(Contemporary Anerican scholar on Tibetan Buddhism)
The Buddhist tradition is not concerned with matters of truth, but soteriology
José Cabezón holds that Buddhism can be defined in wholly pragmatic terms, and that the cognitive, descriptive, value of the dhamma is not of primary importance. A simple definition of pragmatism is that a proposition is true if it is useful. Cabezón’s basic idea is that Buddhism can be classified as pragmatic, but only if this pragmatism is decontextualized from Western notions of pragmatism. It is a Buddhist pragmatism, contextualized within the Buddhist tradition. The tradition is not concerned with matters of truth, but with soteriology, with freedom from dukkha.
The Buddhist doctrine should be taken as true, it should be lived, and one should see according to the doctrine in a literal sense. The question of its ultimate correspondence with fact should then be, in the context of soteriology, irrelevant. One should treat Buddhist doctrines as useful devices whose sole purpose is the mental purification of individuals, in the process refraining from judgements as to whether they correspond to objective states of affairs.
Classical Buddhist epistemology treats the notion of truth in epistemological terms, and is not overtly concerned with ontological terms. Such knowledge does not need to correspond to what is but it has the capacity ‘to fulfil a human purpose’. Certain propositions, doctrinal ones, are best understood as pragmatic truths: a proposition is true if it is useful. Cabezón refines this in the Buddhist context by stating that the doctrinal proposition is true if it is useful to believe in the proposition.
* See Internet Jose Cabezon
(Italian philosopher, b. 1944)
The link of philosophy to politics is the subject matter of Cacciari's meditation. According to him there has always been a tension between truth (philosophy) and reality (politics). Truth and reality are sisters but hostile and inimical sisters. The truth that philosophy aims at contemplate does not allow the philosopher to go beyond this contemplation. Reality, on the contrary is the lived experience, the historical datum. Its constitution is dependent on a pragmatics, and not on a vision of truth. Reality is not governed by truth, but by rationality and calculation. Truth is of another order, the metaphysical order, which is the business of the philosopher. Reality on the contrary is of the order of action.
According to Cacciari the West today is the locus of a crisis due to a profound economical, social and political disintegration and its cause is the rebuff of metaphysics and the slighting of truth. The West has lost its spirit. Economics rules and determines everything, conscience included. Truth withdraws to make room for the market. The crisis is deep because it touches the truth, it springs from a renunciation of the truth. There remains only a rather bizarre reality, cut off from any reference to the truth: the field of economics dominates the world to offer it only economical solutions.
* M. Cacciari, Déclinaisons de l'Europe, trad. A. Valensi, Editions de l'Eclat, Grenoble, 1996.
(French reformist theologian, 1509-1564)
The epistemological question is fundamental to Calvin's theology. All men inescapably know God the Creator; even the unbeliever retains some epistemological abilities which should draw him to God. Calvin maintains that all men have a certain understanding and knowledge over the created order, yet he is not able to find the truth i.e., heavenly knowledge, due to his sin. This heavenly knowledge, which is identical with faith, is greater than rational proof or empirical perception. Calvin asserted that this knowledge must begin in revelation as found in Scripture. Knowledge is foundational to faith, yet the necessary knowledge comes only when one submits to the truth as revealed by God in Scripture. It is only in Scripture that man may rightly comprehend God as He really is (holy Creator), and at the same time comprehend himself as he really is (sinful creature).
Calvin's presuppositional - and not evidentialist - apologetic recognizes the absolute necessity of presupposing the truth of Scripture in order to understand the created order. The "spectacles" of Scripture must be in place before anything else can properly be known at all. It is necessary that the Scripture be the starting-point i.e., the ultimate authority, if truth is to be apprehended by a man. Calvin drove this point home when he said, "Now, in order that true religion might shine upon us, we ought to hold that it must take its beginning from heavenly doctrine and that no one can get even the slightest taste of right and sound doctrine unless he be a pupil of Scripture". Only when the Scriptures are believed and obeyed does sinful man even begin to have an epistemological foundation for true knowledge; as Calvin said, "...all right knowledge of God is born in obedience".
The authority of Scripture comes from God Himself -- it is a self-attesting authority. Scripture's authority is not founded upon the authority of the Church (as Roman Catholicism maintains), rather, the Church is established upon the authority of Scripture. Calvin does not even argue over the divine inspiration of Scripture, nor does he seek credibility for its authority from something outside itself - for him Scripture's truth is self-evident. Calvin did declare, "Indeed, Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color, or sweet and bitter things do of their taste".
* Calvin, Jean, Institutes of the Christian religion, Christian Classics Ethereal Library
(Italian philosopher and theologian, 1568-1639)
Campanella affirmed that the philosophical investigator must read and study the 'book of nature'. "The world, he said, is the book on which the Eternal Wisdom wrote its own thoughts". In order to construct an authentic natural philosophy, a continual study of the infinite book of nature is necessary.
He found fault with philosophers who had distanced themselves from the direct experience of nature and had turned instead to reading and commenting on books written by human beings. This attitude was particularly evident in the followers of Aristotle who directed their energies toward the words of their master, without attempting to compare them to the natural world. Campanella was convinced that an adequate knowledge of things is one that comes from the things themselves, which we must investigate on the basis of sense experience. The truth must be derived from a direct examination of natural facts. All philosophies, in fact, must be modified, corrected or abandoned in light of our reading of the book of nature.
Campanella attempts to show how the longstanding union of theology and Aristotelian philosophy, regarded by the theologians of his time as necessary and unalterable, is in reality harmful and in need of revision. Such a revision would pose no risk to theology; on the contrary, theology will be harmed by an obstinate and blind adherence to a system of physics that is no longer in agreement with new data and that rejects new discoveries. Abandoning Aristotelian philosophy not only would not bring about the collapse of theology, it would permit the recovery of a correct conception of science, one that must consist in a continual reading of the infinite book of nature, which is the expression of the infinite truth and of Christian rationality.
* Campanella, Tommaso, The City of the Sun, eBooks, Adelaide 2004
(Contemporary Australian philosopher)
1. Campbell rejects the timeless, Platonist, “Olympian” concept of truth.
The Greeks - mostly Plato - invented the idea that Truth is timeless, eternal and unchangeable. Much of Western philosophy has been under the influence of that idea: the timeless, ahistorical, universal nature of truth. In fact the modern skepticism about truth has come from that idea. In rejecting the timeless truth, philosophers today have become skeptical on the conception of any truth. The Platonist concept of truth is responsible for the contemporary skepticism about truth.
2. The reaction of many philosophers to this problem has been to relocate the notion of truth exclusively in the linguistic domain. The locus of truth was shifted from reality to something propositional. The prevailing orthodoxy of twentieth-century philosophy is that truth is exclusively a feature of statements. Analytical philosophy, which is responsible for confining truth solely to the logico-linguistic domain, has lost any vital connection with the deep problem of truth.
Our thinking of truth cannot be framed exclusively in terms of objective items of discursive knowledge. We need a conception of truth which locates it not primarily in discourse but in the very process of self-formation. Truth must be linked to personal appropriation. The linguistic concept of truth and all forms of 'objectivist' programs about truth talk about truth in the third person. But the self-reflexive character of first person discourse requires a different conception of truth. Campbell agrees with Kierkegaard’s saying that " truth is nothing else than the self-activity of personal appropriation". The primary focus of truth is not at the discursive level but in the category of human action and commitment.
3. The concept of truth has been revolutionized by the invaluable discovery of its historical character. The historicity of the concept of truth, first stressed by G. Vico (1668-1744) was fully worked out by Hegel. The latter’s revolutionary vision has helped to develop an understanding of truth in which it is related positively to human historicity. The truth one looks for and about which one can speak is a truth at the human measure. Man, the truth-speaker and truth-searcher, is a historical being, not an ahistorical, timeless, unchangeable being. Hence the concept of a timeless Olympian truth is meaningless. The truth that has meaning is the vital truth, the truth seen from the human viewpoint.
According to Campbell, we have to turn to Kierkegaard and Heidegger to understand that truth is not basically in statements but in Being, the Being of man (Dasein) which is a subjective and historical reality. If one holds the Platonic view of eternal truth, then skepticism is unavoidable. But once we change our conception of truth - without inventing new theories - and see it as essentially linked to historicity, the relativity of truth does not lead to skepticism.
4. Truth is linked to the category of action.
For philosophers who take their own historicity seriously, philosophical thinking cannot be detached from the actual thinker. It cannot be reduced to a corpus of depersonalized timeless propositions. Philosophy is a way of living and this demands a conception of truth which engages with issues of personal commitment.
The significance of action is essential for the understanding of the nature of truth. The contextual features of the act of uttering some referential sentence play an essential role in determining what is true. The ascription of truth to statements cannot be made independently of evaluating the acts in question. Therefore the primary locus of truth should be these acts by which we ascribe truth to statements. It cannot be confined to the logico-linguistic domain.
More concretely, the possibility of truth to make correct statement is grounded on how much we conduct ourselves in being open to others and the world. And this attitude is what constitute our self-making, our self-formation. According to Campbell, it is in acting that man makes and constitutes himself. Hence the truth of our statements depends and is derivative upon the truth of our action and our attitude of openness to the real. Statement-making is a self-involving activity. Unless we are genuinely open we shall not be able to attain the truth.
The way truth is thus conceived renders intelligible why truth should be thought valuable and why it has a normative force and an ethical character. Evaluating actions as true raises issues which are fundamentally moral in character. Our description of what is involved in calling deeds true takes us in the moral domain.
That is why the first meaning of truth is faithfulness, fidelity, loyalty, trust between people (the Hebrew emeth, not the Greek aletheia). Faithfulness involves our commitments and actions, our being honest, open and steadfast. Truth is steadfast reliability.
* Campbell, Richard, Truth and Historicity, Clarendom Press, Oxford, 1992, chap.18
(British philosopher of Logic and Rhetoric, 1897-1974)
Campbell – in line with the Bradleian tradition of absolute idealism – distinguishes ‘noumenal’ and ‘phenomenal’ truth. Noumenal truth, which should give absolute intellectual satisfaction, is utterly precluded from our finite minds, and with it, knowledge of the ultimate reality. Phenomenal truth gives satisfaction in so far as it is attainable by finite minds, and philosophy can even discover final phenomenal truths. There is an affinity between noumenal and phenomenal truth since both are related to the intellectual’s quest for satisfaction. Phenomenal truth is not to be despised just because noumenal truth is unattainable, and indeed phenomenal truth provides the only possibility for constructive philosophy.
Applied to the domain of religion Campbell’s view is that our language about God is not literally applicable, but is symbolic of a reality which is in itself unknown. But if our talk of God is not to be utterly empty, we would need to suppose that there is some affinity between our symbols and what they symbolize. Campbell argues that there is a striking parallel between the symbols of religion and the phenomenal truths of philosophy. For both philosophy and religion, the ultimate reality transcends all possible conception. But for neither does that entail sheer, blank ignorance of its nature. Just as the noumenal truth of philosophy is unattainable, so is the knowledge of God in religion but this does not preclude or eliminate the possibility of the symbolical knowledge of God. Campbell argues that his view is no more agnostic than the knowledge permitted by scholastic philosophy’s doctrine of analogy.
* Campbell Charles Arthur, On selfhood and Godhood : the Gifford Lectures 1953-54 and 1954-55, revised and expanded.
(American philosopher of comparative religion, 1904-1987)
Every religion is true when understood metaphorically
According to Campbell, all spirituality is a search for the same basic, unknown elemental force which is ultimately “unknowable” because it exists before words and knowledge. Although this basic driving force cannot be expressed in words, spiritual rituals and stories refer to the force through the use of "metaphors" - these metaphors being the various stories, deities, and objects of spirituality we see in the world religions. All religious myths ought never be taken as a literal description of actual events, but rather their poetic, metaphorical meanings should be examined for clues concerning the fundamental truths of the world and our existence.
Accordingly, Campbell upheld that the various religions of the world are culturally influenced “masks” of the same fundamental, transcendent truths. All religions are meant to bring one to an elevated awareness above and beyond a dualistic conception of reality, or idea of “pairs of opposites,” such as being and non-being, or right and wrong. Campbell liked to quote the famous Rig Vedic saying "Ekam Sat Vipra Bahuda Vadanti.", that is, "Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names." He was fascinated with what he viewed as basic, universal truths, expressed in different manifestations across different cultures. He indicated that his main concern was to demonstrate similarities between Eastern and Western religions. “Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble” he wrote.
Cambpell's basic idea is that, in the words of Goethe, "everything is metaphor." This includes the metaphoricalization of all religious elements, from the cross of Christianity to the notion of reincarnation in the East. But Campbell claims that this doesn't diminish faith in the least, rather it can help us to better understand our faiths and, at the same time, recognize the truth in other religions.
"Myths are the 'masks of God'," he wrote, "through which men everywhere have sought to relate themselves to the wonders of existence." The shock of recognition we receive from the timelessness of these images, from primal cultures to the most contemporary, he believed, was an illumination not only of our inward life but of the same deep spiritual ground from which all human life springs.
*Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). Pantheon Books. Princeton University Press, The Masks of God (1959–1968). Viking Press
(French existentialist philosopher, 1913-1960)
Camus’ philosophy is the philosophy of revolt. Since the ‘death of God’ inaugurated by Nietzsche, men have fabricated in various ways new absolutes in place of God. Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, Camus proclaims the death of absolute values. The rebel has revolted against all the absolutes of the past and he has not panicked at the results. He exists in terms of them. He exists freely and thinks freely but lives without hope and ultimate certainty. His hands are empty but what he possesses is the knowledge of what he is, and his ability to live in terms of this knowledge. No matter how barren it may seem, it is better to exist in terms of this truth, rather than in pretension and hope. Better to live in reality than in the unreal, in lucid consciousness rather than self-deception. One has to accept the truth of being ‘empty-handed’, for these hands are fuller than the massive body of traditional philosophical and theological ‘truths’. But the trouble is that, even if the foundations for belief are dead, men go on believing, they cannot exist in terms of what they know. The reflex of believing is so deep-rooted that men cannot exist without absolute values and authorities external to themselves. God has gone underground to reemerge in different guise. Emptiness is intolerable; the reflex says that there must be a master, a final authority. Camus goes all out in denouncing the desperate fabrication of new absolutes.
However revolt is not revolution: revolution is an intellectual event, whereas revolt is an existential event. The man in revolt discovers that there is something within him which cannot be sacrificed and must be preserved at all costs, otherwise life is not worth living. Revolt reveals a value that must be defended. Revolt is negative but also positive. Behind the no of revolt, there is a yes. The value it reveals is not a value that belongs to the rebel as an individual, it is something the rebellious man discovers within himself, but which transcends his own person and unites him with other persons. Camus stresses the trans-individual quality of revolt. Solidarity with men is affirmed by revolt.
There are no absolute values but that does not leave men without values. Human life is worth living for those human beings who discover that life is worthwhile. The only authentic values are those relative values created by way of human existence in the encounter with life-situations. A certain way of human existence is creative of values – relative, changing, groping.
Life is worth living, even if it must be lived with the contradiction of the Absurd. The yes to the Absurd, the yes to Revolt: the experiences are the same; the only distinction is in the passive quality of the former. The victim of the Absurd must live aggressively: it is the basic truth given to him. To live the Absurd aggressively and to be in revolt come to the same. In living in the Absurd/Revolt man discovers a value which is genuinely his own and can justify his life. It is this value which makes his life worthwhile.
In revolt he can realise partial success. ”Partial” is the important word. If one rebels against slavery and demands freedom, it cannot be absolute freedom one demands; there are no absolutes left in this universe of ours and in our history – only relatives. Relative values are maintained by constant tension, a constant revolt “which never forgets”. Unless there be the constant tension of human revolt, there will be no values at all. If one seeks intellectually or historically to found permanent absolute values, one ceases to have any values at all. One may have certainty, peace, but one has also betrayed one’s authentic humanity. Absolutism in all its form leads to tyranny or slavery.
Either adherence to absolute truths and values or limited struggle for relative values: this is the choice held out by Camus. A realistic politics knows that one can never have more than a relative justice and a relative freedom. The tension is constant and unavoidable. The dream of absolutism is a myth. Absolutism in all its forms, both in one’s intellect and in one’s life, leads to intolerance, tyranny and slavery.
* See Schrader, G.E., Ed; Existential Philosophers, Albert Camus, chap.7, McGraw-Hill, New York,1967, p.332-367.
(Contemporary American professor of philosophy)
Absolute Truth viewed philosophically
Accordong to the theory of relativism, all philosophical and moral claims are nothing but opinion. They have no objective basis or foundation. This claim is itself nothing but an opinion, nothing but an expression of the subjectivity of the person who asserts or believes it.
Endorsing the concept of absolute truth, we need to make the distinction between the “philodoxical” and the philosophical undesratanding of truth.
1. The absolute truth viewed “philodoxically” is identified with a specific set of answers (ideological thinking), or a set of answers that, once attained, will relieve you from having to think further. Why? Because philodoxy identifies truth with a correct map, not with territory above and beyond the map. (Curiously, relativism thinks of truth in pretty much the same way, except that each person or each culture has its own “absolute truth-for-me” or “truth-for-us. Thus conceived, there is no sense of speaking of a point of view or perspective onto the truth.
Many people think of objectivity in this way : to think objectively is to be in position to have the final answers, the absolute map. Objectivity is thought to be a matter of stepping outside of one's skin as it were, to think from within no perspective – but somehow above them all.
2. The absolute truth viewed philosophically is not to be identified with any particular map. Rather it identifies truth (absolute truth, objective truth) with the territory, which in some respects will forever lie beyond one’s reach. Our maps at their best reflect and represent our partial, fallible, incomplete grasp of it.
Thus conceived, it can ultimately be known only by acquaintance – partially, dimly, incompletely, from a certain angle or perspective, alongside still other angles or perspectives, which are capable of shedding more light onto the territory through coming to know them empathetically.
A philosophical attitude seeks a relationship of deepening fidelity or faithfulness to truth itself beyond any answer or map, as one progressively comes to have greater awareness of it through exploring the limited perspectives one comes to have upon it. Thus objectivity refers to the way these different but relevant perspectives converge and offer greater insight into the territory itself above and beyond any single perspective.
*See Internet Dale Cannon
(Contemporary R.C. preacher- theologian)
Intelligent design is truth of faith, not science
Affirming the reality of an intelligent design for the creation and development of the universe is not a scientific theory, but a statement of faith, said the preacher of the papal household, father Raniero Cantalamessa. He said the controversy that has arisen between scientists supporting evolution and religious believers promoting creationism or intelligent design is due mainly to a confusion between scientific theory and the truths of faith.
The intelligent-design theory asserts that the development and evolution of life is such a hugely complex process that a supreme being, God, must be directly involved in it. While some proponents of intelligent design claim that it is a scientifically valid theory, most scientists dismiss it as pseudoscience.
The arguments, Father Cantalamessa said, are due to the fact that, "in my opinion, there is not a clear enough distinction between intelligent design as a scientific theory and intelligent design as a truth of faith."
While science and evolution can explain part of the history of creation and how life exists, they cannot explain why, he said. "Even those who eliminate the idea of God from the horizon don't eliminate the mystery," the preacher said.
"We know everything about the world, except how it started. The believer is convinced that the Bible furnishes precisely this missing first page. There, as on the title page of every book, is the name of the author and the title of the work," he said.
*See Iternet Fr Cantalamessa
(Canadian historian of comparative religions, 1916-2000)
What is the truth of religion?
1. It is senseless to say that one particular religion is true or that one orientation within a certain religion is true. The problem of truth in religion becomes meaningful if one shifts from the specific to the generic. We should not ask which religion is true, rather we should ask what is the truth of religion in general. We must open ourselves to the truth in all religions. This approach will not dissolve the question of religious truth, on the contrary it will bring it into focus.
