ‘truth’ of religion
The question of truth of religions involves numerous presuppositions.
1) Historical truth (truthfulness) of religion. Each of the past and contemporary religions is true in the trivial sense that it came historically into being and has a history. More specifically, historical truthfulness is understood as genesis, identity and institutional and doctrinal continuity of a given (especially oral) religious tradition determined by the historicity of its founder and its Holy Scriptures. 2) Doctrinal truth of religion. What is often meant by truth of religion is the doctrinal dimension of religion: the subjects covered by oral or written tradition in the form of more or less systemized religious statements about the supernatural and natural world. The main difficulty lies here in the issue of how the classical notion of truth can be applied to the object of beliefs which is not an ordinary object in a subject-object relation and which is revealed, i.e. it lies beyond the possibility of intersubjective verification.
3) Authenticity of religion. Here the question is how to distinguish genuine religious phenomena from para- or pseudoreligious ones. Unfortunately, there is no agreement between scholars as to the criteria of true religion, especially as religion constitutes an integral part of culture. There is also another understanding of authenticity of religion which connects it with the religious doctrine as belonging authentically to a given religion in contrast to unorthodox/heterodox/heretic beliefs.
4) Absoluteness (exclusiveness) of religion. There is such an understanding of truth of religion which connects it with uniqueness and exclusiveness. A religion which sees itself as absolute takes other religions to be false, i.e. as pseudo-religions. This type of exclusiveness characterizes Christianity and to even a greater degree Judaism and Islam.
5) Consistency and rationality of religion. Since religious beliefs constitute an essential element of almost every religion the question of truth of religious beliefs (dogmas) amounts to the question of their rationality. The consistency of beliefs (propositions) is a distinctive expression (sign) of rationality. But how can one consider beliefs of a given religion as a coherent and consistent system? It is easy to fulfill the requirement of consistency and coherence in closed deductive systems but not in open systems which religious doctrines are.
Consistency of religion in general or of a particular religion can be understood as intra-religious or extra-religious. The immanent consistency of religion consists in the harmony of religious beliefs in their mutual relations. The external consistency of a religion consists in turn in conformity of religious beliefs with human reason and with ordinary scientific or philosophical knowledge.
6) Existential and practical meaningfulness of religion. Nowadays the truth of religion is eagerly understood existentially in a way which goes beyond the historical and doctrinal dimensions of religion. Truth of religion is seen in the intimate personal confrontation with the sacred and in all-embracing commitment of the person to the sphere of the sacrum. An important criterion for the value of religious traditions and belief systems is their truthfulness in producing morally and spiritually recognizable holy men and women.
* See Internet Bronk Andrzej
(Contemporary American author)
Man cannot discern truth apart from God It is my contention that there is a reliable answer to this question of truth, if one knows how to go about finding it. The discovery of truth requires both patience and the ability to receive what may be an undesired answer. Some would place truth into different catagories. There is practical truth, subjective truth, ultimate truth, and so on. Not many would agree that truth is an absolute entity, and yet that I firmly believe. I believe that God absolutely exists as He describes Himself in the Holy Bible, and that God is truth. Many laugh when I say that .
The truth hurts, and people do not want to hurt. It is much easier for many people to convince themselves that they know much more about truth, relative to themselves, than does any supposed god they have never seen.
It is my opinion that the discernment of truth is conditional on four things. The first is that each and every person ever born must reconcile himself to God's Holiness, or else he cannot have eternal life. The second is that no man can do that. The third is that they don't have to, as Jesus has already done it for them. The fourth is that this reconciliation must be done according to God's will, not man's will. Once these conditions are met, truth can be found.
None of mankind's accomplishments impress me, except for those done in God's will and by His power. That is the single most important aspect of truth, the will and the empowerment of God. This should be the true purpose of all humans who desire peace on Earth and good will towards men. This should be the reason we get up in the morning, why we go on despite all odds, why we persevere against all hope.
*See BROOKS Floyd, Jr , Yahoo Contributor
(Dutch mathematician, 1881-1966)
Intuitionism was first put forward by the Dutch mathematician L.E.J. Brouwer. It holds that mathematical objects are not real and independent of us, as Platonist realists hold, but constructed by mathematicians. Mathematics is a free creation of the mind, mathematical objects are mental constructs, and mathematics is independent of any language or Platonic reality. Therefore, there are no mathematical truths independently of our knowledge.
A mathematical statement is simply the report by a mathematician of what he has constructed, and is true or false just in case there is either a proof or disproof of it. In cases where no such proof or disproof exists, the statement has no truth value - is neither true nor false. Truth has its ultimate locus in the human mind. Mathematics is "only concerned with mental constructions".
On Brouwer's view, there is no determinant of mathematical truth outside the activity of thinking, a proposition only becomes true when the subject has experienced its truth (by having carried out an appropriate mental construction); similarly, a proposition only becomes false when the subject has experienced its falsehood (by realizing that an appropriate mental construction is not possible). By 'is true' Brouwer means 'is provable' and by 'is false' he means 'is refutable' (i.e. disprovable). Thus he claimed that 'there are no non-experienced truths'. Propositions cannot be true nor false if we are not capable of determining their truth or falsity.
One of the primary concerns of his (and all) 'intuitionism' is the proper use of the law of excluded middle (p v ~p): either some proposition p is the case or p is not the case. In semantics this is called the principle of bivalence, that every proposition is either true or false. So there are only two possible truth-values (thus its similarity with the law of excluded middle). But Brouwer does not want to use excluded middle and other principles and inferences that rely upon excluded middle. He argues that excluded middle and related inferences rely upon a belief in the independent existence of mathematical objects. Put less metaphysically, excluded middles rely upon a belief that mathematical propositions have truth-values independent of the mathematician. So with all intuitionists he argues that excluded middle is a consequence of realism in ontology or realism in truth-value, which he rejects.
* L.E.J. Brouwer, Brouwer's Cambridge Lectures on Intuitionism, Cambridge University Press, 1981.
