(Contemporary American theologian)
Traditional theology is the “house of authority”. The way of authority obscures the question of truth. Theological authorities are mostly scripture, dogma and Church magisterium. The method of such theology has never been one of actual enquiry, but rather of citation and exposition of the authoritative “deposits of truth”. Truth is not the result of an open process of enquiry. Theology is knowledge without enquiry. The hidden agenda of this method is to make the house impregnable and immune to criticism.
This classical criteriology is incompatible with modern historical consciousness. Besides the way of authority adopted by historic Christianity does not pertain to the a priori structure of Christian religion. It is contingent, and therefore there are no reasons why theology cannot develop outside the “house of authority”. A post-authoritarian genre of theology is not only possible but necessary. It is not longer “citation” which presupposes the authoritative absolute of scripture, dogma and magisterium. The genre of the new theological knowledge is enquiry. Scripture and tradition are retained but not in the mode of absolute pre-given truth, but in the mode of a field of enquiry for theological reflection. The reference to scripture and tradition is necessary for it defines theology from philosophy and metaphysics. What makes an enquiry theological is that reference to scripture and tradition. The problem is to retain them as a field of evidence without lapsing in the way of authority.
* Farley, Edward, Ecclesial Reflection: an Anatomy of Theological Method, Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1982
(Contemporary American psychologist)
Religious experiences are infinitely varied, yet all may be valid and true.
Ferrer calls for a rejection of the decidedly culturally-biased Western notion that objective rationality is the only valid means of knowledge. Rejecting the notion of the epistemic superiority of objective rationality, Ferrer instead recommends a “multidimensional cognition” which includes all modes of human knowing, including those that derive from not only the rational mind but also those that derive from the heart, spirit, and body.
Ferrer admits that there are no unmediated spiritual experiences, and that all such experiences are laden with the cultural baggage brought to the experience by the experiencer. However, accepting the presence of cultural influences as determinants of the content of religious experiences does not necessarily lead to reductionisms which bracket or deny either the reality of the experienced spiritual reality or its creative impact on spiritual knowing.
He agrees with the perennialists that a spiritual reality does exist and that humans directly experience this. However, unlike the perennialists, Ferrer rejects the notion that there is a fundamental, universal experience underlying all claims to religious experience. Perennialists tend to claim that all religious experience is the same, but its expression varies according to cultural influences. Ferrer argues that religious experience beyond cultural-linguistic construction really does occur, but, against the perennialists, it is not the same experience clothed in culturally influenced language and concepts. Rather, religious experience is infinitely varied, and it is here where the role of participation is introduced.
Ferrer argues that every religious experience is an event in which a culturally conditioned human being interacts, or participates, with an infinitively varied and mysterious spiritual reality, and this interactive “participatory event” by necessity leads to multiple ways of experiencing the sacred. For Ferrer, spiritual experience always involves an element of reciprocity, in which the human experiencer with his/her culturally-conditioned biases and pre-conceived modes of interpretation encounters a similarly complicated and multi-valent sacred reality, where the resultant interactive “participation” between the two, in which neither party is a static entity, produces an endless array of spiritual experiences. Hence, Ferrer’s participatory vision is based on a radically pluralistic model. If one understands religious experience as a participatory event, it follows that there will be a plurality of accounts of this experience: in a sense, for Ferrer, all religious experiences are different, yet all are still valid. This is nicely characterized by Ferrer when he replaces the often cited perennialist analogy of religious experience as “many rivers leading to the same ocean” by his own analogy of religious experience as contact with “an ocean with many shores.”
* Ferrer Jorge, Revisioning Transpersonal Theory: A Participatory Vision of Human Spirituality, Sunny Presss, 2002
(French philosopher, 1951 )
The contemporary world is disenchanted by all forms of ‘heteronomy’, that is, all forms of ideologies imposed on it from the outside. Modern man rejects the argument of authority. An irreversible movement of ‘humanization’ is going on. Even Christians ‘humanize’ more and more the content of ‘revelation’ in interiorizing the message that comes from an external source. It is within humanity itself that the transcendent and the sacred are recognized. The heteronomy of truth is replaced by the autonomy of truth. Truth is immanent to man. This does not lead to the rejection of transcendance but to the recognition of transcendance within immanence, the discovery of the divine within humanity.
Truth and values are no longer imposed from the outside, no longer a matter of ‘external’ revelation. The so-called revealed truths are not needed as the foundation of moral values. Humanistic ethics recognizes that transcendence is in the heart of man. The search of truth in religion has all to gain from this process of interiorisation and the abandonment of the concept of externally imposed revealed truths.
The transcendence which gives meaning to human life is not external but internal. It is an immanent transcendence. Truth and values do not come from ‘above’, but neither are they man’s creation. Man recognizes them within himself, as the presence of transcendence. There is no need of God to understand truth, love and justice. The reference to the divine does not come before the acknowledgment of values.
The movement in religions from God to man has become the movement of humanity to its own inner transcendence. The truth imposed from ‘above’ has become the truth recognized within. Truth is no longer the product of the autoritarianism of so-called revealed religions. The ‘divine’ truth that gives meaning to life is discovered in the heart of human beings.
* Ferry, Luc, L’Homme-Dieu ou the Sens de la Vie, Paris, Grasset, 1996
(German philosopher, 1804-1872)
According to Feuerbach truth is what really exists. Existence is the criterion of truth. The only question is: what really exists? It is not thought and what is thought. Through thought one cannot never go beyond the abstract. In reaction against Hegelian Idealism, Feuerbach attributes to the senses the capacity to have access to philosophical truths. The reality of thought is something different than thought: it is non-thought. Reality is the sensuous. As reality is the truth of the idea, sensuousness is the truth of the idea. An idea ceases to be true when it is not real, that is, sensuous.
The real is the object of the senses. Truth, reality and sensuousness are one and the same thing. Only a sensuous being is a true and real being. Only through the sense is an object given in the true sense, not through thought for itself. Indubitable and immediately certain is only that which is the object of the senses, of perception and feeling. Truth is only that which requires no proof, that which is certain immediately through itself, that which is purely and simply indubitable. Something is true when it is not mediated. The immediate knowledge is sensuousness. Hence the sense are the organ of the absolute.
Sensuous being, the being involved in sense perception, feeling and love, alone deserves the name of being. In sense perception, feeling and love alone resides the truth and reality of the infinite. The Gods of religions are only abstractions and images of human feelings and love. The secret of being is revealed not in such abstract ideas but in human feelings, passion and love. Human feelings have an ontological significance, they contain the highest and deepest truths.
Feuerbach’s philosophy bases itself on the truth of love, on the truth of feeling. Love is not only objectively but also subjectively the criterion of being, the criterion of truth and reality. Where there is no love, there is no truth. To be nothing and to love nothing is one and the same thing.
The sensualist approach leads Feuerbach to give importance to the human relationships of love and sex. The real self is either male or female, a being complementary of another, never an autonomous self. Past philosophies have never underlined that the true principle of being is the union of I and you, male and female. Social life is entirely based on this original union. The essence of ‘being human’ is contained in the community, the individual self derives its meaning from humanity as a whole, a unity however that is not an abstraction but that rests on the reality of the distinction between “I” and “You”.
The existence of others is indispensable to any knowledge. The individual searches for truth in terms of the community of which he/she is a part. It is not the individual but the species that is the first criterion of truth. That in which another agrees with me is the truth. Feuerbach writes: “I doubt of what I see alone, I am sure of what the other sees as well”.
* Feuerbach, L. Principles of the Philosophy of the Future, Part III, p.31-65
(Austrian born philosopher, 1924-1994)
The prestige of scientists is based on a false claim to objective truth.
Feyerabend, the “anti-science philosopher”, asserted that scientists have no particular claims on truth. He held that the rationality of science did not really exist and that the special status and prestige of scientists are based on their own claims to objective truth. Science is not the royal road to the truth. Science is more of an ideology than a methodology, it is much closer to myth than a scientific philosophy is prepared to admit. It is one of the many forms of thought that have been developed by man, and not necessarily the best. It is conspicuous, noisy, and impudent, but it is inherently superior only for those who have already decided in favour of a certain ideology, or who have accepted it without ever having examined its advantages and its limits.
In Feyerabend's view, science is a religion, for it rests on certain dogmas that cannot be rationally justified. Thus, accepting it requires a leap of faith.
He thought that the superiority of the modern scientific method should not be assumed. He argued for an anarchist approach to knowledge: we cannot predict what shape future knowledge will have, so we should not confine ourselves to one universal method of gaining knowledge. Feyerabend agrees with Kuhn that the history of science is the history of different viewpoints, and for Feyerabend this means that what counts as 'knowledge' in the future may have paradigms we cannot yet know. As we cannot yet know them, we should not attempt to forbid future intellectual enterprise by attempting to define one narrow dominant paradigm of knowledge using the model of physics.
He believes that truth, especially scientific truth, is very distorted in today’s life because we view truth as unfaultable and absolute. He is against all ‘systems of thoughts’ for many reasons. One of his most important reasons is that systems of thought inhibits human kind from what makes it so great, creativity. Systems of thoughts use truth as an alliance to an ideology making the believer a kind of slave. He believes science should be seen as something created and not discovered.
His goal is to overthrow the tyrant of science which has ruled as “fact”, unchecked for centuries. He argued that science should have been only a stage in the development of society, a tool to overthrow other ideologies, then itself be overthrown (or at least questioned) by a new system. Instead, science today is taught as incontrovertible fact not unlike the religious facts taught earlier during the then-dominant religious ideologies.
*Feyerabend Paul,"Against Method: Outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge,. Humanities Press,1975
(American physicist, 1918-1988)
The duty to always doubt what we believe to be true
Feynman was a man of science who believed the world had an order that could be ascertained through experiment and observation. At the same time, he was a man who had faith in doubt. He upheld the idea that all knowledge is tentative. He found it of paramount importance that in order to progress one must recognize the ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.
According to Feynman, all knowledge grasped by the human mind is inherently uncertain, that is to say, in other words, ultimate truth is unknowable. Furthermore, it is more or less irrelevant to human life. He repeatedly said that we must reject the mirage of "certainty"; we must always doubt, because it is only through doubting what we believe to be true that we make any kind of progress. After all, we only bother to investigate what we don't know.
Scientists are never certain. All their statements are approximate statements with different degrees of certainty. When a statement is made, the question is not whether it is true or false but rather how likely it is to be true or false. One must discuss each question within the uncertainties that are allowed. And as evidence grows it increases the probability perhaps that some idea is right, or decreases it. But it never makes absolutely certain one way or the other. This is of paramount importance in order to progress. We absolutely must leave room for doubt or there is no progress and there is no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question. And the question requires doubt. “People search for certainty. But there is no certainty." One must be able to live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. It is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. We may have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but we can never be not absolutely sure of anything . We should not feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe. Feinman wrote: “I feel a responsibility as a scientist who knows the great value of a satisfactory philosophy of ignorance, and the progress made possible by such a philosophy, progress which is the fruit of freedom of thought. I feel a responsibility to proclaim the value of this freedom and to teach that doubt is not to be feared, but that it is to be welcomed as the possibility of a new potential for human beings. If you know that you are not sure, you have a chance to improve the situation. I want to demand this freedom for future generations.”