2. Truth is not an abstract impersonal concept but a vital existential concept. One cannot expect to find it mainly in formulations, propositions and traditions but much more in what they have meant for persons and communities in search of the truth in a certain historical and cultural context. All human beings aim at the same transcendent truth by different means pending on contingent, limited, historical situations. Any religion becomes less or more true in the case of particular persons and communities as it informs their lives and nurture their faith. According to Cantwell Smith religious truth does not lie in the religions but in the persons. Truth or falsity depends on the personal life which is lived in a specific context, not in the context itself. .
3. Truth is therefore human but it also transcends history and all particular formulations. The truth-searcher in religion must look beyond the propositions and symbols of the various traditions to the persons and communities whom they serve and look even beyond these persons and communities to the Truth that he as much as all others is striving after and about which all recognize that their specific approach is only a finite approximation to it. All religions have been searching for the truth and the criteria to assess it. Therefore opening oneself to the wisdom of all religious communities can be a great help, not a hindrance. This is the comprehensive approach that allows one to state that religion is true.
* Cantwell Smith, W., Towards a World Religion, Orbis Book, Maryknoll, New York, 1989, p.187-197
(American philosopher of religion, b.1940)
There are religious truths, but no ‘true’ religion
John Caputo’s On Religion is a postmodern confession of religiosity without religion. Religion for him is the place where the impossible occurs. It is a pact with the uncertainty of our own transitory nature. The religious sense of life has to do with exposing oneself to the radical uncertainty and the open-endedness of life. This does not mean that Caputo recommends ignorance, he does not say that there is no truth. He argues that the best way to think about truth is to call it the best interpretation that anybody has come up. This epistemological ambiguity allows him is to be religious without religion and to say yes to religious truth but no to “true” religion. “Religious truth” – “true religion” : these are for him opposed terms. Religious truth exists in the several religions, each of which are “irreducible repositories of their distinctive ethical practices and religious narratives,” while none of these particular religious traditions can lay claim to being the “one true religion.” There can be no one true religion any more than there can be one true language or one true culture. Religious truth is truth without knowledge in an epistemologically rigorous sense; it is belief without certainty.
Religious believers must be aware of the historical contingency of the language, symbols and formulations of their particular approach to God. Religions in their institutional forms are deconstructible – but the love of God in which Caputo discerns the ‘essence of all religions’ is not. Religion is to the love of God as a raft is to the ocean. A raft is a human artifact, constructed in the hope of navigating a boundless sea. God does not show a preference for one particular style of raft over another. We must renounce exclusivity and avoid the trap of claiming a privileged divine revelation. “God is love” for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
One must not confuse religious truth with knowledge because that can (as history testifies) move human beings to enforce the truth through violence. The proper approach to religious truth cannot be a propositional attitude; rather, religious truth calls for action - doing something to make truth happen. Religious people are called to “do the truth.” But doing the truth should not be confused with misguided attempts to impose one’s faith on others – as fundamentalists do. Fundamentalism is the confusion of interpretation with revelation. In fact, all claims to religious truth are only interpretations at best and therefore the humility of a ‘weak theology’ (as Caputo calls it) should lead the way.
* Caputo, John, On Religion, London and New York, Routledge, 2002
(Contemporary American President of Ignatius-Angelicum Liberal Studies Program)
Self-Evident Truths: the first principles
What are the self-evident truths? They are certain fundamental truths that need no proof, cannot have proof, for they are their own proof. What makes self-evident truths self-evident? Mortimer J. Adler answers: “They are self-evident because the opposite is unthinkable.”
Try an experiment: say ‘I do not exist.’ Then what right have you to say ‘I’? What you say amounts to this, ‘I’m here to say I’m not here.’ Your words mean, ‘I am certain that I am here and that I am entertaining a doubt about my being here.’ Thus any attempt at doubt or denial of a self-evident truth results in an affirmation of the truth. Such a truth is inescapable. It is not only a truth which contains proof; it is its own proof which you cannot evade. Hence the statement of the skeptics that every truth requires a proof other than itself is a fallacy, and upon that fallacy the whole case for skepticism is wrecked and forever shattered.
We must first exist before we can know anything else. However, strictly speaking, our own existence is not the first being we know, except reflexively. The first being we know is external sensible being. We know this by abstracting the concept of being. Reflexively we have an immediate knowledge of ourselves as sensing agents, which we do not abstract from sensible being. In sensing the other being we immediately grasp the fact we are the agent doing the sensing.
Rising immediately from our sensible apprehension of being, from our first intellectual and sensible grasp of something, is the simply first principle, the principle of being: “Being is.” Coinciding with our sensible and intellectual awareness and judgment that being is, is the simultaneous judgment that being is not non-being. Put positively we call this the principle of identity: “If a thing is, it is: if it is not, it is not” One role of metaphysics, or wisdom, is to discuss first principles, necessary laws of being, objective laws of all reality, and to number and order them. While, considered widely, these principles are evident to us all. Simply put: reality is independent of our minds, real; we can experience it through our senses; that what is, is; what is not, is not. If you don’t believe that, then you cannot believe anything.
* See Internet Patrick Carmack S.J.
(German logical positivist philosopher, 1891-1970)
The meaninglessness of metaphysical “truths”
Carnap, the leading representative of the Vienna circle, denounces the aberrations of metaphysical language. Metaphysics may perhaps answer to a subjective and affective need of the same kind as music but Carnap comments ironically that the metaphysician is a bad musician. Metaphysics should be replaced by the logical analysis of language. It is the lack of conventions and established rules in natural language that explains the inability of doing away with metaphysical statements. The “logical point of view” only provides the norm of what is adequate or inadequate to express. Thus Carnap ridicules, for instance, Heidegger’s use of the term “nothingness” (in his lecture: “ What is metaphysics”), a typically metaphysical term, therefore meaningless as it takes the term “nothingness” for an object which is used in common language to express negative existence. The term and most metaphysical terms are used in sentences which are grammatically correct but logically meaningless. Grammatical syntax is abusively substituted to logical syntax. What is a mere copula like ‘is’ or ‘is not’ is wrongly used to point at the existence or non-existence of objects, so well illustrated by the famous Cartesian formula: “I think therefore I am”. Metaphysical propositions are neither true nor false, because they assert nothing, they contain neither knowledge nor error, they lie completely outside the field of knowedge, of theory, outside the discussion of truth or falsehood. Rather they are, like laughing, lyrics and music, only expressive and in no way representative. The danger of metaphysics lies in the illusion that it gives in being knowledge, which actually is not. Metaphysics is a malignant disease of language. According to Carnap the alleged metaphysical question of the existence of an external world is no question at all. The real questions concern the expediency of adopting certain abstract linguistic forms in the construction of the logic of science. There is no problem of truth but a problem of linguistic utility. “In logic, he writes, there are no morals. Every one is at liberty to build up his own logic. All that is required is that he must state his method clearly, and give syntactical rules instead of philosophical arguments.” Philosophy tells us nothing about the world. It cannot speak of objects or objective relations, but only about the significations of words and the meaning of propositions. It deals only with the vocabulary of a language and its syntax, that is, the body of rules which indicates how sentences are to be constructed from the different kinds of words. When we fail to pay attention to these two characteritics, we get into the ‘pseudo-propositions’ that we meet in metaphysics.
* See Philosophy and the Modern World, Levi, A.W., Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1970, p. 366- 375; Master Pieces of World Philsophy, Ed. by Frank Magill, London, Allen and Unwin, p 1075-1079
(Greek philosopher, 219 - 140 BC)
Carneades devoted his energies to negative criticism of the theories of the Dogmatists, especially the Stoics. He resumed and developed the arguments with which Arcesilas (see Arcesilas) had attacked the Stoic theory of knowledge. Neither senses nor reason, he argued, can supply any infallible "criterion": there is no specific difference between false "presentations" and true ones; beside any true presentation one can set a false one which is in no wise different. The dreamer, the drunkard, the madman have illusions of the truth of which they are convinced. It is in vain, then, to look to the senses for certainty; and it is equally vain to look to reason since it (as the Stoics held) is wholly dependent on the senses and based on experience. Logic, the product of the reasoning faculty, is also discredited because of the number of insoluble fallacies for which it is responsible -- such as "the Liar’s paradox”. Reason is thus found to be as fallible as sensation, and certitude impossible.
In all this the position of Carneades is purely agnostic. He shows up the untenability of the Stoic dogmas, and reasserts as regards all departments of knowledge the impossibility of attaining absolute certitude.
However there was a constructive as well as a destructive side to the teaching of Carneades. He modified and developed the theory of Arcesilas that, despite the impossibility of objective knowledge, a sufficient ground for practical choice and action might be found in the "reasonable" or subjectively satisfying. He granted to the Stoics that some sense-impressions or opinions seem to the percipient superior to others, and this apparent superiority provided a sufficient reason for preference and consequential action. Impressions being thus subjectively distinguishable, judgements may be graded in value as more or less "persuasive" or "probable (to pithanon)". In connexion with this doctrine of "probabilism" Carneades defended human freedom in "assent," choice and action, as against the determinism of the Stoics with their rigid theory of Destiny and Necessity.
Carneades seems to have endorsed a fallibilist interpretation of to pithanon. He made an important distinction between assent and approval. He limits assent to the mental event of taking a proposition to be true and adopts the term 'approval' for the more modest mental event of taking a proposition to be convincing but without making any commitment to its truth. This distinction allowed Carneades to approve of his epistemological criterion without committing himself at any deeper theoretical level. In other words Carneades seems to have appealed to his criterion for his very adoption of that criterion: it is pithanon (probable) but not certain that to pithanon (probability) is the criterion for determining what we should approve of.
* Carneades, see Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Ancient Greek Skepticism
(Contemporary American Christian apologist)
The Biblical solution to the problem of truth
Both empiricism and rationalism make an appeal to a criterion of reality, the Truth, as the criterion of propositional truth: empiricism to the reality of the objects of sense knowledge, and rationalism to the rational, the universal and necessary
But both empiricism and rationalism ignore the freedom of human choice in determining the criterion of knowledge of the truth. The criterion of knowledge is not rationally necessary nor empirically given; it is chosen. Both of these epistemologies allow no place for this choice.
Now an analysis of human choice discloses the fact that choice involves a reference to a criterion of choice and ultimately to an ultimate criterion of choice. The choice of what statements or propositions are held to be true depends ultimately on the choice of this ultimate criterion. This observation raises the question: what is the ultimate criterion choice.
1. Negatively: Any ultimate criterion which denies or destroys the freedom of choice by which it is chosen can not be the true ultimate criterion of choice. Such an ultimate criterion is a false criterion. All false criteria imply and result in a denial, diminution and lost of the freedom of those who choose them.
2. Positively: Only that ultimate criterion which maintains and guarantees the freedom of choice by which it is chosen can be the true ultimate criterion of choice. What ultimate criterion can guarantee and fulfill that freedom of choice? Since an impersonal or non-personal reality (Nature or Reason) does not have this freedom, only another person who has the freedom of choice can be this ultimate criterion. But not only must this person have freedom of choice but he must be committed to the preservation of freedom of the one who has chosen him, that is, he must motivated by love. And in order to be able to preserve that freedom, his freedom must be unlimited. This implies that this person must also be the basis and ground of the rest of reality; that is, he must be ultimate reality (God) and the criterion of reality. And since the Truth is the criterion of reality, that person will be the Truth. Thus the Truth is a person. And if we are to know this person, that is, who he is and that he exists, he must reveal himself. For the only way we can know another person is only by what he says and does. But the initiative lies with the other person. If he chooses to remain silent and inactive, no knowledge can be had of him in addition to the fact that he is there. If this person who is ultimate reality (the Truth) is to be known, He must reveal Himself. The Bible claims that He has taken the initiative and He has revealed Himself in word and deed, and that the Bible is the record of that revelation. Who is this person that is the Truth? The Biblical answer is that Jesus Christ is the Truth. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6).
The Truth that will make you, a person, free is the Son of God. He sets free and perserves the freedom of one who chooses him as their ultimate criterion of the reality, as the Truth.
* Carnell, Edward John, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics,Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
(Contemporary American philosopher and spiritual teacher)
Two conflicting conceptions of truth: the Greek and the Judeo-Christian
Western civilization is based on two philosophies, both equally strong and at the same time fundamentally conflicting. One is the philosophy of the Greeks which can be most succinctly traced to Plato. The other is the Judeo-Christian tradition. One of the ways to see the fundamental conflict between these two equally strong parts of our minds is to look at the conception of truth in each tradition.
The Greeks looked outside of the world for truth. The universal principles that govern reality existed in a transcendent place outside of the bounds of time and space. These truths remain unchanged for all time. They are eternal truths, independent of time or space. This is what I am calling truth as fact, because truth in this sense is independent of human activity and is only relative to universal principle. The law of gravity is “true” whether you or I believe it or not.
Judeo-Christian had a very different view of truth. Truth in this tradition is not an appeal to timeless universal principles, it is a stand that a person takes in relationship to an individual experience of higher reality – a call from God for instance. This kind of truth does not exist independent of our willingness to stand for it. God’s commandments are not just true – we have to be “true” to them. If we do not stand for the truth, if we do not abide by God’s commandments, then in the most important sense they are no longer true. Truth in this sense is not independent of us. Truth is not a statement of fact; it is a commitment to live in accordance with.
We can see these dueling conceptions of truth in our own minds. The Greek universal truth is the truth of science. The laws of science do not need us to be true. The Judeo-Christian truth is personal and must be stood for to be valid. And there are some real consequences to these two different conceptions of truth.
If we look in our own experience we see both of these conceptions of truth at work. Some truths are facts that don’t need us to be true. Others are convictions that we feel compelled to stand for to make them true.
*See internet Jeff Careira Philosophy is Not a Luxury.
(British philosopher of science, b. 1943)
There are more than one set of true theories about reality
1. In her first book, How the Laws of Physics Lie, Nancy Cartwright upheld the radical thesis that the fundamental laws of physics did not state truths about the world. She argued, roughly, that the explanatory power of a theory is at odds with its descriptive accuracy. The greater the “covering power” of a theory the more idealized and further from the truth the theory will be. Cartwright promoted the position known as “entity realism” or “experimental realism”, which achieves a combination of common sense realism about unobservable entities with a principled non-realism about theories.
2. However Cartwright’s last book The Dappled World, is open to acceptance of a robust form of scientific realism about theories. As she puts it herself: “Nowadays I think I was deluded about the enemy; it is not realism but fundamentalism that we need to combat”. Fundamentalism entails that there is only one true set of laws about the world; anti-fundamentalism on the other hand allows a large number of scientific theories, postulating alternative sets of laws, to be true at once, each of them in their particular domain. Cartwright’s current view is “anomalous dappling”, according to which different laws govern different patches of the world, but no single law may govern all the patches. “Anomalous dappling” allows us in principle to take a full-blown realist attitude to many more than just one empirically adequate theory, as long as they don’t contradict each other, thus yielding the promiscuous, or patchwork realism that is in accordance with the metaphysics of the disunified world.
The fundamentalism that she rejects is the view that the laws of nature are reduced in principle to the laws of one fundamental physical theory. Instead claims Cartwright,, there is a patchwork of laws, that is, several groups of laws that are not related to each other in a systematic or uniform way. There is an irreducible plurality of different theories each of which has own limited area of application. There is no systematic relation between these theories.
*Cartwright, Nancy, How the Laws of Physics Lie, Oxford University Press,1983 -
The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science, Cambridge University Press (September 1999)
(German-American theologian and philosopher of religion, 1852-1919)
There is but one truth: the nature of religious truth is the same as that of scientific truth.
Carus held that truth was independent of time, human desire, and human action. Therefore, science is not a human invention, but a human revelation which needs to be apprehended; it is the result or manifestation of the cosmic order in which all truth are ultimately harmonious.
Carus took part in the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago (1895), the first time in history when the major religions of the world met face to face. He delivered a paper entitled: “Science, A Religious Revelation.” His main thesis was that genuine science, is not an undertaking of human frailty. Science is divine; science is a revelation of God. Through science God communicates with us. Science gives us information concerning the truth; and the truth reveals God’s will.
Paul Carus argues that scientific methods and scientific truth have to become the new standard for all truths, including religious truth. He believes that religion and science must be compatible or both domains of our lives could be undermined and eviscerated.
By religious truth he understands all such reliable statements of fact or doctrines, be they perfect or imperfect, as have a direct bearing upon our moral conduct. Statements of fact, the application of which can be formulated in such rules as ‘Thou shalt not lie,’ ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ ‘Thou shalt not envy nor hate,’ are religious.
Scientific truths and moral truths, accordingly, are not separate and distinct spheres. A truth becomes scientific by its form and method of statement, but it is religious by its substance or content. There may be truths which are religious yet lack the characteristics that would render them scientific, and others that are religious and scientific at the same time. But certainly, there is no discrepancy between religious and scientific truth. There are not two kinds of truth, one religious and other scientific. There is no conflict possible between them. The nature of religious truth is the same as that of scientific truth. There is but one truth. There cannot be two truths in conflict with one another. Contradiction is always, in religion not less than in science, a sign that there is somewhere an error.
A religious truth symbolically expressed is called mythology, and he who accepts the mythology of his religion not as a parable filled with meaning but as the truth itself is a ‘pagan’. No conflict is possible between genuine science and true religion. What appears as such is a conflict between science and paganism. Religion is as indestructible as science; for science is the method of searching for the truth, and religion is the enthusiasm and goodwill to live a life of truth. Science and religion will both gain by their alliance. Science is not profane (as many think); science and its sternness in searching for the truth is holy. And religion is neither irrational nor anti-scientific; religion is nothing but obedience to the truth; it is man’s enthusiasm to be one with the truth and to lead a life of truth.
* Carus Paul, The Religion of Science (1893, republished 2007)
(Ancient Indian philosophical system, 600 BC)
The falsity of inference and verbal testimony, the truth of sense perception only
The Carvaka philosophy is based on metaphysical materialism and epistemic skepticism. Of the three important sources of knowledge accepted by all the orthodox Indian philosophical systems – namely perception, inference, and verbal testimony - the Carvakas accepted only perception as the valid source of knowledge and rejected both inference and verbal testimony. Whatever we know through perception is true and real.
The Carvakas said that inference was not a valid source of knowledge, because the major premise of an inference cannot be proved. How can we formulate the major premise of a syllogism (‘wherever there is smoke on the mountain, there is fire’) unless we have seen all the instances of smoke? If we have not seen all the instances, how can we logically be justified in using the word 'wherever'? If we have seen all the instances, we must have seen the present case, viz. the mountain also. Then what is the use of making an inference when we have already perceived that there is fire on the mountains? So the Carvakas say that inference is either impossible or unnecessary. Inference cannot yield truth.
As for verbal testimony and the authoritativeness of the Vedas, the Carvakas make even stronger attack on them. The Vedas are not reliable at all, because they are self-contradictory. Religion for them is superstition. Reality is nothing but matter (earth, air, fire, and water) in motion in space and in time, and there can be no knowledge of anything beyond what is present to sense perception.
* See Chattopadhyaya, Debiprasad . Lokayata: A Study in Ancient Indian Materialism. New Delhi: People's Pub. House. 1959
(Greek born French philosopher and social critic, 1922-1997)
Truth is the constant overcoming of closure, it is open thought
in motion which reflects upon itself critically
For Castoriadis it is in the socio-historical field that emerges the question of truth. One must give up the philosophical notion of a universal truth in which a subject questions himself on the perception he has of an external world – the individualist Cartesian conception. Every society functions as a collection of rules, norms and codes, taken as the truth. For instance in a religious society, the supreme rules are the assertions of its sacred books. Truth emerges in the questioning of existing norms, values and myths.
Castoriadis poses the question of truth in new terms. Each society institutes a world of ‘imaginary significations’ for itself, which includes the criteria for correctness and truth and protects them from being doubted. As he points out, there is in all societies a socially instituted truth, which amounts to the canonical conformity of representations and statements to what is socially instituted as the equivalent of axioms and procedures of validation. This truth corresponds to the traditional concepts of adequatio and coherentia. Castoriadis contrasts this partial and ethnocentric concept of truth with a wider and in the end universal concept of truth as the interminable movement of thought which constantly tests its bounds and looks back upon itself , in other words, that which he calls reflectiveness. Truth is the constant overcoming of closure, it is open thought in motion which reflects upon itself critically, it is that which leaves the authentic philosophical questions open forever, without however being afraid to face them here and now.