(Contemporary Irish theologian and anthropologist) Truth is higher than conscience and independent of it.
Can conscience create the truth? It is vital to grasp this difference between the original Protestant position and what one might call the modern post-Protestant attitude which prevails in Western liberal (or post-liberal) societies and influences the thinking of all of us. The original Protestant position simply held that man's mind or conscience is capable of finding truth religious and moral truth 'on its own', without having to follow any external guide. The important thing here is that this position still allows, at least in theory, the existence of a truth that conscience can relate to. It accepts, so to speak, the pre-existence of truth in relation to conscience.
It is a very different thing indeed to hold, however obscurely, that conscience determines or creates truth. This is in fact the real position of many people today. Freedom of conscience freedom to seek the truth is nowadays being made synonymous with 'autonomy' of conscience freedom to 'create' the truth... There is of course an intrinsic absurdity in the concept of a 'truth-creating' faculty.
Insofar as it can be used, however, it shows the infinite rift between the modern positivistic-sceptic mind and the Catholic mind. Once truth is thought of as something that can be created, one is clearly talking about something totally different from what a Catholic means by truth. One doesn't create truth. Truth is uncreated. It is not an invention of man. It may be discovered by him, but not invented. It is not subordinated to man or to his conscience. The truth is higher than conscience and independent of it. The man who denies this, who makes truth in some way subordinated to his own mind, who is prepared to treat it as the subjective creation of his own mind, is not talking about the truth.
Conscience must look up to the truth. Truth is independent of conscience. But conscience is not independent of truth. In your conscientious choices, you don't really choose the truth as if it were one truth presenting itself out of several possible truths. One truth, one only, presents itself to the mind as true, and you either accept it or you reject it. But even if you reject it, it remains present to you as true. You cannot get rid of it. However much you try to subject it to your mind, you fail. For the truth is stronger than your mind. In the face of its strength a man may turn away, avert his mind from it, declare it out of bounds, closed to further mental consideration ... But in effect, by this he maims his mind. You cannot manipulate the truth, you cannot create your own truths. You can only do that with falsehood. Of course, many men make their own falsehoods and call them true. Falsehood can indeed be manipulated. It is quite malleable. It is easily subordinated to the human mind. For it is the product of the human mind. But the truth stands above man. It is God's product. Truth, therefore, real truth, is always greater than the human mind. It must be respected and sought with humility. It must be looked upto. A man is really acting according to his conscience only when he is looking up in his actions, when he is following a standard of truth that is above him, that he respects and tries to measure up to. If conscience is to preserve its proper nature as a truth-seeking faculty, it must preserve this attitude of humility. Pride is always trying to assert itself. If it is permitted to do so, it will tend to adopt an attitude of domination towards the truth..
* Burke Cormac, Conscience and Freedom, Sinag-Tala, 3rd Ed. Revised, 2009
(Swiss reformed theologian, 1889- 1966)
Truth as encounter, which Brunner considers as the Christian concept of truth, the revealed truth conceived as God’s self-communication, dominates his whole theology. Encounter points to a personal meeting or experience of reality. Truth is not a matter of knowledge but an encounter in which truth happens. Truth is not in us but comes to us, then we are in the truth, which makes us free in restoring to us our authentic being.
Brunner owes much to the ‘I-Thou’ philosophy of Buber. He distinguishes between two varieties of truth. First there is the truth of everyday affairs, mathematics and science: the field of “abstract” truth. Brunner calls it It-truth to distinguish it from the second variety which he calls the Thou-Truth. As we pass from science and philosophy on to theology, we leave the abstract It-truth and enter the realm of personal relationships. Here man is no mere neutral observer, but rather he is himself affected by truth and exercises faith and personal trust. In this experience of personal confrontation the traditional distinction between subject and object is transcended, and the new truth becomes a relationship of subject to subject. Abstract thought cannot say what is really true. Abstract, verbal propositional truth is merely a pointer to the personal truth. Some propositions point more directly than other, but even the words of Scriptures are only pointers
Brunner’s personalist and existential notion of truth as encounter is directed against theological subjectivism as well as intellectual objectivism. Against subjectivism Brunner describes the unique interpersonal God-man relationship as a historical event centering on Jesus Christ. Against objectivism he points out that revelation is not primarily a doctrine but an act. Revelation is a “personal correspondence” between God and humanity. God does not reveal this or that truth, he reveals himself as the truth in communicating himself.
* Brunner, Emil, The Divine-human Encounter, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1943
(French philosopher, 1869-1940)
The only religion of truth is the ‘religio philosophica’, the religion of Reason
For Brunschvicg there is no limit to the power of explanation and understanding of human Reason, which one could qualify as divine. Such is the meaning of Brunschvicg’s idealism. A ‘beyond thought and reason’ is unthinkable. The only religion of truth is the religio philosophica, the sole purpose of the pursuit of truth. Brunschvicg never ceased to denounce the “positive religions”, which all have been the cause of religious wars. He opposes to them the religion of the Spirit, the religion of immanent Reason, the only God that can bring unity and peace among human beings, le "Dieu des philosophes et des savants", opposed to Pascal’s “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”.
For Brunschvicg the law that directs the actitivity of thought to truth, beauty and morality, is the law of unity. The superior destiny of man is found in the never ceasing effort towards truth, beauty and morality and there is nothing for the human mind to search beyond this unity, the supreme law of man’s spirit. It is senseless to want to relate that supreme law to a Being which would exists apart and beyond the human mind. For the religio philosophica, that supreme law is immanent to man who incarnates within himself the superior principle which is the ideal of spiritual life.
The true philosopher rejects a priori any access to truth by way of vision, intuition, dream or revelation. In this world there is no divine light that can help to obtain the right interpretation of reality. The only source of knowledge is the autonomous movement of immanent reason. The God who speaks is the God of reason, theorem and logic, the foundation of genuine religion and spirituality.
* Brunschvicg, Léon, La Raison et la religion, Paris, Alcan, 1939.