*Feynman Richard, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out : The Best Short Works of Richard Feynman, edited by Jeffery Robbins,1999, ISBN 0-14-029034-6
(German idealist philosopher, 1765-1814)
1. Fichte's philosophy is a synthesis, unique in its kind: monism and liberty. Identity of the ethical principle and the metaphysical principle is the fundamental dogma of his system. The real reality is, according to Fichte, active Reason, pure Will, the moral Ego. What the common mind regards as real and true is nothing but a phenomenon, a manifestation, a faithful or imperfect translation, a portrait or a caricature. The ultimate and highest principle from which we come and towards which we strive is not being but duty; it is an ideal which is not, but which ought to be. Being as such has no value, and does not, strictly speaking, exist. The stability or immobility of what we call substance, substratum, or matter, is a mere appearance . The true reality is all movement, tendency, and will. The universe is the manifestation of pure Will, the symbol of the moral Idea, which is the real thing-in-itself, the real absolute truth. To philosophize is to accept the truth that being is nothing, that duty is everything; it is to recognize the inanity of the phenomenal world apart from its intelligible essence; it is to regard the objective world, not as the effect of causes foreign to our practical reason, but as the product of the ego. There is no science except the science of the ego or consciousness. Knowledge is the exclusive work, the creation, of the ego. There is no philosophy but idealism, no method but the a priori method. Philosophy does not discover ready-made truths, or establish facts that already exist. To philosophize, or to know, is to produce such facts, to create such truths.
Still the limitation of the ego, the objective world, exists, but it owes its existence to the activity of the subject. Suppress the EGO, and you suppress the world. Creation is reason limiting itself; it is the will or pure thought, limiting, determining, or making a person of itself.
Freedom is the highest principle, the essence of things. It is even superior to truth, considered from the purely theoretical standpoint, or rather, it is the highest Truth. For that very reason it is not an abstraction, but the supreme reality. But this reality, the source of all other realities, precisely because it is freedom, cannot be an empirical datum, an immediate, brutal fact. True freedom is the freedom which creates itself, or realizes itself.
2. What sort of philosophy one chooses depends, for Fichte, on what sort of man one is. Realists choose realism because of the kinds of people they are. Idealists do the same. Fichte's primary criticism of realists is not so much that they have made some mistake, but that they are the kinds of people who chose realism.
Fichte says that there are two theoretical systems: dogmatism - in which the I is determined by the objects; and idealism - in which the objects are determined by the I. In his opinion both are possible world-views. Both are capable of being built up into a consistent system. But the adherents of dogmatism must renounce the independence of the I and make it dependent on the "thing-in-itself". For the adherents of idealism, the opposite is the case. Which of the two systems a philosopher is to choose, which is the truer? Fichte argues that, if one wishes the I to retain its independence, then one will cease to believe in external things and devote oneself to idealism.
* Fichte, Outline of the Doctrine of Knowledge (1810). From The Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, translated by William Smith, Pub: Trubner and Co., 1889.
(Florentine neo-platonist philosopher, 1433-1499)
Truth is eternal and unmoving
Marsilio Ficino maintained that the Platonic doctrine was providentially made to harmonize with Christianity, in order that by its means speculative intellects might be led to Christ. He expressed his view on truth in a letter to his nephew:
“I consider that which does not vary to be nothing other than truth. Indeed, truth itself is so totally unmoving that the truth even of movement is unmoving. For what is the truth of movement except its own unchanging law that is comprehended in the true definition of truth? Truth is such that it can never be other than itself. Consequently, truth is eternally present and neither passes from the past into the present nor flows from the present into the future. Truth is so present that the truth even of the future and of the past is present. For by that same truth by which it was true from the beginning of time that this or that would at some time be, and by which it is true in the present that this or that is, or was or will be.
Truth is so eternal that even if it is said to have had a beginning at some time, it would certainly have been true before the beginning of time, and it would not have been true except through the same truth, that truth itself would at some time be. And even if truth should be thought ever to cease, then it would be true for all time, yet only through truth itself would it be true, that truth once was. If truth is unmoving in movement, if it is present in past and future, if it is in the beginning without a beginning, if likewise in the end without an end, it is certainly nothing other than the eternal unmoving itself.
The mind therefore, with its natural capacity for truth, partakes of this eternal unmoving. The will, also by its nature longing for truth, can be granted its desire beyond movement and beyond time. Only a life dedicated by choice to the study and cultivation of truth is lived in the fullness of bliss beyond movement and beyond time. Be sure that those who unlawfully and willfully depart from truth, the fount of true happiness, thereupon fall in misery from the bliss of eternity. But those who with all their might draw near to truth, the source of true happiness, at once rise again in bliss to that blessed eternity.”
*Marsilio Ficino, "The study of truth" Letter to his nephew, Meditations on the Soul: Selected Letters of Marsilio Ficino, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1996
(American philosopher, b. 1946)
Mathematics does not have to be true to be good
Hartry Field is known for his fictionalist view of mathematics: the view that a serious intellectual inquiry need not aim at truth. Mathematics, he argues, does not have to be true to be good. He suggests that the acceptance of a mathematical or scientific theory need not involve belief in its content. Thus the distinctive commitment of fictionalism is that acceptance in a given domain of inquiry need not be truth-normed.
His view of mathematics is that, even if mathematical objects are fictions, mathematics is useful and indispensable because of the simplicity that it provides in making quantitative statements about the world rather than providing any access to transcendental truth. Hartry Field's programme is an attempt to accomplish enough of an eliminativist project to avoid an ontological "commitment" to mathematical entities. The goal is to show that science can be done without mathematics, but not necessarily that science can be done just as well that way. As Field sees it, the role of mathematics is to facilitate inferences from physical premises to physical conclusions, what may be called "nominalistic arguments". Field's claim is that mathematics is conservative over science, in the sense that any nominalistic argument that can be derived with the help of intermediate mathematical statements is itself logically valid. Thus, the role of mathematics in science is to facilitate the logic. Field points out that conservativeness is not the same thing as truth. So if the fictionalist programme succeeds, there is no need to regard the mathematics as literally true. Since in principle mathematics is dispensable, its assertions may be regarded as statements about fictional entities, much like what we read in novels. Because Hartry Field does not accept the existence of mathematical objects, he does not accept that arithmetic contains any truths - just as someone who denies the existence of David would deny that 'David is a small man' can express a truth. Yet he hopes to explain how arithmetic can be useful in its applications, in terms of its consistency. In Field's view mathematical statements might have been true (had there existed any numbers), although they do not happen to be so; and this is claimed to be sufficient to explain the practical usefulness of such statements.
* Field Hartry,Science without Numbers: A Defence of Nominalism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980).
(American philosopher of science , b. 1937)
Science does not need the realist or antirealist perspectives, for it does not need a sophisticated theory of truth: science must be taken on its own terms.
Fine argues that we should abandon the positions in the philosophy of science known respectively as ‘realism’ and ‘antirealism.’ As theoretical postulates concerning the status of our scientific theories, Fine contends, these positions are misleading at best. In effect, to advocate either position is to add theoretically ungrounded assertion to what we all already accept. By refusing to theorize about our theories, and by moreover sticking to what Fine calls a ‘core position’ of truisms, we can move beyond realism and antirealism. Fine’s natural ontological attitude (NOA) is just such a refusal. As Fine puts it: “NOA helps us to see that realism differs from various antirealisms in this way: realism adds an outer direction to NOA, that is, the external world and the correspondence relation of approximate truth; antirealisms (typically) add an inner direction, that is, human-oriented reductions of truth, or concepts, or explanations.”
Fine holds the core position which he calls “the natural ontological attitude”(NOA) which he finds the best view one can have toward science. NOA tells us to accept the result of science as true. Truth here is meant in the “normal referential way”. The core position of NOA does not need 1) to adopt the realist view of a correspondence theory of truth 2) to adopt the antirealist pragmatic, instrumental, or conventional analysis of truth. Science does not need the realist or antirealist perspectives, for it does not need a sophisticated theory of truth, or an explanation of its success. Science must be taken on its own terms.
The attitude that marks NOA is just this: do not try to read things into science. If one adopts this attitude, then the global interpretations, the ‘isms’ of ‘scientific philosophies’, appear as idle overlays to science: not necessary, not warranted and, in the end, probably not even intelligible.
Moreover, “the quickest way to get a feel for NOA is to understand it as undoing the idea of interpretation. Thus, NOA is a way of stepping around the dispute between realists and antirealists—a way of getting us to see that we need not disagree here. Our disagreements stem from an incessant need to characterize our characterizations—to offer second-order theories of our scientific practices. Our compulsion to determine the significance of science by interpreting it tells us more about our own insecurities than it will ever tell us about science. As Fine suggests, in a delightfully Wittgensteinian key, the realism/antirealism dispute does not demand resolution: it demands therapy.
Realism and antirealism alike see science as susceptible to being set in context, provided with a goal, and being made sense of. What binds realism and antirealism together is this: they see science as a set of practices in need of an interpretation, and they see themselves as providing just the right interpretation.
To advocate NOA is to advocate the core position—and no more. It is to advocate the truism that scientific investigation picks out real things in the world. Fine insists that we do not go beyond NOA—that we give up trying to theoretically characterize our acceptance of a basic ontology. Such attempts at theorizing lead us to misrepresent the phenomena in question.
Fine objects to both realists and antirealists because they are both "inflationists". Inflationism is an interpretation of science "in accordance with a set of prior, extra-scientific commitments". There is no ground for such extra-scientific commitments. Realism is an inflationism because of its commitment to the truth of scientific theories. Antirealist instrumentalism is inflationism because it introduces the notion of instrumental reliability as a sole criterion of theory choice without having any argument for it.
Fine sums up this argument as follows: "it is possible to accept the evidence of one's senses and to accept, in the same way, the confirmed results of science only for a realist; hence, I should be one”. This acceptance of scientific truth involves the attitude "to take them into one's life as true, with all that implies concerning adjusting one's behavior, practical and theoretical, to accommodate these truths"
*Fine Arthur, Shaky game, University of Chicago Press, 1996
( American Presbyterian minister, 1791-1875)
Various classes of evident truths : some need proof, some do not need proof
Some truths need no proof, and other truths need proof. The first class, that is, truths that need no proof, may be subdivided into truths of the pure reason, and truths of sensation. These two classes are in some sense self-evident, but not in the same sense. Truths of the pure reason are intuitions of that faculty, and truths of sensation are intuitions of the senses.