For Castoriadis the emergence of novelty exists as a permanent possibility. This novelty invites society to think anew the norms by which it functions. The possibility of new social creation implies the renewal of norms and the constitution of an autonomous society in which the practice of questioning never stops.
Castoriadis argues that the universal is accessed only through the particular. It is because we are attached to a given view, categorical structure, and project that we are able to say something meaningful about the past. It is only when the present is intensely present that it makes us see in the past something more than the past saw in itself. This paradox of historical knowledge is not only necessary but also productive: it makes us realize that there is no truth specific to each society, but that which can be termed the truth of each society is its truth in history, for itself but also for all the others, for the paradox of history consists in the fact that every civilization and every epoch, because it is particular and dominated by its own obsessions, manages to evoke and to unveil new meanings in the societies that preceded or surrounded it.
Becoming conscious of our own particularity leaves us, historical beings, no alternative than to accept the only form of universality possible to us, that is, the universality of the open interrogation, the continual criticism and questioning of every closed and completed system of thought. To reject the confinement within the given, the established, signifies being open to the possibility of the radically new.
* Castoriadis,The Imaginary Institution of Society. MIT Press, Cambridge 1998. 432 pp.
American R.C. author)
Since truth is objective, reason can discern it: we all have access to the truth.
In our own day, postmodern constructivist philosophers argue that objective truth is unknowable. For them, this is because truth is only accessible to humans insofar as we agree with something we have manufactured and labeled as the truth. Our ability to understand things as they truly are is difficult to argue in the absence of any reason to think that human reason itself is reliable.
Christianity offers just that reason by asserting two main points: that God has made the universe according to natural laws and that He has given humanity the means to understand them. As God asks Job, “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?” God gives understanding to the mind so that we may know Who has made the world and the universe as it is.
God intends for us to exercise our reason and seek to know reality. Jesus says that He is the Truth, and He promises His followers that “the truth will set you free.” The truth that Jesus speaks of is not, of course, purely scientific and rationalistic. It is the truth of the universe and of humanity. Pope Benedict XVI reiterates this in Caritas in Veritate, where he writes, “Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things.”
Since truth is objective, reason can discern it. Reason is the universal nature of humans, regardless of our race, culture, language, class, or religion. We all have access to the truth. In a world where subjective truths compete, humanity can no longer find common ground and rise above struggles for power and influence. The idea that truth is subjective does not set us free. It pits us against each other and fails to let us seek the truth. By choosing to follow constructivism, fundamentalism, fideism, and the consensus view of the truth, we are enslaving ourselves to error and cutting off the truth that unites us. We are also rejecting the duty that God has given us to use the gift of reason to seek Him out. Since this sin only gives us error in place of the truth about us and the universe we inhabit, it results in suffering, tyranny, and conflict.
The truth will set us free in the measure that we are willing to seek it as God commands us to, and in the measure that we reject anything less than the full, universal, reasonable nature that it has.
*See internet Matt Cavedon
(American philosopher, 1926- )
Skepticism, Cavell argues, is not the theoretical view of a few disillusioned philosophers, which can be easily dismissed. It must be taken in earnest as the outcome of a reflection on the fundamental limits of human knowledge of self, others and the world. This means that skepticism is not dismissal of truth but truth itself. The rejection of skepticism results in illusion. Cavell revises the concept of skepticism to reveal its truth. The special truth of skepticism according to him is that our relationship to the world and others is not a question of knowledge that aims at certitude, but a matter of acknowledgment of the others as different and separate from oneself.
In his most important work, The Claim of Reason, Cavell shows all the benefits that can be drawn by the acknowledgment of the limits of human self-understanding. There is nothing certain so that the risk of failure and error stands at every corner but it is precisely in that space of risk and error that we find the possibility of freedom. In a world of absolute truths and necessary knowledge, there would be no place for human freedom.
Cavell has used his view as a key to understanding classics of the theatre and film. He analyses, for instance, such poignant figures as King Lear whose tragedy results from his refusal to accept the limits of human knowledge and human love, and his insistence on an illusory absolute and pure love. Human beings remain tragically unknown to each other when the limits of knowledge of each other are not acknowledged.
* See Cavell, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Ed. by R. Audi, Cambridge, UK, 1999, p.128
(Contemporary Sri Lankan Christian theologian)
The link between truth and silence in the life and teaching of Buddha
In the life and teaching of the Buddha, true Silence leads to Truth by avoiding both wordiness and wordlessness because such Silence is Truth. His whole life reveals
the importance and the necessity of Silence as an indispensable means towards an interior experience of the Truth.
In many stories and discourses attributed to Buddha, one clearly sees a close link between Truth and Silence. Wherever Truth is mentioned in reference to Buddha it is always said in relation to Silence. In fact, popular Buddhist religious tradition attests that whenever someone asked Buddha to explain the Truth, he invariably answered by Silence. Thus he gave a new and deep significance to both Truth and Silence. His silence was not a mere absence of speech or words. Buddha's silence was eloquent,
For Buddha, Silence as the inevitable path that leads to the Truth is not distinct from the Truth itself. That is, as the way to the Truth, Silence already contains the reality of the Truth. Satya, the word translated "truth" in English, signifies the Truth in all its unlimited perfection and plenitude. As the ground of all existence, satya can only be experienced through the medium of Silence. It cannot be expressed. The moment one tries to express it, one runs the danger of falsifying it, of rendering it asatya, "untruth." The fountain of Silence is the sole medium that is capable of delivering the Truth.
Buddha did not communicate any knowledge with his Silence, but he nevertheless communed with seekers of the Truth. He did not offer them a part of his knowledge, but imparted to them an aspect of his being. He used neither words nor the wordless (signs and gestures). Rather, the language he used was Silence in the sense of an effulgent mauna. That is why even a philosopher who counted rational power as the sole source of true knowledge could accept the failure of logic and reason and surrender to Buddha, asking him for the Truth in a medium that does not involve words and the wordless. Perhaps the experience disclosed to the philosopher both the poverty of words and concepts and the paucity of wordlessness, thereby motivating him to choose a medium that transcends them.
Buddha's Silence was not wordlessness or noiselessness. It had a transforming power, permeating and filling the atmosphere around him with such intensity that people seated at his presence experienced "the ineffable and the inexplicable." His Silence had no movement, yet people around him moved closer to the Truth just by being in his presence, permeated and filled by the effulgence of his joyous stillness. His Silence was contagious. It was like the unseen powers of a magnetic field or the invisible sound waves that travel in the atmosphere.
*Chandrakantham A.J.V.. Spirituality today , Summer 1988, Vol.40 No. 2, pp. 145-156.
(Contemporary American philosopher)
We should be suspicious of absolute certainty, but not of truth
You might be suspicious of the notion of 'truth', supposing that it leads to dogmatism. There's no denying that the zealot who believes himself in possession of the "absolute Truth" can be a right pain in the ass. You might think it more humble or tolerant to believe instead that truth is "relative", that what is true for you might not be true for me. But again, you would be mistaken.
The problem with the zealot is not that he believes there is one right answer out there. Rather, the problem is that he mistakenly takes himself to know it. It's absolute certainty, not truth, which we should be wary of. A more rational person would recognize that, although there may be just one true answer, he can't be entirely sure of what it is. It's possible that he could be in error – that the truth of the matter wasn't as he believed it. That's not to say that truth is relative. Not at all. Rather, it is simply to recognize that we are all fallible. The truth is out there, but whether we've grasped it is another question entirely.
Indeed, absolute certainty is almost never justified. Think about it: can you be certain that you're not dreaming, hallucinating, or immersed in a world of deception? In most cases our knowledge is fallible. No matter how well-justified our beliefs, it's always possible - if unlikely - that the truth lies elsewhere.
Remarkably, such admissions of fallibility do not seem open to the relativist. If truth is whatever each individual believes, then he cannot be mistaken about what is "true for him". No matter the weight of evidence against him, the relativist can reply, "maybe that's true for you, but it isn't for me!" He can block his ears from the demands of reason and reality, and hold unwaveringly to his own dogma..
Once we note the distinction between truth and certainty, it becomes clear that the latter merits more suspicion. Indeed, far from posing a threat to open-minded tolerance, the notion of objective truth might prove an essential weapon against irrational dogmatists.
*See internet Richard Chappel
(Contemporary British professor of theoretical medicine)
The vital role of transcendental truth in science
I have come to believe that science depends for its long-term success on an explicit and pervasive pursuit of the ideal of transcendental truth. ‘Transcendental’ implies that a value is ideal and ultimate – it is aimed-at but can only imperfectly be known, achieved or measured. So, transcendental truth is located outside of science; beyond scientific methods, processes and peer consensus. Although the ultimate scientific authority of a transcendental value of truth was a view held almost universally by the greatest scientists throughout recorded history, modern science has all-but banished references to truth from professional scientific discourse – these being regarded as wishful, mystical and embarrassing at best, and hypocritical or manipulative at worst. With truth excluded, the highest remaining evaluation mechanism is ‘professional consensus’ or peer review – beyond which there is no higher court of appeal. Yet one can argue that cultures which foster great achievement need transcendental values (truth, beauty and virtue) to be a live presence in the culture; such that great artists and thinkers compete to come closer to the ideal. So a scientific system including truth as a live presence apparently performs better than a system which excludes truth. Transcendental truth therefore seems to be real in the pragmatic sense that it makes a difference. To remain anchored in its proper role, science should through ‘truth talk’ frequently be referencing normal professional practice to transcendental truth values.
Transcendental’ implies that a value is ideal and ultimate – it is aimed-at but can be known, achieved or measured only imperfectly. So, transcendental truth is located outside of science; beyond scientific methods, processes and peer consensus.
Transcendental truth is not, therefore, evaluated by science; but is instead the proper aim of science. Especially truth is the proper aim of scientists as individuals. In other words, science should be a social system dominated by scientists who are dedicated truth-seekers: who practice ’the habit of truth’ and whose practice of science includes ‘truth talk’ that references current actuality to ideal aspirations.
But transcendental truth cannot be proven to exist in any direct way since it is neither detectable nor measurable – it is an ideal. Truth cannot be extracted, isolated, cloned or photographed. Truth is not a ‘fact’ within a discipline. Any real world measure of truth is approximate, incomplete and subject to distortion. Therefore – although real – truth is not scientifically demonstrable.
Transcendental truth is needed in science for many reasons. One reason relates to the motivation for individual scientists to aim as high as their abilities allow. Only when science is truth-seeking can its practice mobilize the most profound dedication from its practitioners. Another reason for valuing truth is the need for science as a social system to tolerate (and if possible actively support) individuals who seek truth – even when this generates greater risk and a short term reduction in performance. Likewise to tolerate also the fact that the most brilliant and creative scientists will often have unworldly, erratic or abrasive personalities . In other words, only the living presence of truth may provide a higher context for decision-making in which considerations of social expediency can potentially be transcended. A third factor is that without transcendental truth the professional practice of science will drift away from its proper end and become something else. I believe that this has already happened – especially in medical science, which is the dominant world science – and the results are perceived by observers outside of science. Yet the situation of ineffective, inefficient and misguided science is tolerated due to the apparent lack of viable alternatives. It is in order to generate alternatives that a greater understanding of the role of truth in science is needed.
* Bruce G. Charlton, Medical Hypotheses. Volume 72, Issue 4, April 2009, Pages 373-376
(French theologian and philosopher, 1541-1603)
In his first major work, Les Trois Vérités (1593, The Three Truths), Charron exposes the three 'truths' of God's existence, Christian religion and Roman Catholicism. However, it does not prevent him to hold a radical form of skepticism about the capacities of human knowledge which are so limited and unreliable that it is doubtful that one could really know anything in either the natural or the supernatural realm. What man considers true principles are really only "dreams and smoke." Still this attitude does not undermine religion, since it leaves man's intellect blank and thus ready to accept the revealed truths of Christianity.
Charron's view on the subject of human knowledge amounts to an odd mixture of radical skepticism and fideism. His major thesis is that man cannot discover any truth except by revelation. He endorses most of Montaigne's skeptical views. Charron presents the traditional skeptical critique of sense knowledge, questioning whether one can, in view of the enormous variability of sense experiences, determine which ones correspond to objective states of affairs. Next, he raises skeptical questions about one's rational abilities, contending that one possesses no adequate or certain criteria that enable one to distinguish truth from falsehood. Hence, one should accept Montaigne's contention that men possess no genuine principles unless God reveals them. Everything else is only dreams and smoke.
Charron claims that the skeptical method is of great service to religion. It leads one to reject all dubious opinions until one's mind is "blank, naked and ready" to receive the divine revelation on faith alone. The complete skeptic will never be a heretic, since if he or she has no opinions, he or she cannot have the wrong ones. If God pleases to give him or her information, then the skeptic will have true knowledge.
Charron was a prime representative of fideistic Christian thought, who saw skepticism as a means of destroying the enemies of the true faith.
* See Adam, Michel. Études sur Pierre Charron. Talence, France: Presses univeritaires de Bordeaux, 1991.
(Indian philosopher, 1925- )
The three classical theories of truth (correspondence, coherence and pragmatism) contain some positivity as well as negativity. They are useful in their own domain. They complement each other even though, taking in isolation, they all fail somewhere.
1. According to the correspondence theory of Realism, truth means reference to the facts, known by acquaintance. Facts being atomic, i.e. multiple and unrelated, propositions that express them are also atomic. There is a multiplicity of truths independent of each other. Hence the correspondence theory of truth includes the three features of reference, acquaintance and independence. This correspondence theory has been criticised for several reasons:
a) If the nouns of a proposition correspond to things, what about the other words of the proposition such as verbs, pronouns, adverbs, etc. which do not correspond to things? In our judgments we link things through these words and hold them in unity by the mind. The mind plays a role, not just the bare facts. There is more in our judgments than the facts. Since the concepts of our mind play a part in knowledge, the demand for a ‘correspondence’ of our knowledge with its objects is an improper demand. The notion of “fact” is relative to the investigating mind and therefore one can never speak of ‘bare’ facts.
b) What does ‘acquaintance’ with the facts mean in case of historical facts in which the knower is not directly confronted to the data? What about the data of introspection such as ‘I feel pain’? Such a statement is not descriptive but expressive: no question of correspondence-truth but rather of ‘authenticity’.
c) In the case of logical and mathematical propositions, truth is not correspondence with facts, a point easily conceded by realists.
2. According to the coherence theory of idealism, truth is defined in relation to thought and not to reality. Truth is self-consistency within the system of propositions taken as a whole. The category of unity of thought and of reality is essential to idealism. Reality, being one, demands that thought be a coherent system. To be true for a judgment is to be fitting with the whole. It follows that no single judgment is completely true or completely false. This is specially the case for historical truths. As a completely true account is impossible, truth remains the ideal to be gradually approached.
The coherence theory has been criticised for several reasons.
a) This theory confuses Logic with Reality. Reality is not coherent. There is no experience of the whole. Experience is always particular.
b) The notion of a coherent system can be admitted as a good working hypothesis for restricted historical or scientific studies. But the concept of an all-including system is an illegitimate extension.
c) Ideas and systems can be consistent, yet untrue. Reference to the facts cannot be eliminated. Some truths are independent of any system. Still consistency can be a useful criterion of truth in the absence of any other criterion.
d) Logicians (unlike historians) do not admit that propositions are always partially and never completely true or false.
3. According to the pragmatist theory, the truth of a proposition is its cash value.. To discover the truth, something has to be done. We begin with doubt, doubt leads to belief. Belief is neither true or false, but it has a ‘warranted assertibility’. The concept of truth comes in as the quality of the belief to be in the long run satisfactory and practical for all.
The pragmatic theory has an even more restricted applicability than the two previous ones. It is been criticised on several accounts.
a) Many propositions have no practical applications, for instance, the necessary truths of logic and mathematics.
b) What is the cash value of propositions, what does it meean that “it works”? It may work here, but not there, work for some one and not for another. But then to every one his truth!
c) Many untrue ideas ‘work’ through manipulative propaganda and brain washing.
d) Pragmatism identifies wrongly two distinct values: truth and usefulness.
To conclude: each theory in the field of scientific knowledge has a value and each theory fails somewhere as well. In the pure sciences of mathematics and logic, one should speak less of truth than validity or correct calculations. In experimental sciences, the three theories have something to contribute: a) the importance to discover and acknowledge the facts (correspondence), b) the importance of a theoretical framework to work out an over-all system ( coherence), c) the importance of the active enterprise of experiment (pragmatism).
* Chaterjee, Margaret, Philosophical enquiries, Motilal Banarsidas, Varanasi, 1968, p.114 sq
(Contemporary French theologian)
Evangelical truth is different from metaphysical truth
Fr. Marie-Dominique Chenu criticizes the fixed and immutable nature of the truths of the Faith. He adopts various modernist-progressivist premises such as God's revelation takes place in the course of History.
"Evangelical truth will be, therefore, different from metaphysical truth ... The very word 'truth' that the exegetes have masterfully analyzed in biblical language, is steeped in an original density: truth and fidelity, justice, certainty, peace, rectitude. 'Practice the truth,' commands St. John (Jn 3:21. 1 Jn 1:6). This expression is unintelligible to a certain intellectualism.
"The truth does not derive from propositions fixed outside of time, which we manipulate with a formal logic in a kind of sacred metaphysics under the tutelage of an authority. Rather, it proceeds from a history that God guides in the events of salvation where he reveals himself.
"Revelation is the act by which God revealed himself through the course of history, and through which he continues to reveal himself more and more with the passing of centuries until the total realization is achieved in Christ in the plenitude of time. God speaks today in the Christian community on the basis of this 'Christological concentration' that the spirit ... distributes and reveals by multiple signs, which announce future things, that is, the new order of things born from Christ's death and resurrection.
"Time enters the fabric of revelation. The theology that derives from this thus exists in a tension between two poles - the external truth of its object and the contingent situation in time. It must fulfill two fundamental conditions: to provide a [new] expression to the truth of the Christian message and to adapt this expression to all situations.
'Situation' includes the totality of the creative consciousness that man has of himself at a given moment, the synthesis of scientific, artistic, economic, political, social or moral forms in which the conscience of the generation finds the satification of its hope - with its own expression.
"From this standpoint, in the new civilization 'secularization' as an awareness of the promotion and autonomy of man ... offers the theologian a propitious occasion for his comprehension. In final analysis, the language itself ... must be a product of the community in a state of effervescence and expression of the Spirit. By its nature, then, theology is in a continuous state of inquiry."
* Chenu Marie Dominique ,"Omelia tenuta nel corso della celebrazione eucaristica," in L'avvenire della chiesa, Brussels: Editrice Queriniana, 1970, pp. 62-63)
(British Catholic apologist, 1874-1936)
Logic and Truth have little to do with each other. You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it.
Logic and truth, as a matter of fact, have very little to do with each other. Logic is concerned merely with the fidelity and accuracy with which a certain process is performed, a process which can be performed with any materials, with any assumption. On the assumption that a man has two ears, it is good logic that three men have six ears, but on the assumption that a man has four ears, it is equally good logic that three men have twelve. Logic has again and again been expended, and expended most brilliantly and effectively, on things that do not exist at all.
G. K. Chesterton considered logic to be a tool, an instrument of reason to be used only in service of the truth. He writes that the relations of logic to truth depend, then, not upon its perfection as logic, but upon certain pre-logical faculties and certain pre-logical discoveries, upon the possession of those faculties, upon the power of making those discoveries. If a man starts with certain assumptions, he may be a good logician and a good citizen, a wise man, a successful figure. If he starts with certain other assumptions, he may be an equally good logician and a bankrupt, a criminal, a raving lunatic.