(Contemporary American R.C. Bishop}
The limits of dialogue for Catholics in the search for truth
The reason to revisit the limitations on dialogue and toleration, is because in certain sectors of our cultural milieu, we find tolerance and dialogue exalted to such an extent that they supersede other, and superior, values and qualities, such as (in some instances) truth itself.
Jesus, in the Gospel, is not known to have told His disciples to go out into the world and dialogue. The words that are appropriate in our Lord's last instructions to us are mathutusein and didaskein, which mean "go out and make disciples," and "go out and teach." Now let me be the first to say, that on some occasions, dialogue is a very effective method to make disciples, and can be an excellent pedagogical method as well. However, a method is not, in itself, a goal or an end, but rather a means to achieve an end.
The first limitation I see to dialogue is that it cannot rationally be accepted as a permanent state of affairs. Dialogue is a way in which we strive to achieve some purpose or goal. Perpetual and eternal dialogue does not seem to me to be an appropriate method in which Christians can live.
The second limitation, as I see it, is that when the Church and/or Catholics in the Church engage in dialogue, they have no guarantee that this process will always result in the emergence of truth. We all know that there is no guarantee in any kind of dialogic discussion, truth will be the victor. Theoretically with human minds always open to the reality of truth, one could hope this is the case. De facto, however, it isn't.. Those who engage in dialogue should always be aware that truth does not necessarily prevail as the outcome of every dialogue.
The third limitation that I see in what is called dialogue is that it can very seriously result in the mutilation or marginalizing of truth. Things can be so ordered that consensus and good feeling are the major outcomes desired in dialogues, and therefore, there can be a normal human tendency to trivialize things that are relatively important for the sake of compromise and consensus. We all know that consensus is not always a process which results in truth, any more than dialogue itself always results in truth
The fourth limitation is that dialogue can be a danger if it is seen as some type of manipulation or clever way to insinuate a kind of proselytism unworthy of Christian discourse, if it can be a device by which the unwary or the unskilled can be persuaded to adopt a position which is untrue, or to abandon truth, or to embrace error. Unlimited dialogue, then, in my view, is not something to be extraordinarily or highly desired, but rather is a procedure, a technique, a method of conversation which, while it holds much promise, also holds many perils.
Our Lord seemed to have been incredibly exclusivist when He said with no qualification that no one can come to the Father except through Him. If then, we allow in our own thought-structure and in our own outlook, tolerance, toleration and dialogue, desirable and good as they are, to be formed up into ultimates, and give them a supremacy of value that they do not deserve, we may be causing great harm to our neighbor, and grave harm to ourselves, and, of course, in this, grave harm to the cause of Christ
See Internet Bruskewitz Talk presented to the Institute for Religious Life, April 10, 1999, Mundelein, Illinois
(Controversial racist American writer, 1943-2009)
Truth Is a matter of opinion
According to Bryant, there is no such thing as truth, but only various opinions. This does not mean that truth does not exist, but only that we cannot know that it exists. What we can know -- or at least what we can have a strong opinion about -- is that men's opinions often converge, and that such convergence makes it convenient to say that we have "discovered some truth" at the point of convergence. However the fact that men's opinions often converge is not sufficient to prove the existence of truth, or even a truth, for men's opinions once converged in agreeing to the truth of the proposition that the world is flat, and yet most men would not now say that such a proposition is (or was ever) true.
With the famous Harvard philosopher WV Quine, Bryant agrees that truth is "a good and useful myth". It is helpful in speaking about things, in part because the theory that truth exists is fundamental to our linguistic structure, or at least closely interwoven with it. But is it essential? That is, can we abandon speaking of truth in favor of speaking only of opinion, i.e. , can we translate all statements of the form "X is true" into "It is my opinion that-x"? The answer, surprisingly, is No, because the latter statement is a covert expression of the theory that truth exists, because it is a sotto voce expression of the statement "It is my opinion that x is true". Or in other words, our very linguistic structure requires us to employ a theory which is false -- or at least false “in my humble opinion”, asserts Bryant.
Both believers and non-believers in truth agree (or mostly agree) that the thing called truth -- whether real or just a good and useful myth -- is determined or indicated by convergence of opinion, so it seems that there is no "objective" problem of determining "the truth", no matter how much we may disagree about its "ultimate nature". The problem -- if you can call it that -- is that for the "truth believers", convergence of opinion represents a metaphysical-like reality while for the non-believers it represents a ghost-like entity which is admitted to the company of other more respectable ideas only because nothing can keep it out. So this then leaves the non-believer but one alternative, namely, to accept the existence of truth but to deny that it can be known, or alternately, to accept its existence but say that it can be known only with uncertainty or degree of probability. He can, of course, happily point out that he doesn't "really" believe in truth, because something whose existence cannot be perceived (except in the ghostly outline of opinion convergence) does not "really" exist.
*Bryant John, the Birdman, see Internet
(Austrian Jewish philosopher, 1878-1965)
1. The kind of mysticism which aims at the absorption of the finite self into the Infinite is an escapism before the reality of life. In the fleeting moments of the experience of mystical union, we cease to be the person that we really are. The mystic regards everyday life as an obscuring of the true life. He turns away from his existence as a unique human person, The truth of life consists in a frank acceptance of the personal form of being in which every individual is destined to live through dialogue in person-to-person relations. Man must live in the truth of his being and that truth is the personal mode of existence.
There are two primary attitudes that one can take up to the world: the ‘I-It’ and the ‘I-Thou’. Buber calls the first ‘experience’, the second ‘relation’. The ‘I-It’ attitude can never be spoken with the whole being. It applies to those activities which have something for their object as in the case of perceiving, willing, thinking and the whole range of objectifying experience in science, etc. If any man were to live purely on the level of the ‘I-It’ attitude, he would be less than a man.