1. By self-evident truths of reason, then, I mean that class of truths that are directly intuited and affirmed by that faculty, in the light of their own evidence, and by virtue of its own laws, whenever they are so stated that the terms of the proposition in which they are conveyed are understood. They are not arrived at by reasoning, or by evidence of any kind except what they have in themselves. The mathematical axioms belong to this class. The self-evident truths of reason are truths of certain knowledge. To deny the reality of this class of truths, is to deny the validity of our most perfect knowledge and of course it is a denial of the validity of our faculties
2. Truths of sensation are in a certain sense, self-evident truths. That is, they are facts of which the mind has direct knowledge through the medium of the senses. In speaking of truths of sensation as in some sense self-evident, I mean of course truths or facts of our own senses, or those revealed directly to us by our own senses. I know it is not common to speak of this class of truths as self-evident; and they are not so in the sense in which simple rational intuitions are. Yet they are facts or truths which need no proof to establish them to us.
3. Of truths that require proof is the truths of demonstration. This class of truths admit of so high a degree of proof, that when the demonstration is complete, the intelligence affirms that it is impossible that they should not be true. This class when truly demonstrated, are known to be true with no less certainty than self-evident truths; but the mind arrives not at the perception and knowledge of them in the same way. That class is arrived at universally, directly and a priori, that is, by direct intuition without reasoning. This class is arrived at universally by reasoning. The former are obtained without any logical processes, while this last class is always and necessarily obtained as a result of a logical process.
4. The next class to be considered are truths of revelation. I mean truths revealed by Divine Inspiration. All truths are in some way revealed to the mind, but not all by the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Some of this class are known and some only believed by the mind. That is, some of these truths are objects or truths of knowledge or of intuition, when brought by the Holy Spirit within the field of vision or of intuition. Others of them are only truths of faith or truths to be believed. The divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ is a truth of revelation of the first class, that is, a truth of intuition or of certain knowledge when revealed to the mind by the Holy Spirit. This truth when thus revealed, the pure reason directly intuits. It knows that Jesus is the true God, and eternal life by the same law by which it knows the first truths of reason. The only account the soul can give of this truth is, that it knows it to be true. It sees or perceives it to be true. But this perception is conditionated upon the revelation of the Holy Spirit.. The Bible is not of itself, strictly and properly a revelation to man. It is rather a history of revelations formerly made to certain men. To be a revelation to us, its truths must be brought by the Holy Spirit within the field of spiritual vision.
See Internet Charles Finney
(American literary theorist, b. 1938)
The truth claims of religions are necessary: it belongs to their identity
In Religion without Truth Stanley Fish makes an important argument. He is responding to those who are promoting the study the Bible as a piece of literature and nothing more than that. Fish’s view is that bracketing the question of truth is a strange way to know the Bible. One cannot do away with the essential point that the Bible is making claims to belief. It is reductionistic and unnatural to study the Bible as mere literature. It has to be studied as the Word of God. Fish's thought is that the truth claims of a religion -- at least of religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- are not incidental to its identity; they are its identity. Take the religions’ truth claims away and all you have is an empty shell. The Bible is making claims to truth and demands belief. It was not given to us for its literary merits, but for our salvation. Fish may not be a believer, but he understands this aspect of the Bible better than many who are. Studying the Bible merely as an artifact of literary merit may be an attractive idea to sell to school boards, but it is hard to see why Christians should get very excited about the idea.
* Fish Stanley, "Religion Without Truth," 2007 ," the March 31, 2007 edition of The New York Times
(Contemporary Calvinist theologian)
Experience that is not based on truth is often experience that leads one astray
Evangelicalism has pitted experience over and against doctrine and even the objective faith in the Gospel. Basically, it claims, if we don't experience Jesus (what ever that may mean?) then Christianity isn't real. Pragmatism over Biblical truth is in vogue.
It is claimed that the Gospel is a means to help our lives. But the Gospel is first and foremost not about help, but God glorifying Himself in saving a people in His Son. The Gospel is Good News that deals with our true need, not what we think we need.
Experience that is not based on truth is often experience that leads one astray. How many believe they have experienced Jesus while having no idea what their true need is. How many have experienced Jesus, yet do not really know who he is. We just want to "know Jesus", not doctrine, they say.
Experience leads us to determine our own truth. We think we might be gaining wisdom. We become self-confident in our life's experience. We think we know what reality truly is for ourselves. This reduces Christianity to a form of legalism or moralism/ethics.
The Scripture is clear on the proper means of proclaiming the Gospel and the worship of God. Many however think one must experience Jesus and that may be different from my experience. Truth is subjective in many minds. A true Gospel for all people is just too often seen as narrow minded.
The Gospel is external. It is objectively true. It is outside of us. When proclaimed, God is using the proclamation to create faith in the believer. This is an objective truth. One does not need to feel some experience or do some kind of experiential walking the aisle. Men and women are simply called to look to Christ. To believe in Him.
*See internet Howard Fisher
(American logician, 1908-1987)
Not only are some truths not known, but some truths are not knowable
According to the realist conception, truth is a radically non-epistemic notion: there is no absurdity in the idea of a proposition being true although we may lack any capacity to verify it or to gather evidence in its favour. A proposition that is graspable by the mind may be true without being knowable. For the anti-realist (or verificationist), in contrast, the notion of truth is epistemically constrained. Although there are many true propositions that in fact are never known, the anti-realist finds the idea of an unknowable proposition unintelligible. That is, the anti-realist accepts the following principle: any true proposition is knowable.
Fitch's knowability paradox, however, demonstrates that the verificationist claim (all truths are knowable) is unsustainable. He shows that if we are not omniscient, then not only are some truths not known, but there are some truths that are not knowable.
Evidently there are plenty of truths that are not in fact known; but are there any truths that are not in principle knowable? Fitch’s argument begins by supposing that the veriﬁcationist is correct: any truth could in principle be known. Because not every truth is in fact known, the argument continues, there are truths of the form ‘p and it’s not known that p’. Since the veriﬁcationist thinks that any truth could be known, he is committed to thinking that truths of this conjunctive form ( ‘p and it is not known that p’) could be known. But such truths couldn’t be known, since knowing one would require knowing both of its conjuncts, which is impossible. For one could know the second conjunct only if it is true; the second conjunct is true only if the ﬁrst conjunct is unknown; and so one could know the second conjunct only if one didn’t know the ﬁrst. So the veriﬁcationist claim that any truth could in principle be known has apparently been refuted, given the existence of some truths that are in fact unknown.
In other words Fitch claims that if there is an unknown truth then that it is an unknown truth is itself unknowable. This conclusion threatens any theory that entails the principle of knowability, which claims all truths are knowable.
* Frederic Fitch, A Logical Analysis of Some Value Concept, 1953
(American moral philosopher,1903-1991)
Truth is relative: love is the only absolute. No legalism but personalism.
Joseph Fletcher, developed ‘situation ethics’ in the 1960s after criticising legalism and antinomianism. Legalism is the belief that there are fixed moral laws that must always be obeyed. Antinomianism is the belief that there are no fixed moral principles and that ethics should be spontaneous. Fletcher believed that neither legalism nor antinomianism provided a sound basis for ethics and advocated "situationism" as a compromise. According to him, decision-making should be based on the circumstances of a particular situation, and not on fixed law. He believed that truth is relative and that love is the only absolute. Thus, he believed that as long as love is the intention, the end justifies the means.
He thinks that all norms have to be evaluated by the individual in each situation. His situation ethics are built on the idea that “our obligation is relative to the situation.” He says that love is the only absolute; all other moral commands are relative to this. The only way to judge right and wrong is to look at the results. What “works” or “satisfies” is right. Values, then, are made neither by God nor society, but by the individual, who must decide what is right for him in a given situation. This, he believes, eliminates the ‘cruelty’ of legalism by focusing on persons rather than precepts.
In essence, a person discerningly uses love – the “one and only law”–as the basis on which to make a decision in a given situation. Fletcher leaves room for principles, but only as “illuminators,” not “directors” of conduct. Situation Ethics allows for relativistic compromise of absolute standards based on subjective personal judgment. So, for Fletcher, situation governs principle, not vice versa.
The core propositions of situationism are: "Only one thing is intrinsically good, namely, love"; "only the end justifies the means"; and "decisions ought to be made situationally, not prescriptively.'' Ethical decisions are to be made out of "love" - and the achievement of a loving end justifies any means to bring it about. Love is the only moral truth, the only viable standard for determining right from wrong.
* Fletcher Joseph, Situation Ethics: The New Morality, Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 1966
(British philosopher, b. 1923)
What is not empirically falsifiable is meaningless
There can be no assertion of truth or falsehood about any reality that is not empirically accessible.
Believers in God, faced with the problem of evil, make qualification after qualification to explain how a perfectly good and powerful God might yet allow suffering and evil in the world. For them no arguments whatsoever can disprove the existence of God. They will always find some justification for their beliefs in spite of any state of affairs. But, says Flew, if an assertion is in no way falsifiable, that assertion is empty. It is not an assertion – liable to be true or false - but a mere belief which has nothing to do with truth and falsehood and is therefore meaningless.
The assumption of Flew’s argument is that the only allowable proof of any truth is empirical. What counts for him is empirical evidence only, a kind of argumentation that is not found anywhere in the history of philosophical and theological theism. For theists to suggest that the truth of God’s existence is empirically discernible would be close to idolatry. Flew demands from the believer as positive evidence what the believer would regard as negative evidence.
* Flew, Anthony, “Theology and Falsification” in New Essays in Philosophical Theology, SCM Press, London, 1955, p. 96-99
(Contemporary American writer on relational theology)
The Systemic Theory of Truth: a Relational Understanding of Truth
Old school philosophical, scientific, and religious inquiry seeks to find objective truth by observing as a neutral party from the outside. Its goal is to discover an absolute truth. However science has been discovering that we cannot be neutral observers because our observation actually changes the results.
There is also a practical problem with the old school approach of seeking to find the objective impartial truth: in relationships this approach inevitably leads to conflict because it seeks to determine which party was more correct, and thus who “wins”. Theology that is focused on determining these kinds of absolute propositional truth claims has often fallen into this trap.
“Systemic theory” instead seeks a relational understanding of truth. Instead of asking what the absolute right answer is, it seeks to understand how each person in a relationship perceives what is happening. Because its focus is on seeking to understand people relationally rather than determining who is "right", it leads towards reconciliation and understanding instead of towards blame and conflict.
While this is an approach that is relational, it is not relativistic per se. That is, systemic theory does not claim that truth is relative, but simply that we are. We each perceive what we do, and if we care about others, if we care about relationship, we need to care about their perceptions and feelings - about them -more than we do about our being right. You might say its the difference between being right and being righteous. Righteousness is not self-focused, but cares for the other. Reality is not subjective, we are. We perceive everything from our own perspective.
To me, as someone who believes in absolute truth, this is profoundly challenging. It tells me that I need to care more about relating and understanding another than I do about what the "truth" is. That means that I need to re-think what truth means. Truth is alive and relational. Truth is loving and life-giving. Truth is transformative and reconciling. Truth is love, and what is unloving and life-sucking simply is not truth.