In this Chesterton is emphasizing the importance of first principles, or principia. He summarizes it this way: “You can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it”. Taken by itself, logic alone is ambivalent, in the sense that it can be pressed into the service either of truth or of falsehood.
As he notes, the “rightness” of the reason depends on the proper foundation, that is, the truth of Biblical or special revelation. It is a fundamentally Augustinian point that reason alone, without illumination, cannot reach true first principles about the existence, attributes, and character of God. This is where the discontinuity between the pagan and Christian concepts of natural law come in. There is fundamental agreement about the methodology, so to speak, of natural law as “right reason,” but disagreement about the particular content of that rightness and the abilities of natural man to pursue it. For reason to be “right,” it needs the benefit of special revelation. It is idle to talk always of the alternative of reason and faith. Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.
* Chesterton G.K. Orthodoxy (1908) Doubleday, 1991.
(Chinese Buddhist philosopher, 549-623)
The criterion of Truth as non-attachment.
To understand the "empty" nature of all truths one should realize, according to Chi-tsang, that "the refutation of erroneous views is the illumination of right view". To assert that all theories are erroneous views neither entails nor implies that one has to have any "view". The refutation of erroneous views and the illumination of right views are not two separate things or acts but the same. According to Chi-tsang, attachment to or obsessive commitment to any particular viewpoint is a central cause of life's suffering. He insists that one must never settle on any particular viewpoint or perspective, but that even the so-called "higher discourse" becomes mundane and misleading if it becomes itself a source or object of attachment and fixation. Therefore one must continually re-examine previously established formulations in order to avoid such sedimentations of thought and behavior. It is both meaningless and in fact harmful to speak of "true" or "false" in any kind of final or ultimate sense. What Chit-tsang challenges is the kind of obsession which turns a point of view or perspective into a dogmatic ontological fixation. To the extent, therefore, that one becomes ontologically committed to one's point of view, it becomes necessary to engage in what might be described as a "deconstructive" analysis. Chi-tsang says that there are four different ways of understanding the distinction between existence and emptiness: - On the first level, the naive affirmation of existence is considered conventional , and what is liberating is the idea of emptiness or non-existence. - On the second level, commitment to any real distinction between existence and emptiness is considered worldly, and the denial of this dichotomy constitutes the higher discourse - On the third level even the distinction between commitment to and denial of a real distinction between existence and emptiness is regarded as worldly. A standpoint which denies a real distinction between duality and non-duality is then termed an authentic form of discourse. - On the fourth level, all of the distinctions made on the previous three levels are repudiated. This level emphasizes that any point of view cannot be said to be ultimately true, and is only of value so long as it serves to discourage or dislodge commitment and attachment. Thus, if one becomes attached to any such device, it becomes counter-productive and must be discarded. This is Chi-tsang's interpretation of the madhyamika theory of two truths: it is a powerful illustration of his conception of truth as nonattachment.
* See: Ming-wood Liu, A Chinese Madhyamaka Theory of Truth : The Case of Chi-Tsang, Philosophy East & West V. 43, No. 4, 649-673
(Indian b.American spiritual teacher, 1931-2007)
Truth in spirituality rather than in religion
What is truth? Truth is the longing, the birthless and deathless longing which we have and which we are. This is the only truth nothing more, nothing less.
Some seekers are of the opinion that truth is not to be found here on earth, that truth belongs to the hoary past, that it is a memory of the past which we are carrying and dragging. But this is not true. Truth was there before, truth is here now and truth will also be present in the future.
Religion usually entails adhering to a certain dogma or belief system. But spirituality places little importance on intellectual beliefs, but is concerned with growing into and experiencing the Divine consciousness.
Quite often religion takes the approach of fearing God. Religion is often concerned with sin, guilt and a concept of a God who punishes. But the spiritual approach to God is through the path of love. This is a love where there is no judgement - only acceptance. Spirituality feels so called sins are really just ignorance based on a false belief of who we are.
Often religion talks of God as being high in the heavens. At times God can seem far from the reach of aspiring humanity. But spirituality shows us that God is omniscient and omnipresent and can be felt as a living presence in our own heart. The highest spirituality says there is no separation between the Creator and His Creation.
Many followers of religion feel that only their path can lead to salvation. They have tremendous faith in their own religion, but at the same time they feel other religions are wrong. Therefore, they can feel a necessity to convert others to their faith. However all fanaticism is false, because it is a contradiction of the very nature of God and of Truth. Truth cannot be shut up in a single book, Bible or Veda or Koran, or in a single religion.
* See Internet Sri Chinmoy
Truth is greater than man: it is an enemy of humanity
The truth is the truth, and is not necessarily politically correct or socially acceptable. As a matter of fact, the truth is by no means politically correct or socially acceptable. The truth is greater than man, so it will not bow down to your social needs, personal needs, or insecurities. And, your feeble-minded reasoning does not and cannot negate that which actually exists.
The truth is not a function of human emotions, nor is it catered to the complex dynamics of human culture, interaction, or relationships. So, if the truth makes you feel "embarrassed" or "awkward," then that is your own problem.
As all truth messengers already know, human beings always stand in the way of one trying to spread the truth, via such tactics as peer pressure and ridicule. If one ever mentions the truth to a human being, the human being will quickly attempt to suck that person back into the mindless reality that is referred to, here on Earth, as the "real world." The truth is an enemy of humanity. So, if you are a slave to the human race, then you will forever keep the truth at arm's length. Therefore, you must pick one: humanity or the truth.
Humanity's mainstream conception of reality exists merely for the sake of keeping society functioning and orderly. However, human beings incorrectly think that this synthetic conception of reality is reality. Worse yet, fake truth seekers try to get the truth to conform to this synthetic conception of reality.
Truth is beyond social acceptance. Truth is maladjusted and cannot fit into the massively dumb patterns of ordinary relationships and activities. ... Greater truth cannot come to those who never bring up the possibility of it to one another. ... People do not inquire beyond their knowledge because they do not want to have any disturbing shift in their knowledge pattern. The cognitive system is calm and stable through avoiding any disturbing new truth. * See internet Gabriel Chiron, "Truth is Greater Than Man".
(American philosopher, 1916-1999)
What is directly evident is in no need of criteria of truth
Appeal to common sense characterises Chisholm’s general epistemological orientation called epistemological particularism. This orientation contrasts with epistemological Methodism. The particularist gathers a list of propositions that seem obvious and unassailable and then requires consistency with this set of propositions as a condition of adequacy for any abstract philosophical theory. Epistemological Methodists, on the other hand, begin with a theory of cognition or justification and then apply it to see which of our pre-theoretical beliefs survive. Methodism holds that in order to pick out instances of knowledge or justified belief, one has to know a criterion of knowledge or justification. But this is what Chisholm’s Particularism denies.
Chisholm begins with the presumption that we do in fact know many things, and "...that to find out whether you know such a thing as that ‘this is a hand’, you don't have to apply any test or criterion." According to Chisholm, such knowledge claims are "...innocent until there is some positive reason, on some particular occasion, for thinking that they are guilty on that particular occasion". He contends that we can develop a theory of evidence on the basis of such claims.
Chisholm does not prove his basic claims to knowledge, because his "particularism" precludes the need for such proof. When confronted with doubts with regard to these claims, he appeals to "what we all know" rather than attempting to validate his claims by appeal to a general criterion of knowledge. For him, any general criterion must be grounded in these particular knowledge claims.
For him there are two different sorts of propositions which are certain:
self-presenting propositions which are about states [of an individual] which "...present themselves and are, so to speak, marks of their own evidence" , and first truths of reason which are "manifest through themselves". Chisholm contends that justificatory regress comes to a halt when we reach that which is directly evident.
Thus “in order to find out whether you know such a thing as that ‘ this is a hand’, you don't have to apply any test or criterion. There are many things which, quite obviously, we do know to be true. If I report to you the things I now see and hear and feel--or, if you prefer, the things I now think I see and hear and feel--the chances are that my report will be correct; I will be telling you something I know. And so, too, if you report the things that you think you now see and hear and feel. To be sure, there are hallucinations and illusions. People often think they see or hear or feel things which in fact they do not see or hear or feel. But from this fact--that our senses do sometimes deceive us--it hardly follows that your senses and mine are deceiving you and me in all cases and right now”.
The claims appealed to in all such cases are not in need of justification - they end the justificatory regress. The call for justification here is met by the assertion that while one cannot justify these beliefs, they are nonetheless known. These beliefs stand as an epistemic bedrock, and this status renders impossible an internal critique which is centered upon the demand for justification. Any such attempt to question the veracity of these beliefs must begin by accepting the claim that these beliefs are immune to lack of warrant and immune to error. Once these immunities are granted, however, the enterprise of criticizing the beliefs becomes hopeless--after all, they are known to be true.
Chisholm feels that common sense is best: people seem first to know things and only upon reflection grasp the methods and principles involved. So he opts for particularism.
* Chisholm Roderick, The Foundations of Knowing, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1982.
(American linguistic and political philosopher, 1928- )
According to Chomsky’s biological determinist ideology, the human capacity for language is the working of an innate language faculty, which contains a “universal grammar”, the basis for the grammar of particular languages. Linguistic facts are for him biological facts. He even extends his innatist approach to the sphere of ethics and social interaction.
He rejects the empiricist principle that experience is the source of human knowledge. Knowledge cannot derive from experience, it belongs to the mind itself. Knowledge is produced by the internal structure and working of the mind. The physical constitution of the brain itself determines what is and what is thinkable and knowable. Knowledge is some kind of physical substance grown in the brain.
According to Chomsky truth can arise only via a coincidence or intersection of mental properties with properties of reality. True knowledge cannot be obtained without that intersection. Now there is no biological reason why such an intersection should exist, no particular reason to suppose that the human sciences can gain insight into the laws of nature. There is no reason to believe that any human knowledge is true knowledge. Therefore Chomsky seems to follow Kant in denying the possibility of real knowledge of things.
But this is not the case. Indeed Chomsky makes an epistemological U-turn in professing a sort of Cartesian faith in the power of human knowledge. For Descartes the worlds of thought and reality correspond exactly because God made them coincide. Chomsky follows the Cartesian view that true knowledge exists but he rejects Descartes’ explanation that God is responsible. His thesis is that “just blind luck” explains how human knowledge in science and elsewhere yields results that conform to the truth about the world. According to him it is a remarkable historical accident that there is convergence and coincidence between the biological properties of the human mind and some aspects of the real world. Truth depends on a kind of “biological miracle”. The chance convergence of brain (mind) and matter (the external world) explains the possibility of true knowledge.
* Chomsky Noam, Knowledge of Language: its Nature, Origin and Use, New York, Preager, 1986
(Unidentified American author) It is only human to doubt, but ending the conquest for truth is foolish.
There are three truths that I have run across thus far in my life. I am sure to find more, or add to my simple list. At the end of the day it is truth we really want, whether in politics, or religion, or love; it is truth we desire.
1. Relative truth: this truth is much more based not on the philosophical definition of relative truth (as in relative or subjective) but on relative as in a personal opinion. Where as a relativist would think that what is true for me may or may not be true for someone else, I am simplifying it to the notion that this type of truth is based on personal sentiment; such as this is my favorite type of food, this is my favorite hobby, this is my favorite type of music. This truth changes throughout life, whether by investigation into other types of cultures or opportunities.
2. Truth/knowledge: this is truth that crosses cultures, races, and religion, such as the law of gravity, mathematics, and basic chemistry. No matter what god you believe in, if you throw a rock into the sky gravity is going to pull it back down to the earth. This truth does not waiver or change as rapidly as ones own personal 'relative' truth.
3. The Truth/The Way. This, I feel, is the deepest of all truth. This truth does not change but surpasses far beyond this life. This is one's own personal belief in a higher power. If one believes that there is something beyond themselves, and after careful and meticulous investigation begins to follow the faith with all their mind, body, and soul than they to would agree that this is the deepest of all truths. For in this truth we find that it trumps both relative truth and knowledge. It is not in the calculations that we find this truth, but in our hearts. “We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.’ ( Pascal)
For me I have chosen to follow Jesus Christ, but that does not mean that I do not still have questions, it simply means I know who to turn to when I need the answers. As well, it does not mean that I do not search; I listen for knowledge wherever I can find it. I am NOT a proponent of universalism, but I do want to be a universal man (uomo universale). Do not confuse the two, I want to know as much as I can about this world (and all of its cultures) that I believe God created.
'Seek and ye shall find,' this search of for life and God is not one that requires a day or two of study, but a lifetime of longing and exploring. Abélard once said 'the beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.' It's human to doubt, it is ending the conquest for truth that is foolish.
*See internet Stephen Christian
(American philosopher, b. 1942)
According to the materialist Paul Churchland the human species and all of its features are the wholly physical outcome of a purely physical process. There is neither need, nor room, to fit any non-physical substances or properties, such as minds and mental states, into our theoretical account of ourselves. We are creatures of matter. And we should learn to live with that fact. Churchland claims that, since we are merely the result of an entirely physical process (that of evolutionary theory), which works on wholly physical materials, we are wholly physical beings. The naturalistic evolutionary theory can adequately explain the nature of man. Churchland advocates a materialist monist theory, which he calls 'eliminative materialism', according to which consciousness does not exist (is 'eliminated") and talk of it is merely 'folk psychology'. Our concepts of mental states can be re-framed in terms of a physical neurological description and the advancement of science will make talk of mental states obsolete by fully understanding the physical processes that cause our perceptions of mental states.
Thus according to Churchland, there is no longer any reason to try explaining something that is only a ghost. The philosophy of mind, cognitive sciences, psychology are dissolved in the mecanics of neurophysiology.
To be a eliminative materialist is to consider that the experience we have of ourselves as sentient and thinking beings is nothing else than an illusion. We are not conscious beings, it is only the neurophysiological functioning of the brain machine that makes us believe that it is so. 'Folk psychology' - that is, as he calls it, the system of common sense beliefs and desires - is a false theory.
Critics of eliminative materialism have objected that to claim that matter is everything supposes a certain theory of truth. Even if there is no truth of matter, there must be a truth about (on the subject of) matter. Even if there is no truth of mind or spirit, there must be a truth about mind and spirit. Without the question of truth, neither matter nor spirit can significantly mean anything. Total scepticism which claims that there are no certitude and no possible access the knowledge of reality prevents the formulation of any thesis on the reality of matter or spirit. In short we need a minimal concept of truth compatible with matter and spirit. It is only if there is a truth, that we can define matter and spirit in reality and claim, for instance, that 'eliminative materialism' is true.
* Churchland Paul, Matter and Consciousness, MIT Press, 1984.
(Roman politician and philosopher, 106-43 B.C.)
In his book The Academics, Cicero steers a middle course between dogmatism and radical skepticism. Presenting the views of major schools, he submits them to criticism and supports any positions he finds "persuasive". One can know nothing for sure, one should question every view, but one can adopt a non-certain knowledge, provided it is 'probable'.
Cicero gives great importance to persuasion, discussion and consensus. He is attached to the ideals of tolerance, solidarity and freedom. Such 'democratic' principles, applied to philosophy, urge him to a critical examination of different doctrines in order to unravel the points on which every one agrees. When there is disagreement, he takes stand for what he thinks to be the best viewpoint. Favouring the attitude of philosophical doubt and confrontation of ideas, he rejects all dogmatic systems. However he stresses the importance of holding solid principles in philosophy, ethics, politics and religion. He wants guiding principles to live by while remaining open to learning. He doesn't need certainty to feel secure in his intellectual adventures, and he wants the freedom from dogmatism to allow him to continue those adventures.
Cicero represents well the doctrine of the New Academy and the general attitude of Roman society when he says, "My words do not proclaim the truth, like a Pythian priestess; but I conjecture what is probable, like a plain man; and where, I ask, am I to search for anything more than verisimilitude?"
He adopts the moderate fallibilism of the New Academy. Philosophy is a method and not a set of dogma. He favours an attitude of systematic doubt. Still he does not extend doubt to the real world behind the phenomena. He does not believe that systematic doubt leads to radical skepticism about knowledge. Although no infallible criterion from distinguishing true from false impressions is available, some impressions are more "persuasive" and can be relied upon for action.
* See Mansfeld, J. and B. Inwood, eds. 1997. Assent and Argument: Studies in Cicero's Academic Books, Leiden: Brill.
(Contemporary American pastor)
The two approaches to truth in the New Testament
The New Testament provides two approaches to truth: one approach is a person and the other, a concept. 1. Jesus explained to his disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know”. Thomas saith unto him, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” Jesus saith unto him,” I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:1-6). Jesus himself, according to this passage, is the very embodiment of truth. He is the truth that men must know and obey in order to have God’s approval. No person can know the truth he must know to be saved without knowing Jesus Christ.
2.The New Testament also tells us that the word of God is truth with a capital “T.” One of the best known passages in the book of John quotes Jesus as telling some Jews who believed on him: “If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). If anyone had any doubt about what Jesus had in mind, that doubt should be removed by our Lord’s words in his high priestly prayer. Jesus prayed for his immediate disciples and for us: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). If you want to know the truth about God, about how to become a Christian and how to remain a Christian, you can find that truth in the word of God and only in the word of God.
* See Winford Claiborne, The International Gospel Hour, Fayetteville, TN 37334
(American philosopher and Calvinist theologian, 1902-1985)
Scripturalism: knowledge of the truth is a gift from God.
Scripturalism holds that God reveals truth. Christianity is propositional truth revealed by God, propositions that have been written in the books that is called the Bible. Revelation is the starting point of Christianity, its axiom. The axiom, the first principle, of Christianity is this: "The Bible alone is the Word of God."
Any system of thought, whether it be called philosophy or theology or geometry must begin somewhere, from some axiom. Even empiricism or evidentialism begins with axioms. That beginning, by definition, is just that, a beginning. Nothing comes before it. It is an axiom, a first principle. That means that those who start with sensation or reason rather than revelation have not avoided axioms at all: they have merely traded the Christian axiom for a secular axiom. All empiricists and rationalists are presuppositionalists: they presuppose the reliability of sensation or reason. They do not presuppose the reliability of revelation.
Clark understands the necessity of refuting all competing axioms, including the axiom of sensation. His method is to eliminate all intellectual opposition to Christianity at its root.
The implication of the axiom of revelation is that those who divide epistemologies into two types of philosophy, empiricist and rationalist, as though there were only two possible choices — sensation and logic – are ignoring the Christian philosophy, Scripturalism. There are not only two general views in epistemology; there are at least three and Scripturalism is the third one.
Rather than accepting the secular view that man discovers truth and knowledge on his own power using his own resources, Clark asserted that truth is a gift of God, who graciously reveals it to men. Clark’s epistemology is consistent with his soteriology: Just as men do not attain salvation themselves, on their own power, but are saved by divine grace, so men do not gain knowledge on their own power, but receive knowledge as a gift from God. Knowledge of the truth is a gift from God. Man can know nothing part from the revelation of God. We do not obtain salvation by exercising our free wills; we do not obtain knowledge by exercising our free intellects.
Revelation is our only source of truth and knowledge. Neither science, nor history, nor archaeology, nor philosophy can furnish us with truth and knowledge. Scripturalism takes seriously Paul’s warning to the Colossians: "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you are complete in him…."
However Clark acknowledges that logic — reasoning by good and necessary consequence — is not a secular principle not found in Scripture and added to the Scriptural axiom; it is contained in the axiom itself. The laws of logic are embedded in every word of Scripture. Only deductive inference is valid, and deductive inference – using the laws of logic — is the principal tool of hermeneutics. Sound exegesis of Scripture is making valid deductions from the statements of Scripture.
* Clark Gordon H., Religion, Reason and Revelation, Trinity Foundation
ISBN 0940931133 / 9780940931138 / 0-940931-13-3
(Contemporary English “Modern Church” general secretary)
The mistaken religious belief that the truth can be known with absolute certainty
As long as we think we may be wrong, we accept that those who disagree with us may be at least partly right. We expect variations in belief and practice, and we take it that one of the arts of living together is to get along despite differences of opinion. It is when we think we know the truth with absolute certainty that the reasons for tolerating dissent evaporate.