The ‘I-Thou’ attitude, on the contrary, involves the whole being. Buber calls it the world of ‘relation’, meeting and encounter of subject to subject, involving mutuality and response, all features absent in the detached objective attitude of ‘experience’. The ‘I-Thou’ relation can be between two persons in dialogical speech. It can be achieved also between a person and nature when a plant or an animal ceases to be an ‘It’ so that the relation is mutual. Thus the ‘I-Thou’ attitude may extend its range beyond human persons and even extend to man’s relation with God. God is personal in the sense he has revealed himself in his creative and redeeming acts.
The truth of human life in often turned in untruth when other persons and God himself become ‘Its’ as we cease to address them and transform them into objects among objects. For just as every ‘It’ is potentially a ‘Thou’, so every ‘Thou’ can indeed sink back into an ‘It’. The ills and untruths of the contemporary world spring from the injury that has been done to the essentially personal nature of man, between man and man, man and nature, man and God. There can be no truth of life except in the constant renewal of interpersonal ‘dialogical immediacy’.
2. It is unfortunate that the truth has become questionable through its being politicized. The sociological doctrine of our age has had a relativising effect on the concept of truth. It has bound the “truth” of a human being to his/her conditioning reality. In doing so, it has lost the understanding of the person in his/her total reality. But the force of the peron’s desire for truth can burst the “ideological” bonds of his social being. For the person who lives and thinks “existentially” the relation to the truth is a matter of personal responsibility. To counteract the theory of modern collectivisms there is need of persons who are not collectivised and of a truth that is not politicised. There is need of people of faith in the truth as that which is independent of him and with which he can enter into a real and direct relation in his very life. The true community is not the collectivity that imposes the life interests of the group as its legitimate truth. Rather it is the commonwealth of those for whom human truth is bound up with the responsibility of each person.
* Buber, M., Between Man and Man, Fontana, Collins, 1947, 106-108; see Macquarrie, John, Twentieth-century Religious Thought, Harper & Row, New York, 1963, p.195-197
(Thai Buddhist monk and philosopher, 1906-1993)
Suffering and the elimination of suffering; the only truth for Buddhism
Now let us talk about "truth". Each of us has eyes, ears, a nose, a tongue, and a touch-sensitive body, so all of us can judge things as true according to what our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body tell us. We can test and verify material things. Worldly truth, which has nothing to do with Dhamma, is a matter of what we see or feel or believe to be true. We are deceived as to the nature of objects and of cause-effect relationships, all of which are subject to change. What is true one moment may not be true the next. Even the law of science are subject to change, as scientists well know. A "law" which at one point in time is firmly believed to be true is later found not to be true and so is thrown out. This is because the truth at any particular point in time is a function of our ability to perceive it, of our resources for testing and verifying. This is worldly truth, the kind of truth that has nothing to do with Dhamma.
Truth that is truly truth does not change. In identifying "suffering" we must identify true suffering; "freedom from suffering" must be true freedom from suffering; the "cause of suffering" must be the true cause of suffering; and the "way to the elimination of suffering" must be the true way, not some false lead. These truths are the very special truths of the Buddha and of all enlightened beings. Let us think of truth or of truths in this way. The whole purpose of education in whatever form is to get at truth. The purpose of all philosophy is to arrive at truth. But as things are, education and philosophy are incomplete, are half-baked, go only half way. They just fumble and bumble around with no hope of finding the truth. In seeking truth let us concentrate our attention on the most important matter of all, namely, the matter of suffering (dukkha) and the elimination of suffering. To realize this truth is to arrive at the most useful, the most precious, and the best thing there is, although there are countless other things we might examine which would be of no use whatever. This is why the Buddha said, "One thing only I teach: suffering and the elimination of suffering." There were countless other things about which he might have talked but regarding which he remained silent. From the first day he spoke only of one thing, the thing that is the most useful of all.
* Buddhadasa Bikkhu, No Religion. Trans. Punno, First electronic edition: September 1996.
The truth that is silence
1. According to the most important philosophical school of Mahâyâna Buddhism, called S’ûnyavâda, none of the views (or drishti) about reality can be true. Reason is incompetent to comprehend reality. The S’ûnyavâda dialectic consists in disproving all the theses of its opponents while claiming that it does prove any theses of its own. It is sheer disproof without the least intention to prove anything.
Why are all views rejected? Why are they all false? The answer is that Reason which understands things through categories, concepts, distinctions and relations is a principle of falsehood, as its distorts and thereby hides the real. There can be no conceptualisation of the Absolute. Reason is incapable to reveal the Real.
The S’ûnyavâda dialectic is preeminently a critique of rational thinking and the rejection of all dogmatic systems (drishti). Its method is to disburden the mind of all its notions; it is a catharsis, a path of purification of the intellect. To know the truth about reality the opacity of categories and ideas must be removed. However the negation of the so-called truths of reason is the opening up of a new avenue: the path of intellectual intuition or prajnâ. Intuition is made possible by universal negation. The S’ûnyavâda dialectic is the removal of the constrictions which our concepts have put on reality. It is the freeing of reality of artificial restrictions. But it is not the denial of reality. It is not an ontological nihilism, only an epistemological nihilism, not a rejection of Reality but a rejection of the claim of all doctrines to express the truth about reality.
It is often advanced that the S’ûnyavâda standpoint, critical of all theories and drishtis, is itself a theory, one more position about truth and reality. Is not criticism itself a position, another theory of truth about reality? If all systems are false and there is no exception to the rule, should one not say that S’ûnyavâda philosophy itself is false? To refute this objection, the S’ûnyavâdins point out that criticism of theories is not another theory. Negation of positions is not one more position. Mere criticism does not add to the stock of existing knowledge. Criticism in this case achieves gain in depth, not in extension. The denial of all views by the S’ûnyavâdins is itself the means for reaching the truth about the absolute Truth, that stands beyond all categorisations. It is a Truth that is silence.