*See Internet Flood Derek
According to James Fodor one must reject the ‘pernicious’ Cartesian gap between the mind and an external world independent of the mind. Mind and physical reality cannot be separated. An understanding of truth must take into account that self, language and world coexist in relations of mutual implication. The primary bearers of truth are linguistic. They do not necessitate the existence of truth-makers. There is no need of ontological confirmation because the existence of the world and the existence of language are interdependent and mutually entailing. "Language exists" is equivalent to "the world exists".
Fodor whose project is to work out “a theory of truth from the Christian point of view” endorses the Wittgensteinian view of religious language. The existence of truth depends on our linguistic activities. It is wrong to claim that our religious assertions (for instance: "Jesus is risen") are true by virtue of the way things really are. Truth is not correspondence to facts. Truth has no externally imposed criteria.
But then what is truth for Fodor? He pleads in favour of what he calls a transformational conception of truth, which he presents as a uniquely Christian vision of truth. A theological claim is true, he says, if the believer is transformed by it. By “transformed", Fodor means "altered", "moved", "touched". Transformation is the necessary and sufficient condition for truth. This means that for him our response to the truth is included in the very concept of truth itself. The existence of theological truth becomes dependent on the subjective responses of human beings to particular theological claims.
Fodor's vision is thus thoroughly relativistic. Indeed, for some one who is transformed by "Jesus is risen", the theological claim is true. For some one not transformed by the same, the theological claim is false. But Fodor is not deterred by the objection of relativism, because he adopts the Wittgensteinian theory of language game in religion. That means that for him the Christian truth is unique and therefore not measurable against anything outside it. Christian truths are determined wholly from within the language game. No outsider has the right to pass judgment on a particular use of language.
* Fodor, James, Christian Hermeneutics, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995; see Richard Davis, HeyJ (2000), p.436-448
(Adventist Church apologist, 1941-1999)
Truth is absolute, universal, and knowable: Christ and the written Scriptures
According to the biblical testimony, God not only knows and reveals truth: He Himself is the Truth. All three members of the Trinity are described as Truth. The Father is called "the God of truth" (Isa 65:16); the Son says, "I am the . . . Truth" (John 14:6; cf. Rev 19:11), and the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of truth" (John 14:17; 16:13). Truth is ultimately not just a set of propositions or doctrines or creeds, but a Person. Since Truth is ultimately a Person, the knowledge of the truth in biblical understanding is ultimately a personal relationship with Him who is Truth. "And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent" (John 17:3). This is in stark contrast to other world religions and the pluralist view.
According to Scripture, truth is both personal encounter and objective propositional communication. Truth is both Christ Himself (John 14:4) and the written Scripture (John 17:17). Both Christ Himself and the written Scriptures are called the "Word of God" (Rev 19:13; 1:2; Heb 4:12)
Because Truth is embodied in a personal God, who is the absolute ultimate Reality, truth is therefore also absolute. God, who is absolute truth, communicates His truth in objective propositional revelation.
Biblical truth is permanent and universal, and not bound by culture, applicable only for a certain people at a certain time, as claimed by the pluralists. The Bible is also clear that the absolute, universal, eternal, and transcultural truth of God is knowable by human beings. Jesus states unequivocally: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32)
The Bible is true in itself and so can be trusted to be reliable and true to reality in all its revelations and teachings. The Bible provides the framework, the divine perspective, the foundational principles, for every branch of knowledge and experience. All additional knowledge and experience, or revelation, must build upon and remain faithful to, the all-sufficient foundation of Scripture.
*See Internet R.S. Folkenberg
( Contemporary American philosopher)
1. Fontinell adopts a resolutely pragmatist world-view. The concept of an immutable reality is rejected in favour of an open, unfinished world of novelties, possibilities, choices and ever new hypotheses. In this processive world-view human experience is the field of transaction between organism and environment, which are completely interdependent.
2. There are several modes of experience. Knowledge is a particular mode of experience, but it is not the only way to have access to reality, for experience precedes knowing. It is through experience that one comes to the truths of life, not through knowledge only. Fontinell rejects the exclusively intellectual concept of truth. Truth is richer and more varied than knowledge. Truth is also existential and personal.
3. Truth refers to personal experience insofar as the relations constituting the experience are satisfactory, that is, conducive to the development of the life of the person. Truth may be abstract and representative (in science) but it is also existential and participational. Knowing is only one of the ways that contribute to the development of the person. Art, litterature, religion, etc. - any experience - must be called true if they improve the human condition. Man indeed is conveniently described as a believing-knowing-feeling-loving being. These are the various functions at the service of life, according to the well known pragmatist principle. All four are separate modes of experience. All are true insofar as conducive to life’s betterment. Art is true, love is true, religion is true, knowledge is true, provided they fulfil that condition.
4. Religious truth is characterised by faith and faith is not knowledge but a unique mode of experience, which is worth ( and thus ‘true’) if it contributes to the betterment of human life. To make faith a mode of knowledge is as mistaken as making love and art modes of knowledge and regarding knowledge as a value exclusive of all others. If truths were only intellectual and cognitive, there would be no religious truths. Creeds, dogmas and sacred scriptures do not give more knowledge but invite the believer to a participative experience. It follows that in the field of religious faith there can never be the kind of verification which characterizes knowledge. This implies that the believer is never protected from existential doubt.
Religions should surrender their knowledge-claims to science, metaphysics or ethics. Whatever is accessible in all spheres of knowing belong to all human beings and not just to the adherents of a particular religion. Religion has a distinctive contribution to make in the expansion of human life, but not in the area of cognitive truth.
* Fontinell, Eugen, Religious truth in a relational and processive world, Cross Currents, Summer 1967, p.283-315
(French philosopher and social critic, 1926-1984)
1. Each society has its regime of truth, its general politics of truth, that is, the type of discourse which it accepts and makes it function as true. This truth has been imposed by man’s will to power. It is the turn-out of ideologies ( whether political or religious) and “systems of truth”. Such truth is the product of devious and partisan historical forces; it is never “innocent of power”. The human mind is enslaved by the imposition of orderly similitude, patterns, structures and systems offered to them as the universal truth.
2. We need another notion of truth, no longer the universal immutable truth invented and imposed by ideologies to exercise power and enslave the human mind. We need to re-think the truth and for that we need to rethink thinking. By ‘thinking’ and ‘understanding’, traditional epistemology means the operations of conceptualizing, identifying classes of objects, comparing them and finally universalizing. It identifies truth with the universal, the immutable, the “same”. But this universal is not given in reality, it is imposed by the will to power which tries to enforce the order of things with the hope of securing the docile obedience of all to the ‘timeless’ truth.
3. But why should one search for such a truth, which is outside reality, outside the singular, unique, unclassifiable events of which reality is made? Why not search rather for the untruth, as Nietzsche said? Why should one bind thinking to the quests of patterns, categories, structures and systems? After centuries of imposition of the universal and same truth, it is time to give thought to the truth as event, to the truth in its singularity and uniqueness, emptied of all rationality. The event is absolute contingency, the irrational singular, the ephemeral, the fleeting that cannot be conceptualized and universalized. It is never the same but always the radically different.
4. However the question for Foucault is less to overturn all ‘systems of truth’, than to keep them off balance. No system of truth should be allowed to triumph. There is not so much to do as to undo. It is time to pay attention to why truth has been entangled with powers to make it ‘timeless and universal'. We must all the time remain able to question the authority of orthodox thinking so as never to loose sight of the possibilities of new thoughts. The sin of the Platonic concept of timeless truth has for too long eliminated the possibility of creative thinking. The remedy lies in ‘deconstruction’, that is, the dismantling of our mental categories to allow the discovery of the truth of the singular events that constitute the flux of life. All orthodoxies must be challenged. Categorial thinking must be disregarded for life to be perceived in its truth and beauty. “Do not classify this flower, contemplate it in its unique singularity”.
* Foucault, Michel, see Cambridge Companion to Foucault, Edited by Garry Gutteng, Cambridge Un. Press, Cambridge, 1994, p.166-183
Contemporary American Anglican priest
Some things are just ‘there’, these are objective truths
Truth is simply "What is" as against "What isn't”. We appear to come into the world with an intuitive sense of that. Some things are just "there". We have to deal with them whether or not we like it. There is no way we cannot deal with them. Those are objective truths.
That means that any person who believes contrary to an objective truth is believing a falsehood. And if he keeps on believing it contrary to all the evidence, he may come into painful contradiction with reality. Reality does not step out of the road for anyone. Reality IS the road.
If our search for consensus and unity is at all realistic and helpful, it must therefore include a search for whatever objective truths are relevant to the issue at hand.
There are some truths that are subjective, such as my liking fried chicken. One cannot infer that therefore everyone else ought to like fried chicken. On the other hand, if God says that we should not commit adultery, then it becomes an obligation for all of us to avoid adultery. My preference for fried chicken has no objective moral content, whereas God's command does. It is around those objective moral and spiritual realities that we must come into unity and consensus.
If there are such objective truths, then approaching issues as though truth were all relative will simply not work. It will lead to deeper frustration and division. It will also remove any reasonableness from the discussion because there can be no common ground of objective reality about which the discussion is held. The discussion will dissolve necessarily into pitting one's own desires against someone else's -- because our opinions and desires are the only reality. And then all discussion and dialogue becomes a power struggle and mutual manipulation.
In other words, it is precisely the objectivity of truth which saves discussion from falling into power struggle. There is a real truth "out there" to which both sides must submit. And if both sides can admit that they are fallible and could just possibly be wrong, and that the other side just might possibly have something to offer in the discussion, then an honest discussion can be held.
The act of submitting my opinions to objective truth means that I have freed my ego from "having to be right" and instead commit myself to "telling the truth", two quite different things.
If truth is objective, then there can be objectively agreed upon methods for getting at that truth. And that, of course, is what we mean by "science". A body of knowledge becomes a science when it can establish reasonable rules for telling the difference between truth and falsehood in a given area. That is just as true of theology or morality as of physics.
*See internet, Earle Fox
(American liberal theologian, b.1940)
The truth of ‘original blessing’ and the falsity of ‘original sin’
Matthew Fox, the founder of ‘Creation Spirituality’, coins ‘Original Blessing’ as a counter to the traditional Christian idea of Original Sin, and he sees it as an antithesis and antidote to what he calls a ‘Fall-Redemption’ view. "There are two Christianities in our midst," Fox argues. As he explains, one vision of Christianity "worships a Punitive Father and teaches the doctrine of Original Sin." The "other Christianity" rejects any notion of a God who will punish sin, and the very notion of sin itself. Instead, this rival to historic Christianity "recognizes the Original Blessing from which all being derives. It recognizes awe rather than sin and guilt, as the starting point of true religion. It prefers trust over fear and an understanding of a divinity who is source of all things, as much mother as father, as much female as male."