Certainty has a long and tragic history in western Christianity. In the early Middle Ages, when educational standards were low, it made sense to look back on the ancients as sources of truth which their own generation could not match. The bible needed to be interpreted, but they believed it contained truths more certain than any contemporary theories.
The Reformation made certainty both impossible and essential. There was no longer a single church; competing authorities declared themselves the one true defender of divine revelation. Doctrinal certainty became a psychological necessity.
Early Enlightenment philosophers retained certainty but transferred it to reason. Nineteenth century secular thought used the idea to invert medieval dualism: science produces facts - which we know - while religion only produces beliefs and opinions. This gave the cue for their religious counterparts to treat the bible as the self-evident first principle from which all truths can be deduced, thereby creating fundamentalism.
In fact there is something fundamentally irreligious about claiming certainty for one's views. All the world's religions teach standards of morality, and all theories of morality reject solipsism. We have to recognize that our mind is not the only one. Other people have minds, with opinions and feelings, like ours.
Yet this is what, in practice, is being done in religious debate today. It was one thing for medieval Catholics to claim certainty for the Church's teaching, assuming that there was only one church and therefore only one route for divine revelation. It is quite another, in today's world full of competing religious theories, to claim one's own beliefs bear the stamp of divine certainty but those of others do not..
So far Anglicanism has lived without certainty; we have been willing to worship together with people of diverse opinions. Anglicanism would be well advised to continue recognizing its uncertainty, and with this, retain its open-endedness, inclusivity and willingness to change.
*See Internet Jonathan Clatworthy, Modern
(Contemporary American Unitarian pastor)
Free choice in religion is more important than the declaration of creedal truth.
I declare that I don't believe in truth. I am always suspicious of it. In particular I am suspicious of, and I don't believe in, religious truth of any stripe. I don't believe in any religious truth that aspires to the status of being unchangeable eternal truth. Some beliefs may be more true than others, but no belief qualifies for the label “certain truth.” Almost always in the realm of religious belief, truth and freedom are in competition. Affirming one will disclaim the other. And as for me, I’m on the side of freedom whenever it clashes with truth.
Freedom and truth are often in competition with one another. An increase in one results in a decrease in the other. And this conundrum can be seen most vividly in religious belief. The Unitarians sought to break this vicious cycle of dissent and denial of dissent by declaring that freedom of belief is more important than creed. The protection of free choice in religion is more important than the declaration of creedal truth. We as a civilization have learned through difficult experience that freedom is the only healthy road to truth. People who arrive at ideas through free exploration get closer to truth than those who arrive through indoctrination.
Freedom and truth, when offered by religion, are more often than not incompatible. You can have one only at the expense of the other. If you claim freedom, truth becomes illusive, because with freedom you must remain open to new ways of thinking; if you claim truth in your religion, freedom becomes superfluous. After all, what’s the point of being free to explore new ideas when the answers are supplied before the questions are even asked? Freedom might tempt you away from the creedal truth. Unitarianism is not the religion of both truth and freedom. Unitarianism is the religion of freedom. It does not offer truth in the way most religions traditionally offer truth.
Freedom is the price tag for owning truth. And the reverse is true. To claim freedom, we pay the price of certainty. A religion based on freedom has just as many, if not more, obstacles and dangers as a religion based on creed. Freedom in religion does not mean one has no beliefs or the beliefs are arbitrary. We do have reasons for our beliefs though we do not treat those reasons or those beliefs as absolute, eternal truths. Religion remains alive to the extent that it opens itself up to freely exploring new truths and does not rest secure on old truths that will die.
It is not the place to declare that there is no such thing as truth. Who knows? But I can say I put little faith in truth. My faith resides far more strongly in freedom. Over many centuries of human history, very little that has claimed to be eternally true has passed the test of time. The graveyard of yesterday’s truths is overflowing. Old truths die away with each generation. New truths are possible only to the extent that we embrace freedom to explore them more than we embrace the truths themselves.
*Bruce Clear, Sunday sermon, September 16, 2001, All Souls Unitarian Church
(Early Christian writer, c.150- c.225)
For Clement the fundamental relation of Christianity to Greek philosophy is not opposition – as Tertullian would say - but supersession and fulfilment. Just as the law and the prophets served for the Hebrews as a preparation for Christ, so philosophy prepared the Greeks. (Stromata, VI, 8). All that is good and true comes from God. Since it is obvious for Clement that there was truth in Greek philosophy, he drew the conclusion that Greek philosophy, insofar as it has a grasp of truth, comes from God. The same Logos who is the true light and who became incarnate in Jesus-Christ is at work in all humanity leading them toward truth.
Now that Christianity has superseded its two main antecedents, Hebrew revelation and Greek philosophy, it could be that there is no longer any point in paying attention to those superseded antecedents. But this is not Clement’s view. Beyond any doubt, the teaching of the Saviour is complete in itself so that the addition of Greek philosophy does not make the truth more powerful. Or, in other words, the absence of Greek philosophy would not render the perfect Word incomplete. However the study of Greek philosophy remains of great utility for Christians.
First of all the learned Christian should not be one who does wish any more to touch either philosophy and logic or learn from natural science. “I call him truly learned who brings everything to bear on the truth so that from geometry, grammar and philosophy he guards the faith on all assault” (Stromata, 9).
Secondly, though the truth proclaimed by the Saviour is the truth necessary and sufficient for salvation, it is not the whole truth. The Christian is called to go beyond apologetics and incorporate the truth proclaimed by Christ into a larger picture. The learned Christian should not hesitate to take fragments of truth from wherever he finds them. Truth as such is the one ever-living Logos. Undoubtedly Greek philosophies have done no more than tear off a fragment of truth. Yet the parts, though differing from each other, preserve their relation to the whole. “Be assured that he who brings the separate fragments together and make them one again will contemplate the perfect Word, the Truth” (Stromata 1,13) “ The way of truth is one. But into it, as into a perennial river, streams flow from all sides” (Stromata , 5).
* Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, see Dictionnaire des Philosophes, Paris, Albin Michel, 2001, p.357-363
(English mathematician and philosopher of science, 1845-1879)
Clifford's basic principle is that it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. He fortifies his judgment with Milton's famous sentence: "A man may be a heretic in the truth; and if he believes things only because his pastor says so, or the assembly so determines, without knowing other reason, though his belief be true, yet the very truth he holds becomes his heresy." Most of the time the only reason for belief is that everybody has believed something for so long that it must be true. And yet the belief may have been founded on fraud and propagated by credulity. The rule which should guide us in such cases is simple and obvious enough: we have no right to believe a thing true because everybody says so unless there are good grounds for believing that some one person at least has the means of knowing what is true, and is speaking the truth so far as he knows it. Every man who has accepted the statement from somebody else, without himself testing and verifying it, is out of court; his word is worth nothing at all.
When we get back at the true birth and beginning of some statement, two serious questions must be disposed of in regard to him who first made it: was he mistaken in thinking that he knew about this matter, or was he lying? In what case is the testimony of a man worthy or unworthy of belief? He may say that which is untrue either knowingly or unknowingly. In the first case he is lying, and his moral character is to blame; in the second case he is ignorant or mistaken, and it is only his knowledge or his judgment which is in fault. In order that we may have the right to accept his testimony as ground for believing what he says, we must have reasonable grounds for trusting his veracity (that he is really trying to speak the truth so far as he knows it), his knowledge (that he has had opportunities of knowing the truth about this matter), and his judgment (that he has made proper use of those opportunities in coming to the conclusion which he affirms).
However plain and obvious these reasons may be, it is nevertheless true that a great many persons do habitually disregard them in weighing testimony. Of the two questions, equally important to the trustworthiness of a witness, "Is he dishonest?" and "May he be mistaken?" the majority of mankind are perfectly satisfied if they can be answered in the negative. The witness is neither dishonest nor mistaken. His excellent moral character is alleged as ground for accepting his statements about things - but which perhaps he cannot possibly have known. Are we to doubt the word of the great spiritual 'Gurus' of mankind? Can we suppose that they have lied to us about the most solemn and sacred matters? Is not their moral character an excellent evidence that they were honest and spoke the truth so far as they knew it? Clifford replies: we are not at liberty to conclude from the moral excellence of these spiritual masters that they were inspired to declare the truth about things which we cannot verify. We are only at liberty to infer the excellence of their moral precepts. The fact that believers have found joy and peace in believing gives us the right to say that the doctrine is a comfortable doctrine, and pleasant to the soul; but it does not give us the right to say that it is true. And the question which our conscience is always asking about that which we are tempted to believe is not, "Is it comfortable and pleasant?" but, "Is it true?"
This, then, is how one should deal with the sacred traditions of mankind. One should learn that they consist not in propositions or statements which are to be accepted and believed on the authority of these traditions, but in questions rightly asked, in conceptions which enable people to ask further questions, and in methods of answering questions. The value of all these things depends on their being tested day by day. The very sacredness of the precious deposit imposes upon all the duty and the responsibility of testing it, of purifying and enlarging it to the utmost of our power. He who makes use of its results to stifle his own doubts, or to hamper the inquiry of others, is deeply mistaken. He is guilty to believe something without sufficient evidence of its truth.
* Clifford, William K. The Ethics of Belief (1877), presently in print by Prometheus Books, 1999
(Contemporary American philosopher)
Tradition is not a reliable criterion of truth
A criterion of truth is any standard that is used to differentiate between true beliefs and false beliefs. Criteria of truth are also often called standards of verification because they are the means by which we verify the accuracy of certain claims. The criteria of custom, tradition, and authority are fundamentally social in nature. A person does not rely upon custom, tradition, or authority in isolation; their use is predicated upon particular social systems and relationships which people learn from they time they are very young. Indeed, these criteria are often so ingrained in us that we don’t always realize that we are using them. That, however, is very often the problem because neither custom nor tradition are very reliable means for assessing the truth of a belief, while authority is only reliable in very particular contexts. If people do not know that they are relying upon these criteria, then they also cannot understand why they shouldn’t do so in the first place and move on to something better. Too often, reliance upon standards of custom, tradition, and authority characterizes a person who simply isn’t thinking very hard about the topic.
Still let us be fair: if we never relied upon custom, tradition, or authority and instead worked out every little detail for ourselves, it is unlikely that we would ever get anything done. They are, in a sense, social habits — a way of thinking and acting that comes automatically so that we can focus our attention on more important matters.
Very often custom and tradition are confused with one another. This is not unreasonable because customs usually become tradition and traditions are usually social customs. There is, however, a genuine difference. A custom is simply whatever is common or popular in society, regardless of whether it is ancient or of relatively recent origin. Custom comes into play most often when it comes to how people dress and the sorts of expressions they use. It is employed as a criterion of truth whenever someone argues, in some fashion, that anything popular must also be better and closer to what is required by reality.
Tradition, however, is something which has endured for many generations. It may be widely popular as a custom, but it might also continue with just a small subset of society. Whenever tradition is used as a criterion of truth, it is assumed that whatever has lasted this long must also be more correct — otherwise, it would have been replaced by now. Tradition is no better than custom when it comes to separating truth from falsehood — indeed, it is an accepted logical fallacy known as “Appeal to Tradition.”
Authority is somewhat different from custom and tradition because it is capable of being a valid means for determining the truth of a belief. When a person is an expert in the area of knowledge under consideration, the statement of the authority concerns his or her area of mastery, and there is agreement among experts in the area of knowledge under consideration, then it would be justified for us to accept as “true” the statements from this person as a figure of authority. Outside of that context, however, the statements from a so-called authority should be treated very cautiously.
* See Internet on Austin Cline
(Contemporary Australian philosopher)
The role of testimony in acquiring belief and knowledge has been a relatively neglected philosophical issue. The reason may be that the acquisition of knowledge through testimony does not seem to live up to the standards of knowledge. Still the fact is that many of the beliefs that people hold have been gained through accepting testimony. How can testimony give us true knowledge when we have no reasons of our own?
Coady defends the thesis that we have a priori justifications to believe in the testimony of other people. He rejects the "reductivist" thesis of David Hume. Hume contended that our trust in the testimony of another person has to be a posteriori established, after we have recognized a stable correlation between what the witness reports and reality, i.e. after we have ourselves established the fiability of the witness through an ordinary inductive inference. According to him the reason why we place any credit in witnesses and historians, is not derived from any connexion, which we perceive a priori, between testimony and reality, but because we are accustomed to find a conformity between them.
For Coady this position is untenable: we cannot judge independently the fiability of the observations of witness and the fialibility of his testimony. Coady affirms that knowledge acquired by testimony can be held a priori for true. The data of testimony are a fundamental category of data not reducible to other basic categories such as observation and deductive inference: Coady is an "anti-reductivist".
Coady invokes the principle of "interpretative charity" according to which we are disposed, apart from contrary reasons, to interpret statements as expressing a true belief. On the basis of this principle he derives the a priori justification of the fiability of testimonies. We are justified to take for truth what other people say. He defends an 'anti-individualistic' approach of the justification of beliefs, in holding that linguistic communication is a source of information , the fiability of which is comparable to the one of memory, perception or inference. Coady has sought to redeem and justify our attention to the words of others as a source of knowledge as equal in dignity to our direct perceptions and the work of our memories. That the perceptions of others are as good if not better on occasion than our own and their transmission to us as valuable if not more valuable on occasion than our own investigations are conclusions perfectly compatible with their being the outcome of our epistemological investigation. The question 'How can we share in knowledge?' is one that only an individual can ask but this does not show that its answer must give priority to individual resources.
* Coady,c.a.j., Testimony, a Philosophical Study, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992
(American theologian, b.1925)
Christians must be open to truth in all its forms, even be ready to discover new truths
Cobb, the eminent advocate of process theology - for which the notion of creative becoming must replace the old idea of immutable being - does not hesitate to put forward his conviction that Christians have truths about humanity, about nature, and about God, that are universally valid. To say that they are universally valid, however, does not mean that they say everything that can be said. We can always arrive at a fuller understanding and expression of truth; we can, in fact, discover new truths. One of Cobb’s most important claim is that being faithful to Christ means that one must be open to truth in all its forms. Christianity is a living movement, and for that reason it does not demand commitment to any form that it has taken in the past. Rather, its commitment must be to the task of responding rightly in the ever-changing situation. In faithfulness to Christ his followers must be open to others and to what others have to say, for the fullness of Christianity lies, as Cobb puts it, in the ever-receding future. Doctrinal definitions are always responses to a particular questions or challenges; for this reason they do not say everything. Since there will always be new questions and challenges, Christians can - indeed must - seek ever fuller and more complete ways of expressing the transformation that comes through faith in the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Securely rooted and radically open, Christians enter into dialogue with other believers not only to understand and appreciate the faith and practices of the others, but to come to a fuller understanding of the depth and breadth of their own faith. Some Christians believe that since Christ referred to himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, dialogue with other religions is not necessary and can even be an expression of a lack of faith in Christ. Cobb’s answer to this objection is that we must chose between two images of the Way. One is to consider the Way as a blueprint, a fixed set of guidelines, to which we must conform ourselves. This, says Cobb, is the way of legalism and is to be rejected. The second image is that of trusting in the Spirit that leads us into all truth, responding to opportunities as they arise, opening ourselves to criticism from others, testifying to the truth, always seeking to learn more. This, he contends, is the Way and the Truth of Christ.
* John B. Cobb, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition. Philadelphia: 1976, Westminster Press.
(Unidentified American Adventists unternaut)
The deception of the “Present Truth” concept of the Adventist community
“Present Truth” is a frequent term used in the Adventist community. Its most popular definition is that Present Truth is progressive truth. That is that truth in particular for a particular time or situation. But the idea that it is a progressive revelation of truth is not really that compatible with how the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist church used the term. It would be nice if it meant progressive revelation of truth but the usage in history only tangentially touches that idea.
Special truths have been adapted to the conditions of the generations as they have existed. The present truth, which is a test to the people of this generation, was not a test to the people of generations far back.
When you read Ellen White (the foundress of Adventism), who uses the term “present truth” over a thousand times you begin to realize that it is not so much a term of dynamic progressive understanding but a shorthand code-word for Adventist doctrine. What the Adventists were teaching was Present Truth.
The funny thing about the term Present Truth is that in effect it is quite meaningless. It has no practical definition aside from the claims made by whomever feels they have Present Truth. There is really nothing concrete that is presented as being Present Truth by Ellen White. Present Truth for Adventists was simply what they believed as Adventists. It was not Present Truth because it was really true, it was Present Truth because they were the remnant, they were the true followers of God and their distinctive beliefs were believed to be true.
It is time to abandon the term “present truth”. Present Truth is always what we believe and it will always be what we believe. Present Truth is an illusion, a piece of propaganda to make the uncertain feel certain. It is a term I will no longer use and I hope that the Adventist church will also abandon the deception of Present Truth for a more reasoned truth that is subject to changing interpretations and even dare I say it…acknowledging that some things we thought were true were not. Because that is really the only way progressive revelation will work for anyone.
*See Internet Rob Cobson
(American spiritual teacher, b.1955)
The Truth of Impersonality: truth can never be a personal affair
“ The Truth of Impersonality” states that ultimately every aspect of your own personal experience can be seen from a perspective that is completely impersonal. And it is from that vast universal perspective alone that true liberation can be found.
The impersonal view reveals to us that the separate self-sense, or ego, is nothing more than an illusion of uniqueness, created moment by moment through our compulsive habit of personalizing almost every thought, feeling, and sensation we have. The truth is that the human experience could never be a personal affair. Most of the highs and lows we go through and compulsively claim as “mine” are in fact shockingly impersonal. From the biggest perspective, all human experience can be seen as being part of a process—an evolutionary or developmental process that is moving forward in time. Our own personal experience of that process in all its many dimensions—inner and outer, gross and subtle—is ultimately a very small part of an infinite unfolding. Thoughts and feelings that arise in individual consciousness reflect emotional and psychological structures or habits that have slowly developed over hundreds of thousands of years.
If you step back and begin to look more and more objectively, in light of this greater context we exist within, you will slowly but surely begin to recognize for yourself the impersonal nature of all of your own experience. In that recognition, the personal dimension will suddenly become completely transparent to you. This insight, even if only temporary, will completely undercut every belief you have about being a unique, individuated entity who lives in some separate bubble, mysteriously isolated from everything else that exists. You are a process. Dare to face this and you will become transparent to yourself.
The personal is simply the veil that creates the illusion of separation that is ego. And it’s a mighty illusion. It’s powerful and profound. Most of us live our entire lives behind that veil, never stepping beyond it except perhaps in brief glimpses of higher states. But if you are willing to face into the truth of impersonality, and have the courage to see through your own personal self-sense, you will discover the utterly impersonal nature of the authentic self, which is who you really are. And as you embrace the impersonal perspective, your identification and allegiance will shift dramatically from the personal concerns of the ego to the impersonal passion of the authentic self, which cares only for the future of our collective developmental process. To the authentic self, the personal is irrelevant. If your allegiance is with the authentic self, you may still experience the personal dimension—the ego’s fears, neuroses, and irrational compulsions—but you will miraculously find that you have the emotional, psychological, and spiritual strength to be able to handle it. Why? Because you know that you are only a very small part of a vast impersonal process. When you pull away the veil of the personal, you discover a radical objectivity that liberates you, right now, to consciously participate in the highest level of that process, which is the evolution of consciousness itself.
*Cohen Andrew: A Call for Evolution Beyond Ego (2002), ISBN 1-883929-30-X
(British philosopher of history, 1889-1943)
To know, for Collingwood, is to seek the answer to a question. It is a process of which questioning is one stage and answering is another. A proposition exists only as an answer to a question; it is true when it is the ‘right’ answer within a question-answer complex, i.e. when it is the answer which helps inquiry to proceed. Neither the proposition nor its truth exists independently of the process of enquiry.