2. Mahäyänists face the problem to accord their views with the doctrines of primitive Buddhism (Theravâda) about the four noble truths, salvation and Nirvâna. To solve it they introduce the essential distinction of two truths: one, of an inferior order, and the other, of a superior order. The four noble truths, the original dogma on salvation and Nirvâna, remain valuable and efficacious in the world of illusions: the inferior truth. As this world undergoes sufferings, it is man’s duty to work for the cessation of suffering. This a useful illusion for those who cannot have access to the superior truth. But the wisest follower of Buddha aims at the superior truth of universal vacuity and the falsehood of all drishtis.
Those who do not make the distinction between the two truths cannot understand the teaching of the Buddha. The inferior truth or samvriti is a sort of covering, which hides the real truth and is the cause of a multiplicity of drishtis or views about reality. The highest truth or paramârtha, is beyond the finite intellect. At that superior level, the intellect, finding no categories for its support, merges into the Absolute. There is no more distinction of subject and object, knowledge and reality, no more “truth”. The many (contradictory) truths of empirical knowledge are transcended in the Absolute which is no longer Truth but silence. The Truth beyond the truths is not more “truth”, because truth is a relation of thought and reality and on the absolute level the distinction of subject and object disappears.
* T.R.V. Murti, The Central Philosophy Of Buddhism, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1955, p. 122-165; Sharma C., A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Rider & C°, London, 1960, p.84-108
Truth is that which works for the cessation of suffering
1. Buddha identifies several grounds which he considers insufficient for accepting a teaching as true. These bases of knowledge are not rejected but considered by Buddha to be insufficient grounds to establish the truth of any teaching. These insufficient grounds are authority, faith and reason.
Buddha is sceptical of all truth claims from authority. He rejects the ‘sacred Vedic tradition’. Vedic brahmins have no direct knowledge of the truths found in the Vedas. Their truth claims are based on faith alone. Moreover this Vedic tradition is blind because it accepts the truth of its scriptures without any experiential verification. The reliance on scriptural authority and the claim that the content of sacred scriptures is unquestionably true is unjustified.
Buddha dissociates himself from the rationalists or ‘pure reasoners’ who aim to construct comprehensive metaphysical theories on the basis of reason alone. Without reference to experience, the pure reasoner misunderstands the aim of spiritual enquiry. He hopes to build a universally valid system of metaphysics in order to describe the way the world is. Buddha wants his disciples to be ‘practical’ reasoners who confront the central spiritual problem: the reality of dukkha (suffering). The practical reasoner wants to overcome dukkha to attain enlightenment. He wants to generate an outlook that will be useful in bringing about the spiritual goal: the cessation of suffering. In short, Buddha’s evaluation of reason is pragmatic. He denounces the obsessive urge to conceptualise and speculate: a craving that hampers spiritual progress. Spiritual realisation is unattainable by reasoning.
As for faith or belief, Buddha considers it as a provisional basis for making decisions. But faith is a kind of second-hand knowledge that cannot be relied upon for the awakening of truth.
Buddha is not concerned with truth in the abstract but with the practical consequences of any proposed beliefs or courses of action. He is not interested in establishing any metaphysical synthesis. From a strict philosophical point of view, Buddha does not offer any reliable ground on which to differentiate truth from falsehood. Buddha’s message in not for speculators concerned with abstract notions of truth. He deals with ordinary people preoccupied with the business of everyday social living. Buddha identifies himself with the ‘experientialist’ type of spiritual teachers, as opposed to those who rest their claims on authority, reason or faith. His approach is pragmatic and empirical. He did not propose any philosophical system. He simply wanted to alleviate suffering and he evaluated all teachings and practices in light of this practical aim.
2. The knowledge that Buddha approves is not speculative but rather the realisation of the impermanence of existence. Buddha is interested only in truths vital to ethical considerations. These are the four noble truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering. These truths are based on his experiences of the world. He is silent on metaphysical questions and theories of knowledge. He is unconcerned with such problems.
There are two kinds of propositions: some are trivial and some are important. The trivial propositions are those that are descriptive of ordinary sense experiences. Whether they are true or false is of no interest. The important propositions are those that deal with ethical considerations and judgments of value. A belief or a theory must be rejected if it is found to lead to suffering. The teaching of the Buddha is guided solely to that goal: the removal of suffering and therefore the concept of truth is a matter of what works in achieving that spiritual goal. Today one would regard Buddha’s concept of truth as a form of utilitarian pragmatism. Truth is that which works for the cessation of suffering.
3. The source of the highest knowledge for Buddha is intuition (abhijnâ and prajnâ), self-illumination. The Buddha regards his own knowledge to be obtained through intuition, inner consciousness, self-enlightening intellect. He believes in his own – and his disciples’ - ability to discover the truth on the basis of inner conviction without the aid of outside agency, whether scripture, divine illumination or even sensible objects. Abhijnâ refers to a special kind of seeing and knowing possessed by spiritually realised beings. It is this direct knowing alone that provides the basis for true knowledge claims. Abhijnä is a profound sensitivity to experience that leads to personal transformation and reorganisation of values, desires and views. The culmination of the process of spiritual development is called parijnä or ‘full understanding’.
4. Some Buddhist schools have inferred from the teaching of Buddha what is called “the theory of intrinsic invalidity and extrinsic validity of knowledge”. This is the view that all knowledge is invalid by its very nature. The validity and truth of knowledge consists in its capacity to produce successful action, i.e. the end of all miseries. Hence prior to any successful activity every knowledge is to be treated as invalid. Invalidity belongs to knowledge at its inception and its validity is due to the negation of invalidity by external conditions. Beliefs are neither true nor false or even better said: they are all false unless shown by action to be valid and true. We believe in things without knowing whether they are true or false, whether they are conducive to suffering or to the cessation of suffering In any case we must start with the invalidity of all cognitions or beliefs. Unless verified, all beliefs are groundless and should be taken for invalid.