According to Fox, true spirituality is ‘Creation Spirituality’ which starts with original blessing, rather than with original sin. It regains the understanding that our original and true nature, the original and true nature of all things, is basically good, and not in need of salvation or redemption. The Fall-Redemption view of God's primary relationship with God's human creatures – Augustine's main thesis about the human race - is deeply flawed. Humans are primarily loved creatures, made in God's image. Augustine - and from him the whole Western church, Catholic and Protestant - got it wrong. God the Punitive Father is not a God worth honoring but a false god. Moreover Fox argues that theism - the idea that God is ‘out there’ or above and beyond the universe - is false. He advocates panentheism according to which all things are in God and God is in all things. Fox’s ‘Creation Spirituality’, religion is not necessary but spirituality is.
*Fox Matthew, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth (1991), Harper, San Francisco
( American philosopher and Calvinist theologian, b. 1939)
For the Christian, God’s Word is the ultimate criterion of truth
Frame is supporter of the “presuppositionalist” school of Christian apologetics. He defines a presupposition as follows: a presupposition is a belief that takes precedence over another and therefore serves as a criterion for another. An ultimate presupposition is a belief over which no other takes precedence. For a Christian, the content of Scripture must serve as his ultimate presupposition. This doctrine is merely the outworking of the lordship of God in the area of human thought. It merely applies the doctrine of scriptural infallibility to the realm of knowing.
Presuppositional apologetics is a matter of putting God first in apologetics as in the rest of life. For the Christian, God’s Word is the ultimate criterion of truth. This must be true in apologetics as in every other part of life. The Christian cannot relinquish his fundamental criterion simply because the unbeliever refuses to acknowledge it. So there is a sense in which his apologetic argument is circular: he presupposes the truth of Scripture even when trying to prove it. But of course the unbeliever does the same: he presupposes the truth of human reason, or secularity, or materialism, when he seeks to prove these. Nobody can be neutral. Either you accept God’s word as your standard, or you reject it in favor of something else. In either case it is a presupposition.
The apologist must simply presuppose the truth of Christianity as the proper starting point in apologetics. The Christian revelation in the Scriptures is the framework through which all experience is interpreted and all truth is known. Various evidences and arguments can be advanced for the truth of Christianity, but these at least implicitly presuppose premises that can be true only if Christianity is true. Presuppositionalists attempt, then, to argue transcendentally. That is, they argue that all meaning and thought – indeed, every fact – logically presupposes the God of the Scriptures.
To tell the unbeliever that one can reason with him on a neutral basis, however that claim might help attract his attention, is a lie. Indeed, it is a lie of the most serious kind, for it falsifies the very heart of the gospel—that Jesus Christ is Lord. For one thing, there is no neutrality. Christian witness is either God's wisdom or the world's foolishness. There is nothing in between. For another thing, even if neutrality were possible, that route would be forbidden to the Christians.
* Frame John. Apologetics to the Glory of God, 1994 ISBN 0-87552-243-2
Truth is an encounter with the Person of Jesus Christ: the Truth ‘who beame flesh’.
We are living in an age in which people are rather sceptical of truth. Benedict XVI has frequently spoken of relativism, that is, of the tendency to consider nothing definitive and to think that truth comes from consensus or from something we like. The question arises: does “the” truth really exist? What is “the” truth? Can we know it? Can we find it? Here springs to my mind the question of Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator, when Jesus reveals to him the deep meaning of his mission: “What is truth?” (Jn 18:37, 38). Pilate cannot understand that “the” Truth is standing in front of him, he cannot see in Jesus the face of the truth that is the face of God. And yet Jesus is exactly this: the Truth that, in the fullness of time, “became flesh” (cf. Jn 1:1, 14), and came to dwell among us so that we might know it. The truth is not grasped as a thing, the truth is encountered. It is not a possession, it is an encounter with a Person.
But who can enable us to recognize that Jesus is “the” Word of truth, the Only-Begotten Son of God the Father? St Paul teaches that “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). It is the Holy Spirit himself, the gift of the Risen Christ, who makes us recognize the Truth. Jesus describes him as the “Paraclete”, namely, “the one who comes to our aid”, who is beside us to sustain us on this journey of knowledge; and, at the Last Supper, Jesus assures the disciples that the Holy Spirit will teach them all things and remind them of all he has said to them (cf. Jn 14:26).
So how does the Holy Spirit act in our life and in the life of the Church in order to guide us to the truth? First of all he recalls and impresses in the heart of believers the words Jesus spoke and, through these very words, the law of God — as the Prophets of the Old Testament had foretold — is engraved in our heart and becomes within us a criterion for evaluation in decisions and for guidance in our daily actions; it becomes a principle to live by.
Then, as Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit guides us “into all the truth” (Jn 16:13); not only does he guide us to the encounter with Jesus, the fullness of the Truth, but he also guides us “into” the Truth, that is, he makes us enter into an ever deeper communion with Jesus, giving us knowledge of all the things of God. And we cannot achieve this by our own efforts. Unless God enlightens us from within, our Christian existence will be superficial. The Church’s Tradition asserts that the Spirit of truth acts in our heart, inspiring that “sense of the faith”.
* See Internet Pope Francis
(Austrian-born logical positivist philosopher, 1884-1966)
The scientific concept of truth cannot consist in the “agreement of thought with their objects”, as traditional (“school”) philosophy requires. Indeed science never encounters objects , but only experiences. The scientist compares one experience with another. The test of truth for him is the agreement between experiences. While traditional philosophy recognizes metaphysical realities (objects), the scientific world conception uses only constructions based on concrete experiences.
But then it looks as if the conflict between science and school philosophy on this point could be resolved by a kind of doctrine of double truth. One could say :” We, scientists, speak only of time measurements and relative time, whereas philosophers speak of real time”. The school philosopher would say that philosophy is concerned with cognitions of reality, while scientists deal only with experiments. He would hold the view that there are boundaries between philosophy and science and that philosophical truth stands over and above scientific truth.
However Frank rejects this double theory of truth, which, he says, has created a lot of confusion throughout the ages. It has never been so clearly dramatized as in the case of Copernicus’ revolution. In overthrowing the obsolete philosophical doctrines of Aristotle and Ptolemy, Copernicus scored a victory of experience over pure speculations. The paradox is that the people of the time pronounced the verdict that the Copernican theory was “astronomically or mathematically true” but “philosophically absurd and false”. They wanted to maintain the distinction between “scientific truth” and “ philosophic truth”. The new physical theories were true because checked by experiments, but they were false because incompatible with established philosophical principles. The history of scientific discoveries provides many instances of new theories labelled ‘scientifically true’ but ‘philosophically false’. But such contradictory claims are evidently absurd.
Frank’s thesis is that the so-called established philosophical principles (the philosophical truth) are nothing else than scientific hypotheses in a state of petrifaction. Scientific theories can be changed and they do. On the contrary philosophical principles derived from pure reason are supposed to be stable and permanent. But then one should be aware of the origin of these so called eternally valid philosophical principles. They are nothing more than the outcome of the petrifaction of former theories and hypotheses. The transformation of a physical hypothesis into a philosophical principle is a petrifaction of that hypothesis. Old theories disguised as philosophical principles with pretensions of eternal validity were a good and useful description of the facts known at a certain time in history but nothing more. Soon these theories became obsolete.
Philosophers and scientists often disagree on the merit of a new theory. Philosophers are responsible for such misunderstandings; they reject the new theory on account of its being in contradiction to ‘established’ philosophical principles. But then they should know that these so-called established principles are mostly petrifactions of physical theories that are no longer appropriate to embrace the facts of actual physical experience.
* Frank, Philip, Modern Science and its Philosophy, Collier, New Yord, 1961
(Contemporary American theologian)
Christians should celebrate the pluralism of Truth
Franke wants to demonstrate how pluralism is not something to be feared or fought by Christians but is instead simply a beautiful intrinsic aspect of not just the Christian faith but all creation.
In his discussion of truth he quickly moves beyond the absolute and relative dichotomies. Neither accurately represents truth as the first tries to commoditize it for the sake of power and the second deny it in the name of tolerance. Pluralism and truth are far more complex than the extreme camps allow us to admit. Our world is diverse, as is the Christian faith. The celebration of plurality affirms the "importance of multiple perspectives in the apprehension and communication of truth" .
We should never let our particular cultural setting trump our commitment to truth. We are situated in culture, but when we start to assume that our cultural habits are the only way to present truth, we are in fact limiting God and truth. Scripture and God cannot be subject to cultural assumptions, but must be celebrated in their plurality. Franke writes, "theology is not a universal language. It is situated language that reflects the goals, aspirations, and beliefs of a particular people, a particular community" .
For him the plural nature of truth a gift to the Christian community. He argues that truth versus unity is a false dichotomy. He claims that orthodox and biblical Christian faith is inherently pluralist, and that this diversity, far from being a problem that needs to be overcome, is in fact a blessing from God and part of the divine design and intention for the church.
The Christian faith “is inherently and irreducibly pluralist.” As he explains, “The diversity of the Christian faith is not, as some approaches to church and theology might seem to suggest, a problem that needs to be overcome. Instead, this diversity is part of the divine design and intention for the Church as the image of God and the body of Christ in the world. Christian plurality is a good thing, not something that needs to be struggled against and overturned.”
Franke expends considerable energy and thought in the task of calling Christians to an understanding of the careless way some believers speak of truth. Franke exhorts: “Christians committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ should not acquiesce to the cultural relativism that gives up on the notion of ultimate or transcendent truth. But they must also resist the temptation of espousing a notion of truth that makes an idol out of their own conceptions, assumptions, and desires as though they are not subject to critique.”
In arguing for the plurality of truth, Franke seeks to ground this plurality in the very nature of God. In emphasizing a social understanding of the Trinity, Franke argues that plurality exists even within God. As he explains, “difference is part of the life of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in the fellowship of missional love.”
Franke deals with what pluralism is not. It is not an “anything goes, cultural relativism.” There is one truth. But as Franke argues, everything is processed through the lens of interpretation. We cannot ignore the medium that processes the message. As broken human beings we have to begin with the idea that we cannot see the entirety of truth.
Humanity is an expression of billions of different viewpoints. The Church (universal) is represented by thousands of different expressions in denominations. Scripture itself is represented by a myriad of different writers and even four different Gospels. Truth is plural in that God consistently reveals truth through multiple channels.
* Franke John R., Manifold Witness: The Plurality of Truth (Living Theology) (Paperback)
(Contemporary American moral philosopher)
'Bullshit' is a greater enemy of truth than lies
Telling a lie is an act with a sharp focus. In order to invent a lie at all, the liar must think he knows what is true. He is inescapably concerned with truth-values. In order to invent an effective lie, he must design his falsehood under the guidance of that truth. One who is concerned to report or to conceal the facts assumes that there are indeed facts that are in some way both determinate and knowable. His interest in telling the truth or in lying presupposes that there is a difference between getting things wrong and getting them right, and that it is at least occasionally possible to tell the difference.