Not only does every proposition answer a question, but every question, in its turn, rests upon a presupposition, without which the question would not arise. If we ask “what does this sign mean?”, we presuppose that “this sign” has a meaning. Or “what is the cause of that event?”, we presuppose that the event has a cause. These presuppositions (which change from time to time) are themselves not answer to a question. At a certain historical period, certain presuppositions prevail. At another time presuppositions are changed. They are not rejected on the ground that they are false – the notions of truth and falsity do not apply to them, since they are not propositions, not answers to questions - they are merely dropped. Metaphysicians have tried to demonstrate the truth of these presuppositions. But, argues Collingwood, this is a mistake. By their nature presuppositions do not admit of any proofs. All that can be done is to proceed historically, disentangling the presuppositions of a certain form of inquiry at a particular historic period.
Thus Collingwood advocates a genetic approach to philosophical ideas. His genetic enquiry is neither biological, nor psychological but historical. Natural science, philosophy and metaphysics are essentially historical. Their ‘facts’ consist in this: that at certain time and at a certain place certain ideas, theories and observations have been made. To show whether this is so, one must undertake an historical enquiry to unveil all the presuppositions prevailing in particular contexts.
Knowledge is thought that has always existed in the context of history, and depends on history for its existence. No one can understand the claims of science and philosophy unless he knows what history is. History must replace metaphysics; history is the only form of enquiry in which the human spirit can discover the presuppositions that have induced thinkers to truth-claims in the various branches of knowledge.
Collingwood holds that the recurrent vice of philosophy has always been to abstract propositions away from the context of the practical problems and questions that gave rise to them in history. Until we know the practical context of problems and questions to which a proposition is supposed to be an answer, we do not know what it means.
* Collingwood, Essay on Metaphysics, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1998
(American geneticist and author, b.1950)
Both science and faith are ways of seeking the truth.
Francis Collins is an outspoken believer in God and also one of the most respected scientists working today. For him humans have started the battle between science and faith, and it’s up to them now to end the battle. One needs today, even in some small way, to rediscover that harmony. He thinks that we are at a critical time in deciding how we are going to seek truth and meaning in life in the 21st century.
Clearly we will need science to help solve a lot of our problems—of illness, of communication systems, of care of our planet. But a purely materialist approach, stripping away the spiritual aspect of humanity, will impoverish mankind. All truth is God’s truth, and therefore God can hardly be threatened by scientific discoveries.
Collins argues that DNA is “God’s language.” He believes that the universe was created by God with the specific intention of giving rise to intelligent life. Given that we observe DNA to be the information molecule of all living things, one can regard therefore it as the “Logos” that God has used to speak life into being. However if it is clear that the process of evolution by natural selection over hundreds of millions of years is the “how” that explains the marvelous diversity of life, that doesn’t provide the answer to “why.” Collins thinks that God provides that answer.
A scientist can test his assumptions and beliefs. But as a Christian, he is ready to take “a leap of faith.” Collins agrees but suggests nonetheless that the two paths aren’t that different. Both science and faith are ways of seeking the truth. Science seeks truth about how the natural world works, and faith seeks answers to more profound questions such as, Why is there something instead of nothing?, or What is the meaning of life?, and Is there a God? All require a certain element of faith - one can’t be a scientist unless one has faith in the fact that there is order in nature, and that nature will behave in reproducible and predictable ways.
Moreover Collins believes that by investigating God’s majestic and awesome creation, science can actually be a means of worship. He confesses that his scientific work, itself, nourishes his spiritual life. In his own words: “as a scientist who is also a believer, I find exploring nature also to be a way of getting a glimpse of God’s mind. You can find God in the laboratory, just as much as in the cathedral.”
* Collins Francis, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Free Press; new in paperback July 2007
Freethinking is the only means of attaining a knowledge of truth
Anthony Collins, British philosopher who promoted deism and a sceptical attitude towards Scriptural revelation, is one of the first to use the term 'free-thinker'. By free-thinking he means the use of the understanding in endeavoring to find out the meaning of any proposition whatsoever, in considering the nature of the evidence for or against it, and in judging of it according to the seeming force or weakness of the evidence. Man has a right to know or may lawfully know any truth. And a right to know any truth whatsoever implies a right to think freely. To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in the world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.
Apologies for self-evident truths can never have any effect on those who have so little sense as to deny them. These truths are the Foundation of all Reasoning, and the only just bottom on which men can proceed in convincing one another of the truth: and by consequence whoever is capable of denying them, is not in a condition to be informed.
Like his friend Locke, Collins maintains that the advantage of free debate to society is infinite. It is not only the way to true religion and to true peace but the way to knowledge and arts, which are the foundations of politeness, order, happiness, and prosperity; as ignorance is the foundation of brutality, disorder, misery, and declension in society. It is the way to make men honest and sincere in the profession of religion (as imposition is only the way to make men knaves and hypocrites); and that will introduce honesty in other respects, which is the best policy, and the best improvement of man.
Unfortunately, most men, conscious of their own weakness, see plainly that they are unable by any application to inquiries to judge for themselves in many points. Thence they conclude they ought to be governed in their belief by the judgment of others. Then they take up with such guides as some chance or other directs them to; who not only form their opinions for them, but make them zealous for those opinions.
Zeal and ignorance are a most absurd and ridiculous competition in the same persons; these men most manifestly determine the point before them wrong by taking sides in matters wherein, as understanding nothing, they have no concern and should not pretend to have any opinion at all. Men have very different tempers and capacities from one another, naturally; have very different educations; do improve themselves very differently by study, according to their different capacities, application, and opportunities; have different interests, passions, and infirmities, by which they are influenced and acted; and are all fallible not only in matters that depend upon reason but in understanding the Scriptures, which though delivered to us by divine inspiration are in many places too obscure for men to be certain of their meaning.
* Collins Anthony, A Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion,
Discourse on Free-thinking , 1713
(Contemporary American philosopher)
Truth is what it is, independently of how we feel about it.
Our perception of truth may be negative, our response to truth may be negative, but truth in and of itself shows no partiality towards our categories of judgement.
If I cry when I hear the truth, that doesn’t mean truth is sad. It means I am saddened by my own perceived implications of the truth. If I laugh at the facts, that doesn’t make truth funny. It means I am making connections between facts in ways that are humorous to me.
Telling yourself the truth does NOT need to be a discouraging exercise.
If confronting the truth feels like you’re being whacked upside the head with a billy club, it may be because you’re beating yourself up unnecessarily, you’re communicating the truth to yourself in an unhealthy way, or you’re predominantly focusing on those parts of the truth that are most challenging to you.
People don’t feel beaten up and broken down because of the truth they tell themselves. They feel beaten up and broken down because of the other truths they omit and overlook. If your encounters with truth are failing to increase your sense of personal freedom, the solution is not less truth but more truth.
Optimism isn’t about denying the truth nor is it the art of pretending that all truths are about cotton candy and Christmas music. Optimism is about letting go of the fear-based assumption that the truth is something we need to run from. More importantly, it’s about abandoning the pitiful notion that we are fragile and flimsy beings who can’t handle the experience of having our knowledge upgraded and our paradigms redefined.
* See Internet Colman T.K.
Truth shattered by non-Euclidian geometry
Of all the branches of mathematics, Euclidean geometry seemed the most certain. For two thousand years, its theorems had fit perfectly with physical facts. Its deductive structure seemed to provide absolute truth. Euclidean geometry was set up as the paradigm for all fields--even the study of ethics, law, and society. Mathematics became nothing less than an idol.
But in the nineteenth century disaster struck. Mathematicians were shocked to discover other kinds of geometry--non-Euclidean geometries--which are equally valid. Which one was true? Suddenly the most absolute form of human knowledge turned out to be relative after all. It was as though truth itself had shattered.
Today many mathematicians don't even describe math as "true" any longer. Instead they speak of it as a game--ike bridge or baseball. The rules of mathematics are not considered "true" anymore; they are merely arbitrary conventions to make the game work.
Non-Euclidean geometry became a metaphor for sweeping away all established truths. Professors of ethics denounced Christian ethics as "Euclidean" and old-fashioned. Professors of law dismissed traditional legal theory as "Euclidean." Political scientists denounced the American political system as "Euclidean" and called for new systems. For if there was no single truth in mathematics, there seemed to be no truth anywhere. Non- Euclidean geometry became a symbol to promote radical relativism across the board.
*See Internet chuck Colson
(Czech educator and scientist, 1592-1670)
The Pansophist Truth: the synthetic system of a tripartite view of truth
Comenius’s ‘pansophist’ philosophy prescribed a system of truth and value which promised that people could acquire the knowledge that led to understanding and peace. Pansophism sought to embrace all knowledge within an integrative system, multi-dimensional in its scope but holistic in its purposes. If Comenius aimed for any one ideal, it was a synthetic system that, instead of splitting up the disciplines or bodies of knowledge, would bring together all knowledge into one consistent scheme. Comenius called his version of this massive enterprise "Pansophism" which was "the unification of all scientific, philosophical, political, and religious knowledge into one all-embracing, harmonious world view”. The foundation of Comenius philosophy was a hermeneutic of dialectic comparison, by which these differing disciplines were to be harmonized through what he called "syncretistic" comparison. In his vision, Pansophic colleges were to be founded where scholars would gather from across the world to research and integrate all truth. This truth about all things would then be taught to all humankind by all effective means.
Comenius called for a dialectical reconciliation of Scripture, nature, reason and attempted to strike a fine balance between science, theology, and philosophy. He attempted to implement his vision on many levels. He developed revolutionary new pedagogical reforms and began producing a series of universal class textbooks for pan-cultural multi-lingual use. He wrote that his main premise was that "the only true, genuine and plain way of Philosophy is to fetch all things from sense, reason and Scripture."
*See Keatinge, The Great Didactic of Comenius (London, 1896)
(French philosopher, 1952- )
Truth is not a value and values are not true:
they belong to different orders.
Knowledge and truth are related concepts but different as well. Our knowledge is always relative and temporal whereas truth is eternal and absolute. Knowledge is never the truth, the whole truth, but always partial whereas truth is reality itself in its totality. A certain knowledge may be true but it can never be taken for Truth itself. The truth of being and the truth of discourse are two different things. The truths that we ignore are no less true than those we know. Human beings slowly discover the complex reality, that is, the truth. Human truth is not an invention but the progressive unfolding of reality through knowledge.
Often it is said that truth is a value. Value or the good does not exist in itself, it exists through our desire or love. Judgements of value do not proceed from knowledge but from desire. Desire is the foundation of value. Now desires are neither neutral nor innocent. They depend on culture, environment, education and other forms of conditionings. Therefore the values that depend on desire are themselves relative to these settings.
Truth – unlike value - does not need us to be true, but it needs us to have value. One can give value to the truth, one can love the truth and desire it but truth does not love us. Truth or reality is indifferent to our desires. The truth is not the good and the good is not true. They belong to two different orders. One cannot say at the same time what is true and what is good. What one must think (knowledge) and what one must do (value judgement) never coincide. The conjunction of good and true is idealist, dogmatic or religious. It amounts to think that reality always submits to our desires, to our values, to our interests. But is not so: for instance we desire not to die but the truth is that we are bound to die.
Nonetheless some want to give sense and meaning to reality and truth, for instance believers and theists. In the conditions of religious faith, it is assumed that God gives meaning to truth. He is the guarantee that truth is order and coherence. But this is to forget that meaning is not truth, for truth has no meaning - outside belief. To attribute meaning, to create meaning, is belief, not knowledge or the understanding of reality. Believers love a truth that has meaning because it gives them a comforting certitude. They place desire and love above knowledge. For believers God is the conjunction of truth and value (the good). The true God is the good God. But if God does not exist, there is nothing to guarantee that the conjunction of truth and good is the rule. The religious or idealist illusion consists in taking our desires for reality and conjoining truth and value.
But a philosopher cannot betray his love of knowledge and truth in placing desire and love above them. For him truth is not a value and is unrelated to desire. Hence truth has no meaning: it simply is.
* Comte-Sponville, André, Le Vrai et le Bien, art. In L’Humanité, 31 december 1999, Valeur et Vérité (Etudes cyniques) (1995)
(French philosopher, 1798-1857)
The positivist philosophy advocated by Comte postulates that the knowledge that science acquires progressively is the knowledge of reality, an objective reality, exterior to and independent of the observers who describe it. This knowledge must be considered as the mirror of reality. The role of the observer is to give an exact account of the external reality in adopting attitudes of strict objectivity and neutrality in using proper methods that allow him to describe reality as it is. One must abandon all claim to have any means of attaining knowledge other than that available to science; and that whatever questions cannot be answered by scientific methods one must be content to leave permanently unanswered.
Thus Comte's positivist paradigm presupposes the possibility for the subject to detach himself completely from the object in order to grasp it objectively in its true reality. Scientific knowledge is a faithful reflection of the real. The objective validity of scientific discoveries is what allows them to be universally valid and to impose themselves necessarily on all minds.
But rigorous scientific knowledge must not be confused or identified with empirical knowledge, which is not submitted to experimental verification, the common sense knowledge, an inferior type of knowledge, of little value and interest to reach out the nature of true reality. Comte is opposed to the postulate of philosophies that put the individual at the centre of their thinking. Society is more that the sum of individuals that composes it. For him the individual man is not the object of human science. He opposes the social to the individual and blames philosophy for supporting the predominance of the subject over the object. Introspection does not lead anywhere: it is useless and absurd. Knowledge is always turned towards the outer reality. The Cartesian cogito must be rejected.
Comte's positivist claim is that there is only one kind of truth, the scientific truth. It does not acknowledge the division of that truth into logical and empirical, it rejects such areas as theology and metaphysics as meaningless, it turns a blind eye to the view that there may be several different kinds of truth, only one of which is the concern of science, but all of which may be equally valid.
* Auguste Comte, Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte,1855 translated by Harriet Martineau, Kessinger Publishing, Paperback, 2003
(French philosopher, b.1922)
1. The purpose of philosophy is not happiness but the search for truth. It may be that truth is painful or even destructive of happiness. Religion, in contrast, gives the assurance of happiness and tells what to do to obtain it. Hence illusion is more important than truth if it is conducive to happiness. Buddha's teaching, for instance, was only about what ends human suffering and thereby brings peace and happiness. Likewise Christ's message was one of beatitude and salvation. Religions profess to 'save' individuals from the nothingness of their being-for-death. They remove existential anxiety and bring peace in tracing the way to follow to reach happiness. They do not search for truth but present themselves as means of 'salvation'.
Modern science, which is no longer dependent on philosophy, does not aim at truth for itself but only as means to submit and dominate; it is at the service of power. It acquaints us with the given reality in order that we may anticipate, foresee and act. The finality of science is usefulness and technique. No one is interested in scientific laws for themselves but only for their practical applications. Technology requires from science the limited knowledge that it needs, namely partial truths. Science is 'plural' ; its truths are partial, never the one universal Truth.
Philosophy alone deals with truth for itself. Truth, which is the whole of reality, includes the rational as well as the irrational. Philosophy is the work of reason or common sense. But contrary to scientific reason which ignores the marvelous and the mysterious, philosophy recognizes and identifies the irrational and the mysterious. If philosophy aims at the truth, it is not only the truth established from the given, but the truth about the totality of reality, the given as well as what transcends the given - which is called metaphysics
2. Philosophy is the search for truth but the paradox is that it never finds it. Philosophy is skeptical by essence. Skepticism and philosophy are one. Hence there is no end to philosophy. Dogmatism is a bad philosophy because it stops too early. The dogmatist encloses the truth in a system and thinks that the matter is settled. Philosophy has to acknowledge that the vital questions of life and existence remain unanswered, unlike religions that want to fill the emptiness by fictions. "Truth lies at the bottom of a well", said Democritus. "Yes", adds Conche, "but it is a bottomless well".
* Conche Marcel, Le sens de la philosophie. La Versanne, Encre Marine, 1999
(French encyclopedist, 1743-1794)
All power, of whatever nature, is naturally the enemy of lights. Every man who professes to search for truth and to tell it, will always be odious to those who exercise authority. This is the sad truth of history, in every country and at every time. Look around yourself. Truth is always the enemy of power and of those who exercise it. Inversely the more truth spread, the less societies are in need to be governed.
The hatred that power has for truth can easily be explained. For the more human beings are enlightened, the less it will be possible to cheat them. This shows that political emancipation can occur only with the diffusion of the truths of reason.
* See Kahn, P., La Vérité, Paris, Hatier, 1993, p.62
(Chinese thinker, 551-479)
1. Confucius does not present himself either as a prophet of a revealed truth nor as a philosopher in search of the truth. For him everything is already written and stamped in some sort of universal design which he names , rather vaguely, “the Heavenly Will”. “Heaven” does not point to a transcendent Being. It refers to an immanent and eternal ideal harmony. The present world does not follow this perfect order. It is disturbed by the lack of virtues of individuals and their rulers. The miseries of the people do not come from heaven; all disorders come from human beings.
Human beings must regulate their life in this world with no metaphysical and eschatological preoccupations. Self-realization is accomplished within the human community. The individual achieves perfection in the practice of five fundamental social virtues.
2. To know the truth and find the way, the knowledge of antiquity was essential for Confucius. He proclaims the voice of antiquity. He points the way to a ‘conservative’ form of life. For him the philosopher does not advance his ideas as his own. The wise person who submits to the old is saved from the presumption of basing great demands on his/her own small self. Independent thought, springing from the nothingness of mere reason, is futile. Confucius calls himself a traditionalist, not one who creates new things: “ I am a faithful lover of the old” . The source of being is to be found in history, in the founders of society, manners and customs. Confucius was inspired by many historical figures. However he had a critical view of history. He did not advocate imitation of the past, but repetition of the eternal truth. The eternal ideas were merely more discernible in antiquity than at his time.
If the truth has been manifested in the past we shall find it by investigating the past, but in so doing we must distinguish between what true and what is false. This is done by learning, not merely to acquire more information but to make it our own. For him the mode of learning and teaching becomes a fundamental problem. He lays the ground for school education in selecting ancient texts, documents, codes of manners and customs, and reworking them with a view of truth.
In Confucian philosophy, ritual is crucial to being a ‘gentleman’ and running a good government. A ‘gentleman’ is a person who is virtuous and well educated in ritual. A good knowledge of ritual can only be acquired through study. Without learning all other virtues are obscured. Sincerity and a willingness to learn are essential for living in the truth.
* See The Analects of Confucius, translated by Brooks, Bruce & Taeko, New york, Columbia, 1998
(French theologian, 1904-1995)
The truth in tradition: a dynamic concept of tradition
Congar’s views concerning the truth in tradition is founded on a highly dynamic concept of tradition. He argues that the common understanding of tradition as “reference to the past” is not exact. In tradition there is rather a presence of the past in the present, a presence of the events that are constitutive of the religious relationship at each moment of time, laid open, situated and constituted, a presence of the Principle at all the moments of its development.
Congar is convinced that tradition in its historical journey “is as much development as memory and conservation.” The deposit of faith, as received today, comes with the enrichment that results from its having been “lived, pondered, and expressed by generations of believers inhabited and vivified by the Spirit of Pentecost.”
In order to clarify his view on tradition, Congar points out that there are two levels of fidelity. On a superficial level, fidelity may be understood as adherence to the approved forms. Many Christians fail to perceive that fidelity to the past calls for creative appropriation. All too often they live their faith on the level of received ideas and customs, which they confuse with tradition. But on a deeper level, the faithful adherent is one who penetrates to the meaning, the principle, the intention. Only the latter type of fidelity is open to progress and development. Following in the footsteps of Newman, Congar asserts that the dynamic idea at the basis of Christianity transcends all the forms in which it can be objectified. Reflection on the idea gives rise to continually new insights and propositions, none of which exhausts what was implicitly known from the beginning. In Newman’s perspective, therefore, development is an inner dimension of tradition itself.