* See Chandradhar Sharma, A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy, Rider & Company, London, 1960, Chap.5: Early Buddhism
(French philosopher, 1661-1737)
The truths of common sense
In his Traité des vérités premières (1717), Buffier’s project is to discover the ultimate principle of knowledge. This he finds in the sense we have of our own existence and of what we feel within ourselves, he thus takes substantially the same starting point as Descartes, but he rejects the Cartesian a priori method. He states that, in order to know what exists distinct from the self, common sense is necessary. Common sense he defined as that disposition which nature has placed in all or most human beings, in order to enable them, when they have arrived at the age and use of reason, to form a common and uniform judgment with respect to objects different from the internal sentiment of their own perception, in which judgment is not the consequence of any anterior judgment.
The truths which this disposition of nature (common sense) obliges us to accept can be neither proved nor disproved; they are practically followed even by those who reject them speculatively. But Buffier does not claim for these truths of common sense the absolute certainty which characterizes the knowledge we have of our own existence or the logical deductions we make from our thoughts; they possess merely the highest probability, and the man who rejects them is to be considered a fool, though he is not guilty of a contradiction.
Buffier’s philosophy of common sense is was a natural reaction to the fact, or to the threat, of philosophical paradox or skepticism. He perceived the dangerous threat, since Descartes, of skepticism about all matters of fact beyond the range of our consciousness. What we need, he felt, is unimpeachable authority for the fundamental convictions shared by all normal men. Common sense is what supplies it. It puts us into assured possession of such 'first truths' as that there is a material world, that our minds are incorporeal and that we are capable of free agency.
Buffier is one of the earliest to recognize the psychological as distinguished from the metaphysical side of Descartes' principles, and to use it as the basis of an analysis of the human mind. In this he has anticipated the spirit and method as well as many of the results of Reid and the Scottish school. (see Thomas Reid) Buffier views "common sense" not as collective wisdom but as an inborn capacity, a separate sense analogous to that of sight or hearing, that is similar to, for example, a "moral sense”.
* Buffier Claude, Traité des vérités premières, 1717, see Internet
(German theologian, 1884-1976)
To want to ground faith and religious truth is history is wrong-headed. History cannot give the kind of evidence for which religious faith asks. Nature and history are profane and it is only in the light of faith that both can become for the believer the ground of religious truth. The world of nature and history is a closed world in which what believers take for truth cannot be known. It is the realm of the natural scientist or the realm of scientific historian: neither can say one word on the realm of religion.
Bultman, following Heidegger, is interested in the existential approach of human life and, like him, he makes the distinction between authentic and inauthentic existence. But while for Heidegger the acceptance of authentic existence ends in the despair of the human condition of being-for-death, for Bultman authentic existence in the world is possible through the Christian faith. Human existence is inauthentic apart from God and authentic only if determined by God. In responding positively to the Christian proclamation, man finds authentic existence.
But no historical knowledge can serve as a basis for faith. What is important is not history but “Geschichte”. The existentialist, unlike the historian, is not interested in history, he is interested in “Geschichte”, that is, what a situation or a person in past history means to him today. The concrete man has to make decisions to live in the truth and to achieve it what is purely “historical” is of no help; it has to become “historic” (Geschichte). His faith belongs to a realm dissociated from the vicissitudes of history.
Biblical salvation ‘history’ is to be regarded as myth rather than history. To penetrate to the eternal truth behind the mythological husk is, according to Bultmann, not to eliminate the mythology but to interpret it. The real purpose of the myth is not to give an account of what really happened in the past but to convey a particular understanding of human life. What we have to do is not to eliminate myths but to discover the existential meaning behind the myths. The truth embodied in myth is not scientific or historical, but anthropological or, better, existential. The only event of revelation that Bultmann can allow is one that brings to birth an understanding of human life such as man could never have produced for himself. Thus the event in the process of revelation is not an objective reality, but a change in the subjective consciousness of man. The historical narratives of the New Testament are not events in their own right, but only prelude to an event, namely, the change which takes place in human consciousness. These narratives are myths, but they need not be literally true in order to express theological and existential truth. “Art is a lie that tells the truth”(Picasso). The same can be said of myths. They flow from the human psyche as an expression of meaning.
* Bultmann, Rudolph, Existence and Faith, shorter writings of Rudolph Bultmann, S.M. Ogden, London, 1961
(Contemporary Christian American writer)
Objective truth exists whether you realize it or not.
Let us first clarify the difference between the terms "objective" and "subjective." Something that exists objectively exists outside and apart from you. If you didn't exist, it still would. That the law of gravity is an objective truth that can be demonstrated by simply jumping off a cliff in the Grand Canyon. Whether you think it is true or not it will still be true. On the other hand, something that exists subjectively exists only in your own head. If you didn't exist it wouldn't exist either. A hallucination is a good example. Emotions are subjective.
Some say that truth is only subjective. Something can be true for you but not necessarily true for anyone else. Some people will talk about, "my truth and your truth." They'll say, "My truth is telling me so and so while my friend's truth is telling him something different." In her mind what makes her truth true is simply that she believes it is true.
Some people believe that truth and reality do not really exist objectively, outside and apart from their own experience. They believe, as many Hindus believe, that all of what we see, know and experience is not real; rather it is just an illusion.
What is the problem with this view that truth is subjective? It is self refuting. The person who believes that truth and reality don't really exist believes this view is really true and it is objectively true for everyone whether they realize it or not. But if truth doesn't exist then this view of truth doesn't exist either, at least outside of their own head. Their view of truth is nothing but an illusion, as well.
We simply can't live a moment without believing that truth and reality objectively exist. Even the Hindu guru who denies that truth and reality exist objectively looks both ways before crossing the street. Everyone, whether or not they admit it, believes that truth and reality exist objectively.
*See Internet Gary C. Burger
(Contemporary Irish opus Dei theologian)
The truth is higher than conscience and independent of it.
“Conscience determines or creates truth”:this is the position of many people today. Freedom of conscience--freedom to seek the truth--is nowadays being made synonymous with 'autonomy' of conscience--freedom to 'create' the truth...