Frankfurt's central thesis is that what he calls 'bullshitting' is quite another type of activity than lying. What the bullshitter and the liar have in common is that both represent themselves falsely as endeavouring to communicate the truth. The success of each depends upon deceiving us about that. But the fact about himself that the liar hides is that he is attempting to lead us away from a correct apprehension of reality. On the other hand, the fact about himself that the bullshitter hides is that the truth-values of his statements are of no central interest to him; what we are not to understand is that his intention is neither to report the truth nor to conceal it. The motive guiding and controlling his speech is unconcerned with how the things about which he speaks truly are.
When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are; he just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. Someone who lies and someone who tells the truth are playing on opposite sides, so to speak, in the same game. Each responds to the facts as he understands them, although the response of the one is guided by the authority of the truth, while the response of the other defies that authority and refuses to meet its demands. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, he does not oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
Frankfurt deplores the contemporary proliferation of bullshit. Why is there so much bullshiting rather than truth telling? He contends that bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person's obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic are more excessive than his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic. This discrepancy is common in public life, where people are frequently to speak extensively about matters of which they are to some degree ignorant. No wonder that the realms of advertising and of public relations are replete with instances of bullshit to the point that the bullshitting activity has become a form of professional expertise.
Frankfurt finds an even deeper source of bullshit in the various contemporary forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These "anti-realist" doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even in the intelligibility of the notion of objective inquiry.
*Frankfurt, Harry, On Bullshit , Princeton University Press, NJ, 2005
(Austrian psychotherapist, founder of logotherapy, 1905-1997)
The truth of human life is in the will to meaning: ‘logotherapy’
Frankl imparts on his patients the philosophy of a “will to meaning.” This is to say that he believed a person’s struggle to find meaning, their will to meaning, is implicit in the very existence of that meaning. To put it another way: if life is always meaningful, than a person who truly believed their life was meaningless would simply not be alive. Every treatment offered by Frankl rested fundamentally on this belief: that life is always endowed with meaning, no matter what, and that each of us is faced with the task of discovering what form our meaningfulness takes regardless of our circumstances.
Frankl uses the analogy of the Painter vs. the Opthomologist. A painter tries to convey to us a picture of the world as he sees it; and opthomologist tries to enable us to see the world as it really is. So, logotherapy tries to help us to see with our own eyes. It cannot show us the truth but can only help us to discover it for ourselves.
But this "meaning" is not to be used in the broad sense as in "What is the meaning of life?", but rather in a more specific way of "what is the meaning of YOUR life". In Frankl's words, asking the meaning of life is akin to asking the chess champion: "Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?" There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one's opponent. The same holds for human existence. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignement which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.
Frankl talks about "The self-transcendence of human existence". It means that being human is about going beyond the self. He says "The more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve, or another person to love - the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself."
Frankl’s logotherapy may best be explained by comparison with Freudian therapy. The Freudian view hypothesizes that the gratification of desires is a necessary condition for mental health and happiness. Logotherapy, however believes that the key to happiness lies in the discovery of the meaning of (your) life, not in the pursuit or gratification of desires. It is through man's discovery of the purpose of his own life that he can find meaning in life in the general sense. When man is unable to find purpose or meaning in his own life a void is created, an "Existential Vacuum".
* Frankl Viktor, Man's Search for Meaning. An Introduction to Logotherapy, Boston: Beacon, and Random House / Rider, London 2004
(Contemporary American Hindu spiritual master)
The different religions of the world are different formulations of that One Truth.
There is only one real religion, the universal tradition of Truth. The different religions of the world are different formulations - or perhaps distortions - of that One Truth. Recognizing this universal tradition, true Hindus do not see the need to convert people to a particular belief. They recognize the Divine presence that exists already in all. If the other is God, what are we going to convert them to and why? What is important is to recognize the internal Divinity in all, not to convert others to our idea of religion.
There may be different religious and spiritual approaches that we can follow but this is at best to choose an angle of approach to the One Truth. Such different teachings are not different religions but different formulations of the one religion of Truth. Sanatana Dharma recognizes that many such approaches are possible and a diversity of them should always be encouraged, but that the underlying universality of Truth should never be forgotten.
Such different teachings are Shaivism, Vaishnavism or Shaktism, which are different lines (sampradayas) of Sanatana Dharma, not different religions. All the religions of the world can similarly be seen as different lines or approaches to the universal religion of Truth to the extent that such truth is their goal.
To get people to think that they have a particular religious identity and it should be replaced with another, is to confuse the Self with the body and is a sign of ignorance. God is our essential nature. The Divine is our Self. It is not something that we have to be converted to, a new identity to assume, but our own real Self that we have to discover.
* David Frawley The Eternal Tradition - Sanatana
(Contemporary American Hindu author)
The role of the Guru in seeking the truth
The guru is the guiding intelligence of life present behind the veil of thought. When we are no longer engrossed in mental activity, no longer thinking about the world and its objects, this guiding intelligence comes into function and points out the way to truth.
Just as the student who studies on his own is more likely to gain additional help from his teachers, so the guru-consciousness come more easily to those who are self-reliantly looking into the truth. Those seeking the truth do not pursue personalities. On the other hand, they do not reject the truth simply because it may be taught by another human being.
It is not necessary to seek a guru as a physical entity. It is, however, necessary to be receptive to truth. This may bring us into contact with various teachers and teachings, outwardly or inwardly, of the past or of the present, who can be instrumental in changing our consciousness. When the nature or role of the guru is perceived, in whatever form it may appear, we must honor it or deny our own inner truth. Hence we must become real disciples of truth by being open to truth in whatever form it appears to us.
The mind tends to reflect the reality of the external world. Hence we create an image of ourselves as a worldly entity or mind-body complex. When we come into contact, whether inwardly or outwardly, with the guru, then we are able to reflect ourselves on the world of reality. The guru mirrors back to us not the reality of a person or a bodily identity, but the pure consciousness hidden within us. This radically changes our idea of who we are and reveals to us our true being in consciousness. This is the true meaning of seeing the guru, which is the same as seeing our Self.
The intellectual mind cannot find the truth. Therefore it is also important that we respect the words of wisdom of men of spiritual realization. To do this we must put their teachings into practice in our own lives, not merely adulate them as personalities. This is the meaning of the guru as a presence in human society.
*Frawley David, Hinduism: The Eternal Tradition (Sanatana Dharma), Voice of India, New Delhi ISBN 81-85990-29-8
(Contemporary American critic of religions)
The absolute truth of all religions !
Religionists are the most opinionated of all views. They all eventually adopt a stance relative to Truth in which their beliefs are Absolutely True, their Gods Absolutely Perfect, and their Morals Absolutely Correct. Muslims quote the Koran as their ultimate authority, Buddhists go to the sayings of Gautama, the Children of Israel unroll their sacred scroll, and Christians thump their bible. Each is convinced that they alone are Absolutely Correct in having possession of THE TRUTH, and that all the others are, relatively speaking, wrong in the measure to which they deviate from whoever is doing the opinionating.
If I take the time to look up the stance of other religions with sacred books, I would probably find that each devotee would coyly admit that their religion was best and that they alone had a monopoly on TRUTH. They are all convinced that Absolute Truth is singular, indivisible and they all have a recipe for finding it.
Stridency and aggressivity in voicing opinions seem to play a large part in getting points across. Several major religions originating in the Middle East assert that absolute truth is determined by a supernatural being, who is the ultimate authority, or maker, of everything, including reality. True Believers believe that a personal, all-powerful Intelligent Being exists and that absolute truth is derived by True Believers by properly understanding who or what God is and what His “will” might be. The argument goes: There must be a “reality” somewhere. It defines what is and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. For absolute truth, there must be some authority that establishes Truth. “You cannot have a law without a lawgiver. You cannot have a design without a designer.”
Thus TRUTH seems to be relative to whichever religion a True Believer believes. Each claims the FULL ABSOLUTE TRUTH, and each despises the others weak stumbling ignorant mistaken error-filled partial distortion of THE TRUTH.
*See Internet Peter Frredson
(American clergyman, 1759-1851)
Truth and love must go into every action to make it good
Truth is the salt of the earth. What is life good for without it? What is any man good for who does not care for truth? If you ask yourself why you respect any one. you will find it to be because there is in him an element of truth. He has real convictions. He believes something, and that is better than not believing. Without belief there is no earnestness, and without earnestness life is intolerable. Unless we are in earnest about something, what is the use of living?
To believe something, even if it be mixed with error, is better than to believe nothing; for belief implies the love of truth, and this is the first step toward truth itself. There are two kinds of truth: inward truth, truth to one's self, or truthfulness; and secondly, knowledge of reality, or outward truth. Both kinds of truth are essential to goodness and happiness. They make the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, going forward and going backward.
But, beside truth, there is another and an opposite virtue, which is love. These two make up the whole of goodness. Truth is one element, and love the other. They are different and opposite qualities, but necessary to each other. Neither will suffice alone.
Some people have truth but have not love. Their truth is hard, cold, overbearing, dogmatical. They do not speak it in love. They drive men, they do not lead them. There is nothing attractive, magnetic, about them. They scold and rail at those who differ from them.
There are other people who have love but not truth. They are full of good-will, overflowing with sympathy, but do not help us, because they have no stamina, no strength of their own. They are disposed to give to others, but they have nothing to give. They sympathize with us whether we are right or wrong, good or bad. They are a "mush of concession." Their love, being without truth, does not do us good.
Truth without love, in religion, is dogmatism. It is overbearing, cold, bitter. It hunts for heresies, and persecutes the heretic. Truth without love founded the Inquisition, tortured and burned unbelieving Jews and Protestants. Its zeal is cruel. In modern times, truth without love does not persecute, but it slanders — it is unrelenting, unsympathizing.
Every good character is composed of truth and love. Think of the person you have loved best in the world. It was some one who had a character of his own, rooted in the love of truth and right, who would not give way, but stood firm according to his conscience; but who, while thus strong in himself, was tender and generous toward others. He could forgive others, and be more tolerant toward them than toward himself.
This twofold element of truth and love must go into every action to make it good. Every good deed must partake of both qualities. All conflicts of duty resolve themselves at last into this antagonism of truth and love. If you ever feel a real difficulty as to what your duty is, you will find, on looking into it, that truth seems to be pulling you one way and love the other.
Let us, therefore, aim high; let us not be satisfied with a one-sided virtue. If we are naturally sympathetic, let us add to this, strength of principle and the love of truth. If we are by nature conscientious and truthful, let us also be tender, kind, merciful and generous .
*James Freeman Clarke, Chp. 5 in Every-day Religion (Ticknor: 1886), 63-76.
(Fraternal organization, from late 16 c.)