Tradition has to be conceived not so much as a “deposit of doctrine” than as a shared style of living, not primarily an accumulation of documents and testimonies but the life of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the church. For Congar, Tradition is “the church’s life in the communion of faith and worship... the setting in which the Catholic sense is fostered and finds expression”.
Consequently, Scripture and tradition should not be seen as two parallel deposits of revelation but as two witnesses to one and the same body of truth. Congar argues that “no article of the Church’s belief is held on the authority of Scripture independently of Tradition, and none on the authority of Tradition independently of Scripture.” The apostolic heritage, initially crystallized in Scripture, continues to be transmitted through living tradition, and only in the light of that tradition discloses its true meaning. The implication is that Scripture and Tradition are not two sources containing different material but two modes of transmitting the same deposit of faith. One might call it the "two modes" view as opposed to the "two sources" view. Congar encapsulated this idea with the slogan: Totum in scriptura, totum in traditione, "all is in Scripture, all is in Tradition", which he attributes to Cardinal Newman.
* Congar Yves La Tradition et les traditions: Essai historique, volume one, and Essai théologique, volume two, Paris: Fayard, 1960 and 1963.
(Contemporary American Theologian)
The truth isn’t a doctrine about Jesus; it is simply Jesus himself.
The truth of the gospel frees us from every worldview —whether ethical or doctrinal. Worldviews are universal ideas, beliefs, or norms that claim to determine what is true or right in advance and in the abstract. But Christian faith knows of no worldview binding for the believer. There is no universal doctrinal formulation to which all must blindly assent, nor any legalistic command which all must blindly obey. And this is because worldviews are inherently untranslatable, and thus antithetical to the translatable mission of God; they are inevitably a form of diffusion and absorption. Worldviews are always a form of propaganda. Contrary to every worldview, the gospel of Jesus Christ is a liberating truth. It frees us from every ideology, every law (i.e., formal legalism), every cultural-historical claim upon the apocalyptic revelation in Jesus Christ. To know the truth is to know that we are set free from these powers and principalities, even when they masquerade as “biblical truth” and “church tradition.”
According to Colson, Christians are supposed to blindly assent to whatever the church teaches. Discipleship is the process by which the “old man”—and here it includes everything that is particular about a person, including their cultural-historical context—is destroyed so that we will accept with open arms whatever we are told by the church authorities. Discipleship is thus diffusion. It is a process of colonization. Everything that is culturally specific about a person is nullified so that each person can be remade in the image of the colonizing (i.e., catechizing) power. This is not merely a formal authority, in which content is irrelevant and only our blind, abstract obedience is demanded; this is also an imperialistic authority, in which those in power violently subjugate others for the purpose of replicating their culturally-defined beliefs, norms, and practices. In every conceivable respect, this is the antithesis of the mission of Jesus Christ, who kenotically abandoned all pretensions to such power, going into the far country in total abandon, offering himself in submission to others to the point of death—even death on a cross.
“What is truth?” Colson speaks repeatedly of “truth,” it is always in a cognitive-propositional manner. But is this faithful to the biblical witness? Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). The truth isn’t a doctrine about Jesus; it is simply and concretely Jesus himself.
Colson thinks revelation is a set of dogmatic-doctrinal statements. The fact that scripture does not contain any of these statements obliges him to elide the distinction between scripture and tradition. The end result is that Colson cannot help but elide the distinction between Christ and the church. Revelation is the “sacred deposit” of the church, the various rules and statements established by the church over the centuries. It is the authority of the church, not the authority of Christ, that demands our formal, blind obedience. Colson’s theology is the deification of the church, and thus the deification of a particular cultural form.
* See Internet David Congdon
(Contemporary American author)
Truth is a property of value: while truth has value, fact simply is.
We have an almost reflexive tendency to run the idea of ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ together, blurring them as though one were synonymous with the other – fact makes truth obvious. This leaves truth as a value that hinges on fact. This is automatically done countless times, because at first glance it would seem that what is ‘true’ is also a statement of fact – a true, objective fact. Closer scrutiny shows that there is an important distinction to be made between truth and fact. Truth has value while fact does not. Fact simply is. Value is what distinguishes truth from fact.
Truth is in a cognitive process separate from fact, and more than that, truth is a screen that filters objective fact. The implication is that truth is a thing in our heads, while fact is something largely unknown, except by truth, a thing distinct from fact.
Truth is a thing distinct from objective fact, yet truth seems to possess this quality of ‘graspability’ and ‘possessability,’ truth, and truth-value, must have some operational element in both the cognitive setting of the mind and the material objectivity of the actual world. A truth can always be linked to something independent of our individual cognition, either embodied in a reflection of material reality, as a glimpse into manifestation of relationships, or revealed in a disclosure of abstractions. Yet at the same time it is we who do the reflecting, the disclosing, the manifesting, which are inner operations independent of the actual and social world.
The real value of truth is that truth is the bridge between the real world and the realm of certainty. Certainty, as opposed to truth, is almost entirely a part of the cognitive world and removed from any immediate connection with the objective material world. This accounts for the greater difficulty with ‘certainty.’ Truth, by contrast, is a connective process, as described above, cognitively organizing the material objectivity into “the thing called truth,” therefore providing ‘the thing’ with a truth-value, the ‘value’ portion of which can enter the realm of certainty.
Truth having this thing-like feel to it also suggests something else – truth as property. In this way it is possible to think of truth as something like a universal possession, a property available to all of humanity. All humanity can possess truth, almost as though truth were something tactile as well as cognitive. This has an appropriate ring to it. Truth as a distillation and reorganization of the concrete world draws that world directly into the process of reasoning and through that process of reasoning infuses the objective fact with what it lacked before – the value of truth. This in no way defines exactly what truth is, but makes it plain that whatever truth is, it is a thing which, by its nature, is a property of value which is (or should be) universally available and shared by all.
See Internet John Connor
(Contemporary English professor of modern literature and theory)
1. War has truth as its ground, motive, or object. War, one could say, is a conflict lifted into a dispute regarding truth. If this is right then all wars are either initially, or become in time, wars in the name of truth, campaigns to defend, uphold truth, and defeat its adversaries. War is in truth in the sense that truth is the element in which war moves. The war becomes a struggle to preserve truth – from the viewpoint, naturally, of each of the adversaries.
Truth is thus the principal motive of war. But it is even more its imperilled victim and its first casualty. The injuries to truth are the longest-lasting legacy of war. Thus truth and war are both opposites and confederates. Truth is nowhere to be found in war and everywhere at work in it. The only guaranteeable truths are those that transcends conflict and violence – but at the same time the only certain guarantee of a truthful belief is a willingness to fight for it, or subject it to contest.
2. If war is characteristically war over truth, then the reversal may also be possible. The contention of philosophical postmodernism is that truth is impossible to separate from contention, division and war. Its theory of “truth-wars” is that wars are waged to possess the truth, to establish the truth that there must be truth, and to evince that truth is always illusion, ideology and ruse of power. For postmodern theorists it is no longer possible to preserve or rescue the truth of truth from questions of power. We can detect three characteristic responses to the close implication of truth with forms of violence.
The first is the Nietzschean perspective. Nietzsche advances the extreme version of the claim that truth is never more than the ruse of power. The position of the truth-teller is always to exercise power over the world, the power to rule, divide and annihilate. Nietzsche declares war on truth with the aim to strip bare the warlike nature of truth.
The second is Levinas’ project of an ethics against truth, insofar as truth appears to him to be a coercion of existence into propositional form. Indeed the assault mounted upon truth in much postmodern thinking is in fact an assault upon propositional truth, that is, truth-telling. According to Foucault, for example, truth becomes power when it becomes a matter of institutionalized statements. Language and abstract thought are ‘ a violence that we do to things’. But Levinas sees the necessity of a non-violent thinking of truth. He places ethics as the first philosophy. He announces an ethics that cannot be derived from reason or truth and cannot become an object of knowledge, thus escaping the violence of propositionality. Hence for Levinas, following Heidegger, the assertion of truth is a way of being, a behaviour towards Being rather than a way of saying it. This is the way by which he attempts to reduce the contradiction between the peace of ethical relation and the war waged in the name of metaphysics and philosophical knowledge.
Thirdly the violence of truth has another response, represented in the work of Habermas who sees truth as the antagonist of war. Habermas espouses a version of the consensus theory of truth, the theory that truth comes about, not when statements correspond to the way things are in the world, but when consensus can be reached. The absolute truth of unlimited consensus can only be expected to appear with the removal of all relations of domination. Truth equals peace and justice. Under conditions of maximal freedom and absence of any constraints, the unforced force of the better argument can prevail. The force of truth transcends use and advantage; it is subject to no kind of forcing itself, being the necessity of our freedom. Habermas proposes a view of truth as a kind of just war, unlike the Nietzschean ‘arms-race’ or the Levinasian ‘disarmement’ or escapism.
3. There are two kinds of postmodernism. The first, as we have seen, is characterised by the intensity of its desire to extirpate itself from the possibility of violence. This desire is a kind a metaphysical delusion that, in being the exact obverse to the tradition of absolute truth it claims to displace, it is also its obedient mirror and thus represents a resumption rather than a cessation of metaphysical hostilities. Against this ‘bad’ form of postmodernism, Steven Connor proposes a ‘good’ imaginary kind of postmodernism. The contradictions encountered between truths and the modes of truthfulness that produce them must not be evaded but seen as necessity rather than failure, as opportunity rather than guilt. One should pay respect to both the alternatives involved in any contradiction and to the urgent desire to escape contradiction that is always part of its warlike aspiration to peace – ‘warlike’, because its peace depends upon the cancellation of one or both alternatives. This does not imply the necessity of plural truths but the necessity of a plural forms of truthfulness. The history of philosophy urges us to regain contact with the complete account of attitudes towards truth and truthfulness. The postmodern claims that truth is either always on the side of war or always opposed to it, is highly questionable. It is unthinkable that one should abandon the strong functions and values that have always been concentrated in the notion of truth. At the same time one must hold out against the idea that different forms of truthfulness are compressible unto one underlying form of truth. The mutual hostility of different modes of truth is the necessary condition of a dialogical stance. On behalf of narrowly-conceived modes of truth postmodern thought has been busy waging wars-to-end-all-wars. Thus they have neglected the possibility of reasoned deliberation between different forms of truth.
* Connor Steven, The War on Truth, lecture given at a colloquium on ‘Postmodernism and Truth’, University of Sunderland, 1993
( French writer, 1767-1830)
No one has a right to a truth which injures others
Lying, in general, is something that we chastise and place a negative valence upon. To tell the truth is considered the morally correct thing to do. Much ink has been spilled on the nature of truth and its importance. For instance, Kant thought that it was an imperative to tell the truth. To do otherwise, he considered, is a violation of the categorical imperative since one could not will lying to be a universal law. As a major Enlightenment figure, Kant thought that reason could prove to any person the necessity of telling the truth.
Benjamin Constant raised strong objections to Kant’s theory, claiming that the moral principle, “It is a duty to tell the truth” should be taken into consideration according to the circumstances. Constant created a well-known example to discuss Kant’s universal morality idea: How far it is a moral duty to tell a murderer the place where his prey is hidden? Are we morally obliged to tell the truth even if it would cause a death? Constant briefly stated that “no one has a right to a truth which injures others.”
He placed the emphasis on the predictable consequences much more than the strict ‘duty definition.’ Against Kant’s ethical theory, he claimed that “The moral principle stating that it is a duty to tell the truth would make any society impossible if that principle were taken singly and unconditionally”. Constant thought that no society could ever survive on the pure truth.
For Kant people have always a duty to tell the truth, whatever the circumstances. Contrary to this Constant claimed that while “To tell the truth is thus a duty, but it is a duty only with regard to one who has a right to the truth. But no one has a right to a truth that harms others”.
The positions of Kant and Constant raise critical questions. On the one hand Kant raises issues of duty and responsibility. On the other hand, Constant asks us to reconsider the absolute obligation to tell the truth and asks us to consider if there might be important reasons why to tell the truth might not be the wisest or best decision. Constant asks us to consider whether or not society can function on a practical level on the pure truth.
This sums up Constant’s basic argument against Kant…for whom moral principles have an absolute value. Constant claims that it was precisely this kind of absolutism that turned general opinion against principles as such.
* See Gennuso Mary, Kant and Constant on Lying, New York City Technical College, Brooklyn, New York 11201
(Contemporary Dutch psychometitor)
The proof that absolute truth exists
The adjective "absolute" in this proof should be taken in its literal sense, so as "the opposite of relative", or as "objective". It must not be confused or related to "divine" or "infinite". What is the absolute truth? The proof speaks of "absolute truth", not "the". It is not a particular truth, but the general concept of things being able to be objectively true, as opposed to all things being relative, subjective and uncertain.
The proof only shows that the sentence itself is true, and says nothing of other truths. The fact that there is one true sentence is proof that absolute truth exists; only one instance is needed to prove that. If at least one sentence is true, we know it is possible for sentences (statements, propositions, claims, assertions) to be true. In other words, the "null hypothesis" (absolute truth does not exist) has been rejected. Note well: To say that it is possible for sentences (statements, et cetera) to be true in no way implies that there actually exist multiple true sentences!
The claim "Absolute truth does not exist" is shown to be not absolutely true, and it is added that it doesn't prevent it from being relatively true. But this comment would be true if relative truth would exist. But it does not; things are true or not true, there is nothing in between. If there was, one could "prove" or "disprove" anything, and it would mean nothing. To assume the existence of relative truth is a bit like saying, "Everyone can be a little bit right, in his own way". "Truth is subjective, one person's truth is not the same as another person's truth".
But then we should know that words like "truth" and "true" are reserved for information that is independent of individual subjective perception, objective, factual, proven, absolute. For information that is dependent on individual perception, subjective, opinionative, suspected, relative - so, for information that differs between subjects - use words like "opinion", "view", or "perception". For instance, do not say "One person's truth is not the same as another person's truth", or "Whose truth do you mean?". Instead, say "One person's opinion is not the same as another person's opinion", or "Whose opinion do you mean?", because that is what you mean to say.
Does this mean that we know the answers to all questions? No, because (1) the fact that absolute truth exists does not imply that the answers to all questions are or can be known, and (2) the fact that absolute truth exists is a general fact, and is not connected to any particular individual. Do note that the answer in this paragraph in no way excludes the possibility that a particular individual knows the answers to all questions, but merely explains that the proof does not imply that a particular individual knows the answers to all questions.
While a personality profile may cause or dispose for inability to accept the proof, interest may help to sustain their denial of it. Who have the greatest interest in denying that things can be objectively true? Obviously, those who believe in ideas that are not true; philosophical relativism is what protects their ideology from being exposed as false, for if nothing can be objectively true, nothing can be objectively false either. They must keep up the mantra of "Truth is subjective", otherwise their belief system and their world will fall apart.
See Internet Cooilmans Paul
(Contemporary American Bapist minister)
Love is the servant of truth, not vice versa
The philosophy of ecumenical evangelism states that love is more important than doctrine and cries out that "love unifies and doctrine divides." Does the New Testament teach that love is more important than doctrine? Note what 1 Corinthians 13:13 says; "And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love)". Here is proof that love is more important than doctrine. Or is it? Let us look in the same chapter in verse 6; "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;" In other words, faith, hope, and love are "virtues" but "truth" has a completely different status.
First Corinthians 13:6 says that love rejoices in truth because truth defines love; it interprets; it protects; it channels it, without which it becomes a total disaster. We can not place "truth" on the same level as a virtue. All virtues would cease to exist if it were not for truth. We are to rejoice in the truth of the Gospel not in the virtue of love.
Because someone speaks the truth, is he then an enemy? No! Love is the manner and method of speaking the truth; in fact, love is the servant of truth. If the truth is not given in love (agape) and received in love (agape) then it is a conditional truth and, is therefore, not absolute. Love must never be allowed to displace the truth of God..
Truth is that which defines love and not vice versa. Christian love is based on truth; the truth of God’s eternal word. Christian love is not emotional, it not defined by worldly standards, and it is not conditional.
Furthermore, Christian love can be seen in commitment. The commitment of an individual to be obedient to the truth and the commandments of God manifests itself in Christian love. When such commitment takes place, love will be a natural by-product. Yes, we love because we were first loved, but, truth is the absolute by which we are to conduct ourselves. If we love (agape) someone it is because the truth lives in us and not because be expect something in return. For someone to say, "Well he’s not a very loving person," may in itself be very misleading. We must first asked, "What is his commitment to the truth?" Love is not always something that can be felt; it is sometimes a matter of discernment. Why would a person dedicate his life to the teaching, preaching, protecting, and feeding of the flock if he did not love the flock? We cannot allow ourselves to judge another on an emotion. Christian love is a virtue that results in a commitment to the truth.
* Rom Cook, Providence Baptist Ministries ,PBM Desktop Publications, Granbury, Texas
(Contemporary American philosopher of religion and apologist)
We all rely on the belief that absolute truth exist
Christian apologist Paul Copan argues in favour of the concept of absolute truth. He contends that we live our lives relying on the belief that absolute truth exists. He tells the story of a car collision. Everyone runs into the junction to explain his own story of what happened. Copan comments: “We gather evidence; weigh credibility and truthfulness; make difficult judgments. In the end, we arrive at a close proximity to truth. We can make truthful statements that describe with reasonable accuracy how events really happened...” Truth is more than our subjective reporting of a car crash. It has objective existence... therefore Copan asserts that:
-Truth is true – even if no one knows it.
-Truth is true – even if no one admits it.
-Truth is true – even if no one agrees with what it is.
-Truth is true – even if no one follows it.
-Truth is true – even if no one but God grasps it fully.
However the relativist does not agree: he argues that because everyone’s point of view is different, we can never know what really happened at the accident scene. In fact, the hard-core relativist says that given the slippery nature of what the rest of us mistakenly call ‘truth’, we can’t even settle on the fact that an accident actually happened.
Some people say that those who believe in absolute truth are intolerant and maybe even arrogant. But this is a misunderstanding of tolerance, which means “putting up with error,” and not “accepting all views as true.” So, if tolerance is putting up with error, that assumes that there is truth. One cannot have error without the concept of truth. This shows that to even use the word “intolerant” is to assume that there is a truth worth being intolerant about.
* Copan Paul, Truth For You, But Not For Me, Bethany House Publishers, 1998, ISBN 0–7642–2091–8
(Brithish marxist philosopher, 1908-1980)
Truth has been concealed by the oppressing classes of the past
Society has always been divided into classes. Thus the philosophical views which are current in society always express the outlooks of these various classes. Philosophies are all expressions of class outlooks, their theoretical formulation and ideology. In short, philosophy is always class philosophy. Indeed people do not think in isolation from society. Search as we may, we shall never find an impartial, non-partisan, non-class philosophy. Philosophies of the past have all, in one way or another, expressed the outlook of so-called “educated” classes, that is, of the exploiting classes. Today’s working class needs to express its own class outlook in philosophical form, and oppose this philosophy to the philosophies which defend the interest of exploiters. This is precisely what has happened in our times: a philosophy has arisen which expresses the revolutionary outlook of the working class and this philosophy is dialectical materialism.