There is of course an intrinsic absurdity in the concept of a 'truth-creating' faculty. Insofar as it can be used. however,it shows the infinite rift between the modern positivistic-sceptic mind and the Catholic mind. Once truth is thought of as something that can be create one is clearly talking about something totally different from what a Catholic means by truth.
One doesn't create truth. Truth is uncreated. It is not an invention of man. It may be discovered by him, but not invented. It is not subordinated to man or to his conscience. The truth is higher than conscience and independent of it. The man who denies this, who makes truth in some way subordinated to his own mind, who is prepared to treat it as the subjective creation of his own mind, is not talking about the truth at all. He should use a different term: value judgment, personal standard, or perhaps personal interest or preference or convenience...
2. Conscience must look up to truth. Truth is independent of conscience. But conscience is not independent of truth. In your conscientious choices, you don't really choose the truth as if it were one truth presenting itself out of several possible truths. One truth, one only, presents itself to the mind as true, and you either accept it or you reject it. But even if you reject it, it remains present to you as true. You cannot get rid of it. However much you try to subject it to your mind, you fail. For the truth is stronger than your mind.
ln the face of its strength a man may turn away, avert his mind from it, declare it our of bounds, closed to further mental consideration... But in effect, by this he maims his mind. You cannot manipulate the truth, you cannot create your own truths. You can only do that with falsehood.
Of course, many men make their own falsehoods and call them true. Falsehood can indeed be manipulated. It is quite malleable. It is easily subordinated to the human mind. For it is the product of the human mind. But the truth stands above man. It is God's product.
Truth, therefore, real truth, is always greater than the human mind. It must be respected and sought with humility. It must be looked up to. A man is really acting according to his conscience only when he is looking up in his actions, when he is following a standard of truth that is above him, that he respects and tries to measure up to.
If conscience is to preserve its proper nature as a truth-seeking faculty, it must preserve this attitude of humility. Pride is always trying to assert itself. If it is permitted to do so, it will tend to adopt an attitude of domination towards the truth. And it is then that conscience emerges with the pretensions of a truth-creating faculty.
* Cormac Burke, Conscience
(Indian president of the Theosophical society since 1980)
Satyan nasti paro dharmah : there is no religion higher than truth
The clash of opinions and ideologies, whether philosophical, political or religious, produces hatred, fanaticism and ill-will and divides people. But if man were truly concerned with finding the truth, the entire world would be different. If religion encouraged men to seek the truth instead of telling them what to believe, the world would be a more peaceful place, for tolerance accompanies the desire to find out what is true.
Today, science makes clear that even our perception of physical objects does not correspond to the things as they are. But existence does not consist of physical objects alone. Matter is only a play of forces which originates in the unknown, out of which arise the appearances which we think are reality. Man’s concepts cannot correspond exactly to things as they are because before he forms the concept he has already interpreted what he perceives according to his own prior prejudices and conditioning. Therefore, the wise man does not come to any conclusion about the truth of things. Like the scientist, he has, for the time being, a postulate with which he works. When a hypothesis is formed by the scientist, it is continually tested experimentally, and as new facts became known, new postulates are put forward. Hence there is a continual progress in the field of science. What is true as regards science is also true in the area of the non-material, for the material and the non-material are part of one existence.
When there is a scientific approach, there can be no intolerance because one knows that one’ s concept of truth is likely to be limited, ever erroneous, and one accords to other seekers for truth the tolerance which one expects them to give. If humanity were concerned with Truth and were prepared to let go of its illusions, there would be a peaceful world, where co-operation reigns because it is accepted that there are many paths to Truth. There are the paths of the scientist, the mystic, the artist, the sage - all leading to that central point which is Truth. Further, when it is recognized that error is possible and that knowledge has its limitations, there is no dependence upon authority. Authority arises when there is belief in a privileged class that is presumed to have access to truth which others do not possess.
The first and primary condition for one who would follow the religion of Truth is a profound and persistent interest in finding it. This implies not having pre-judgments or a conviction that one knows already. Truth cannot be discovered by a mind which has fixations, prejudices and biases of any kind. The mind must become pure and unruffled, free from opinions, biases and self-centred emotions, for only in this state can there be an awareness of Truth. Those who are earnestly in search of truth are already creating a better world, for the pre-condition for its attainment is purity and an awakening discrimination. Where there is such discrimination and selflessness, the environment begins to change, because it is selfishness which creates a chaotic and cruel world. So the search for Truth is by no means irrelevant to the establishment of a peaceful world. If humanity were to adopt for its motto Satyan nasti paro dharmah, ‘There is No Religion Higher than Truth’, a just and beautiful world would be ensured
* Burnier Radha, The Way of Self-Knowledge. Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton 1993; ISBN 81-7059-216-X
(Contemporary American neuro-scientist)
We cannot trust ourselves when we believe we know something to be true
There is a commonly held belief that we can logically and reasonably determine when our thoughts are correct. If, after due rumination and deliberation, we decide that a thought must be correct, we presume that this conclusion is itself a conscious choice. Burton presents compelling evidence that this assumption is inconsistent with present-day understanding of basic brain function. His book ON BEING CERTAIN systematically undermines certainty and conviction as products of reason.
He shows that certainty is a mental state, a feeling like anger or pride that can help guide us, but that doesn't dependably reflect objective truth. He tries to get to the bottom of the curious sensation he calls the “feeling of knowing”—being certain of a fact despite having no (or even contrary) evidence. He makes the compelling argument that certainty “is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process.” Instead, he says, that unmistakable sense of certainty “arises out of involuntary brain mechanisms that, like love or anger, function independently of reason.”
Burton argues that we ultimately cannot trust ourselves when we believe we know something to be true. “We can’t afford to continue with the outdated claims of a perfectly rational unconscious or knowing when we can trust gut feelings,” he writes. He mounts a scientific argument for skepticism of a very deep sort. By presenting a broad set of findings, ranging from the disciplines of neurobiology to social psychology, he argues that the feeling that we know something is most likely a biologically-based, involuntary, and unconscious process that cannot be trusted as a reliable marker that we are right. He provides a compelling and thought-provoking case that we should be a bit more skeptical about our beliefs. He guides the reader toward a healthy suspicion about any claim that is framed in absolute terms. Indeed, this seems to be one of his primary objectives, viewing an attitude of absolute certainty as the root of many societal ills.