A basic Masonic principle: tolerance in the search of objective truth
We, freemasons, live our lives relying on the belief that Objective Truth exists. If only we can find it. We attempt to gather evidence for our beliefs whether they are political, religious or simply moral beliefs. We weigh the credibility and truthfulness of each of fact or belief we hold. We make difficult judgments and in the end, we arrive at a close proximity to truth, hopefully an Objective Truth. Freemasons strive for truth, requiring high moral standards and aiming to achieve them in their own lives.
Today objective Truth is increasingly pushed aside by the practice of the modern definition of tolerance which entails the obliteration of all knowledge, including scientific, moral, and historical truth in favor of a subjective reality. This subjective reality is called progress and the practice of this is the modern definition of tolerance. So what kind of tolerance is "Masonic Tolerance"?
It is relatively easy for us as Masons to practice Tolerance, without falling into the trap of "Modern relativism". Tolerance does not mean, by any stretch of imagination, that one belief is as good as another, or is as true as another, or is as valuable as another. Freemasonry does not advocate a general indifference to all beliefs; nor does it hold that all differences of opinion should be watered down into a faulty compromise. We may as individuals believe that one belief is truer than another, that one opinion is better grounded than another; or one fact better supported than another but in the final analysis we want the truth to prevail.
It is this type of tolerance that forms the principle of Brotherly love in the sense that all men are created equal. It is by this principle that Freemasonry unites men of all nationalities and religious beliefs and conciliates true friendships amongst those who might otherwise remain at a perpetual distance.
Reason dictates that we search through the various "universal truths" and "common beliefs" which have existed throughout the history of mankind to find each truth. Though "Perfect Truth” is unattainable, we as Masons press on ever trying approaching it.
There is no principle in the ancient teachings of Freemasonry that has been more prominently advocated than this doctrine of toleration. "Thou shalt not persecute a man for simply differing from thee in opinion" has been a foremost Masonic charge for hundreds of years.
Freemasonry does not assert nor does it teach that one fact or belief is as good as another. In short every true Freemason will show tolerance by respect for the opinions of others and behave with kindness and understanding to his fellow man and his opinions. As Masons the limit of our influence upon others should be persuasion, not punishment, and difference in our individual beliefs should not prevent Brotherly Love to prevail. To respect the differences of every man and still feel you are his friend and brother is a fundamental of Masonic teaching. Tolerance, therefore, is a positive and constructive thing. It encourages each man to think for himself, and not follow blindly and unthinking. As such Masonry is indeed the "Mother of Tolerance”.
*See Internet :Source: an unknown Mason
(German mathematician, logician and philosopher, 1848-1925)
1. All the sciences have a specific goal that guides the scientist in the right direction. Just as “good” is the goal of ethics and “beautiful” is the goal of aesthetics, so the word “true” indicates the goal of logic.
For Frege, logic has nothing to do with psychology. Logic for him is not concerned with things ‘being held as true’ but with their ‘being true’. ‘Being true’ is quite different from ‘being held as true’ whether by one, by many, by all or by none. There is no contradiction in something being true which is held by everyone as false. Knowledge for Frege does not create what is known, but only grasps what is already there. Truths are independent of the knower. In attacking psychologism Frege wants to stay away from epistemological issues. The laws of truth are independent of anyone’s beliefs or opinions. The True transcends human recognition and is eternal. The laws of truth are not psychological laws: “they are boundary stones set in an eternal foundation”. Frege postulates a realm of objective entities much admodum Platonist philosophy.
2. A name or a concept is meant to point out at an object. This is its reference. A sentence too has its reference which is its truth-value, and that means that a sentence is used to say where there is truth or falsity. All sentences have the same reference: the true or the false. For Frege the true and the false are “objects”, objective realities, referred to by sentences just as names refer to objects. All true sentences refer to The Truth and this implies that all true sentences have one and the same reference. When we speak, we mean to say something true and such truth is an “objective” reality independent of us, just like an object is a reality external to the concept we use to designate it. The Truth is the “object” to which all true sentences refer.
3. According to Frege language has the primary goal to express what is true. But he pointed out that in language there is more than truth-assertion or reference to reality. He introduced the all important distinction between the sense or meaning of an expression and its reference. For instance ‘the morning star’ and ‘the evening star’ are expressions with different senses but both refer to the same reality, the planet Venus. At the level of objects (the planet Venus), there is nothing to distinguish the morning star from the evening star, but at the level of language the morning star is different from the evening star. Frege argued that reference cannot provide the complete account of what is going on. The two names have the same reference but they differ in sense, which consists in the “mode of presentation” of the reference. Thus Frege has pointed out that there is more in language than reference to reality, more than truth assertion: one must take into account not only the reference but also the sense of the assertion. He has open the whole problem of the difference between reference and sense, that is, between truth and meaning.
4. Frege deems futile to employ a definition in order to make clearer what is understood by ‘true’. He recognizes the difficulty to define truth in terms of adequation or correspondence between representations and things. To decide whether something is true we should have to inquire whether one can state that “a representation is true when it corresponds to reality”. But this is of no use. For to apply that criterion, one should in each case decide the question to know if such representation corresponds to reality. Is it “true” that this representation corresponds to the reality? But this is a vicious circle. So the attempts to explain truth by correspondence collapses. And every other attempt to define truth collapses too. For in a definition certain characteristics would have to be stated. And in application to any particular case the question would always arise whether it were true that the characteristics were present. So one goes round in a circle. Consequently it is probable that the content of the word “ true” is unique and indefinable.
* Frege, Gotlob, see Peter Geach, Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1952; also Philosophes et Philosophies, Vol.2, B. Morichêre, Paris, Nathan, 1992, p.381-5
(German pragmatist philosopher, b. 1940}
“Moral-spiritual truths” more valuable than "logico-scientific truths"
Fremerey expresses his distate for positivism, logicism and naturalism: it is not that they are "wrong" but that they are sterile and reducing the great human quest for truth to a mere thoughtless method of accounting. The problem for humans as moral agents is not scientific truth but reason, humanity, and meaning. The meaning of truth is not so much 'facts and theories', but what to make of them — good acting. We humans look for meaning in a world where we try to do meaningful things. And this defines the meaning of what we call "truth".
Some dismiss the three forms of truth : the religious, the personal, and the creative truth, as not being forms of "real" truth at all but only "personal convictions". But Fremerey’s conviction is that truth is one of those great concepts — like justice, freedom, human dignity, love, the good — that are too important to be left to modern philosophers. Modern philosophers tend to reduce such concepts to logico-scientific ones, which they definitely are not. Those concepts are meant to give orientation to human common and personal understanding and striving, they make up the spiritual world we live in. There is provable truth as in math and logic and in the physical sciences, but there is also "proven" truth as in a friendship or other interpersonal relation, and there is "spiritual" truth as in art and religion. They all have their right in themselves and should be handled with great respect and care.
The very old and venerable concept of truth is quite different from the logico-scientific sort of truth. Because of this we must keep apart two quite different concepts of truth as "moral-spiritual truth" or TM on the one side and "logico-scientific truth" or TL on the other. (The third variety of truth we call "artistic truth" or TA). TL is a truth about "objective facts" of logic, mathematics, physics and events. TM and TA are not on facts but on values and goals and ways. Unfortunately most philosophers today don't speak of truth in the cases of TM and TA , but they are mistaken. "Why are people fighting to defend a truth which, in a strictly scientific sense, does not even exist?" What value are those martyrs defending with their lives? They all feel that it is a truth, but we have to understand what sort of truth it is.
We humans are living in a world of thinking and inventive moral agents, not in a world of provable facts and theories. We have to find a way to go and to act. We have to ask whether modern philosophy, by destroying outlived conventions in philosophical thinking, is as much widening and enriching our understanding of what philosophy can be. Our modern concept of truth should not become scholastic and hair-splitting but mind expanding. It should allow us to see farther into the universe of reality than we ever before dared or imagined to see.
* Fremerey Hubertus, Two concepts of Truth, Philosophical pathways 1998
(Austrian founder of psychoanalysis, 1856-1939)
1. Two preliminary remarks are needed to situate Freud’s thought about truth. On the one hand, the truths in which he is interested are only particular and singular. It is not the universal or abstract Truth of epistemological philosophy, but the truth for you and for me, a subjective and individual truth with no universal bearing. On the other hand, the saying or not saying of the truth for Freud is not so much a matter of reference to the external reality than a reference to the other person, the interlocutor. It is not a question to present things as they are, but more a preoccupation of the way the other will understand what we say. This intersubjective dimension is essential to what he understands by truth.
2. Truth has several contraries: error (its epistemological contrary), lie (its ethical contrary) and illusion (its psychological contrary). As a psychologist Freud is mostly interested in the analysis of illusion.
Whereas error is due to ignorance, illusion is not caused by a lack of knowledge. To explain illusion one needs a theory of desire. The fact is that truth is not always pleasant, truth is not always loved. It often passes for an “incognito” , hiding itself and disguised because it is not beautiful to look at. It is often in conflict with the need of satisfaction. One rejects the facts of reality that cause displeasure. One refuses a sad, painful truth in favour of a happy illusion. However this does not mean that an illusion is necessarily false, in the sense of being unrealisable or in contradiction with reality. (A young lady has the illusion she is going to marry a prince charming and in some rare case it turned out to be that way!). Illusion consists in taking one’s desire for the reality. It is a belief in which the realisation of a desire is prevalent. An illusion could be true, but we take it for true not because we know or because it corresponds to reality but because we desire it to be so. And we desire because the object of our desire is pleasant and satisfying. This is the case with large numbers of religious beliefs.
Consequently the person under an illusion is indifferent to the procedures that demonstate the truth of the matter. He( she) does not want the truth. To remove the illusion, it is ineffective to show its falsity. The illusion can and will disappear only if the desire of it ceases.
3. The implication of such a view is that Freud regards truth a value. He recognizes that the moral and ethical quest for truth requires courage. Unfortunately in most people pleasure is more important than truth and few accept to sacrifice pleasure. Truth must be conquered but the price to pay is pleasure. Freud exalts truth and invites to go beyond displeasure to have access to the truth. But some of the contemporary ‘disciples’ of Freud (J. Lacan) ironizes on him and “his love of truth”. According to Lacan “the psycho-analytic approach excludes any collusion with truth”.
* Freud,Sigmund, see Soler,Colette, La Vérité en Psychanalyse, in La Vérité, Ed. by Quilliot, Paris, Ellipses, 1997, p. 109-120; also Kahn, ibid., p.59-62
( Contemporary American leading Rabbi)
The tension between the values of Truth and Peace
We have in this world seekers of truth. They perform a very important service. But one does not think of them as people who promote peace. On the other hand, there are seekers of peace in this world. And they, too, perform an important service. Obviously, both truth and peace are critically important values But there is a tension, or somewhat of a dichotomy between the two values.
People who are by nature truth seekers do not have much regard for peace seekers. More often than not they will think of them as wishy-washy, mealy-mouthed, touchy-feely, not able to stand up for anything of importance and, therefore, as people for whom they have very little respect. On the other hand, those who are by nature peace seekers will see truth seekers as argumentative, obnoxious zealots, people who simply like to cause trouble, people who cannot get along, and they will have very little regard for them as well. Again, both are values we think are important, yet they seem incompatible. How do we find a way to live with these two values and not see them constantly as conflicting with one another?