But then an important question arises: is not such a conception of class philosophy a travesty of the very idea of philosophy? Philosophy, it is claimed, should be objective and impartial; it should only seek for the truth and teach us to set class interests aside. Surely what is truth is truth for all , independently of class or any other interest. In reply to this objection we should say first that the working class standpoint in philosophy has a genuine concern for truth. There is no question to deny that there is such thing as truth. And that humanity is getting nearer to it. Truth in essence is trans-human, absolute, in conformity with the absolute reality. The hitherto unknown becomes known more and more. At present our knowledge of truth is limited and relative but it is destined to grow irresistibly towards the absolute truth. Nothing is bound to remain mysterious, everything will be revealed through the dialectical progress of human knowledge Secondly one should not believe that in adopting a class standpoint – a “partisan” outlook – amounts to turn one’s back to the truth. It is wrong to think that to seek genuinely for the truth, one must be strictly impartial and non-partisan. In fact the contrary is the case. It is only in adopting the partisan standpoint of historically the most progressive class that one is able to get nearer to truth and that one adopts the best means at arriving at truth. We have every right to make this claim, in view of the historical position and role of the working class. The oppressing classes of the past have succeeded in disguising their own aims of domination and profit. In doing so they have concealed the truth. On the contrary today’s working class does not need any such false consciousness and hidden agenda as were contained in the capitalist class outlooks. The working class has no interest in disguising anything, rather they want to understand things such as they are. Therefore the communist party philosophy has a right to lay claim to the truth more than any other system. It is the only philosophy which is based on a standpoint which demands an understanding of things and situations just as they are, without disguise and fantasy. But there is more to say on the problem of truth in Marxism-Leninism. Philosophies of the past have interpreted the world in various ways, they were attempts to understand the world, they were mere theories of “truths” conditioned by class outlooks, prejudices and illusions. Marxism-Leninism is a praxis : it is interested in the truth of reality in order to change the world and to shape man’s destiny in it. It is not a theory of truth of a few philosophers and their schools, detached from life and the people. It is the practice of truth for the emancipation of the oppressed classes and the realisation of a classless society. In this sense Marxist philosophy is the decisive negation of preceding philosophies concerned only with “theorizing” about truth but unconcerned with the practical achievement of truth.
* Cornforth, M., Dialectical Materialism, Lawrence & Wishart, London, 1954, Vol.I, p.11-21
(Contemporary American teacher)
Formal logic: not concerned with truth but with the method of deriving one truth from another
There are two main branches of logic: one called formal or minor logic, the other material or major logic, they are quite distinct and deal with different problems. Material logic is concerned with the content of argumentation. It deals with the truth of the terms and the propositions in an argument. Formal logic is interested in the form or structure of reasoning. The truth of an argument is of only secondary consideration in this branch of logic. Formal logic is concerned with the method of deriving one truth from another.
The distinction between these two branches of logic was nicely described by G. K. Chesterton: “ Logic and truth have very little to do with each other. Logic is concerned merely with the fidelity and accuracy with which a certain process is performed. Logic is not necessarily an instrument for finding out truth; on the contrary, truth is a necessary instrument for using logic--for using it, that is, for the discovery of further truth ... Briefly, you can only find truth with logic if you have already found truth without it”.
This remark of Chesterton's is important. It is not the purpose of formal logic to discover truth. That is the business of everyday observation and, in certain more formal circumstances, empirical science. Logic serves only to lead us from one truth to another.
An important distinction between arguments according to their form is that between deductive arguments and inductive arguments. At the most fundamental level, the difference between the two is that in a valid deductive argument, the conclusion asserts no more than what is contained in the premises, while in an inductive argument, more is asserted in the conclusion than is contained in the premises. That is why in a valid deductive argument, the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion, while in a valid inductive argument, the truth of the premises only makes the conclusion probable. Valid deductive arguments offer sufficient proof for their conclusions, whereas valid inductive arguments only offer good grounds for believing in the conclusion. In fact, because induction is a weaker form of proof than deduction, many people do not even use the term "valid" for a good inductive argument, because validity has the sense of necessary proof, which is absent from even a good inductive argument. They say instead that a good inductive argument is "cogent," a term which means convincing, rather than demonstrative.
Truth, Validity, and Soundness
The form of an argument is found in its argumentative structure; the matter of an argument is found in the statements. Statements of fact, for example, cannot be called logical or illogical, since these labels refer to form; they can only be properly called true or false, labels which refer to matter. Likewise, an argument cannot be called true or false, only valid or invalid. Only arguments are valid or invalid, and only statements are true or false.
Validity is the term we use when we mean to say that an argument is logical. The term "soundness", however, is a term that refers both to the form and the content of an argument. It is applied to an argument to say something about both its truth and its validity.
Truth means the correspondence of a statement to reality. An argument is valid when its conclusion follows logically from its premises. The term soundness is used to indicate that all the premises in an argument are true and that the argument is valid.
* Cothran Martin, Traditional Logic, Memoria Press
(French philosopher, 1792-1867)
According to Cousin, truth has not to be searched for, because it is already found. It is disseminated in the various philosophical systems already formulated up to now. The only task is to extract from them the fragments of truth that they all contain mixed with error and thus to form a new synthesis, the doctrines of which will be Truth itself. The complete truth is to be found in a system resulting from the happy fusion, under the guidance of common sense, of the fragmentary thoughts expressed by the different thinkers and schools of all ages.
The problem is to find the criterium allowing to distinguish truth from error. Cousin's claim is that all systems have erred by their narrow-minded approach and their exclusivist contentions. When they affirm, they tell the truth. When they deny, they are mistaken. Idealists say that the mind is the unique agent of knowledge. Empiricists claim that knowledge comes only from sensation. In fact knowledge arises at the same time from mind and senses.
According to Cousin four great systems express and summarize the whole development of human speculation: empiricism, idealism, scepticism, and mysticism. Each contains a part of the truth; none possesses exclusively the whole truth. Human thought cannot invent any new system, nor can it neglect any of the old ones. It is not the destruction of any of them, but the reduction of all to one, that will put us in possession of the truth.
The philosophy of Eclecticism found very few followers. The reason for it is easy to discover. When Cousin declares that there is a mingling of truth and error in every system, he evidently assumes a principle superior and antecedent to the very principle of Eclecticism. The eclectic must first separate error from truth before building into a system the results of his discrimination. But this is possible only on the condition of passing a judgement upon each of these systems and therefore of having, quite apart from the principle of Eclecticism, some rational principle as an ultimate criterion of truth.
* Cousin, Victor, see Encyclopaedia Britanica, 2006
(American theologian and sociologist, 1929- )
The pluralism of religious truths is a desirable phenomenon
In his book entitled Many Mansions: A Christian’ s Encounter with Other Faiths, Cox devotes a few pages on the problem of truth in religions. For him the existing pluralism of religions is not only a fact but a desirable phenomenon. There is a measure of truth in all religions. He uses the statement of Christ in St John’s gospel: “In my Father’s house there are many mansions” as a justification of his thesis on the pluralism of religious truths. The “many mansions” are interpreted by him as the diverse world religions. Cox does not believe that there is any contradiction between the two gospel’s statements that “Jesus is the way” and that “In God’s house there are many mansions”. The divine truth is revealed in Christianity as well as in other religions.
In fact Cox is concerned not so much with supposedly religious "eternal" truths as with truth for today, truth for action, and he suspects that a faith which responds primarily to ideas is more likely to be idolatrous and less likely to be redemptive than one that responds to events and experience.
The touchstone of religious values and concerns for Cox is "liberation;" it is the "plumb stone" by which theology should assess religion. If liberation of humankind is seen as the purpose of Christianity and theology is to serve the purpose of "the faith," then it should recover from its fascination with the "essence" of Christianity (and other faiths) and turn its attention to religion's operation within history. The "truth" of a doctrine should not be determined by how well it sticks to orthodoxy or past formulations. The question should be, does this teaching or rite lock people in stupefying bondage? Or does it contribute "to the fuller consciousness, the joy, the maturation and the emancipation of man?"
*Cox, Harvey, Many Mansions: A Christian’s Encounter with Other faiths, Boston;
The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective (1965), Collier Books,
(Contempoorary American professor of ecology and evolution)
The thing that blocks acceptance of the truth of evolution in America is religion
Coyne, author of the 2009 book, “Why Evolution Is True,” cited surveys that indicate American acceptance of evolutionary theory is near the bottom among its peer nations. A 2006 survey showed that just 40 percent of Americans accepted the truth of the statement that “Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals.” That was roughly half the number in France, Japan, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In fact, out of 34 countries, America’s acceptance of evolution was next to last, only ahead of Turkey.
Coyne called the situation “a national embarrassment” and traced America’s low acceptance of evolution ultimately to a dysfunctional society, with high levels of income inequality, drug use, infant mortality, and other negative measures, relative to other industrialized democracies. This social insecurity promotes high levels of belief in religion, whose tenets disagree with the central ideas of evolution.
“If you live in a society that is dysfunctional and unhealthy, where people are doing better than you, you need solace from somewhere. You get it from religion,” Coyne said. “The thing that blocks acceptance of evolution in America is religion.”
He addresses the common “it’s only a theory” argument by pointing out that the understanding of “theory” in everyday speech and in scientific terminology is different. Among scientists, a theory is not the same as a guess or a hypothesis. A scientific theory is an explanation of a natural phenomenon that is bolstered by data. With enough supporting data, a theory approaches fact. He compared the theory of evolution to “atomic theory” (the idea that matter is made up of atoms) and “germ theory” (which posits that diseases are caused by germs), both widely accepted as fact today.
Despite all the evidences for evolution, many Americans refuse to believe in it because they hold tightly to religious beliefs, most of which are taught in childhood well before young people learn of evolution, Coyne said. Three-quarters of Americans profess an absolute belief in God, and 63 percent believe in angels.
* Coyne Jerry A. Why Evolution is true
(American evangelical apologist, b. 1949)
Christian truth is wholly a matter of inner experience: it has nothing to do with argument or reasoning
William Craig states that the issue of "knowing" that Christianity is true is decided solely by the internal witness of the Holy Spirit, and apologetics plays no essential role (only a supportive or confirming role) in this knowledge. Apologetics is used to show that Christianity is true to others, but that is not how I know it is true, nor how you can know it is true.
He is careful to make a definite distinction between knowing Christianity is true, and showing it is true. Apologetics supports and confirms a person's faith (in the truth of Christianity), but plays a secondary role only. It cannot provide, nor is it a part of, the basis of that faith.
Thus, although arguments and evidence may be used to support the believer's faith, they are never properly the basis of that faith. A person who knows Christianity is true on the basis of the witness of the Spirit may also have a sound apologetic which reinforces or confirms for him the Spirit's witness, but it does not serve as the basis of his belief.
It seems to logically follow from the above that it is solely the witness of the Holy Spirit which is the proper "reason to believe" - the basis for faith. This basis is not derived from reasons at all, but is more primary, founded on inner experience. Since this inner experience is sufficient for a knowledge of the fundamental Christian truths, no apologetic adds anything to faith's foundation. Since we are to reject any counter-arguments on the basis of the Spirit's witness, the basis is impervious to reason.
*Craig William Lane, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, Chicago: Moody Press, 1984.
(American writer and poet, 1871-1900)
Impressionism: the individual is the arbiter and interpreter of truth.
Stephen Crane’s view of life can be summarized as naturalistic cynicism—man against indifferent nature. Crane’s naturalism provides the essential understanding of life; nothing and no one governs Nature. A human writing about humans concludes that existence has no coherence, nothing to hold it together leaving life without meaning. Nature is not against humans; human existence does not matter to Nature. Crane portrays humanity as pathetic, spinning on an apathetic Sphere. If Earth is uninterested in humanity, life is simply a state of flux.
Thus if there is no governing structure, order, or framework whereby people interpret life, then everyone is left alone. The verbal shrug of the shoulders—“whatever”—is indeed the answer to every query. Humans by themselves are left to themselves. Crane uses impressionistic realism to make the individual the arbiter and interpreter of truth. Impressionism suggests personal, emotional, visual, situational, and experiential foci. Crane’s reality is created in conjunction with his viewpoint. What he sees, what he feels, is Crane’s outlook. If there is another world behind this world, Crane fashions it for himself and his reader. The clarity of Crane’s assumptions concerning life makes it clear that absolutes do not matter because humans do not matter. There is no past or future to which one would need to give account. The present matters so the individual may interpret his part in unfettered Nature.
Nature alone, man alone, and self alone are worldview constructs which discover their voice in Crane. Impressionism was Crane’s faith. Impressionism is feeling which depends on individual experience and perspective: they are the twin arbiters of truth. Impressionism, he said, was truth, and no man could be great who was not an impressionist, for greatness consisted in knowing truth. Left alone with Nature and himself, impressionism became his god, self became his authority.
People may interpret their world but the world has the final word: there is no external authority, no god-like personification. And Crane’s Nature is not a good god. Nature is harsh. Nature is amoral. Nature is indifferent. Nature has no thought for the individual. Humans are interlopers, party-crashers in an uncaring cosmos. Loneliness :ultimately we are left to ourselves and by ourselves.
Without an absolute authority to reverence, Crane wishes to be his own authority. Yes, Nature is bigger, stronger, and oppressive. But it is no god. Crane rejected God, the Creator; by so doing, he also rejected the creation. Humans create their own knowledge, interpret their own fact, and become their own authority.
See Rogers, Rodney O. 1969. "Stephen Crane and Impressionism". Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 24, No. 3. Berkeley: University of California Press.
(British occultist, 1875-1947)
Truth is the Self of Everyman: understand your Self, for YE ARE TRUTH!
What is Truth? It is absurd to attempt to define it, for when we say that S is P, rather than S is Q or S is R, we assume that we already know the meaning of Truth. This is really why all the discussions as to whether Truth depends on external correspondence, internal coherence, or what not, neither produce conviction, nor withstand analysis. Briefly, Truth is an idea of a supra-rational order. That all rational conceptions imply that we know Truth, and that Truth is in their propositions, only shows that these so-called rational ideas are not really rational at all. Truth is by no means the only idea that resists rational analysis. There are very many ideas that remain indefinable: all simple ideas do so. At the back of all our efforts is the dead wall that we must already know what we are pretending to find out.
Now the same Truth, which is Light, which is implicit in each spark of the Intelligible; what is it but the Self of Everyman? It is this that informs his every motion, this that lies closest to his heart and soul, being indeed their mainspring and their dial, the principle of section and of measure.
Initiation is, by etymology, the journeying inwards; it is the Voyage of Discovery of one's own Soul. And this is Truth that stands upon the prow, eternally alert; this is Truth that sits with one strong hand gripping the helm!
Truth is our Path, and Truth is our Goal; ay! there shall came to all a moment of great Light when the Path is seen to be itself the Goal; and in that hour every one of us shall exclaim: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life!"
Then shall ye understand what is Truth, for ye shall understand your Selves, and YE ARE TRUTH!
*Crowley, Aleister (1983). The Holy Books of Thelema. York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser Inc.
(British philosopher and theologian, 1631-1718}
The laws of nature are immutably true propositions
The laws of nature are defined by Cumberland as immutably true propositions regulative of voluntary actions as to the choice of good and the avoidance of evil, and which carry with them an obligation to outward acts of obedience, even apart from civil laws and from any considerations of compacts constituting government.
This definition, he says, will be admitted by all parties. Some deny that such laws exist, but they will grant that this is what ought to be understood by them. There is thus common ground for the two opposing schools of moralists to join issue. The question between them is: do such laws exist or do they not?
The existence of such laws may, according to Cumberland, be established in two ways. The inquirer may start either from effects or from causes. Those who have adopted the former method have sought to prove that there are universal truths, entitled to be called laws of nature, from the concurrence of the testimonies of many men, peoples and ages, and through generalizing the operations of certain active principles. Cumberland admits this method to be valid, but he prefers the other, that from causes to effects, as showing more convincingly that the laws of nature carry with them a divine obligation. It shows not only that these laws are universal, but that they were intended as such; that man has been constituted as he is in order that they might be.
Cumberland's ethical theory is summed up in his principle of universal benevolence, the source of moral good. "No action can be morally good which does not in its own nature contribute somewhat to the happiness of men." The theory is important in comparison with that of Hobbes, and with modern utilitarianism. Cumberland's benevolence is, deliberately, the precise antithesis to the Egoism of Hobbes. Cumberland maintained that the whole-hearted pursuit of the good of all contributes to the good of each and brings personal happiness; that the opposite process involves misery to individuals, including the self. If, then, Hobbes went to the one extreme of postulating selfishness as the sole motive of human action, Cumberland was equally extravagant as regards to benevolence. Cumberland never appealed to the evidence of history, although he believed that the law of universal benevolence had been accepted by all nations and generations; he carefully abstains from arguments founded on revelation, feeling that it was indispensable to establish the principles of moral right on nature as a basis.
*See Internet Cumberland, De legibus naturae
(contemporary American pastor of spiritual life) Three tests for determining truth: the logical, the factual and the livable
Every religion, philosophy, or worldview makes truth-claims. Whether you turn to a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Christian, a pagan, or even a secular humanist atheist, he or she will attempt to offer truth-claims or explanations for our experience of the world and our experience of ourselves. And while there certainly is some common ground of belief shared by all worldviews, there are also some pretty significant disagreements on what is claimed to be true. And these worldview disagreements are usually about weighty matters as well—matters such as the existence and nature of God, the human soul, the nature of right living, the explanation of evil, the goal of human life, life after death, and so on.
With so many truth-claims being made on so many issues of such magnitude, we might feel overwhelmed. How do we judge between these worldview truth-claims? How can we test whether or not something is worthy of belief? Cunningham suggests that there are three basic tests which we can employ to investigate and scrutinize the truth-claims made by all worldviews.
1. Internal Coherence — This is a test for rational consistency. This asks if a belief makes sense? We need to determine whether beliefs are rationally consistent within themselves and in relation to others beliefs of one’s larger worldview. Some beliefs are known to be self-referentially inconsistent, or self-defeating. An example might be the belief that all “knowledge” is scientific knowledge. This is obviously self-defeating because the belief itself is not a scientific statement. Therefore, the belief dies by its own standard for knowledge.
Now, while the internal coherence test is essential for determining if something is true, it is not sufficient. So, we need to add other criterion to the internal coherence test.
2. External Correspondence — This test asks if a belief fits the facts of reality. Does it correspond to the real world? Proposed truth-claims must have explanatory power, or the ability to give account for our experience of the world (whether it be history, science, psychology, human nature, etc )
3. Functional Adequacy — This tests the livability of a truth-claim as a belief. Is it a viable belief “on the street”? Does it work in real life? Some views sound good on paper, but are proven false in the laboratory of life. Consider an eastern guru who asserts that the physical world is an illusion, yet he still looks both ways before crossing the street. Even more than that, a belief system must integrate one’s life. It must incorporate and meet the deepest human needs.
To conclude. For a belief to be true it must be meaningful, it must line up with the real world, and it must not only help us survive in daily life, but allow us to flourish.
See Internet, Cunningham Brent
(American moral theologian, b.1934)
There are no infallible truths in the arena of morality
The struggle of dissenting moral theologian Curran with the Roman Catholic magisterium comes down to a contest between critical reason and an authoritarianism that rejects criticism in matters of moral theology. Curran does not simply challenge authority in the name of the rights of conscience. For him, both conscience and authority are subject to the norm of moral truth. Both must seek moral truth and bow to the best knowledge of truth that can be discerned by a combination of scientific knowledge and best moral values from our traditions of human experience. This best knowledge will never lead to absolute certainty; infallible knowledge is not available to fallible humans in the arena of morality. But we can attain a high presumption of moral truth if we carefully draw on the critical sources of knowledge. Authority cannot trump this best knowledge, but must be informed by it in order to be credible.
Curran evades the infallibility question by carefully distinguishing between infallible truth (doctrines such as the trinity, drawn from revelation) and fallible truths based on human reason and experience. For him, moral teachings fall into the latter category, and thus are intrinsically fallible and subject to continual revision. His conflict with the Vatican finally comes down to its rejection of the notion that its teaching on morality belongs to fallible rather than infallible knowledge. Moral truth must not be confused with speculative truth. There are different levels of certitude with regard to different kinds of truth. Curran argues that we have the right to dissent from moral teachings in areas such as abortion, birth control, divorce and homosexuality, a view that is rejected in principle by the Vatican. According to Curran the papacy must live out the reality of the pilgrim church. Popes and bishops have an official role in the church; but, as teachers in a pilgrim church, they must often learn the truth before they teach it. The need for the papacy to learn the truth is evident from history. Popes learned the importance of religious freedom, human rights, the meaning of sexuality, and many other things before they taught them. The teaching office must always be open to learning the truth. This involves listening.
*Curran Charles, Loyal Dissent: Memoirs of a Catholic Theologian (Washington Georgetown University Press, 2006)