Certainty is not a conscious choice, nor a thought process, but a sensation that can best be described as a “feeling of knowing.” As a feeling, like anger or fear, certainty does not rely on any underlying state of knowledge. What this means, is that we can be wrong even when we’re convinced we’re right. Just like love or anger, certainty is an emotion.
Philosophers have long puzzled over the nature of knowledge. Burton has a sharp rejoinder: "Certainty is not biologically possible. We must learn to tolerate the unpleasantness of uncertainty. Science has given us the language and tools of probabilities. We have methods for analyzing and ranking opinion according to their likelihood of correctness. That is enough."
* Burton Robert A. ON BEING CERTAIN: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not, McMillan
(American R.C. theologian)
“The Hierarchy of Truths” in the teaching of the second Vatican Council.
"Hierarchy of truths” : sometimes the term is misused to imply that some truths of the faith are negotiable or that some truths are less true than others. In fact, the hierarchy of truths is merely the principle of ordering the mysteries of faith based on the varying ways they are related one another as elements of Christian revelation, as summarized in the Creed. “The hierarchy of truths” is so often misunderstood, it is important to examine it, based in the light of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.The first magisterial use of the expression was at Vatican II, in the context of ecumenical dialogue: "When comparing doctrines with one another, they [theologians] should remember that in Catholic doctrine there exists a ‘hierarchy’ of truths, since they vary in their relation to the fundamental Christian faith”/ Here the Church recognizes that the way to agreement regarding disputed points of doctrine is the way of faith itself, grounded in essential truths about God and Christ. The hierarchy of truths also has application in the Church’s catechetical activity: "This hierarchy does not mean that some truths pertain to faith itself less than others, but rather that some truths are based on others as of a higher priority, and are illumined by them. On all levels catechesis should take account of this hierarchy of the truths of faith." This text excludes a misunderstanding, summarized by Cardinal Schönborn: "the ‘hierarchy of truth’ does not mean ‘a principle of subtraction,’ as if faith could be reduced to some ‘essentials’ whereas the ‘rest’ is left free or even dismissed as not significant. The ‘hierarchy of truth . . . is a principle of organic structure.’ It should not be confused with the degrees of certainty; it simply means that the different truths of faith are ‘organized’ around a center"
*See Internet Douglas Bushman
(Contemporary British author}
Science is not the Only Way to Truth
I am not trying to imply here that the scientific method is not valid. Clearly it is a fair and logical process by which to operate, and should be used. What I would suggest is that it is not a primary means of establishing truth. In other words, truth is a concept too large and diverse to be limited by the scientific method. In fact, there are many truths that are not scientific in nature but are accepted and even serve as the basis of scientific investigation, yet cannot be proven empirically. Such truths range from the laws of logic to metaphysics.
Ethics are a particulary good example of this idea. Scientific empiricism is quite useful in determining the how things are, but is irrelevant to determining how things aught to be. Yet, at the core of scientific inquiry is the understanding that it aught to be carried out honestly.
The area of aesthetics provides another source of non-scientific truth. Our civilization has been overwhelmingly occupied with expressions of aesthetic value, with painting, sculpting, music, poetry, film, architecture, etc. Yet, without the notion of aesthetic truth, the entire field of art criticism would collapse.
Even our understanding of reality itself cannot be empirically proven. For example, how can I be certain that my entire perspective on what is real is true? How do I know that I am not just a brain being stimulated to make me think that I am writing this blog entry? I can't prove this empirically, yet I am not advocating that anyone take up this philosophy. What I am trying to point out is that there are truths that are properly basic, beliefs that cannot be proven on the basis of another belief but are rationally accepted.
I am certainly not trying to reject any scientific ideas. Rather, I am trying to show that empiricism as the only method of deducing truth is unnecessarily restrictive, and philosophically incorrect. I often laugh when I hear of efforts to produce a 'theory of everything,' yet even if we do someday have a comprehensive scientific understanding of things, that would be only one portion of how we understand reality. We would still need our moral, aesthetic, and metaphysical knowledge (among others) to complete the picture.
*See Internet Chritopher Butler
(Anglican religious philosopher, 1692-1752)
Revealed truth are supplemental to the truth of natural religion
Butler accepted the distinction between natural religion (religious truth which can be understood by examining the natural world) and revealed religion (religious truth which can only be understood through special, revealed knowledge). He appealed to a doctrine of human ignorance, saying that revelation lay beyond the sphere of reason and could not be grasped by human intelligence. He pointed out that numerous phenomena in nature were equally mysterious and inexplicable, because man had not yet acquired the knowledge to understand them. Reason was the faculty by which man acquired knowledge and made judgments, but it could not supply a complete and perfect comprehension of the whole system of nature. We cannot have a thorough knowledge of any part without knowing the whole: to us probability is the very guide of life.
Butler pointed out that the inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible and religious doctrine were no greater than the inconsistencies and contradictions found in nature, whose author was admitted to be God. Therefore they should not be considered a valid objection to the truth of religious doctrine. He attributed these contradictions and difficulties to an incomplete understanding, and endeavored to show that an examination of nature would make religious principles seem increasingly probable rather than contradicting them.
The doctrines of natural religion are drawn from experience and reason, and positive proof of them is to be found in revealed religion, which discloses to man further truth that could not be discovered in nature. The general analogy between the principles set forth by biblical revelation, and the principles which could be observed in nature, indicates that there is one Author of both. Butler regards revealed truth as supplemental to the religious knowledge that can be gained from the examination of nature. Revelation should not overrule reason, for both ways of knowing contribute to the discovery of truth.
* Butler, Joseph, Analogy of Religion, Natural and Revealed, to the Constitution and Nature. London: Knapton, 1736.