It seems to me that a large part of the problem is that we think like Westerners, in the Greco-Roman tradition. In that tradition things tend to be hierarchical, things tend to be linear. We are supposedly forced to choose between truth and peace and to decide which is more important and which is less so. That leads to the sense that they are irreconcilable.
We need to think of life as much more of a pendulum swing and to recognize that even when the pendulum swings and we move in the direction of the one as opposed to the direction of the other, it is precisely at that time that the pressure needs to build for the corresponding value.
In an optimal world both truth and peace should be present in equal measure at all times. But it is very rare that we are in such a position. Situation by situation, day by day, we do not find ourselves in the perfectly balanced middle. Instead, the pendulum will swing first one way and then the other. What we need to recognize is that, in fact, in certain situations either the value of truth or the value of peace is going to be dominant. However, when that happens, precisely because one of them is dominant, it is at that point that the love for the other value must manifest itself. And, if there is a moment when we can inject the corresponding value, if we can find a moment when we can strike a blow for either truth or peace when it seems to be absent, then we will be fulfilling the verse "truth and peace you shall love."
There are times in life when the value of truth is paramount. When that value is the focus of what we are doing, we are probably going to war against those about whom we are seeking the truth. That is what is happening in our world today. Nonetheless, in the midst of that search for the truth, it is critically important not to abandon our love for peace. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize that the values of peace are still essential to all of us. And if, without compromising the war effort, without undermining our opposition to and our attempt to destroy terrorism, we can find a place to strike a blow for peace, we can find a way to inject values of peace within this terrible situation that becomes important in a fundamental way. It is the true indication that we love both truth and peace.
Frankly, if we don't do that, we run a different risk. That risk is that we will value only the rigorous pursuit of truth; we will become bellicose; we will become martial; we will become aggressive and antagonistic.
By the same token, we need to recognize that there are moments in time where peace is the ultimate value. At moments like that, we may often jettison a great deal of truth. Often, when we are protecting something particularly precious to us, the only way that life allows us to function is by giving up our search for the truth, and sometimes that is the only appropriate thing to do. Then the question must be: what do we do with the value of truth? If we continue to love truth, if we continue to find places and moments where we can inject truth, if we take a long view and promise ourselves that in the fullness of time the truth will out, if we recognize the damage we are doing to truth for the sake of a peace that may be necessary, then we can still fulfill the verse "truth and peace you shall love."
See Internet Rabbi Barry Freundel
(Contemporary American psychologist and minister) “Reliabilism” as (insufficient) justification of truth
Given the liabilities of both foundationalism and coherentism, many contemporary philosophers hold a third position called reliabilism: justified beliefs are those that are the result of a reliable process, such as a reliable memory process or a reliable perception process. It’s like how we depend on a reliable clock to tell us what time it is. As long as we have confidence in the clock mechanism itself, then that’s all we need in order to trust the time that it tells us. We don’t have to inspect the internal gears of the clock and see how they relate to the movement of the clock’s hands. Similarly, to justify my beliefs, I don’t need to inspect how each belief connects with surrounding beliefs that are beneath them or next to them; I just trust the reliability of my mental process that gives me the belief. If my memory process is on the whole reliable, then I’m justified in my belief that I ate cornflakes this morning for breakfast. If my perceptual process is on the whole reliable, then I’m justified in my belief that my car is white. That is, I am justified in believing that my care is white since I’m not delusional or mentally impaired in any other way that might compromise the reliability of my perceptions. What matters is the reliability of the larger processes upon which my beliefs rest, not my other beliefs that border them. According to reliabilism, the fault with both foundationalism and coherentism is that they rely too much on introspection: presumably, with our mind’s eye, we can see the strength of our specific beliefs and how they gain support from other beliefs that are connected to them (either like bricks in a wall or strands in a web). But, says the reliabilist, this approach places too much confidence in our ability to internally witness the connections between our specific beliefs. Introspection, we’ve seen, is notoriously unreliable, and our standards of justification should not depend on what our mysterious mind’s eye internally perceives, but, instead, upon more external standards and mental processes that we know are reliable through our life experiences. I am justified in believing that I ate cornflakes for breakfast because that’s what I remember, and I trust my memory since it is a reliable process of supplying me with information about the past.
Reliabilism is an appealing theory since it dispenses with the untrustworthy mechanism of introspection and has us place our confidence in our normally reliable mental processes. In ordinary situations, such as justifying that my car is white, reliabilism may work just fine. But in extraordinary situations, such as police investigations, mental health examinations, investigative reporting, historical documentation, and theological or political debates, a simple appeal to the reliability of our mental processes may not be good enough. We may be forced into investigating how our convictions rest upon other beliefs, and those upon still more beliefs. It thus may not be that easy to set aside either foundationalist or coherentist approaches to justification.
*See Internet Frieser James
(German born American psychologist, 1900-1980)
The ideologization of truth
Concepts are to be understood only if they are not separated from the experience to which they refer. Otherwise they lose their reality and are transformed into an artifact of a person’s mind. Fictions are created when ideas expressing an experience has been transformed into an ideology that usurps the place of the underlying reality within the living human being.
Thus the history of concrete , real persons – who are the producers of their ideas – becomes a history of ideologies. That is how one should understand the concept of God, for instance. The idea of God is a conceptualisation of the supreme power in society: the king or the chieftain. It is the outcome of a leap from experience to an abstract idea, the transformation of an experiential truth into an abstract truth. It shows how the conceptual expression of human experience is prone to be transposed into an ideology. A concept never adequately expresses the human experience it refers to. It points to it like the finger to the moon but it is not the moon. Concepts are useful to allow people to communicate but they lead themselves easily to an alienated use.
The other factor that contributes to the development of alienation and ideologization is the inherent tendency in human thought to strive for systematization and completeness. This is linked to the tendency of man’s quest for certainty. Nothing else that the whole truth will satisfy him. We are not happy to know only some fragments of reality: we want to complete them in such a way that they make sense in a systematic way. We tend to manufacture some additional pieces which we add to the fragments to make them all whole, a system. The intensity of our wish for certainty explains the awareness of the difference between the “fragments” and “the additions”. To give a system more plausibility fragmentary pieces are used as “padding”. This is the case in many scientific systems, political ideology as well as in religions. The history of religious concepts shows how humans, who had always a fragmentary knowledge of the possibility of solving the problems of existence, filled the blank spaces with many fictitious assumptions. Their new vision culminated in the unknown quantity “x” which took many names: God, Brahman, Tao. This “x” was soon converted into an absolute and a comprehensive system was built around it. Moreover as soon as the thought system becomes the nucleus of a bureaucratic organization, a Church, ideologies are created which compete and fight with each other.
* Fromm, Eric, You shall be like Gods, Henri Holt Paperback, 1998
(Contemporary American president and CEO of Tribune Publishing Company )
Journalists intuitively know that they owe their first duty to truth
These days it sometimes seems as though we’re embarrassed to be caught talking about the truth, as if doing so were a kind of sentimentality. Our skeptical age has rediscovered that truth just isn’t something you can be sure about. Yet journalists intuitively know that they owe their first duty to truth (or at least to reality), and they also know that they have to exercise strict self-discipline to satisfy the obligation. This discipline is so exacting that it can require the sacrifice of financial self-interest, of friendships, even of personal safety. So while the concept of truth may lack clarity, every journalist knows that truth can make nonnegotiable demands.
The effect on journalism of our lack of confidence in our ability to know the truth is nothing less than disastrous, negating its very reason for being. Journalism not moored with the discipline of truth might look like Pravda.
Something must be done to make truth an idea we journalists can believe in again. How can we ask the public to believe what we say if we are unsure ourselves?
Of course, it is impossible for subjective individuals, locked within the prison of their own perceptions, to produce objective accounts of reality. But it is possible for subjective individuals to use rigorous methods, just as subjective scientists do. And it works. We might not be able to say what the truth is, but we can reach deep into space, play billiards with subatomic particles, and manipulate the very helix of life.
While we might all agree that it is epistemologically naive to think we can know and communicate The Truth, some accounts of reality are closer approximations than are others. Seen this way, what journalists do is to arrive at their judgments in a careful and disciplined way and make their claims confidently but provisionally, subject always to revision.
Since the truth we tell can be no more than approximate, modesty alone requires that we properly represent other points of view, even if in the end we explicitly favor one over another. The trouble with truth is not that it has become a sentimental and outmoded notion. We can have knowledge and communicate it. What we cannot have is certainty. Perfection is not possible. Remembering this should not make us despair nor free us to throw off all our truth disciplines. It should just keep us humble.
* “News Values: Ideas for An Information Age” (University of Chicago Press). Jack Fuller, president and CEO of Tribune Publishing Company
(Contemporary British scholar of Buddhism)
The Notion of Truth in Buddhism: pragmatism as well as correspondence
There are two distinct methods in Buddhist soteriology. The first method states that craving is the cause of suffering and must be overcome by the eightfold path. The second states that ignorance is the cause of suffering and must be overcome by knowledge of dependent-origination (paṭicca-samuppāda). Put in another way, is the cause of suffering, taṇhā, to be overcome by calm, or is the cause of suffering, avijjā, to be overcome by insight? Does the Buddhist path aim at overcoming desire or a lack of knowledge? The tradition itself suggests that craving and ignorance are the causes of suffering and that they are overcome by calm and insight.
One approach to this question is to consider the nature of truth in Buddhism. Do the early teachings state ‘what is’, or how one ought to act? Is its understanding of truth comparable to a correspondence or a pragmatic theory of truth?
Some characterize the Buddhist tradition as a path, not a creed, which has important implications for an understanding of Buddhist doctrines. They evoke the well known image of the Buddha as a physician whose doctrines heal, guide and show the way, rather than as a theorist. According to other scholars, the ‘ought’ (pragmatic benefit) is never cut adrift from the ‘is’ (cognitive factual truth). Otherwise it would follow that the Buddha might be able to benefit beings (and thus bring them to enlightenment) even without seeing things the way they really are at all.
In distinguishing between ‘is’ and ‘ought’, between ‘fact’ and ‘value’, we clearly have distinctions similar to those between correspondence and pragmatic theories of truth. Does the truth of a doctrine depend upon it stating how things are, applied to a real state of affairs, or is a doctrine true because of its pragmatic or practical value ? I have related this dichotomy to the central Buddhist themes of there being two related causes of dukkha, craving and ignorance, which are to be overcome by calm and insight. In Buddhist soteriology fact and value, what is and how one should act, are reciprocal. It is in this context, in which knowledge and action, fact and value are essential in the realisation and overcoming of dukkha.
* Paul Fuller, The Notion of Diṭṭhi in Theravāda Buddhism: The Point of View. Routledge, 2005